Valeri Lilov: Tactics: From Basics to Brilliance, Vol. 1

by ChessBase
10/24/2011 – "Initially, my impression of this DVD was that many of the discussions were just too lengthy to hold the attention of viewers," writes Chess Cafe reviewer Steve Goldberg. "But then, around half a dozen segments into the DVD, I couldn't help but find myself attracted to Lilov's presentations. He continually finds especially interesting examples to demonstrate the themes." A slightly different DVD.

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Compelling and Challenging

Review by Steve Goldberg

Tactics: From Basics to Brilliance, Vol. 1 (DVD), by FM Valeri Lilov,
ChessBase 2011, Playing Time approximately 5½ hrs.

What a flip-flop I did with this review!

Initially, I was dismayed to start up the DVD and find that FM Valeri Lilov spoke for more than 6½ minutes before presenting a position on the board, and then took more than two additional minutes before discussing the position. I had been spoiled by other DVDs in which the speaker immediately launches into an interesting game position, and have always felt that chess is best taught with visual aids, demonstrating examples on the board, rather than simply lecturing.

This pattern repeats itself frequently with Lilov speaking at length before demonstrating the topic at hand. Interestingly, in one of the later segments Lilov acknowledges this. He is explaining a tactical maneuver and essentially stops and says, 'Let's just show this on the board.'

So, initially, my impression about Tactics: From Basics to Brilliance, Vol. 1 was that many of the discussions were just too lengthy to hold the attention of viewers. Plus, I was a bit annoyed that the DVD in writing and seemingly in speech, substitutes the word "motives" for "motifs." In fairness to Lilov, however, English is not his native language.

Then I found that in the first segment following the introduction, while discussing the topic of zugzwang, Lilov presents a mate-in-six when there is actually a mate-in-one available. There were a couple other minor quibbles I had about tactical alternatives presented.

But then, around half a dozen segments into the DVD, I couldn't help but find myself attracted to Lilov's presentations. There were still periods in which I felt the verbal presentation went on a bit long, and I kept hearing about "motives," but the tactical examples Lilov provides are compelling, challenging, and frequently eye-opening in their combinational beauty. Plus, he is so earnest in his presentation that it is difficult not to like him. He genuinely seems to enjoy teaching.

Let's look at a couple of examples.

In this position from a segment discussing back-rank weaknesses, it is Black to move and he goes with the "obvious" 1…Rxc3, since 2.Rxd4 Rc1 3.Qf1 Rxf1+ 4.Kxf1 Nxd4 leaves Black up a piece.

But to avoid this scenario, after 1…Rxc3, White instead played 2.Qf1 and now it appears that Black's rook and queen are en prise and one of them must be lost. But here Black responds with 2…Rc8. Lilov exclaims, "When I saw this position, it amazed me. This move really amazed me. What is Black doing?" He thought perhaps it was an Internet game with a mouse-slip.

But after 3.Rxd4 Nxd4, it turns out that White has no way to get his queen out in time. For example, if 4.h3, to open a square for the king, Black replies 4…Rc1 5.Qxc1 Ne2+ and the queen is lost, with Black remaining up a knight. Or if 4.Kh1, there follows 4…Ne2 and White is still stuck. For instance, if 5.g3 5…Rc1 yields the same results.

In another example from a segment on x-ray attacks, Lilov presents the following position:

White wants to activate his rook on e1, but four pieces presently block the e-file. Yet he quickly takes care of this problem with 1.Nxe6 Kxe6 2.f4 and suddenly Black is stuck.

The title, Tactics: From Basics to Brilliance, seems quite apt. The earlier segments in this DVD are more suited to beginning players, while the middle and later segments will definitely appeal to club-type players.

The list of video presentations is quite extensive:

Concrete goals
Types of advantage
Forcing play
Tactical operations
Bad combinations
Arising and Regularity
Find a combination
Motives (sic) [they mean "motifs"]
Defence destruction I
Defence destruction II
Tactical themes, Part I
Tactical themes, Part II
Tactical themes, Part III
Tactical themes, Part IV
Tactical themes, Part V
Tactical Defense, Part I
Tactical Defense, Part II
Tactical Defense, Part III

Lilov covers plenty of ground here. Again, the earlier segments will appeal more to beginning and less-experienced players, but when he begins discussing various tactical motifs ("motives!") and tactical themes, he will capture the interest of the intermediate and club players.

Some of the terminology may be a bit different from what many players are accustomed to. For example, when Lilov refers to a blockade, he doesn't mean, for example, a black knight blocking an isolated white d-pawn. Instead, he refers to a situation in which one's king is blocked from escaping to nearby squares, as in a smothered mate.

And when he discusses "Arising and Regularity," he isn't referring to morning constitutional habits. Rather, he covers the necessary components for a combinational attack to be successful.

Here's a taste of Valeri Lilov Tactics - from Basics to Brilliance Vol. 1

For me, the Tactical Themes portion of the DVD was the most interesting. Here he covers such topics as double attacks, discovered attacks, back rank weaknesses and weakness of the seventh and second rank, skewers, x-ray attacks, windmills, defensive tactics, in-between moves, "quiet" moves and perpetual checks.

Many books and DVDs cover these topics, but Lilov continually finds especially interesting examples to demonstrate these themes. I think most players will be challenged to find solutions to the positions that he presents. More importantly, after working through Tactics: From Basics to Brilliance, Vol. 1, they will likely be more motivated to search for the kind of beautiful tactics shown, and will have a better feel for how to obtain positions that are ripe for such tactics.

My assessment of this product: Good (four out of six stars)

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