Sergei Tiviakov: How to combat rare lines as Black

by Prathamesh Mokal
1/2/2015 – Rare lines can be annoying. After studying the critical lines of your favorite opening carefully and with joy you want to try them at the board only to see that your opponent plays a rare line. But there is a reason why rare lines are rare. They are often not particularly good and not even dangerous. If you know what to do. Sergei Tiviakov tells you...

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Review: Sergei Tiviakov's “How to combat rare lines as Black”

One question players and trainers often come across is “How to play against rare lines?” Previously, rare lines used to be employed by amateur players who did not have time to study the theory of main lines. But today, the information in the main openings after 1.e4, 1.d4 and 1.c4 has shot up to such an extent, that even strong players have started using rare lines quite frequently. Therefore, rare lines are not as ‘rare’ as they were.

From my experience rare lines do not have enough poison to be fatal, and if they do, then there is usually more than one antidote for them. Rare lines very often have a principal flaw and simply answering them with the help of basic chess fundamentals is likely to yield good results. This belief was confirmed by GM Sergey Tiviakov's DVD “How to combat rare lines as Black” in which he reiterates this concept.

GM Tiviakov, who frequently wins strong Open tournaments around the World, gives his recipe to fight rare lines. His playing record and his reputation as an honest presenter of his opening lines made me curious about this DVD. He covers moves such as 1.f4, 1.g4, 1.g3, 1.Nc3, 1.e3, 1.b4, 1.b3, and 1.Nf3 – though the last one is too well respected to be called a rare line. Tiviakov does not spend too much time on 1.e3, 1.b4, 1.g4, 1.Nc3 but instead focuses on 1.g3, 1.b3, 1.f4, and particularly 1.Nf3.

The variations he recommends against 1.Nf3 are linked with his previous two DVDs about the Queen’s Indian, the Catalan and the Nimzo-Indian. The point is to select a reply which will correspond to your repertoire against the main openings, since at various junctures White has the option of transposing into main lines. A basic example Tiviakov mentions is that players who do not play the Sicilian should not choose 1…c5 against 1.Nf3, because after 2.e4 they end up in a Sicilian, the very opening they are unfamiliar with.

The DVD contains several databases, among them one with almost 1 million games. The databases include Encyclopaedia lines of the variations discussed on the DVD, as well as published and unpublished games of Tiviakov that are relevant to the lines he analyses. Opening lines Tiviakov discusses in the videos on the DVD are also given in database format.

The picture above shows a part of the contents and the various databases on the DVD.

There are two bonus articles Tiviakov first published in New in Chess and which are given as a backup to a couple of his recommended lines.

The links lead to the bonus articles and related databases.

The five questions (exercises) at the end relate to the variations covered on the DVD and focus on the opening and the middle game.

It would have been nice to mention why the positions in are relevant for the variations Tiviakov discusses. Unfortunately viewers have to find out for themselves. Not a hard task for stronger players, but for amateurs it will take some effort. The format of this section is interactive. Choosing the right or wrong move brings up the corresponding video comment by GM Tiviakov. Some of the questions are pretty tough and I enjoyed solving them so much that I was hoping there would be more!

The following is an excerpt from the DVD


Tiviakov confidently concludes “Following my games and examples you can look at the games of other players and improve and deepen your knowledge. I am sure that having studied this DVD carefully and following my games and examples, I can guarantee you that you will never have any problems playing the chosen lines as Black. I wish you lot of success and good luck in your tournaments.”


If you have ever come well prepared for the main openings with Black, but worried that your opponent might choose a rare line to take you into unfamiliar territory, then this DVD is for you. And for those who play the Nimzo-, Queen's Indian or the Catalan with Black the DVD is a must. But independent of the openings mentioned above Tiviakov mentions a lot of other responses and offers something for players of every level.

Occasionally, the videos will seem dry to amateur players and, as mentioned above, the relevance of the interactive video feedback is not always easy to establish. But in spite of this, the honest and sincere effort in the video instructions by such a strong Grandmaster, huge databases including published and unpublished games of Tiviakov, readymade lines of the variations discussed in the DVD, the interactive video-questions, and, finally, bonus articles of the author from New In Chess, make this DVD phenomenally valuable. Even databases related to the New In Chess articles are given! The positives totally outweigh the negatives. Thus the DVD is worth every penny.

Sample Video:

Sergei Tiviakov:
How to combat rare lines as Black


€23.45 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$28.19 (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.

Order this Fritztrainer in the ChessBase Shop


Prathamesh Mokal is an International Master and FIDE Trainer from India. He won bronze in the Commonwealth Junior Championships 2003 and was joint Asian Junior Champion in the same year. He got his first Grandmaster norm in 2009 and scored an unprecedented 100% in the FIDE Trainer’s exam in 2012. He is a renowned coach based in Pune, India and he is also a Martial Arts enthusiast with a Black Belt 1st Dan in Isshinryu Karate as well as Matayoshi Kobudo.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register