A University Education

by Davide Nastasio

Power Strategy 1, by Mihail Marin, ChessBase, Video running time: 4 hours 52 min., $39.95

When I was in college, I was frustrated with the education system because every year they would test us on what kind of learner we were (visual, auditory, or tactile). Then independently from the results, they would just give us a heavy 2,000+ page book to read. I’m not against books, but as a tactile learner my brain is clearly dominated by movement, color, and geometric shapes.  While one of the best books on the middlegame was written by Aron Nimzowitsch, between his metaphors from a previous century and the translation, I wasn’t able to learn much from it; I knew, however, that one cannot go far without studying the middlegame and the endgame.

Thanks to the ChessBase Fritz Trainer system, I can receive all the knowledge I need without opening a book, while at the same time engaging all my senses for learning. With the Power Strategy series of DVDs, Romanian grandmaster Mihail Marin “aims to demonstrate the importance of taking proven principles into account before choosing the direction of your over-the-board calculations.” This first DVD focuses on development in the initial phase of the game and the wide range of situations in which developing moves are of the highest priority.

Marin offers the viewer a kaleidoscope of games played by modern grandmasters across twenty video segments, along with an exclusive training database of fifty-five essential games that correspond to the themes presented on the DVD. The database is quite interesting because of exciting games played by the best players: Tal, Nezhmetdinov, Fischer, Geller, and GM Marin himself. Viewers can also test their skills with many quiz videos featuring interactive feedback.

In the section on general aspects, GM Marin shows the game Ivkov – Gheorgiu:


The black player, a strong Romanian GM, is punished for not developing. This shows us that the rules are the same for amateurs and professionals alike, and if one violates them, the opponent will win the game. Gheorghiu also made the mistake of attacking before finishing his development. As can be seen in the diagram, Black has still four pieces on the back rank, and it is already move seventeen of the game.

Marin presents games that had an impact on him as a player. He tells us to “find some games which are beautiful, and you will want to see them over and over.” I believe this is necessary in order to become a stronger player. The importance of his message is conveyed in his tone of voice, which would not come across so clearly if only written on the page of a book.

Marin shares a lot of chess wisdom throughout the DVD, including quotes from players the past. For instance, Rudolf Spielmann, the last of the romantics, in relation to the material value of a pawn compared to development, said “one pawn is equivalent to three tempi.” Marin’s deep knowledge of chess history is one of the things that I really like about this DVD.



Rudolph Spielmann


Of the four videos on the theme of punishing a deviation from natural development, I’d like to show a position that is really interesting from Fischer-Byrne, 1965:


Fischer just played Nxd4, thinking that he will be able to keep the enemy king in the center because the Be7 is under-protected. Instead Byrne answered with a move that left Fischer dumbfounded! The threat Nxc6 is not real, but Fischer was deceived into thinking that Black couldn’t castle!

Another game of note was played between Timman versus Geller in 1973:


In this position White has just played 14.Bb5, trying to impede the development of the black knight. Is this a great move or not? In explaining the answer, GM Marin tells the story of how Geller previously lost a game against Semyon Furman in 1970. Let’s remember that Furman was Karpov’s coach! Then Geller found an improvement: 14…Qb7. He told Spassky about this move, but he didn’t use it in his match against Fischer! Hence, with this game against Timman, Geller wins thanks to Qb7! This shows the importance of knowing the history of an opening line, and the ideas behind it, especially at the professional level.

The three videos devoted to converting an advance in development were quite enlightening. Marin notes Steinitz that while a development advantage can be temporary, it can also last throughout the game, up until the final victory. This made me think twice, because I always considered it just temporary. This simple statement shook the foundation of things I thought I knew, and made look at the games I review daily under a different light.

The next section of four videos is about developing sacrifices. The obvious role model for these games is Tal. The next-to-last section is entitled “how to catch in development, ignoring minor threats,” as is comprised of five videos. The last section features two games on the theme “the tactical benefits of perfect development.”

Overall, I’m satisfied with Power Strategy 1. Marin performs with the expertise of a university professor who patiently explains difficult material in an easily understandable manner. With the aid of the many games provided, I’ve absorbed the ideas, and will be able to apply them to my own games. Products like this one allow amateur-level players to play far above their rating. I’d like to conclude the review with another pearl of wisdom: Marin, quoting Kortchnoi, states “in order to ignore the rules, you first must know them well.”



Victor Korchnoi


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