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A Review of Nicholas Pert’s The Solid Slav Defence

By Davide Nastasio
GM Pert is giving us a total repertoire against 1.d4,d5; 2.c4 using 2…c6!;GM Pert has been a GM for ten years, and he began to play this opening around twelve years ago. I have a lot of sympathy for GM Pert, because we have made similar opening choices. He also was a Dutch defense player, but he struggled very hard with such an opening against other strong GMs of his day, and for this reason he decided to change, and on his way to Damascus he was fulgurated by the Slav! What I like of GM Pert is that he plays to win, especially with Black. And while everyone thinks some lines are drawish, especially with Black, Pert plays them for a kill! This repertoire he is giving us is an attacking repertoire. GM Pert is clear, he is guiding us toward some decent positions where Black can play for a win, but then one must think for himself and find the right continuation. There is theory involved, but this shouldn’t scare us.
GM Pert right away in the introduction speaks of pawn structures: where to place the pieces, and how to deal with White’s plans. Here is an example of pawn structure he covers:
intro_pawn_structure
GM Pert repertoire is not for the faint of heart, he carefully chooses lines that allow a player to go on the offensive, sometimes also at the cost of a pawn, as in the following diagram.
pawn_sacrifice_black_offensive
Now, out of the 17 videos which make the DVD, GM Pert proves he is honest, since seven are based on his games! Of course, to avoid boring the viewer with only his games, he has chosen some of the greatest players who have played this opening over the years: Aronian, Kasparov, and Gelfand are just few of the names we see in the videos. The first video clip shows that GM Pert is thorough in covering White’s main lines, as well as side lines. Here is an example:
video_1_white_choices
GM Pert refers to 6.Ne5 as the most aggressive for White.
6.Nh4, is defined as a more quiet and solid line for White by Pert.
6.e3, is the old main line, where White just wants to regain the Pc4 with Bxc4.I like the completeness with which GM Pert covers also sidelines, as in this case the main line is 9.Qe2, but Pert covers also 9.Nh4 and 9.Qb3 that he considers sidelines.
video_1_main_Qe2_and_sidelines
I’d like to make a statistical mathematical argument for this DVD. I’ve selected on the filter of my Mega Database 2015 GM Pert as Black player, and in the ECO I’ve put D11 through D20 and clicked! He played 90 games, and now prepared to be blown out: he lost 10 games, drawn 51, and won 28!! Can you imagine?? He has won the 32% of his games as Black! Drawn the 57%, and lost just the 11%.
statistical_cake
Why do I like this DVD? Because GM Pert, in my opinion, explains the openings as they should be explained. He doesn’t give me a bunch of computer lines (like some authors who write book after book on openings generally do) that I cannot really memorize. He explains the ideas behind nearly every move, and that is what I want from a teacher: to explain to me the ideas of the opening, instead of endless variations with  Informator symbols at the end.
For example, one important point is to know which square is the right one to develop some pieces, and Pert explains that!
best_square_Bf8
To some this can seem silly, but for me it is a very convenient way of remembering the staggering amount of information that we do need to remember if we are interested in chess at high amateur competitive level. GM Pert also shows the initial moves quickly every time, so he doesn’t show us a position at move 11, and then begin to comment. This is quite positive, because seeing those moves over and over facilitates the learning. In some cases he reviews moves that have gained popularity, and how to neutralize them, like in the following diagram:
move_gained_popularity
And throughout the videos, GM Pert shows fragments of other important games a student must know, and refers the student to watching them on their own time, giving a useful direction for the needed homework. As for the content of the DVD, there are sixteen videos covering all the theoretical framework one needs to know to play the Slav, plus one video of introduction.
There are eight video clips of questions, based on positions presented by GM Pert, where the student must take an active role and think which moves are correct. GM Pert then gives feedback based on the student’s answer.
There are 3 databases: one with 17 games, which are the skeleton of the video lectures; one with 100 games based on the essential knowledge a player should have on the modern Slav; and one database with 16 annotated games. Now I’d like to show a game from the database, without annotations, just to prove an important comment made by GM Pert. In one of the videos, GM Pert clearly says that the Slav is an opening where one must know the endgame. Because most of the time, it is in the endgame that one realizes the small advantage obtained in the opening. So if the reader is interested in learning the endgame, this is the opening to play.
This game is a clear example of how the magic of the endgame has transformed an equal position into a lost one for White. My advice is to play this game through without using an engine, and try to guess where White made a big mistake and lost the game.

 As always with GM Pert, this is a trademark of his teaching style. After 20 minutes in a video lecture, showing and commenting different lines and games played, GM Pert uses the last 1-2 minutes of the video to recapitulate all the main ideas explained so that the student can try to remember the main points.
In conclusion, this opening, like the King’s Indian, is a must for the player interested in achieving master level. Using the Mega Database and the ECO keys, I was able to ascertain that all the champions from the past like Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca (or Euwe that in his matches against Alekhine, in 1935 and 1937 used such opening extensively) have used this opening in their lives. It is exciting to see the battles on the chessboard they had nearly (or more than) a century ago. Thanks to GM Pert, now I have added a new weapon to my opening repertoire, a weapon I’ll be able to use in my next tournaments!

 

 

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