Strengthen your chess foundation with IM Nisha Mohota

by Sagar Shah
1/18/2017 – Nisha Mohota is an International Master and an experienced trainer. Last year she was in Hamburg to record a DVD in the ChessBase studio. "Strengthen your chess foundation" contains important theoretical and practical knowledge on openings, middlegames and endgames. The DVD also focuses on one extremely important element in chess that is rarely spoken about – psychology. Six hours of high quality content.

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When Nisha Mohota was planning to record a DVD for ChessBase, a lot of topics crossed her mind. After a lot of thought and effort she decided to create a manual that would give club players crucial and important knowledge related to endgames, middlegames and openings in one place. It was a very ambitious project, but knowing the perfectionist that Nisha is, she left no stone unturned in trying to create high class educational material.

"Strengthen your chess foundation" is the name of Nisha's DVD

Usually ChessBase DVDs contain four hours of video training. Nisha's DVD contains six! Have a look at the sample video of eight minutes where she introduces herself, talks about how she started playing chess and the contents of the DVD. The thing which struck me as very surprising was the ease and comfort with which Nisha speaks in her first clip. When I myself recorded a DVD for ChessBase, sitting inside the studio and talking to no one, was quite weird. Naturally I was a tad nervous! But, Nisha shows no such symptoms.

Maximize the video, sit back and enjoy!

It helps that Nisha is not only a strong chess player – a full-fledged International Master, but also an experienced trainer. We asked Nisha to tell us what is it that chess players would gain by watching her DVD. The loquacious girl from Kolkata says, "Many chess players have this problem - what exactly to think on the board. The parents of some of the young kids warn them, "Don't come back before spending two hours at the board!" The child goes to tournament hall confused – "What do they really want me to think about?"

I have tried to explain what they can think about, how they can think. In chess, as in life, decision making is extremely important. This habit is essential to become a stronger player. In today's world, when chess is becoming more competitive, youngsters are collapsing under pressure. Some reprimand themselves too strongly for errors and instead of enjoying the beauty in chess, they just take it as a punishment to themselves.

That is why I have dealt with a rare branch - the psychological aspect of chess - to err is human etc. Also there are some must know patterns, structures, endgames which can't be learnt with calculation. I have tried to give as much knowledge as possible of some really must-know stuff in chess. So basically my DVD is a mix of knowledge and application which every practical player should balance to grow as a player."

"I have learnt a lot from ChessBase DVDs, and here I am now, making my own DVD!"

Nisha deals with both theoretical as well as practical aspects in her DVD. Take for example the first one that is a theoretical position which every chess player should know.

What should Black play here?


[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Decision Making 02"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [Annotator "Nisha Mohota"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/8/3K4/8/8/1kp1Q3/8 b - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "5"] {Black to move- I will give you 3 choices-Kc3,Ka1 and Kb1. Which one would you go for?} 1... Ka1 $1 {In this position, in order to win, white's king should have been only one square away from b3. I will show this with the help of a null move.} (1... Kb1 $4 2. Kc4 c1=Q+ 3. Kb3 $18 {Position to remember. Winning position in queen vs queen. Black is to move but cannot defend against mate.}) (1... Kc3 $2 2. Qe5+ {Now this is winning.} Kd2 3. Qg5+ {Qg5 doesn't change much as Black won't allow entry for the Q on c1, so ultimately White has to go Qd4.} (3. Qd4+ {this is the right way here. Ctrl F7}) 3... Kd1 4. Qg1+ Kd2 5. Qd4+ {This is the right way for White.} Kc1 {Now White's king gets the important time to come to action!} (5... Ke2 6. Qc3 Kd1 7. Qd3+ Kc1 8. Kc4 Kb2 9. Qd2 Kb1 10. Kb3) 6. Kc4 Kb1 7. Kb3 c1=Q {How do you win here?} 8. Qd3+ { This is another small idea which you need to remember.} Ka1 9. Qa6+ Kb1 10. Qa2#) 2. Kc4 {Now the White king is one move short.} (2. Qxc2 $11 {This stalemate is the reason why a bishop's pawn on 7th draws (it is an exception) whereas knight's, queen's or king's pawn will not draw as the defending king will not be stalemated.}) 2... c1=Q+ (2... -- {If it was white to move here, he would win with} 3. Kb3 c1=Q 4. Qa2#) 3. Kb3 Qb1+ $11 *

The notes above are very comprehensive and together with Nisha's explanation makes your task of learning quite easy. Here's a practical position that arose in Mohota's game against Davit Petrosian.

Black to play. What should he do? Go back to d6 or d8?

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Decision making 09"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "*"]
[Annotator "Nisha Mohota"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/2k5/8/5R2/2P3p1/1p2P1P1/3r1PKP/8 b - - 0 44"]
[PlyCount "2"]
[EventDate "2016.03.09"]

{(Taken from my own game- Mohota- Petrosian Davit, 2012, 1-0). Which move
here- Rd6 or Rd8?} 44... Rd8 $4 (44... Rd6 $142 45. Rf7+ Rd7 (45... Kc8 46.
Rf8+ Kb7 47. c5 Rd1 (47... b2 48. cxd6 b1=Q 49. d7 Qe4+ 50. Kg1 Qb1+ $11) 48.
Rf4 Kc6 49. Rb4 Rd3 50. Kf1 Kxc5 51. Rb8 Kc4 $11) 46. Rf5 Kc8 47. Rf8+ Kb7 $17)
45. Rc5+ $1 $18 {/\Rb5 (1-0). I remembered some ending problems which i have
solved with an in-between check!} *

Nisha at the Wildpark in Hamburg, making the goat earn her reward! (photo by Frederic Friedel)

Buy Nisha Mohota's "Strengthen your chess foundation" from the ChessBase shop

More about Nisha Mohota

Nisha Mohota started playing chess as the age of seven. She became India’s youngest WIM in 1995 and India’s fourth WGM in 2003. Since February 2011 she is a full IM – her highest ever Elo rating was 2416.  

Nisha has represented India in 25 countries. Her accomplishments include qualifying for the 2001 and 2008 Women World Chess Championships as well as playing for India in 2004, 2008 and 2010 (Women) Olympiads. She won the Indian National Women Premier title in 2005.

Nisha's first love, chess, helps her continue her other passion: writing, photography and travelling. She also loves to learn foreign languages and has a diploma in Spanish, which she wants to master in future! She is employed with Oil India Limited (OIL), a petroleum company, as a sportsperson.


Contents of the DVD

01: Introduction [08:51]

02: To err is human 1 - Anand,V - Ivanchuk,V [04:02]
03: To err is human 2 - 'Deep Fritz 10' - Kramnik,V [04:02]
04: Conclusion Psychology [02:07]

05: King + pawn vs king - K+P vs K - basic opposition [07:04]
06: Distant opposition - KP vs KP - distant opposition [02:30]
07: Breakthrough [02:53]
08: K vs P - The rule of the square [02:17]
09: KP ending - calculation [02:30]
10: KP ending - interference [02:13]
11: The Lucena Position [04:27]
12: N Grigoriev 1937 [01:15]
13: The Philidor position - defense 1 [02:52]
14: The Philidor position - defense 2 [03:27]
15: King, bishop and rook pawn vs king and pawn - The wrong Bishop; The right Bishop [01:39]
16: King, bishop and rook pawn vs king - Example 1; Example 2; Example 3; Example 4; Example 5 [06:37]
17: A problem - king, bishop and rook pawn vs king - Troitsky 1896 [03:35]
18: King, bishop and rook pawns h3 and h2 - draw: Example 1; Example 2 [03:33]
19: Rook vs bishop - R vs B - the right corner; R vs B - The wrong corner [06:16]
20: Bishop pawn vs bishop - L Centurini 1847; Example 1; Example 2 [10:01]
21: Opposite colored bishops - extra pawns: Example [03:41]
22: King, bishop and knight vs king - B+N mate [08:31]
23: King, knight and pawn vs king - Knight- the short range piece; N+R'sP vs R'sP; Theoretical draw; KNP vs K; Theoretical draw; [05:16]
24: The knights cannot lose a move - KNP vs K [04:11]
25: King, rook and knight vs rook - R+N vs R [00:34]
26: Knight against rook's pawn - Example 1; Example 2; Example 3; Example 4; Example 5 [05:01]
27: King and two knights vs king - Example 1; Example 2; Example 3 [03:15]
28: Bishop vs knight - Example 1; Example 2; Example 3; Example 4; Troitsky 1924; Goldberg,G - Tolush,A; [11:24]
29: H. Khajali vs N. Mohota - Game [22:19]
30: Rook endings with rook pawn - Example [07:09]
31: Passive Defense - Knight's and Bishop's pawn: Example 1; Example 2 [03:24]
32: Rook endings - the Vancura position and pawn on the 6th rank: Example 1; Example 2 [08:14]

33: Intro - pawn structure 1; pawn structue 2; P position - with relation to N [13:14]
34: Pawn Islands - Example [04:35]
35: A position can be reached from various move orders - Example [09:10]
36: Positions with an isolated queen pawn - characteristics [05:50]
37: Positions with an isolated queen pawn - couple [02:45]
38: Hanging pawns - Example [04:53]
39: Doubled pawns - Example [07:42]
40: Rubinstein,A - Nimzowitsch,A - The importance of the pawn structure [13:53]
41: Lasker,E - Capablanca,J [21:39]
42: Radjabov,T - Ivanchuk,V [06:27]
43: Mamedyarov,S - Ragger,M - Pawn breaks [05:50]
44: Double Attack and pin - Yu Yangyi - Carlsen,M; Anand,V - Kramnik,V; Adhiban,B - Abasov,N [15:28]
45: Prophyllaxis and pin - Euwe,M - Alekhine,A [08:30]
46: Fighting back - Anand,V - Carlsen,M [15:24]

47: Opening - Understanding the moves; 3.Bc4 Nf6 Nc3?!; Two Knights; [27:05]
48: Beautiful game - Zhao Jun - Xiu Dishun [08:46]
49: Conclusion [04:34]

Interactive positions
50: Position 1 [00:54]
51: Position 2 [00:54]
52: Position 3 [01:32]
53: Position 4 [02:56]
54: Position 5 [01:15]
55: Position 6 [01:32]
56: Position 7 [02:03]
57: Position 8 [01:15]
58: Decision making 1 [01:23]
59: Decision making 2 [05:26]
60: Decision making 3 [02:22]
61: Decision making 4 [01:40]
62: Decision making 5 [01:24]
63: Decision making 6 [01:46]
64: Decision making 7 [01:28]
65: Decision making 8 [03:34]
66: Decision making 9 [02:59]
67: Decision making 10 [01:11]
68: Decision making 11 [02:16]
69: Decision making 12 [01:52]

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest news outlet in the country related to chess.
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benedictralph benedictralph 1/19/2017 04:30

Thanks for the clarification. ChessBase should seriously do an article on *that*.
Nisha Mohota Nisha Mohota 1/19/2017 02:47
@JesperNielsen1970 You are absolutely right! Qd2 and then the same idea works. My sincere apologies.
JesperNielsen1970 JesperNielsen1970 1/19/2017 10:06
In the last variation in the Decision Making 02 "If it was white to move here he could win with 3. Kb3 c1Q 4. Qa2#" I think black has a somewhat better option in 3. Kb3 c1N+ saving the draw. The correct play would be to bring the queen closer starting with 3. Qd2
sureshkv sureshkv 1/19/2017 07:57
In India, many sportspersons are employed by public sector companies like Indian Oil and even Banks under the Sports quota. Without this, it was hard for sportspersons to pursue sports due to the lack of sponsors. So, these sportspersons are employed by these companies, are paid a salary and are given breaks from work for training or tournaments and also supported financially for travel etc. Even cricketers, who can make a living today, used to be employed by banks and so on earlier. During off-season, these sportspersons have to do some kind of ´real´ work at these companies, I assume. And most importantly, when they retire from their sport, they still have their employment. Of course, these players are expected to represent their employer in inter-oil company or inter-bank tournaments. This is (or at least used to be) very common practice in India.
MarbleRock MarbleRock 1/19/2017 02:44
It is a somewhat unusual title (or unusual wording). It could be that she has a sponsorship deal with the company. But the wording suggests that it is more likely she is working as a spokesperson for the company or works directly with the marketing department. For example, Usain Bolt supposedly worked with the marketing department at Nissan at some point.
Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 1/19/2017 02:22
Ok, doesnt make sense that the Government of India
have started encourage companys to employ elite level sportspersons to develop sports in the society?
benedictralph benedictralph 1/19/2017 01:09
"She is employed with Oil India Limited (OIL), a petroleum company, as a sportsperson"

That doesn't make any sense.