Middlegame and endgame training

by ChessBase
11/2/2007 – Not all ChessBase training DVDs concern themselves exclusively with the opening -- quite a few tackle the middlegame and endgame as their topics. Our ChessBase Workshop columnist peeks inside the DVD cases to provide you with a glimpse of what you'll find on recent releases by Adrian Mikhalchishin and Karsten Mueller. Read all about it in the latest Workshop.

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  • The Secret Weapons of the Champions by Adrian Mikhalchishin
  • Decision Making in Chess by Adrian Mikhalchishin
  • Chess Endgames 4: Strategical Endgames by Karsten Muller

We're continuing with our series of ChessBase DVD previews in this week's ChessBase Workshop. All three of the disks previewed here contain instruction in the Chess Media System format: the instructor appears in a separate audio/video window while the positions and moves he's discussing are played out on your program's main chessboard. All three disks contain the ChessBase Reader software, but if you own newer versions of ChessBase or the Fritz family of playing programs, you won't need to install the Reader.

The other common thread linking these three DVDs is that none of them are about the opening, and for that my hat is off to the authors. Writing/presenting material about middlegames and endgames is a lot tougher job and a much harder sell; too many players (especially here in the U.S.) think that "mastering" an opening is the answer to all of one's chess woes and many tend to underplay the middle- and endgames (or just ignore them completely, except for solving the occasional tactical or mate in x problem). It's always refreshing to see a number of middlegame and endgame themed disks appear (in fact, we'll preview two more in another Workshop a few weeks down the road).

Title:The Secret Weapons of the Champions
Author: GM Adrian Mikhalchishin
Disk contents: Sixteen Chess Media System lessons, using nearly forty games for the examples. Total running time exceeds four hours.
Comments: In the disk's Introduction, the author stresses the importance of studying classic games of the past. Many players, however, approach this study in a scattershot haphazard manner, choosing games essentially at random. GM Mikhalchishin offers a more structured system with The Secret Weapons of the Champions, attacking the challenge of middlegame study by grouping his illustrative games by player. On this DVD you will study middlegame themes through the games of several top players of the past: Botvinnik (four videos/chapters), Makogonov (two videos), Tal (five videos), and Petrosian (four videos). Many chapters also reinforces a specific theme by adding extra games by other great players. All of the games discussed in the videos are also provided in standard ChessBase database form.

Title: Decision Making in Chess
Author: GM Adrian Mikhalchishin
Disk contents: Twelve Chess Media System videos covering twenty games; total running time is almost three and a half hours.
Comments: In previous ChessBase Workshops, we've discussed the use of the "Critical Position" annotation form: moves in the Notation pane color-coded to illustrate a "crisis point" in the game. In this DVD, GM Mikhalchishin discusses these "critical moments", identifying them as "characterized by the presence of between two and four different possibilities [such as] the exchange of pieces, the calculation of a long variation, a positional solution, or transposition into an endgame." The twelve videos discuss nine such critical moments. The author's contention is that most players will play reasonably good moves in non-critical positions (the many choices which need to be made on the moves between the critical positions), but the difference between a good player and a top player lies in their respective handling of the five or six "make or break" decisions which must be made at critical points during a game. The DVD first teaches the viewer to identify these critical moments, then offers instruction on how to make the correct decisions at these "make or break" points. All of the games discussed in the video are also presented on the disk in standard ChessBase database form.

Title: Chess Endgames 4: Strategical Endgames
Author: GM Karsten Muller
Disk contents: Sixty-two (!) Chess Media System videos, divided into sections: Introduction (1 video), Rook and minor piece vs. Rook (16 videos), Rook vs. two minor pieces (8 videos), Rook and minor piece vs. Rook and minor piece (10 videos), Quuen and Knight vs. Queen and Bishop (8 videos), the Bishop pair (9 videos), double Rook (10 videos). All videos are presented in both English and German. Total running time is about six hours.
Comments: In the fourth volume of the Chess Endgames series, Karsten Muller continues his detailed, microscopic examination of the myraid means of finishing off one's opponent. This series of training videos is an impressive accomplishment and will provide chessplayers with many new weapons for their arsenals. I'll forewarn you that this is difficult stuff at times (which, I suspect, is why many players dislike studying the endgame). Your full attention will be required and you'll probably need to watch each video more than once; I believe you'll also be making liberal use of the "pause" button and the slider which lets you move backwards and forwards within a specific video. It will be time well spent, though; if you learn and apply the material in the Chess Endgames course, your chess results will improve dramatically. The key word here is "technique", as in that famous chess cliché "The rest is a matter of technique". This video series teaches you "the rest", so that you need not be left hanging, either when replaying an annotated game from a book which ends with that horrible "technique" line, or when playing a game against a live (or silicon) opponent. Volume Four picks up right where the third volume left off; I strongly encourage you to view and study the DVDs in order, as the material on Volume Four can sometimes be quite "dense" (Muller sometimes hits you with several rapid-fire variations in short order, and the endgames covered on this disk are fairly complex anyway). All of the 60+ games and endgame positions discussed on this disk are also presented in the database in standard ChessBase form.

Until next week, have fun!

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© 2007, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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