Shirov in top form

by ChessBase
5/25/2007 – Many chess friends will cross their fingers for Alexei Shirov at the Candidates' Matches in Elista in the next days. Lately he has shown ever-improving form, in Cañada de Calatrava and in the Russian Team Championship. On his recent DVD on the Slav and Semi-Slav you can already watch him in top form, says IM Steingrimsson. Buy it now or read this review with sampler.

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Alexei Shirov: My best games in the Slav and the Semi-Slav

Reviewed by IM Hedinn Steingrimsson

On this DVD Shirov analyses two principal classical systems which occur after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 (4.e3), one from the Slav (4…dxc4) and the other from the Semi Slav (4…e6). both Slav and Semi Slav happen at the moment to be in fashion at the very highest level and were played to the exclusion of anything else by Kramnik as Black in his successful WCh Match against Topalov.


Alexei Shirov is an extremely popular player on account of his sharp style and is well-known for not avoiding complications. But in doing so he always plays sound chess and does not seek to force the sort of positions which may suit his style but which are, objectively speaking, not in his favour. This means that in the opening he looks for critical ideas which offer realistic winning chances, e.g. by avoiding over-radical simplifications.

On the DVD  Shirov analyses variations which at the moment are being played very frequently by the very top players. I think he has made an excellent choice of variations. It might perhaps be an idea for ChessBase to exploit their good contacts with the world's top players and to concentrate (for example in ChessBase Magazine) a bit more on those openings which are played in elite tournaments.


As a whole the quality of the DVD is very high. The viewer learns about how a top player goes about approaching these critical openings and gets valuable indications about what are the critical variations. The last point represents enormous help in seeing where to go and in understanding openings, especially when you consider the flood of information and games. Shirov is excellent at explaining the ideas and plans and at helping the viewer to understand even complicated theoretical lines. He is obviously helped in this aspect of the presentation by long years of personal experience and a large number of games with both systems. The DVD offers not only an insight into the present state of theory but also sketches in how variations developed, e.g. how new ideas (such as Shirov's/Shabalov's advance g4 in the Semi Slav) came about.

Click here to start Shirov's presentation of his game against Fressinet  (video in reduced quality).

Unfortunately it sometimes happens that Shirov cannot remember the specific theory in one of the sub-variations - i.e. not the variation being employed in the game being analysed. In certain circumstances he does not quote the line recommended by theory entirely correctly. Sometimes he corrects such a lapse in a later clip, but sometimes he does not. In such cases Shirov quite openly points out that he is not quite sure because he cannot remember the  theory. When this happens the viewer should himself have a look at a theoretical work or in his or her main database.

Buy it now.

Conclusion: I really like this DVD. In my opinion this is Shirov's best DVD yet (of course many others in the series were really good). The DVD gets 5 stars out of possible 5. The strengths of this DVD are:

  • Shirov is obviously on top form one Monday after a successful weekend in the Bundesliga - in this case after a round in which he defeated Fressinet. Moreover he analyses this game on the DVD too, thus showing that the DVD contains the absolutely most up-to-date games.

  • Shirov manages to explain the reasons behind and the purpose of moves and thus he renders the complicated variations comprehensible. This is very important for the viewer, because he or she understands the variations in depth as well as memorising the moves.

  • Shirov is open in presenting his evaluations and he analyses recent and critical lines, including some that were played in the last world championship match. The viewer thus gets an insight into the way a super grandmaster prepares.

  • Shirov can rely on long years of experience and countless games played with these variations. His explanations about the history and development of the variations are masterly and instructive.

The next Shirov DVD I would like to see would be: The Meran Variation or the Grünfeld Defence.

More Shirov-DVDs: "My Best Games in the..."
King's Indian.




Sicilian Najdorf.

"My Best Games in the Caro-Kann" will soon be appearing!

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