12/03/2008 20:28


Danny King continues his absorbing series of Fritztrainer "Powerplay" with the fourth DVD in which he examines various methods of grabbing an early initiative.   For the launch platform of  this subject he chooses as a criteria the games of Paul Morphy.  This is an interesting proposition as Morphy's opponents were not renowned for their defensive abilities.  However, the point is well made as his games show smooth effective development leading to  the gain of the initiative.

In his introduction Danny provides the motto "Every move counts in the opening" and then supports this with a quotation from Bobby Fischer's "My 60 Memorable Games" -

".........  if White makes a slip in the opening he is punished by loss of the initiative, while if Black makes a slip (since he is skating on thin ice from the very start) it is likely to be fatal."

These aphorisms are well exemplified in the first game quoted - Ricardi - Hellsten, 1st Magistral Endesa, 2006 - when after seven moves the following position was reached from a Catalan opening:-

Here White continued 8.e4!? seemingly giving away at least one pawn.  Black grasped the opportunity with 8..... Bxc3 9.bxc3 Nxe4 when White continued 10.Ne5, the point being that should Black play 10. ..... Nxc3 there follows 11.Bxc6ch bxc6 12.Qf3 and White recovers his material with a winning initiative.  In the game Black played 10. ...... Nxe5 and after 11.Bxe4 Nd7 12.Ba3 Black was denied the chance to castle on the king's wing and subsequently lost the game in short order.

In his explanations, Danny suggests that although the gambit may not be absolutely correct and would not stand up to an examination by Fritz, it has so unsettled the player of the black pieces that his game goes to pieces.  This, he carries on to expound, can be found in many games where either side seizes an early initiative, and consequently, having the first move, it is White's obligation to attack.  A bold assertion but undoubtedly true in over-the-board encounters.

In a further 18 illustrative games, he develops his subject to cover certain openings that contain possibilities for an early initiative not only for White but also for Black.  His comments on a variation of the Nimzo-Indian that is currently in vogue are interesting.  Amongst others, he cites the game Bareev - Topalov from the Amber Rapid of 2005 as an example of the difficulties encountered by White in this 4.Qc2 variation. At one point the game reached the following state:-

Here he points out the lack of development of White's kings side pieces and the exposure of the white king that contributed to his downfall.

It is one thing for a player to get the initiative and another to work out how this can be brought to victory.  Here the commentary continues until the result is beyond doubt and the lessons of the first three DVD's in this series provide some of the effective weapons in this phase of the games.

Another method of gaining an early advantage is the use of unorthodox opening moves.  Tony Miles provides two examples of this ploy in his games with Farago (Hastings 1976) and Ree (Hoogovens 1979).  In the latter game his first move as Black in reply to 1.c4 was 1.....b6.  Danny's explanation of these two games include an exposition on this opening and this alone is worth the price of this DVD.  Miles was very adept at unsettling his opponent with unorthodox moves.  Although it did not result in a early initiative, who will ever forget his win over World Champion Anatoly Karpov with 1.....a6  at the European Team Championship of 1980?

The presentation of the theme "Start Right" occupies the Introduction and thirteen chapters of explanation taking 3 hours of Chess Media Video system.  Following this are nine quiz tests.  Once more Danny emphasises the fact that in order to fully profit from these examples the "training" mode should be adopted without recourse to the game notation.  The Video time of the quiz section is 1 hours without any "Pause" time for seeking the solution oneself.   Danny uses some of his own games in this section with the explanation that he is able to describe the ideas that he toyed with in playing the game.  However, he is not averse to demonstrating his own losses in the interests of once more providing examples of  the theme of the DVD.

In previous reviews of this series I have assessed the material to be of most use to players graded 1800 - 2200 and this follows the same pattern.  As a vehicle for training young players this work is invaluable.  Danny King is an experienced trainer and he has obviously carried out extensive research to produce suitable material and provide apt explanations of the examples, despite the nonchalant attitude he projects on the videos.  The series is well structured and hopefully ChessBase will continue with further subjects and themes that will make the entire collection a complete exposition of attacking themes and stratagems.

The recommended price of "Start Right" is 21:95 and is well worth that outlay.

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