Two more from Daniel King

10/1/2007 – GM Daniel King has been hard at work on his Power Play series of instructional DVDs. His two latest efforts are entitled "Pawn Storm" and "Start Right". You can discover what's contained on these DVDs by reading previews of them in the latest ChessBase Workshop.

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Before returning to the idea of developing an opening repertoire (started in the lastChessBase Workshop), we're going to take a short detour and look at some recent DVD releases. Both of these disks use the Chess Media System style of instruction, in which the instructor appears in a separate audio/video window while the positions and moves he's discussing are played out on your program's main chessboard. Both disks contain the ChessBase Reader software, but if you own newer versions of ChessBase or the Fritz family of playing programs, you won't need the Reader.

Both of these DVDs are by GM Daniel King and are part of his Power Play instructional series (we've previously previewed Vols. 1 ["Mating Patterns"] and 2 ["Attacking the King"] of that series in ChessBase Workshop). GM King's Power Play series is geared toward the intermediate (i.e. the proverbial "club level") player and, in my opinion, provide some of the best instructional value offered on ChessBase DVDs.

Aside from the instructional value, these disks do include a bit of entertainment value as well (as discussed in the previous previews of GM King's disks). No chess DVD is going to give even a bad action flick a run for its money in the "entertainment" department, of course, but the instructor's presentation means all the difference between a chess DVD which is engaging (one which draws the viewer in and holds his attention) and one which is akin to a slow death while staked out on an anthill in the desert. GM King (and Andrew Martin as well) belong in the first of these categories: they're interesting instructors and keep things moving along at a pretty good clip. Two Roger Ebert chunky thumbs up for King and Martin.

Title: Power Play 3: Pawn Storm
Disk contents: Two sets of thirty-nine videos in the Chess Media System format, one set each in both English and German. The disk's database also includes all of the discussed games (over forty) in a very lightly annotated format. I don't have an exact running time available, but the combined running time is several hours.
Comments: While the overall theme of the disk centers on the Kingside pawnstorm as an attacking weapon against the opponent's castled king, it's certainly not the only thing you'll learn about on this disk. I'm impressed by the fact that GM King tends to start the discussion of games at the natural point (the beginning) and describes the moves, actions, and thought processes which lead up to the launching of a pawnstorm. This DVD isn't just about the technical details of advancing those pawns; it also deals with preparation, which is arguably the most important aspect. It's not enough to just fling those pawns willy-nilly down the board -- you must also remember that doing so will often leave your own King exposed. Preparation and timing are crucial, and those are two important ideas which are thoroughly discussed on Power Play 3: Pawn Storm.

Another interesting point concerning this DVD is the author's definition of "pawnstorm". In the vast majority of chess literature, this term usually refers to the advance of two or three pawns directly into the opponent's Kingside castled position. But GM King isn't limiting the discussion to the advance of a whole phalanx of pawns down the board; in many games it's only the f-pawn or h-pawn which advances (supported) to crack the opponent's position. It's a valuable weapon in any chessplayer's arsenal, and easy enough to add it to your personal armory through proper application of the lessons discussed on this DVD.

Example video (2:19)

Title: Power Play 4: Start Right
Disk contents: Twenty-three Chess Media System videos (intro, thirteen chapters, nine quizzes) with a combined running time of nearly six hours. There are actually two sets of videos on the disk -- one set of twenty-three is presented in English, the other in German.
Comments: I could write an entire column about this DVD. Seriously. This disk is about the chess opening. But if you were to just go by what's printed on the back of the DVD case, you'd think this disk is another "traps and zaps" disk of the "How to crush your opponent in a dozen moves" ilk. It's not that at all.

Power Play 4: Start Right is about opening principles. And guess what? It's not about what you're thinking now, either. When most of us think of "general opening principles", we think of the old (but valid nonetheless) Reinfeldesque "Knights before Bishops; castle early; ya-da ya-da blah blah blah" stuff. Those principles are important, they're valid, we all must learn them, and we usually do so in about fifteen minutes. We play a few games, discover that those general principles are valid. and then we go whizzing off to try to memorize a few zillion variations by rote. In doing that, we miss quite a few additional principles along with some important intermediate steps.

Power Play 4: Start Right provides us with those additional principles. To quote GM King from the introduction to this DVD: "The initiative is just vital...When you put pressure on your opponent, they start to crack." And there you see two of these additional principles: initiative and pressure. It's not enough to play good opening moves if you don't understand their purpose. And while you might understand some of the "nuts and bolts" technical ideas behind certain moves in your favorite openings (you might say to yourself "fianchettoing the Bishop to g2 controls an important diagonal"), it's even more crucial to understand the underlying principles behind those technical explanations. You'll find those principles on this DVD -- the ones which fall somewhere between "Knights before Bishops" and "The c4-Bishop strikes at Black's Kingside".

In my opinion, the material on Power Play 4: Start Right is stuff that every chessplayer needs to know, and I'm personally acquainted with numerous players down here at the club level who don't know it. 'Nuff said.

 

Grandmaster Daniel King has been a professional chess player for more than 20 years. During that time he has represented his country on many occasions, including an historic match victory over the Soviet Union in Reykjavik, 1990. At the same time he has distinguished himself as a coach, helping many of England‘s younger generation to achieve their potential. Besides his chess career, he has built up a reputation as a commentator on television, radio and the internet. He is also an award-winning author of more than 15 books.

Example video (2:27)

I've viewed large chunks of the first four volumes in GM King's Power Play series and I will tell you that there's something here for every player who falls into that vast gap of categorization between "Beginner" level and "Titled" level -- in other words, 90% of you "in the trenches". I know this because I'm one of you, and I've learned plenty from these DVDs.

Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments on ChessBase Workshop. All responses will be read, and sending an e-mail to this address grants us permission to use it in a future column. No tech support questions, please.
 


© 2007, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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