The Sniper reviewed

by Davide Nastasio
11/22/2017 – Who wouldn't want to learn a universal repertoire against White's most common first moves? In this review of FM Charlie Story's first DVD for ChessBase, Davide Nastasio is doing just that, learning all about a highly flexible opening, which can help you win many games in weekend tournaments. From the videos we learn about Story's extensive experience with the Sniper, see his teaching skills, which will improve our opening repertoire, and also our game generally. If you want to step up your results, while saving time, there is only one choice: become Snipers!

The Sniper The Sniper

The Sniper is a universal opening framework which can be played against all main first white moves — 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4, 1.f4 and 1.Nf3. Black plays 1...g6, 2...Bg7 and 3...c5 against practically anything!


The Sniper!

A review

After publishing this review Charlie Storey and I will surely be on some FBI or NSA watch list, seeing as how every five words said or written is "Sniper"! If you're not careful, that gets you special treatment aboard a plane, generally seated near a federal Marshall!

Careful Charlie!

the Sniper

But the story of the Sniper (as an opening) is an old one, it seems. In 2011 FM Storey wrote a book published by Everyman Chess on the Sniper.

In that book, on page 9, he mentiones having given it a try at the British Chess Championship of 2009, where he achieved — thanks to the Sniper — a performance of 2600, winning four games out of four with black!

I checked, and the story is a little different. He played five games with black, four were definitely what we could call a pure Sniper, and he lost one (against GM level opposition). So, one can have the best opening in the world, but if one's endgame technique is not GM level, one will get crushed all the same! The fifth game was actually a Sicilian, but he warns in the book that the Sniper can transpose into this, among other openings.

Here the games for those interested in a quick preview of the Sniper played by its main expert!


Storey introduces the Sniper as a "universal opening system" against every move white can play, however, he honestly says in some cases it's impossible to use the "pure Sniper", and he will teach us how to play against those "anti-Sniper" lines. In fact his introductory video spans three parts, in which he seriously outlines the entire system which will be covered deeply in detail over the next eight hours!

Storey also introduces a new opening classification system, based on Soccer (football) team styles. While I don't particularly like soccer, I must admit Storey's explanations and names given to pawns and pieces are quite unique and very smart — the guy is a world class teacher!

Look at the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin, and you'll never see the board and pawns as before!

Such tricks, will definitely help you better remember the wise lessons Storey teaches us in the videos.

By the way, Storey will make you laugh endlessly, so this is worth the price of admission alone — like when he says: "The Arsenal is the best team in the world, but I'm not biased..." (LOL!)

He gives the name Arsenal to the line when White plays 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3

Obviously, we all know he is wrong...about the name of the best team in the world — of course it's actually spelled A-C M-i-l-a-n! But I'm sure in the comments other readers, will be happy to explain it to Charlie and make him see the error of his ways! Let the debate ensue!

Now apart from the soccer metaphor, I found quite interesting the deep understanding of the position he has. Consider once again the moves 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3:


Storey says: "Now it is not safe to play the Sniper, and it is better to play the Pirc." Luckily thanks to ChessBase we do have other titles which can guide us through the Pirc labyrinth, like the DVDs made by GM Mihail Marin.

Play the Pirc like a Grandmaster Vol. 1: Positional lines

In the positional systems White does not try to refute the Pirc from the very first moves, but aims for a long strategic battle to prove that his space advantage and better development will finally give him the better position.

The Sniper is based on the idea of playing three moves in various orders depending on what the white side does: g6, Bg7 and c5:


The pressure and fight is for control of the d4 square. However today white players have also prepared anti-sniper setups, and of course Storey has dedicated a good chunk of time to explain and neutralize these.

Obviously, the Sniper could be defined as a hypermodern opening, where Black lets White take control of the center, while aiming at it from far, and at the right moment Black advances the central e or c-pawns, to attack the center. 

I found in this DVD FM Storey also tries to give us some meaningful chess lessons on the value of the pieces, of the pawns, and their influence more broadly.

Values of pawns

Now coming to the actual content of the DVD. There are a total of 112 videos on the opening!! The videos are divided in groups, depending on the variation Storey is analyzing. He has been really thorough, because even for the lines he didn't assign a soccer team name (since they are minor and maybe not encountered often) he still devoted 4-5 videos each! For the main lines there are at least an average of 6-7 videos of explanation.

The DVD ends with 17 videos of interactive tests, and comes with a database of additional games — 74 in all — for further study, as well as another database of 120 lines, on which the videos and the theoretical framework of the Sniper are based.

One final database made up of 39 online blitz games, used to illustrate how to use the repertoire we are learning for blitz and bullet. This last database is quite interesting because it shows how tuned FM Storey is to our chess times. Today some of us don't play tournaments, but we love to smash fellow amateurs we meet online over and over. That makes the choice of this opening repertoire and its databases, quite sensible for satisfying our online chess needs!

Pro and Cons

Charlie likes to say "so" practically every minute in the initial introductory videos, but he is not referring to GM Wesley So! To some it could be annoying. But the important part is the "content" because Storey said he spent a long time to be sure we would be able to use the Sniper against anything, and weed out the bad moves Black can play.

On the other hand the Sniper is definitely the opening for players who, like me, have work, family and other stuff going on 24/7, yet who also want to go to a weekend tournament, and don't care to spend all preparation time studying opening theory. The Sniper can do that for us, a system which we can use against most of White replies, letting us focus on middlegame fireworks and endgame mastery!

In the first introductory video, Storey was mentioning some moves: f4, c4, etc. I could hear the click of the mouse, but I couldn't see the moves actually played on the board, maybe a technical glitch? In the first five videos, Storey repeats himself a little too much. The point of giving the name to the variations as football teams was clear in the first video, to reiterate too many times, makes it boring. But at the same time Storey gives some very useful chess lessons, which will make us better players, and that makes the DVD valuable not only for the opening, but for the lessons themselves.

In the blitz database, the game number 5 is just 3 moves, and White resigned, it doesn't make sense, maybe it should be removed, and inserted another more meaningful game (for those having a ChessBase online account, they can play this position against Fritz, to gain practice on this opening). But also in game 11 of the blitz database, it is not really clear why White resigned. The game was a 3-minute game, maybe not enough time left, or White didn't see the move Bc1 which would save the Nd2? I mean I assume I'm not the only guy who meets players online that continue to play until the end, even when down a piece!

Now before closing this review, I'd like to share a game played by Sergey Karjakin, which I found particularly crazy, and which maybe can give a hint to the reader if this opening is for him/her!


Final thoughts

I found the way Storey teaches quite refreshing, and quick to the point. He clearly has a lot of years of teaching under his belt, and I'm quite grateful ChessBase gave him the chance to explain the Sniper, because he is passionate, he really loves this opening, and he is the guide every serious student of the game wants! By the way, thanks to the large amount of videos, and the great quantity of chess ideas Storey shares, it is very important to watch the videos more than one time, because some of the rules he describes will improve us as players, hence they need essentially to be memorized or understood deeply to be used in our games. I hope to see him doing other DVDs.

The Sniper

The Sniper is a universal opening framework which can be played against all main first white moves — 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4, 1.f4 and 1.Nf3. Black plays 1...g6, 2...Bg7 and 3...c5 against practically anything!

Davide is a novel chess aficionado who has made chess his spiritual tool of improvement and self-discovery. One of his favorite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: "Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment..."


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