Play it like Bobby

by ChessBase
6/11/2010 – A remarkably simple concept underlies the Spanish Exchange Variation: White swaps off all the pieces and wins the pawn ending. On his new Fritz Trainer DVD Andrew Martin explains you this concept, that was once brought to perfection by Bobby Fischer. "An excellent DVD", says Lance Martin at it now or read more.

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Andrew Martin: Spanish Exchange Variation

Review by Lance Martin

What makes the Spanish Exchange Variation different from most other openings is that White gets to determine the structure that arises and in essence forces Black to fight on the terrain of White's choosing. The line is positionally sound and if all goes according to plan, then an endgame arises that is very favorable for White. The price of all this is White parts with his bishop-pair and consents to an early exchange of queens. One of the earliest proponents of the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez was Emanuel Lasker. But it was Bobby Fischer who turned this opening into an art form.

I have to admit that I began looking at the DVD with a bias, because I had found that Martin had only played three games in the Spanish Exchange Variation, and the last one played was in 1992. However, he is a terrific teacher, with a tremendous knowledge of theory, and I eventually came to the conclusion that this is an excellent DVD.

There are thirty-one lectures on this DVD:

  • 01: Introduction and Game One
  • 02: The Pawn Ending
  • 03: Game Three Vallejo Pons – Sasikirian
  • 04: 5…Qd6 Game Four
  • 05: 5…Qd6 Game Five
  • 06: 5…Qd6 Game Six
  • 07: 5…Qd6 Game Seven
  • 08: Summary 5…Qd6
  • 09: 5…Bg4 Game One
  • 10: 5…Bg4 Game Two
  • 11: 5…Bg4 Game Three
  • 12: 5…Bg4 Game Four
  • 13: 5….Bg4 Game Five and Summary
  • 14. 5….Bd6 Game One
  • 15: 5…Bd6 Game Two and Conclusion
  • 16: 5…f6 Game One
  • 17: 5…f6 Game Two
  • 18: 5…f6 Game Three
  • 19: 5…f6 Game Four
  • 20 5…f6 Game Five
  • 21: 5…f6 6.d4 Bg4 Game One
  • 22: 5…f6 6.d4 Bg4 Game Two
  • 23: 5…f6 6.d4 Bg4 Game Three
  • 24: 5...f6 6.d4 Bg4 Game Four
  • 25: 5…Be7 Game One
  • 26: 5…Ne7 Game One
  • 27: 5…Ne7 Game Two and Summary
  • 28: 5…Qe7
  • 29: 5…Qf6
  • 30: 4…bxc6
  • 31: Outro

The Exchange Variation of the Spanish begins with the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0:

Martin elected to include only victories by White on the DVD. However, a victory or two for Black might have provided examples of maneuvers that White could learn to thwart. Martin's first real lecture is on the pawn structure of this opening.

The lecture is geared towards the player who is not familiar with typical king and pawn endgame play, but it is a useful introduction to the pawn structures that we can expect from this system. The rest of the DVD is about Black's reaction to White's play and the recommended theory for White in this opening. I compared a great deal of the DVD with the ChessBase Opening Encyclopedia 2010 and not all is roses for the white side. It is quite obvious that the caliber of play and knowledge of theory will have a large part in determining the victor in any opening system.

Martin's first series of lectures is on the 5…Qd6 line. All but one of his lectures cover 6.Na3 b5. He does an exceptional job explaining the moves and the reasons for making them. Martin chose 5…Bg4 as the subject of his next five lectures. Aside from 5…f6, this is the most popular response in the Spanish Exchange. The next major line that Martin considers is 5…f6. Martin believes that after this move Black has protected his central pawn. He has not committed any of his minor pieces as yet and "left to his own devices he will attempt to cement the d4 square by going c5 Ne7 and then Nc6." According to Martin, this plan is so strong that "black should not be permitted to effect it."

The next four lectures involve the 6...f6 7.d4 Bg4 variation of the Spanish Exchange. The following move order is recommended by Martin: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 f6 6.d4 Bg4 7.c3

In all his recommendations, Martin arms you with the theoretical knowledge required to meet Black's position, and he will always tell you why a particular move is made. In the Outro, Martin explains that the Exchange Variation is an "excellent practical bet" and I believe that this DVD will only add to the number of players who employ it. I recommend this DVD without reservation. My assessment of this DVD: Four stars - excellent!

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