Opening training DVDs

10/19/2007 – The previews continue in the virtual pages of ChessBase Workshop. Our columnist takes a look this week at four opening training DVDs including The Pirc Defense and A World Champion's Guide to the Petroff. Get a closer look at what these disks contain in the latest edition of ChessBase Workshop.

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  • The Pirc Defense by Nigel Davies
  • A World Champion's Guide to the Petroff by Rustam Kasimdzhanov
  • How to Play the Najdorf Vol. 3 by Garry Kasparov
  • The Maroczy System by Sergei Tiviakov

The DVDs are still piling up on my desk, so it's again time to tear off the shrinkwrap and have a look at the contents of each. The four DVDs previewed here all deal with the opening and all use the Chess Media System form of instruction: video lectures with the chessboard animations keyed to what the teacher is discussing, so all you need do is fire up the DVD in ChessBase Reader (included with the disk) or any of the current ChessBase software program offerings, sit back, watch, and learn.

Title: The Pirc Defense
Author: Nigel Davies
Disk contents: Thirty-seven instructional videos, twelve discussing the Austrian Attack, six on the Byrne Variation, four each on the Classical variation and 4.Be3, and the remainder discussing other moves/variations. Total video running time is approximately seven hours.
Comments: GM Davies covers the Pirc Defense quite thoroughly on this DVD. The Austrian Attack receives the most treatment and analysis because (as Davies says on the disk), it's White's most dangerous response to the Pirc. The material is presented primarily from Black's perspective. The emphasis on the DVD is on planning and ideas; however, the Pirc does require a fair bit of preparation and knowledge of theory (i.e. specific move sequences), although Davies takes pains to explain the ideas behind all of these variations. The material is presented in a manner simple enough for most club players to grasp; just be forewarned that there is a lot of material which must be absorbed to play the Black side of the Pirc effectively. Davies discusses over 130 games on this DVD, all of which are also presented in standard database form for the viewer's later use.

Title: A World Champion's Guide to the Petroff
Author: Rustam Kasimdzhanov
Disk contents: Eighteen instructional videos with an approximate total running time of three hours and twenty minutes.
Comments: The 2004 World Chess Champion discusses the Petroff Defense in a set of instructional videos in which the emphasis is on the main lines (very little attention is paid to gambit lines or other offbeat sidelines -- note the title: A World Champion's Guide; hence players looking for side lines of Petroff should look elsewhere). The text on the back of the package calls the Petroff's "drawish" reputation "unfortunate" and I agree; I've known some club-level players who've turned it into a fearsome weapon. Such club-level players comprise the target audience of this DVD, and GM Kasimdzhanov presents the material in a clear easily-understandable manner. Players of both the White and Black pieces will benefit from the instruction on this disk; the author presents his own games playing both sides of the Petroff as examples in the instructional videos.

Title: How to Play the Najdorf Vol. 3
Author: Garry Kasparov
Disk contents: Thirty-one instructional videos, grouped by variation: Classical 6.Be3 e5 (eleven videos), Hungarian Attack (six videos), English Attack (seven videos), other variations (seven videos). The disk also contains an index of variations covered, and a database of over 19,000 games.
Comments: Garry Kasparov continues his series revealing his secrets in the Sicilian Najdorf. Most of the videos concentrate on a single game, each taken from top-level play (these include twelve of Kasparov's own games). This third volume of the DVD series picks up right where the second volume left off (the multiple volumes of the series combine to make up a unified whole); thus the viewer is thrown into the deep end immediately without any preface or introduction. Although Kasparov is discussing ideas rather than endless reams of variations, the instruction is intended for higher-level club players and up -- the series is not intended as a "Najdorf for Dummies" approach. The huge database of games is a nice extra; it includes several hundred annotated games.

Title: The Maroczy System
Author: Sergei Tiviakov
Disk contents: Twenty-two instructional videos; most focus on a single game each. Over three hours of video included on the DVD.
Comments: I've been a fan of GM Tiviakov for years, due to his work on the Ruy Lopez Worrall Attack, so I looked forward to this disk (even though I'm not a Sicilian Maroczy player). Tiviakov presents the material in a clear, concise no-nonsense style, instructing the viewer in techniques on the Black side of this opening. He puts his money where is mouth is with this DVD -- all of the illustrative games are ones on which Tiviakov was a participant. The introduction explains what attracted the author to the opening with an illustrative game in which Tiviakov played White against the Maroczy. If you find playing against the c5 & e5 "bind" variations annoying, you'll want to study this DVD carefully. All of the illustrative games are also provided as ChessBase database games.

Until next week, have fun!

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

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