Review: Pawn Structures you should know, by Adrian Mikhalchishin

By Davide Nastasio

The author of this DVD is the famous FIDE trainer and Grandmaster, Adrian Mikhalchishin.



GM Adrian Mikhalchishin


He is also a famous author with many books published, too many to count. When I say “famous trainer” I mean top of the chess world famous! He was one of Karpov’s trainers in the period from 1980 to 1985 when Karpov was winning tournament after tournament! Then he trained Alexander Beliavsky in the period 1989-90.   I’d like to show some of his books, because Mikhalchishin is definitely the coach to learn from:




And of course he has written also on pawn structures before, as in the following book:




Mikhalchishin begins the DVD with the famous Tarrasch quote:




Luckily, after watching this DVD, those who are afraid will be able to continue to play chess and deal with such a structure!  But the main idea behind this DVD is to give the tools to deal with very important pawn structures that we all find in our games.  The Isolani is covered with 10 videos.




And here we do need to learn chess history and our classics, because through the classic games we will grow as players. In fact, Chessbase released two DVDs from different authors which were pointing to such important concepts for one’s chess growth:




Who was one of the first players to have the problem of the Isolani? Wilhelm Steinitz, the first world champion, had this problem in his match against Zukertort.  Once more we see how games of the past can help us in learning, as we do by watching the ninth game of that match!




By the way, this game has been commented on by all the best players throughout history: Fine, Karpov, Kasparov, and of course Mikhalchishin.  Clearly this is a game one needs to know.




Hanging pawns, which Mikhalchishin treats with 7 videos, is quite important because Mikhalchishin shows what the player with hanging pawns should do, and how the chess technique changed from Rubinstein’s time.  Nowadays there are some typical maneuvers one has to perform to stop the hanging pawns and gain advantage.




This game shows the hanging pawns for Black.



The Hedgehog, which Mikhalchishin treats with 11 videos, is quite an important formation which has many books written on it.




This is an example on how to deal against Black’s Hedgehog formation!



Maroczy structure is another typical pawn formation which Mikhalchishin treats with 12 videos.




As you can see, not knowing how to handle the Maroczy can be quite deadly!



Now I’d like to give my impression of this DVD. Mikhalchishin goes at lightspeed through the videos, showing as many examples and maneuvers as he can, and that is quite something. In fact, I feel the DVD could have been titled “Maneuvers you need to know!” since I learned so much. I always questioned myself in some games as to how I should proceed, and this DVD is a clear answer.  Through Mikhalchishin’s coaching expertise, I understood why one needs a coach in order to achieve the highest chess levels. This DVD is worth the price just for the selection of games Mikhalchishin has chosen. Those games show the amazing maneuvers that one must know, and must make a habit when playing. Often we are misled to think we must study tactics and checkmates, but here lies the difference between an average amateur, and the master: the knowledge of these maneuvers. The only defect I can find in the DVD is that Mikhalchishin makes them look simple, elementary, as though everyone can perform them, which shows his class. He’s like an expert magician who shows us a trick, and we think it’s easy because he performed it flawlessly.  When we try to repeat it, however, we discover we’ll need years to become that skillful!

I’d like to show a position which made me realize how lucky I was to have this DVD. It comes from the game Dominguez Perez vs. Moradiabadi, 2011.

Black has just played 24…h6; can you guess what White’s next move will be?




I will not spoil the surprise, but it was funny to notice how before seeing this video I thought it could be a draw, and then learned how dangerous such a position could be and how wrong my evaluation was.

The DVD ends with 8 video clips of tests, a way to check what one has understood and learned from the videos.  There is also a database of extra games, 78 in total, which one should study in order to improve the knowledge of these structures. The main database, on which the video lessons are based, is made up of 81 games!

I really like this DVD, and hope Mikhalchishin will release many more to share his chess wisdom with us.


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