ChessBase have for many years been a front runner in the presentation of computer chess and chess engines, and once again they are blazing new trails in the issue of the latest in their regular feature of ChessBase Magazine.
In it's inception, this magazine was contained on a floppy disc ( do we still remember floppy discs?.) In it's infancy this was mostly a collection of topical games, with some annotations. Nonetheless, this was an innovation and for the first time made available considered annotations and articles in a form that we could digest on our P.C's. Shortly thereafter, C.D.'s made their appearance and ChessBase were not slow in realising the potential of a greatly increased media capacity together with an expansion of diversity of presentation, including videos. The issues of CBM's 111 and 112 for the first time used videos as the main platform on which to present the various sections.
CBM 113 goes one step further and expands the video presentation even further. So much has the content expanded that only a DVD is capable of dealing with the increased volume of content..
So much more information can be delivered by the spoken word than by a written description, and I would venture to suggest that a verbal explanation has a more lasting impact. It is so easy to click the mouse when reading a lengthy account of the benefits of 1.e4 and pass on to the next move, but one can't really ignore a spoken explanation.
Now to the content of CBM 113.
There is at least three hours of absorbing videos introduced, in a laconic manner, by Grandmaster Karsten Müller, an acknowledged endgame expert. But his expertise does not finish there, his explanations of complete games can glue you to the seat in front of your computer.
The contents listing of the DVD are very user friendly and lead one easily into the article that most attracts. The most important section is a presentation of all the games of the Turin Olympiad with annotations by a variety of grandmasters and a video introduction and commentary by Yasser Seirawan. Unfortunately, Yasser has difficulties with the technical equipment, but this does not detract from his penetrating analysis of the various games that he examines. Perhaps it would have been better if he had recorded in the ChessBase studios where the art of video presentation has been perfected.
148 teams entered the Mens Olympiad and CBM 113 have a database of 3838 games played. Of these 83 are well annotated. Olympiads always produce interesting games, mostly because amateurs and professionals are thrown into the same conflict and this can result in upsets and instructive games. The Turin Olympiad is no exception.
Another important tournament held in 2006 was the M-Tel Masters, played in Sofia during May which figured six of the highest rated players in the world, including the FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov. Once again, he put in a fast burst in the finishing straight to win by half a point over the rejuvenated Gata Kamsky. All the games are included here with all but two fully annotated. In addition Mikhail Marin provides an authoritative survey of the tournament openings.
Rustam Kasimdzhanov, FIDE World Champion of 2004, describes in great detail his game against Vassily Ivanchuck from the Olympiad, and this gives an intriguing insight into the manner in which a grandmaster thinks and prepares his moves.
As if this is not enough, CBM 113 give a considered examination of opening nuances that have occurred over the last two months in the Dutch, Sicilian, Scotch Gambit and London System.
If you have trouble with double rook endings then close study of Karsten Müller's endgame section will undoubtedly help. Again, this is presented in a video format that makes the techniques crystal clear.
Other well tried and popular articles have been retained. Peter Wells continues his erudite expositions on strategy and Oliver Reeh presents twenty three highly entertaining combinational examples one of which is the following :-
Here, in a game Berkes - Pazos, Olympiad 2006, White to move brought off a very fine combination to win. Can you spot it? As is usual with combinations it is not necessarily the moves that are actually played that are intriguing, it is the many variations underlying that give a beautiful effect. The moves that finished the game are given below.
Many elderly players, such as I, will remember Danny King's articles in Baruch Wood's "Chess" where he invited readers to calculate the next move played in selected games. Well, as a an innovation in CBM 113, Danny re-appears here in a similar series to test your powers of calculation and positional perception. Just one tip, if you want to eliminate either the German or English narrative, go to ChessBase/Fritz/Options and in Languages make both languages either English/English or German/German or whatever language you wish to use.
In yet another database there are a further 221 games, 18 of which are fully annotated by Anand, Erenburg, Kritz, Tiviakov, and Macieja. Mihail Marin takes a look at an interesting opening idea formulated by Romanishin, that is given as an example that follows.
If you are left reeling by the volume of the contents outlined above, then if I add that there is a further database of 7,139 correspondence games, this will bend you mind another ninety degrees!
CBM 113 is a "great step forward" for chess enthusiasts and no doubt ChessBase will find further refinements to polish this product. If you have ever had doubts on the magazine, now is the time to reassure yourself that subscription will give you one of the best buys available today. There are 6 issues of the magazine annually for a cost of £69.95 or single issues at £17.95. Further information is available on http://www.chessbase.com.
If you do not have not have a ChessBase programme, there is no need to worry. The DVD has a built-in facility that allows all the contents to be viewed in much the same manner as would be presented by ChessBase or Fritz.
In the position given above Pazos continued 21. ....Re7 and was then confronted with 22.e6, fxe6, 23.Bxd5 g6 when after 24.Rxe6, he resigned.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 b5 4.Bg2 Bb7
This variation is supposed to offer Black a solid position. By preventing the further occupation of the centre by means of c2-c4, Black aims to reduce White's dynamic potential, characteristic for the Catalan Opening and the fianchetto system of the Queen's Indian. However, such an ambitious approach is not without drawbacks. The daring b5-pawn is undefended and will most likely cause Black a loss of time after an eventual attack with Qd3 or Nc3. This could eventually lead to an advance in development for White, offering him tactical resources based on piece activity alone (and not on a strong centre combined with the
powerful g2-bishop, as this often happens in the aforementioned openings). Such resources are usually well-hidden in what could seem to be a boring position and require such an imaginative player and true artist like Romanishin to be unearthed.
Romanischin is responsible for bringing fresh life in the line 5.0-0
by the unexpected pawn sacrifice 7.dxc5
when after 8...Bxb4
White certainly has compensation for the sacrificed pawn, by preventing the enemy king from castling, but possibly not more than that. 12.Bb4
Romanishin,O (2555)-Stangl,M (2475)/Altensteig 1992/CBM 031/[Dautov]) 15.cxd4
1/2-1/2 Romanishin,O (2543)-Aleksandrov,A (2659)/Calcutta 2004/CBM 103 ext.
This move makes part of Black's general plan, but it does not contribute directly to the development of the king side, which leaves the king in a slightly dangerous situation.
Black is at crossroads now. Should he continue with the development of his king side, or consolidate his spatial advantage on the other wing?
6...Na6 Generally, speaking, the most desirable move. Before moving with his king's bishop, Black overdefends the c5-pawn, in order to avoid a loss of time in case of dxc5. [6...Be7 offers White chances for maintaining the initiative after 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Nc3 a6 9.e4 for instance 9...h6 10.Bxf6 gxf6 (10...Qxf6 11.e5 ) 11.e5 (11.Ne1!? /\Nd3 Mikhalchishin) 11...f5 12.Ne2 Nc6 13.Nf4 h5 14.h4 Qc7 15.Qe2 0-0-0 16.b4! (16.c3 Rdg8 17.Kh2 d6 18.Nd3 Nxe5 19.Nfxe5 Bxg2 20.Kxg2 dxe5 21.a4 Bd6 22.axb5 axb5 23.Rfd1 Qb7+ 24.Kh2 e4 25.Nb4 1/2-1/2 Romanishin,O (2560)-Miles,A (2560)/Riga 1979/IZT) 16...Nd4 (16...Nxb4 17.c4|^ ) 17.Nxd4 Bxd4 18.Bxb7+ Kxb7 19.c3! Bxe5 20.Nd3 Bd6 21.a4-> Mikhalchishin;
Another way of consolidating the queen side consists of 6...Qb6 but this move looks quite risky. Developing the queen at a stage when several other pieces find themselves on their initial squares means just exposing both Their Majesties (Q + K). Besides, the relative weakness of the f6-square could tell. There is little wonder that White disposes over several tactical resources: 7.Bxf6 (One of the last tournament games played by the Wizard from Riga continued with 7.a4 a6 8.Nc3 Ne4 Black obviously dislikes the exchange on f6, but this knight jump allows White increase his advance in development. 9.Nxe4 Bxe4 10.axb5 Qxb5 11.Qd2 f6 12.Bf4 Qb7 13.c4 cxd4 14.Qxd4 e5 15.Bxe5 fxe5 16.Qxe5+ Be7 17.Nd4 Bxg2 18.Nf5 Qb4 19.Kxg2 Nc6 20.Qxg7 0-0-0 21.Rxa6 Qb7 22.Rfa1 Nb4+ 23.Kg1 Nxa6 24.Qxe7+- Tal,M (2525)-Lautier,J (2580)/Barcelona 1992/CBM 030) 7...gxf6 8.Nc3 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Bxg2 10.Kxg2 White's advantage of development is significant, but the compact mass of central pawns is supposed to keep the black king out of trouble.
For the time being, the critical issue is to defend the b5-pawn in optimal way. 10...a6 (10...b4?! allows White open the queen side after 11.Na4 Qa6 12.c3 Nc6 13.Rc1 Be7 14.Nxc6 Qxc6+ 15.Kg1 when the relative weakness of the d7-pawn and the exposed position of the queen make themselves felt by preventing the king from castling soon. 15...b3?! Black intends to leave the enemy knight out of play for a while in order to launch an attack against the opposite wing, but White's solid structure allows him to beat off this premature action. 16.Qxb3 h5 17.c4 h4 18.Qf3! hxg3 19.hxg3 Qxf3 20.exf3+/- Miles,A (2565)-Gallagher,J (2295)/Brighton 1984/EXT 99) 11.e4 Be7?! ("Develop knights and only then the bishops" is an axioma left by our forefathers and that is still valid in certain situations.
would have questioned White's stability in the centre and allowed Black retain a defensible position. In fact, this might be a critical position for the line starting with 6...Qb6) 12.a4
Played in the best spirit of the Sicilian Rauzer. 13...exd5
Let us try to understand what are the achievements that justify White's sacrifice. First of all, the enemy knight (and, subsequently, the queen's rook) are cut off play for a couple of moves. Secondly, after the elimination of the e-pawn, the compact central structure has been completely ruined, offering White stability on light squares and targets for attack. Finally, the opening of the e-file makes the king feel rather uncomfortable. 14...Bc5
Dorfman,J (2510)-Salov,V/Ivano Frankovsk 1982/EXT 99; 6...cxd4
is a rather simplistic continuation, allowing White retain a small plus by simple means. 7.Nxd4
transposes to 6...Qb6) 9.Qd3
(The attempt to win time for the development by means of 11...d5
fails to 12.Rc1
. White is not at all forced to capture on b4 yet.) 12.Nxc3
1/2-1/2 Rausis,I (2560)-Baburin,A (2550)/Skei 1993/CBM 036.
White's decision to agree to a draw looks slightly premature. His queen side majority ensures him the better
Quite strangely, this move has never been seen in tournament practice before. Even such an artist like Mikhail Tal failed to find it when he reached this position. White temporarily sacrifices a pawn in order to open the e-file and win time for his development.
Tal's game continued with 7.Nbd2
and Black had no special problems to maintain equality: 9...cxd4
1/2-1/2 Tal,M (2620)-Polugaevsky,L (2615)/Soviet Union 1984/EXT 2000]
7...Bxe4 8.Nc3 Bb7
Black has to return the pawn. In case of 8...Bc6
White would obtain powerful attack with 9.d5
. The black king cannot find a safe place already.
9.Nxb5 Qb6?! This can be considered a questionable decision already. Black's desire to overdefend the d6-square is quite understandable but the queen will be rather exposed on b6, although this is not easy to foresee. True, the intended consolidation of the centre with 9...d5 leaves White with strong initiative very much in the spirit of the Catalan opening after 10.c4|^ ; but Black could have solved the problem of the d6-square by offering the exchange of the white active knight with 9...Nc7 although White seems to retain the more pleasant position, for instance 10.Nxc7+ Qxc7 11.c4 Be7 (11...cxd4 12.Bxf6 gxf6 13.Qxd4+/= ) 12.d5 0-0 13.Re1+/= ; In fact, even the simple 9...Be7+/= would have been preferable, when the early occupation of the d6-square does not seem to offer White anything concrete yet.
A further concession, allowing White to consolidate his advantage in the centre. [After the forced 10...cxd4
Black would have retained a defensible position. White's best chance for an advantage would be 11.Qxd4
followed by the systematical advance of the queen side majority.
11.d5+/- 0-0 12.Ne5 Nb8
Black probably hoped that he would be able to expel the enemy knights one by one. However, White's activity ensures him what we could call dynamic stability of his knights. The following sequence of moves is highly instructive.
13.a4! a5 13...a6 14.a5 Qd8 15.d6 Bxg2 16.Kxg2 axb5 17.dxe7 Qxe7 18.cxb5+/-
A perfect illustration of Nimzowitsch' theory about the natural tendency of the unblocked pawns to advance even at the cost of their lives.
15.bxa5 Rxa5 16.Bd2 Rxb5
17.axb5 dxe5 18.d6 Bd8 19.Ba5 Qxa5 20.Rxa5 Bxg2 21.Kxg2 Bxa5 22.Qa1 Bd8 23.Qxe5+-
The tactical sequence is over now and White retains material and positional advantage. the rest is relatively simple.
23...Nfd7 24.Qe4 Bf6 25.Qb7 g6 26.Rc1 Bd4 27.Rc2 Ne5 28.h3 g5 29.Kf1 Re8 30.Qc7 Kf8 31.Ra2 Ned7 32.Ra8 e5 33.Rxb8 Nxb8 34.d7 Nxd7 35.Qxd7 Ra8 36.b6 Ra1+ 37.Ke2 e4 38.b7 Ra2+ 39.Kd1 1-0