Lilov: Orthodox and Unorthodox Approaches

8/17/2011 – Valery Lilov is a popular presenter on the Playchess server, and this set of lectures shows why. His latest DVD is contains a whole slew of unorthodox openings. "I see this trainer as edutainment for a player, probably at the club level, and enjoyed the sections on the Sokolsky, Richter-Veresov, Hippopotamus, and Englund Gambit the best," writes Steven B. Dowd in this Chess Cafe review.

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Orthodox and Unorthodox Approaches

DVD by Valeri Lilov, ChessBase, Playing Time: 5 hrs 16 min.
Price $32.95 (ChessCafe Price: $26.95)

Review in Chess Cafe by Steven B. Dowd

Lilov is a popular presenter on the Playchess server, and this set of lectures shows why. Don't expect to learn anything about unorthodox openings in depth; this DVD is an introduction to a whole slew of unorthodox openings. Lilov speaks a very good colloquial style of English with an accent that is not too bothersome; he lapses into the occasional malapropism but nothing that makes you wince.

The material is divided as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Sokolsky
  • Dunst
  • Double Fianchetto
  • Richter-Versov
  • Anderssen, Larsen, and Grob
  • Fantasy Variation
  • Chigorin Variation
  • Center Game
  • Danish Gambit
  • Blackmar-Diemer and Omega Gambit
  • Nimzowitsch Defense
  • Hippopotamus
  • St. George
  • Gurgenidze Variation
  • Balogh and Kingston
  • Latvian, Elephant, and Greco
  • Chigorin Defence
  • Albin's Countergambit
  • Budapest Gambit
  • Tango
  • Polish Defense and Englund Gambit
  • Opening Formations
  • Outro

I've loved unorthodox openings, especially strange gambits, for years, so I was very pleased to be reviewing this trainer. However, if you do have plenty of experience with unorthodox openings, you will find little new material here. I see this trainer as a bit of edutainment for a player, probably at the club level, who has little experience with these sorts of formations. I enjoyed the sections on the Sokolsky, Richter-Veresov, Hippopotamus, and Englund Gambit the best.

The Sokolsky material is actually comprehensive enough that it would give the club player playing against it or thinking of taking it up enough material for a start. The Hippopotamus and later material on the Universal Defense in "Opening Formations" was well-presented, and as most of us know, and Lilov affirms, is tough to break through. I play mostly speed chess on the net these days, so I see a lot of these – these players play quickly, sit back, and wait for you to overextend yourself or lose on time in the complications. The approach Lilov gives to battling these makes perfect sense whether in a bullet game or a rated slow tournament game.

Since a lot of my speed chess is played "coffeehouse style," I do occasionally play the Englund Gambit, and the one formation Lilov covers is something of a reversed Blackmar-Diemer Gambit in addition to the old known "one trap" line with 4...Qb4+. It's not sound, but it is often fun, and what is interesting is how persistent the attack can be for Black if one does not try to blow White away immediately. A sample line is 1.d4 e5 2.dxe5 Nc6 3.Nf3 f6?! 4.exf6 Nxf6 5.Bg5 Bc5 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 d5 8.Nc3 Be6 9.Bd3.

That being said, it is strange that the material on the actual Blackmar Diemer doesn't resemble anything close to what I know as BDG theory. He gives 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Bd3 c5 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.Qe2 0-0 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.Ne4 as the main line. If this is all you know about the BDG, as black or white, you will quickly find yourself losing from either side.

One unorthodox opening I always play poorly against is the Dunst, and Lilov offered nothing of value to me here (I always end up in something of a bad Scotch opening). Some of the modules are just too short and don't contain enough information, even for a rough start, and the Dunst is one of those. In the material on the Latvian, Elephant, and Greco, he notes these are good surprise weapons, and covers the Latvian well, but doesn't give enough information on the Elephant. The material on the Elephant ignores the 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5?! 3.exd5 e4!? line, as well as "The Wasp," 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5?! 3.Nxe5 dxe4 4.Bc4 Qg5?!, which most books stop here, listing a great plus for White (absolutely true if you know the subsequent analysis, but if you don't, Black will wipe the board with you).

Covering the Chicago Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nxe5?!, in a serious manner was amusing. I only knew the apocryphal story behind it, where the player who invented it on his deathbed indicated he simply "didn't see that the e-pawn was protected." But why is the more highly regarded Halloween Gambit relatively ignored?

As an overview for club players, this is to be recommended. Higher-rated players who enjoy watching these trainers will also find something of value, if nothing else, in Lilov's fun way of presenting these that does not descend into the ridiculous. He is always aware of the drawbacks of these various openings.

One things that is odd is that full reference information (Player's names, etc.) is not given in writing, so you have to listen for the names of the players if Lilov mentions them, in case you want to try to find more games by that player. This is the first trainer I have ever seen that did this. But if you want in-depth information on any of these formations in order to play them (in most cases, he gives sufficient information for the player who has to play against these openings), you will have to find books that cover that material.

[Event "Orthodox and Unorthodox Approaches"] [Site "?"] [Date "2011.08.17"] [Round "?"] [White "Lilov, Valery"] [Black "ChessBase DVD"] [Result "*"] [PlyCount "17"] 1. d4 (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d5 $6 (2... Nc6 3. Nxe5 $6 {Chicago Gambit}) 3. exd5 (3. Nxe5 dxe4 4. Bc4 Qg5 $6 {The Wasp}) 3... e4 $5 {Elephant}) 1... e5 (1... d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. f3 exf3 5. Nxf3 e6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Bd3 c5 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. Qe2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. Ne4 {Blackmar Diemer}) 2. dxe5 Nc6 3. Nf3 f6 $6 4. exf6 Nxf6 5. Bg5 Bc5 6. e3 h6 7. Bh4 d5 8. Nc3 Be6 9. Bd3 {Englund Gambit} *

My assessment of this DVD: Good

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You can also order Lilov's DVD in the ChessBase Shop and browse through other DVDs by the same author.

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