Master calculation

6/4/2009 – Even at the highest level you can sometimes watch games suddenly turn due to miscalculation. That underlines the essential role of calculation skills in chess. On this new Powerplay DVD you will find a great novelty: Daniel King not only provides you with training tasks, but you can watch him solve these tasks in front of the camera. Buy Powerplay 10 now or read this review with sampler.

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Daniel King: Power Play 10

Review by Sean Marsh

"...Danny King will help you to assess how good you are at calculating, and gives you tips as to how you might sharpen your thought processes at the chessboard.'

Volume 10 (of 12) in this fine series discusses and analyses a skill no chess player can afford to leave undeveloped.

‘Calculation is not an easy thing but it really is a core skill of chess playing.’

The material kicks off with a game from the recent Kramnik - Anand title match to demonstrate that even World Champions can make mistakes when calculating.

Click here for replay the start of the intro.

Then GM King picks out some puzzles from an issue of ‘Schach Magazin 64’ and solves them ‘live’. This is a very interesting teaching method, enabling a comparison between the calculating powers of a Grandmaster and the viewer.

Five puzzles are given and the viewer is then invited to mull them over. The next series of video clips consider each of the five positions in turn, with GM King giving a running commentary on his ‘live’ thoughts.

Here’s one for you to try:


White to play
Is it advisable for White to capture the pawn on f5 or should he do something else?

I like this method very much indeed. The idea is not new; Mike Basman did something similar on some his Audio Chess tapes a long time ago, and CHESS Magazine used to run a ‘Beat the Masters’ feature in which strong Grandmasters submitted their thoughts and analysis on anonymous positions and readers were able to do the same. It’s definitely something I’d like to see more of in the ChessBase format. There seems plenty of scope for development.

After the five solutions there follows an illustrative games between GM Gawain Jones and the presenter, to demonstrate different kinds of thinking.

Then it’s on to a series of studies, ‘…an excellent way to improve your calculating skills’. The process of elimination is an important discipline for the student to hone. Here’s a study to test your powers:


Grigoriev 1923, White to play

After the studies, the viewer is really put to the test with 17 positions to solve. These can be very tricky and require some serious effort. There are other little bits and pieces too, such as a discussion on ‘When to Calculate’, and a ‘Postscript’ in which the presenter returns to an earlier position and updates his thoughts and analysis.

Despite being part of a long series, each individual ‘Power Play’ DVD works equally well as a stand alone product. The presentation is excellent; GM King really does make it look easy. Whole-heartedly applying oneself to the material will be hard work but there will be a strong sense of achievement for students who enjoy a challenge.

Click here for the original review.



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