Danny King is the latest grandmaster to join the inspirational lecturers on Fritztrainer DVDs. He has embarked on a series entitled "Power Play" and this, the first in the series, deals with mating patterns.
He has compiled 42 lectures totaling almost four hours of video presentation in which he considers - and asks you to consider - eight main themes and eleven puzzles to test your understanding of these themes.
The first of these is the "Greek gift" sacrifice in which a bishop is sacrificed on h7 (h2) to bring about an early mate. This is normally considered to be a rather hackneyed theme, but as King points out, it occurs many times in actual play and a thorough knowledge of the method of conducting the attack is essential together with a recognition of the features that make the sacrifice possible. He gives seven examples, four of which occurred in games from 2000. Using a game Netzor - Gurezennec from the French Championship of 2000, as the prototype of the attack, he examines other constellations of pieces and pawns that will either lead to mate or produce an overwhelming advantage. The following examples will demonstrate how varied these positions can be. In all these examples White's next move was Bxh7 check and the sacrifice was successful. In the course of his explanations, King demonstrates the many alternative possibilities that exist giving the examples more substance than the mere examination of the "Greek Gift" theme.
King could have added another game to his demonstration being that included in Peter Wells Fritztrainer DVD on the middle game. There Wells explains his game with D. Durnitracke at Balatonbareny in 1997, in which his bishop sacrifice succeeded.
To round off this theme, King gives some examples where the sacrifice did not work through assiduous defence on the part of the player of the black pieces.
The following theme is very similar to the "Greek gift" and is an exposition on the Lasker double-bishop sacrifice. This is less likely to occur in actual play, but again a good understanding of the method will undoubtedly help a player to understand the essentials of a position where an attack against his opponent's king can be undertaken.
The next three themes, covering "The lawnmower mate", "The bishop see-saw" and the "H file distraction", are delivered in eight lectures and 32 minutes of video. These types of positions are given various titles by the world at large but those chosen by King are very apt. They are given below.
Again, these are themes are very common and can be found in many books on mating combinations etc, but King's enthusiasm and mode of delivery imbue a study of his videos with a new dimension such that one can look at them with new eyes and a new understanding.
A well known chessplayer was once heard to remark that he could play Alekhine's combinations if only he got the same position. This video makes one aware of how mating positions arise and consequently is both a good vehicle for learning and a good tool for coaching.
The eight themes are rounded off by a close look at knight mates, queen in pinning situations and back rank mates and even here, there is a vitality in the presentation that instills greater interest than merely looking at a book.
During all the lectures, King extols us to dispense with the game scores and move along with him in solving the problems that arise in the games he has chosen. Following his discussions of the various themes he gives eleven puzzles and here he is in his element. All the puzzles are complete games and his methods of conducting us through the answers are masterful as befits a well-known author and coach.
This DVD is a fine "taster" for those that will follow and complete the series.
As is now usual with ChessBase Fritztrainer DVD's, each is a "stand alone" as the disc includes the light version of ChessBase that has the media system built in.
Recommended price is £21.50.