By Davide Nastasio
I was looking forward to this product because I reviewed the previous one, and I was interested in the typical mistakes made by players in my rating range. I also thought this would give me an edge to discover what my problems are in order to make the next leap to a rating over 2000.
In the introductory video, GM Pert says he has done a lot of coaching for players between 1800 and 2100, which would be 100 points more than what the title of the DVD indicates. In my opinion, this could imply that Pert believes a player between 2000 and 2100 makes similar mistakes, so we could think that the DVD would work for players up to a rating of 2100.
The DVD is divided into the following chapters. As always, I’ll try to make this review instructive for the reader, finding games or positions which exemplify what GM Pert is trying to convey.
1. Converting an advantage, 5 videos
First of all, in the introductory video GM Pert explained clearly an endgame in which all the pawns were on the squares of the same color of the bishop, and why this was bad. I was familiar with this idea, but honestly when it happened in my games, I didn’t really understand how such a thing was bad. Instead, thanks to Pert’s example, it is now crystal clear in my mind what is wrong, and how I can exploit such a small advantage in order to obtain a full point, instead of a draw.
But the other important part, which Pert conveys clearly, is that even at this level, knowing some endgames is necessary in order to convert draws into full points.
As promised, I’d like to introduce the reader to some games, in this case played by great players. These games also exemplify what GM Pert conveyed with examples of games played between amateurs.
Let’s begin by looking at the following game from move 41–the endgame. Would someone say that Black is lost at this point?
Another important endgame is one that involves rooks and pawns. It is essential to learn these kinds of endgames. In this case, I’ll present a similar endgame to the one explained by Pert in the video. I found such an endgame, thanks to Chessbase filter function, where in the filter I put an equal number of pawns and rooks for each side, and out of nearly 7 million games the program found over 200 thousand similar endgames played! After watching about a hundred endgames, I thought this one was nice. After move 37, one can see how Black converts the material advantage into victory.
2. Anticipating the plans of the opponent, 7 videos
These mini lectures have the important quality of making us think about what we should ask ourselves during a game. In this case, Pert shows over and over the correct way of thinking that he applies during his games.
GM Mikhalchishin, one of the best trainers in the world, has also treated the topic of prophylaxis for Chessbase in Volume 2 of his book Strategy University: Prevention and Preparation in Chess.
In this case, White didn’t understand what Black’s plan was and how to neutralize it. At move 14, White should have played Rab1, with the plan of advancing the Pb3 in B4, after 14…Nc5; 15. Bc2,Qb6; 16.a3. Unfortunately he played 14.Rac1, and the game ended in a draw.
Prophylaxis can be done only through understanding the opponent’s plan. In this case, a book which treats it in the first chapter is Mastering Positional Chess, by young GM Daniel Naroditsky (published by New in Chess, 2010).
In this book we find the game Reshevsky – Petrosian, 1953, Zurich (the legendary tournament every serious player must know in order to become definitely stronger!). In this game Petrosian gives away the rook to block a terrible central pawn advance, and this is really a great example of anticipating the opponent’s plans. Enjoy the game, but pay attention to move 25!!
3. Exchanging pieces, 5 videos
GM Pert begins showing a very interesting position in which a slight weakness on Black’s king defense makes him conclude that White should not try to exchange the queen.
I found these videos quite interesting because they showed me how deep the mind of a Grandmaster can go in evaluating a position. It also made me understand why one needs to play with long time controls, because this kind of thinking can be done only when one has enough time to reason upon the position and form a strategic plan.
4. Openings, 5 videos
In this section, GM Pert warns that he cannot go deep into the openings. This thinking is logical because there are entire DVDs dedicated to many different openings and the traps which can happen, or the blunders one can commit playing some intuitive moves.
However, I found the following game used by GM Pert as example to be quite instructive. In general, all the games where there is a big difference in rating between the two players are quite interesting.
Obviously the first mistake in this game is 6…Nd6; it would have been better to play 6…Pb5. But it is quite instructive to see how the GM takes advantage of such mistake. Pert’s analysis stops around move 13, because for him it is won for White; I, however, have included the entire game.
5. Not considering the response of your opponent, 5 videos
This is the most troublesome part for me because I believe it is my opponent who doesn’t consider the responses I have analyzed; ultimately he plays something I didn’t consider, making me mad for the time I wasted! Now apart from the jokes, a recurring trend which comes out in Pert’s videos is relative to the lack of knowledge a player of my rating has. I feel with a certainty that Pert’s knowledge is superior for the endgames, and also for some subtle tactics, which means that improvement comes only if we study them. The lesson I took from his videos is the need to improve one’s rooks-pawns endgames and tactics which are 4-5 moves ahead.
In this position White has more active pieces, but there is a weakness: the Re1. Obviously we are not aware of it if we don’t understand deeply the tactical theme of the pin. In that game White could have had a good advantage if he played Kf1, protecting the Re1. Unfortunately he took in B7, and Black executed a nice combination. Once the combination was finished, and Black had the material advantage, technique was still needed in order to win the game.
6. Passive pieces, 4 videos
From these series of videos we learn one important rule to memorize: “Keep your opponent pieces as passive as possible, while keeping your pieces as active as possible.”
I think we all know who the master was when it comes to keeping his pieces active, while little by little totally choking the life out of the enemy pieces.
I’d like to present a game from one of the most famous tournaments in chess history: Zurich, 1953, Petrosian vs Szabo. Please try to guess White’s move from this position, from move 18 up to move 29, and try to understand why Petrosian is moving his pieces the way he does. It will not be easy (eventually just buy the book Zurich 1953, where the game is fully annotated), but if you achieve that understanding, it will open your chess mind to another level.
7. Pawn Structure, 5 videos
Obviously these videos just treat some mistakes made by amateurs, but they cannot really cover all pawn structures. In fact, Chessbase has many other products which treat pawn structures. Andrew Martin has made an entire DVD on pawn structures entitled First Steps in Pawn Structures. GM Pert also says clearly that he has made some opening DVDs which do show different pawn structures and how to treat them.
8. Miscellaneous, 8 videos
In this last part GM Pert focuses more on many themes inside a game: when to exchange a knight for a bishop; various pawn structures; active and passive pieces; anticipating the opponent’s plan; and many other topics which are important for the competitive chess player. Obviously the information given by Pert is quite important, because it will help us when we are in the middle of a game to make better decisions and improve our game.
The main database is comprised of 46 games, and there is a bonus database with an additional 50 games.
This DVD is a must-have, partly because Pert is really a terrific teacher full of passion, but mostly because the themes he addresses are really important for every serious chess player who really wants to improve. I surely belong to that category.