Watson on Martin: The Queen's Gambit Declined

11/28/2012 – "I think that this ChessBase DVD is a good example of IM Andrew Martin's ability to present a competent, sound repertoire in a clear way. The core is the Cambridge Springs Variation, a great choice because it is solid and limits White's choices at the same time. This material can be used profitably by players from an elementary level all the way up to low master." Review.

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Last time I first discussed ChessBase DVDs in general terms. Apart from the particulars, I should emphasize the fundamental importance of taste, that is, whether you enjoy learning in a visual mode and whether that can be too passive a relationship with your material compared to a written presentation where you play over the moves. I then looked at a few examples with the London System and English Opening (by Bojkov, Davies and Bologan) with some analytical examples. Interestingly, two of the English Opening videos were as theoretically accurate as the leading book on the subject and even improved upon it in some cases. Normally books have the advantage in this respect, because they have more detail and book authors tend to put more time into their work (I usually spend over a year on a book). But when you have strong players producing specialised videos, as in the new 60-minute series, there's a good chance that there will be new material of interest to even the advanced player.

Andrew Martin: The Queen's Gambit Declined

Review by John Watson

In this column, I'll continue by looking at a few DVDs that I like by other authors. International Master Andrew Martin produces more ChessBase videos than anyone: over 30 by my count, with Nigel Davies in second place in the high 20s and no one else remotely close. The great majority of both their DVDs are about openings. Martin's output includes the series entitled: 'The ABC of the [opening X]', which is I think meant to be a balanced view of the opening, but then again that isn't always the case, as illustrated by his 7.5 hour advocacy of the Alekhine Defence in The ABC of Alekhine!

I think that The Queen's Gambit Declined is a good example of Martin's ability to present a competent, sound repertoire in a clear way. The core of the repertoire is the Cambridge Springs Variation, a great choice because it is solid and limits White's choices at the same time. This material can be used profitably by players from an elementary level all the way up to low master, which is quite an achievement. There is a tendency here and in his other videos to fudge on the very best theoretical lines, but that's almost inevitable, and shared by the authors of other 'repertoire' DVDs. It's probably asking too much to fully cover (and justify) an opening when that would involve solving technical and critical variations, which themselves might take hours to present.

To get a quick grasp on the specific material, I checked the Exchange Variation section on Martin's DVD and his coverage is more than sufficient to show the basic ideas. It's true that he doesn't address White's strongest tries in the Nf3/h3 lines I analysed in my recent book (A Strategic Opening Repertoire for White), but that's asking for a lot and he does give some examples (for Black) of that variation. More impressively, he specifies a particular move order for Black versus the main line that Lars Schandorff gives in his book (Playing the Queen's Gambit – Grandmaster Guide); and I think that is somewhat better than the order Schandorff himself uses! Not bad for a necessarily limited DVD presentation.

Martin's treatment of Bf4 systems is impressive, and he shows that his main Cambridge Springs variation can be played in a way that is solid and safe. I can freely recommend this video for anyone who wants to take up the Queen's Gambit Declined, especially with the relatively easy-to-learn Cambridge Springs. For a broader introduction to Exchange Variation ideas there's Nigel Davies' DVD The Queen’s Gambit Declined Exchange Variation (2009). And an attractive production in German is Björn Lengwenus and Frank Lamprecht's DVD Wie geht eigentlich Damengambit, a nice overview of all Queen's Gambit lines with many general observations and good humour.

Video sampler: The Queen's Gambit Declined

Andrew David Martin (born 18th May 1957 in West Ham, London) is an English chess player with the title of International Master. He has won various national and international tournaments and has been playing for years in the Four Nations Chess League, at present (July 2009) for Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher, previously for the Camberley Chess Club. Martin received his IM title in1984. He earned his first grandmaster norm in the British Championship of 1997 in Brighton. Martin was a commentator on the chess world championship between Kasparov and Kramnik in 2000.

On the 21st February 2004 Martin set a new world record for simultaneous chess. He faced 321 chess players at the same time. His result was: 294 wins, 26 draws and only one loss. Martin is known as a professional chess teacher and head trainer of the English youth team. He trains eight schools (Yateley Manor, Aldro, Millfield, Sunningdale, Waverley School, St Michael’s Sandhurst, Wellington College, Salesian College). Martin is a chess columnist, an author of chess books and the author of various instructional videos. He was the publisher of the series Trends Publications. Martin lives in Sandhurst, England, is married and the father of two daughters and two sons. His present Elo rating is 2423 (as of July 2009).

Other Andrew Martin training DVDs you can find here in the ChessBase Shop

John Watson is an International Master from the United States. He has written over 25 books, including

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