Lilov DVD: Attacking a king which has castled short

9/12/2012 – "This is another solid effort from FM Lilov, writes Chess Cafe reviewer Steven Dowd. "Where the DVD is truly valuable is in its coverage of pawn attacks and pawn storms, which constitute five of the lessons. It has something of value for all players, especially those who have not explored the topic of attacking the castled king in depth." Steven gives the product five stars: 'Highly recommended'.

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Lilov: Attacking a king
which has castled short

Review by Steven B. Dowd

Attacking A King Which Has Castled Short (DVD) by Valeri Lilov, ChessBase, Playing time: 4 hours. $33.95 (ChessCafe Price: $27.95)

This is another solid effort from FM Lilov. Barring the awkward title, it is a very good introduction to attacking the castled king. This is a great start before taking on weightier classical tomes, such as Vukovic's Art of Attack in Chess, and it also features a few things you won't find in those classical works, as the author has the benefit of modern experience.

He begins appropriately with attacks on g7. Attacks on this square are amongst the most important to know when attacking the castled position. The "why" is not always obvious to chess students, so I always have my own students repeat the mantra: "g7 is the new f7." By this we mean that f7 is no longer the weakest square on the board. Because, once castled, g7 is the only square protected by the king, and the g7-pawn is an important protector of the king. Nevertheless, much more importance tends to be attached to the h7-sacrifices, such as the Greek gift, probably because it is flashier and tends to draw the black king out.

In the first lesson, Lilov presents the following position:

This is from the game Movsesian-Babula, 1996. If you follow along in your database, you will find four games with this position, and since Lilov doesn't give the games with full continuations, it is worth following with the database. If nothing else, you see all the ways White can win. I don't consider it a deficit that he doesn't present all these possibilities; that isn't the goal of a DVD, and the good student will always search for the whole story on his own.

Of course, here the passive 14.Ne2? isn't going to lead anywhere. Black can then shut off the bishop by playing the pawn or knight to e5, or could also consider 14...Qa5. The target should be clear: the king, and specifically his protection: the g7-pawn. Lilov notes you really need three things in any attack: a target (g7 and the king), three pieces to attack (two sometimes work if others can come in from the wings in time, but that can be dodgy), and open lines.

So we start with 14.Bxg7! In his annotations in Megabase, Ftacnik gives 14.Nd5! as of equal worth. However, then 14...Ne5! seems to blunt the d4-bishop and aim at getting the important d3-bishop off the board. But perhaps I am missing something. The game continued 14...Nc5 15.Qh6 (we could be greedy with 15.Bxf8, but why?) 15...Re8 (15...Nxd3+ just lifts the rook to d3) and now 16.Ne2!, the move that was passive just two moves ago, threatens to bring the knight to g3 and h5 with a crushing attack. White wins.

Speaking of rook lifts, another idiosyncratic use of language is his calling the rook lift a "rook switch." He even notes that "some people" (practically everyone) call this a rook lift. "Rook switch" just doesn't bring the same action to mind for me.

That the DVD is very comprehensive in seen in the follow-ups to the g7-sacrifice in double sacrifices on h7- and g7, f7- and g7. In fact, I must say again that this DVD covers more topics than well-established sources like Vukovic.

I am the author of a two-part article on the Bxh6 sacrifice here at the (and one I was proud of), so I was very interested in his coverage of the Bxh6 sacrifice. As with many sacrifices that expose the king's position, it must often be made on general principles: not with a mate in sight, but the opponent must defend for a prolonged time, and enough material equivalent (usually pawns) must be secured in case the king can escape.

The goal of Bxh6 is again to destroy the cover provided by g7. This example really floored me, as I could not initially see the value of the sacrifice. It is Vogt's only win against Uhlmann in the databases, and in a French, no less! If you had asked me who conducted the white pieces, I would have guessed Fischer.

[Event "East Berlin"] [Site "?"] [Date "1989.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Vogt, Lothar"] [Black "Ulmann, Wolfgang"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2505"] [BlackElo "2515"] [PlyCount "43"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4 O-O 8. Bd3 Nbc6 $6 9. Qh5 h6 $2 10. Bxh6 gxh6 11. Qxh6 Nf5 12. Bxf5 exf5 {Sure, Black's king is open, but only the queen is in play. Yet after White's next move, Black is totally lost!} 13. O-O-O $1 {Starting to clear the way for the rooks to come into play, but the rook is not even brought to a square from which it can lift, as Black's 14...c4 seals it off. My Fritz 11 spends a lot of time on 13.Nh3, which it initially evaluates as equal, and takes a very long time before it "sees" long castling.} c4 14. Nh3 f6 15. Qg6+ Kh8 16. Rhe1 fxe5 17. dxe5 f4 {Black gives himself an opportunity he cannot take: removing the Nh3, which would just open the g-file. But what else? This is an amazing position where Black has no hope. It is one of those rare positions where you don't need three pieces immediately in the attack; the white queen restrains any black play while the white pieces take their time in getting to the king.} 18. Qh6+ Kg8 19. Nxf4 Qe7 20. Re3 Bg4 21. Nxd5 Qxa3+ 22. Kb1 1-0

Where the DVD is truly valuable, however, is in its coverage of pawn attacks and pawn storms, which constitute five of the lessons. All levels of players can benefit from this discussion, and I would like to recommend to Lilov that he consider making "Pawn Levers and Storms Against the King" his next DVD. I would be willing to buy that, no questions asked! To say the least, I picked up a lot from those five lessons.

This is a five-star DVD that has something of value for all players, especially those who have not explored the topic of attacking the castled king in depth. Highly recommended.

My assessment of this product: Great (five out of six stars)

Sample lesson by Valeri Lilov - Attacking a king which has castled short

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