By Davide Nastasio
I like to learn openings because I believe they form the backbone of a player’s mindset. Different openings help us to discover who we are, what we like, what we dislike, and often send us into unknown territory. But on the pragmatic side, I play competitive chess, and my opponents do pay attention to how I open, and they do prepare for a possible encounter over the board. This means that I do need to have an ace up my sleeve in order to surprise them. I need to bring them into a forest where 2 + 2 = 5, and the exit is so small that only one can pass through, to paraphrase the great Mikhail Tal.
This DVD is what I needed, because Andrew Martin is really a good teacher and the right person to show me this new opening. In the first video he shows many possible transpositions into other openings that I know, which means he is teaching me how to avoid them, and lead my opponent once more into a place where he wouldn’t like to go, and where it will be too late to escape from!
Against 1.e4,Nc6; 2.d4, Martin recommend the original Nimzowitsch’s idea: 2…d5;
But there is also another original and interesting transposition into the French. I played the French for a while, but there are some problems. Nowadays the Tarrasch variation of the French (1.e4,e6; 2.d4,d5; 3.Nd2) does create a lot of windows, and of course the advance variation (1.e4,e6; 2.d4,d5; 3.e5,c5;) can be tough for the Black player. With this transposition: 1.e4,Nc6; 2. d4,d5; 3.Nc3,e6;
we enter into a French which is not widely known, and which has some poison if the White player doesn’t know what he is doing.
Here is an example of a game used by Martin, because he begins this DVD, like many others, with some inspirational games.
However, there is a problem with this transposition of moves which could lead to a French Exchange, as in the following example: 1.e4,Nc6; 2.d4,d5; 3.Nc3,e6; 4.exd5,exd5;
Which in my opinion obliges the user of 1…Nc6 to study the French exchange, because it is a possibility. However, the French exchange has been covered in two other works in Chessbase, one by GM Pert who is one of the best players of the French:
It is also covered in Powerplay 22: A repertoire for Black with the French Defence, by GM Daniel King:
This in a sense bring us to the question: is this DVD perfect for the beginner amateur? I don’t know. I think one must know some openings, have a repertoire, know what a transposition is, know some pawn structures, and how to play for or against them. If one knows these things, then yes, this is the DVD for that chess player. Otherwise it would be quite difficult for a beginner to understand how to manage an opening that does need some experience, because it could transpose into something else. This DVD is definitely needed for the intermediate player, or the club tournament player who wants to surprise his usual opponents and oblige them to use their heads, instead of the usual openings they know.
Let me also offer this example: let’s say I’m a 1.e4,e5 player as Black, but I don’t like my opponent to try to enter the King’s gambit. How would I avoid 1.e4,e5; 2.f4? With 1.e4,Nc6; 2.Nf3,e5, I have avoided that!
One game from the first group of videos which teaches how to answer against 1.e4,Nc6; 2.Nf3, made a big impression on me. Before watching it, let me tell you why I found this game AMAZING!!
It begins like a Nimzowitsch defence, then it transforms itself into a Pirc/Modern, but then the pawn structure changes again and becomes a KID! It is astonishing the fluidity of the two players. White is able to open a file on the queenside and begins the attack, but Black is able to bring his knights into the queenside and exchange them with White’s attacking pieces. Every time White is able to get rid of one defender, Black is able to bring another one in! But it is not finished. This game has so many interesting lessons that it is clearly a masterpiece. Black hasn’t used the dark-square bishop for good part of the game, and invents a maneuver in order to make it active, which is really fantastic. In the end, after these two champions have gone at length, a dramatic four rooks and pawns endgame begins.
The DVD comes with two databases. The first one used in the videos is made up of 37 games. The second (which is the one to study in order to have a grip of the opening) comes with 315 games.
I literally devoured this DVD, with its exciting videos, the quizzes, and the more than 300 games. It gave me a lot of new ideas on how to take my opponent out of his comfort zone. Now I will just have to practice online, and then use the new ideas I have learned at the next tournament.