Robert Ris: "How to Make a Plan" - A review

by Jana Schneider
6/28/2021 – Planning in chess is a fine and important art. On his DVD "Strategy Training: How to Make a Plan" Robert Ris shows how to master this art. Jana Schneider, one of Germany's top women players, had a look at the DVD and liked what she saw.

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Robert Ris Strategy Training: How to make a plan - Review

In my games I often reach a point when I think: "Okay, I have a nice position, but what will I do next?" In such positions I try to find a plan – and to come up with a good play, it helps to follow certain principles.

In his DVD "Strategy Training: How to make a plan" the Dutch IM and chess trainer Robert Ris explains such principles, e.g. prophylactic thinking and and the improvement of one's pieces. Many players know these principles but forget to apply them during their games.

Ris presents twelve illustrative games to introduce important strategic ideas and to explain five fundamental principles in detail. After that he invites the reader to test their strategic knowledge with 50 interactive exercises.

The DVD can be divided into a theoritical and a practical part, which is highly recommended. In addition, there are instructions on how to play some of the discussed positions against Fritz on different levels.

Theory

What I really liked about the first part is that Ris also shows his own games. With your own games you can of course best explain what the player was thinking during the game and why he chose which plan. But Ris also discusses classics like Karpov - Spassky (1974).

Practice

I personally liked the interactive part very much. Ris does not only show the solutions but also gives hints when you come with a wrong move. He also shows how the games continued after the correct move and explains very clearly why the solution move makes sense. The only criticism is that he only shows a few alternatives moves and usually leaves it to the viewer to work out why these alternatives are not as good as the solution. But at any rate, 50 strategic exercises keep you busy for a while and help you to learn a lot.

Jana Schneider: In 2017, when she was just 14 years old, she won her first German Women's Championship and in April 2021 she won the strong Squad Challenge of the German Chess Federation. | Photo: Bernd Vökler

Level

In contrast to tactical exercises, strategical exercises can often be solved by players of various strength. Hobby players can solve the examples Ris has chosen, but at the same time they are not too easy for for experienced tournament players. Everyone can learn something by working through this DVD. Even if prophylactic thinking or improving the position of one's pieces seem to be banal topics, they are extremely important in practice. And it would be foolish to assume that you don't need to learn more about these topics after you have reached a certain level.

Don't just view, work!

I would also recommend not to just listen to the analysis of the illustrative games, but to think for yourself and to pause the analysis every so often. Especially at the beginning, it makes sense to let the position sink in and to think for yourself before listening to Ris' explanations. The DVD is entertaining but also an invitation to challenge yourself.

I also think that it makes sense to watch the DVD together with others, for example during club training. By exchanging ideas about the different plans, you get to know other perspectives on the positions.

To sum up

I liked the content of the DVD as well as Ris' explanations very much and I fully recommend the DVD.

Ris has also published a number of other DVDs on various topics. He has also played in the "Fritztrainer" tournaments to test his recommendations against ChessBase readers.

Robert Ris, Strategy Training: How to Make a Plan, 29,90 €

Sample video

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Jana Schneider was born on 11 April 2002 in Karlstadt and is one of the strongest women players in Germany. In 2017, at the age of 14, she became the second youngest German champion ever and in the same year she was runner-up in the European U16w Championship. In 2021, she won the prestigious and highly competitive Squad Challenge of the German Chess Federation.
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