Nicholas Pert: The solid Slav Defence

by Davide Nastasio
6/5/2015 – Solid, yet aggressive, popular among the world's best players but easy to learn, strategically and tactically rich and complex - that is the Slav Defence. One of the biggest Slav experts is English GM Nicholas Pert. He has played it for years with an overwhelming score. Now he presents a comprehensive Slav repertoire and explains the attractions of this opening.

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A review

With this DVD Nicholas Pert offers us a comprehensive repertoire against 1.d4 d5 2.c4: He recommends 2...c6!  Pert has been a GM for ten years, and he began to play this opening around twelve years ago. I have a lot of sympathy for Pert, because we have made similar opening choices. He also was a Dutch defense player, but after struggling very hard with that opening against other strong GMs he decided to change track, and on his way to Damascus he was fulgurated by the Slav!

Pert plays to win, especially with Black. And while a lot of lines he plays are considered to be drawish Pert plays them for a kill and gives us an attacking repertoire. He is guiding us toward decent positions in which Black can play for a win. The theory involved is not too heavy and should not scare us.

But this repertoire is not for the faint of heart. Pert carefully chooses lines that allow to go on the offensive, sometimes at the cost of a pawn.

Pert also proves that he practices what he preaches. Seven of the 17 videos on this DVD are based on his own games! But to avoid to bore the viewer by showing only his games he also presents games by great players who played this opening regularly or occasionally: Levon Aronian, Garry Kasparov or Boris Gelfand.

The first video clip already shows how thoroughly Pert covers the main lines and the side lines White may choose to fight against the Slav. Here's an example:

Pert refers to 6.Ne5 as the most aggressive choice for White. 6.Nh4, is defined as a more quiet and solid line for White, and 6.e3 ist the old main line, where White just wants to regain the Pc4 with Bxc4. I like the completeness with which  Pert covers sidelines. In this case the main line is 9.Qe2, but Pert covers also 9.Nh4 and 9.Qb3, which he considers to be sidelines.

I would also like to make a statistical argument for this DVD. In the Mega Database I used the filter (Pert playing Black, year 2015, ECO D11 to D20) to search for current games by Pert with this opening! He played 90 games - and now prepare for a surprisingly fine statistic: he lost 10, drew 51, and won 28 of these games!! Can you imagine?? He won 32% of his games with Black in this opening, while drawomg 57% and losing just 11% .

Statistical cake

Nicolas Pert knows what he is talking about.

Why else do I like this DVD? Well, in my opinion Pert explains the opening as openings should be explained. He does not give me a bunch of computer lines (like some authors who write book after book on openings) that I cannot really memorize. He explains the ideas behind nearly every move, and that is what I want from a teacher - to explain the ideas of the opening, instead of giving endless variations ending with Informator symbols.

For example, I like the way Pert often explains which square is the right one for your pieces!

To some this may seem silly, but for me this is a convenient way to remember the staggering amount of information we do need to remember if we are interested in chess at high amateur competitive level.

Pert also has the nice habit of showing the initial moves quickly every time - he does not start at commenting on move 11 but begins at the beginning, and seeing the first moves again and again helps to remember them. I also like that he deals with moves that recently became popular, and shows how to neutralize them. One example:

When presenting the main games Pert always shows fragments of other important games a student must know. He recommends to study them separately and gives useful directions for this kind of homework. Another thing - a trademark of his teaching style - I like about the way Pert presents the opening is the fact that he right before the video ends uses the last 1-2 minutes of the video to recapitulate all the main ideas he just explained. This really helps to remember the main points. 

Let's have a look at the content of the DVD: There are sixteen videos covering the theoretical framework one needs to know to play the Slav, plus one introductory video. There are also eight videos with questions referring to positions presented by Pert in the previous videos. The student is asked to take an active role and find the correct moves. Based on the student's answer Pert gives feedback. The DVD also contains three databases, one with the 17 games, which are the skeleton of the video lectures, one with 100 illustrative games that provide the essential knowledge a player should have on the modern Slav, and one database with 16 annotated games.

Now I'd like to show a game from the database, without annotations, to illustrate an important comment made by Pert. In one of the videos Pert says that the Slav is an opening where one must know the endgame. After all, most of the time players realize the advantage gained in the opening in the endgame. So if the reader likes to play endgames this is the opening to play. The following game is a clear example of how the magic of the endgame transforms an equal position into a lost one for White. My advice is to watch this game without using an engine, trying to guess where White made the crucial mistake which cost him the game.


Conclusion: this opening, like the King's Indian, is a must for players interested in achieving master level. Using the Mega Database and the ECO keys, I found out that all the champions from the past like Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca (or Euwe, who often played the Slav in his matches against Alekhine in 1935 and 1937) used this opening. It is exciting to see the battles they fought about a century ago.

And thanks to GM Pert I added a new weapon to my opening repertoire - I am sure I will be able to use it with success in my next tournaments.

Sample Video

Nicolas Pert: The solid Slav Defence

• Video running time: 5 hours 20 min (English)
• With interactive training including video feedback
• Exclusive database with 100 essential games
• Including CB 12 Reader

€25.13 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$28.30 (without VAT)

This DVD can be purchased as a hard copy or it can be downloaded directly from the Internet, that way sparing you the few days needed for it to arrive by post.

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Davide is a novel chess aficionado who has made chess his spiritual tool of improvement and self-discovery. One of his favorite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: "Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment..."


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