Danny King continues his masterly exposition on attacking themes, following his DVD on Mating Patterns, with this essay on attacking the king. In all examples given this involves attacking a castled king using as spearheads a white pawn on e5 or the advance of the g-pawn. Other methods are dealt with on Powerplay 3. These DVD's are not designed to give a few hours of pleasant viewing, but, in order to fully benefit, one needs to work diligently at the material Danny provides and resist the temptation to jump too quickly to the answers to his puzzles.
In all there are 28 lectures that total nearly 5 hours of viewing but by solving the puzzles with the use of a board (as recommended) one could spent many more hours delving into the demanding intricacies of the positions set and playing through the additional material on the database.
Broadly, the material offered on the DVD can be summarised into the following sections:-
As a bonus, the section on specific openings offers an additional dimension to the main objective of the DVD in that there is discussion on the structural features of these particular openings that provide attacking possibilities or conversely, defensive requirements. An example of defensive techniques is given in Danny's examination of a counter to the Marshall Attack in the Spanish Opening. In the following position, Arizmendi Martinez playing against Nernet at Biel in 2006, played 9.d4! This must have rattled Black so badly that he subsequently succumbed to a vicious king-side attack via a sacrificial baring of the black king followed by a pursuit that eventually saw him surrender on c8.
When examining the advance of the white g-pawn against the Sicilian Defence, Danny admits to a feeling of inadequacy in Black's defensive possibilities, particularly when faced with positions that Bobby Fischer, playing the white pieces, described the winning procedure as being "pry open the h- file, sac, sac .....mate!" There are no exact examples of this technique given but Danny's apprehensions can be appreciated from the course of the games examined.
That attacks with the g-pawn are not the prerogative of the players of the white pieces are exemplified by the game Iordachescu - Conquest, played at the Victor Ciocaltea Memorial in 1999. In the following position Black played 20. ....g4 with such a disruptive effect on White's position that he resigned after his 35th move.
These DVD's are invaluable for use by chess trainers. In my own club I find that young players are captivated by this means of presentation. Five minutes of viewing and longer periods of application to the puzzles are worth more than an hours discourse and explanation of the techniques involved on an attack on the opposing king. Also, it is less demanding on one's stamina.
When dealing with the seven games used in the puzzles section, each game chosen poses several questions. Some of these games are not examples of perfect play and this makes them particularly instructive. As a sample, in the game Gostisa - Mohr, Ptui Zonal of 1995 the main question put when reaching the position diagrammed on the left after 14. 0-0-0 is "What is Black's best move?"
In the game, Black made the wrong choice and a clear explanation of the reasons why his choice was incorrect is given.
Although White continued with the correct attacking strategy for a number of moves, he made a mistake in playing 17. c4 in the position on the right. This gives Danny an opportunity to explain why c4 was not correct and what winning continuation should have been played. In the game Black was victorious. In effect this example provides four games for study and is an excellent vehicle to demonstrate the logical attacking procedure demanded by specific positions.
Danny's presentation does not allow interest to flag. He has an engaging manner of seeming to address each viewer in a particularly individual manner. One feels that his lectures are delivered directly for your benefit and further chess education. Viewers graded 2200 and below will surely benefit from the material that he examines.
ChessBase appear to have launched themselves on a programme of instruction that will appeal to players of all categories from grandmasters to tyros. By far the most populated of these categories that are eager to assimilate such material as these DVD's offer are the players graded 1800 - 2200. Danny King has hit with unerring accuracy this category. When the "Powerplay" series has been completed we hope to see him in another role with another equally worthwhile subject.