There is a lot to relearn in chess strategy

by ChessBase
6/19/2008 – What long-term strategical implications do the moves 1.e4 c5 carry with them? Well, any at all? Yes, says none less than former world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov. His DVD "Strategy – Step by Step" is a real eye-opener for most of us. Starting with the very first moves of the games he analyses six of his strategic masterpieces in great depth. Buy it now or read more.

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Rustam Kasimdzhanov: Strategy - Step by Step

Review by Sean Marsh

‘Making the right strategic decisions belongs to the most difficult tasks at the chessboard. But how can one enhance one’s strategic understanding and methodical play?’

Another of Chessbase’s regular (and popular) DVD presenters, former World Champion GM Kasimdzhanov, must spend a significant amount of time recording his thoughts. This time he presents several of his own games and pays particular attention to the strategic and positional aspects of play. This is tricky territory for most players. Most understand the need for tactics and in some ways can understand a tactical Grandmaster slugfest better than a strategic masterpiece. This is one reason that a collection of Tal’s games will generally be more popular than a similar assortment of Petrosian’s.

Six of his own games are analysed in great depth. The analysis is split into different parts, with the Istratescu game being the longest with no less than five video lectures.

The analysis is through and deep, beginning with the very first moves. There is a discussion after 1 e4 c5 (in a game against Anand) highlight the basic aims of both colours; White has the makings of grip on the White squares and Black quite the opposite. This breaking down of material to the very basic strategical level will be very helpful to those who like to follow moves blindly, with little thought as to the reasons behind them. This is truly a step-by-step approach.

Click here for replay a sample video from the Kasimdzhanov-Anand lectures.

The openings covered are:

  • 2 x Sicilian Defence (One Najdorf, one Scheveningen)
  • Semi-Slav Defence
  • 2 x Queen’s Gambit Declined (one featuring 5 Bf4 and the other 5 Bg5)
  • Ruy Lopez

‘The Spanish Torture’ against Ivan Sokolov was particularly instructive for me as it’s the opening I have played the least out of all of them (I know, I know! I would have been a much better played if I’d tried it more as a youth).

I found the explanations of the plans and strategies to be extremely illuminating and instructive. From the very basic points - discussing why 3 Bb5 is not indirectly threatening the e5 pawn, despite appearances - GM Kasimdzhanov builds the plot up to the key positions, with plans and ideas for both sides clearly highlighted along the way.

This is a key position and the nuances are very well explained. The former World Champion also discusses the reasons he now definitely prefers White, when he used to be to play either colour.

This position is judged to be better for White, based on the extra space granted by the d5 pawn and the lack of prospects for the a5 Knight. At this point GM Kasimdzhanov invites the reader to imagine they are playing a tournament game and the task is to mull over the plans before proceeding with the next video lecture.

The concluding part of the game is then given and the student can compare what they would have played with what actually happened.

It’s not so easy for a strong player to break things down into easily absorbed chunks of chess instruction (try it ‘down the club’!) but GM Kasimdzhanov makes the task look very easy, with a relaxed yet thoroughly professional approach. In his ‘Outro’ the presenter quickly runs over some basic points and then explains why this DVD focussed mainly on openings and early middle games. Volume 2, he says, will be on Endgame Strategy. But that, dear readers, is another story…

It’s hard to believe that anyone who carefully studies the material presented on this month’s Chessbase DVDs won’t increase their understanding of chess and eventually improve their over-the-board results. Highly recommended!

Click here for the full original review.

More video training with GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov:

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