Review: Chessbase Magazine 175

By Davide Nastasio

Generally I don’t review magazines, because they are not like books: they get outdated with time.  In this case, however, I must make an exception. Why? Because in this Chessbase magazine there are all the games and all the video commentary from Baku 2016 where the best chess team in the world won the gold!



US team, Baku 2016 (photo courtesy Maria Emelianova)


But let’s go in order! The magazine begins with the Editor’s Top Ten, a list of ten articles and videos that one should watch first!  I’d like to mention two of them which I found quite interesting.

The first is a game annotated by Kramnik, played in Baku, Azerbaijan, against Italian GM Vocaturo Daniele.  This is a must-read for those who play 1.d4 and want some new ideas against the King’s Indian Defense.



Kramnik vs. Vocaturo; Baku, Azerbaijan, 2016


I will put the game here, because I believe this review can be a great learning moment. How should you use it?  Simple.  Analyze the game in the same way you’d analyze one of your tournament games, and then get a copy of Chessbase Magazine 175 and check if your annotation hit the same critical moments that Kramnik found. In this way you’ll be able to compare your thinking with a top GM.




Then we have another annotated game by the player that in my opinion has done a great job of procuring the gold for the US team: Wesley So. During the Olympiads, his performance has often saved the team, or gained a point which would lead to a win.



GM Wesley So


Again, I’d like to add the game in this review, and ask you to find where White blundered and lost.  Then, once your analysis is complete, compare it with Wesley So.




The magazine continues with World Class Chess explained in detail. The focus is on the two main events which have shaped 2016: the Baku Chess Olympiad and the Moscow Tal memorial.

The Baku Chess Olympiad article contains all the games played in the men’s section (3714 games, of which 105 were annotated extensively by the players), plus the tables of the results, and the videos made by GM King to highlight the most important moments of the Olympiad.  For those who want to see all the games played by the women in the Baku 2016 Olympiad, they have been inserted in Chessbase Magazine Extra issue 174, which contains 27,459 games!




The following is a brilliant game by Baadur Jobava, annotated in a video by GM King. Once more, it is important to be pro-active in learning chess. Try to annotate the game and see if your annotations match GM King’s expert analysis.




The Moscow Tal Memorial contains 46 games, 14 of which are annotated.





The difference between the Extra and the regular issue of Chessbase Magazine is that in the regular issue there are the most high quality games, like for the Informant, and in the extra there are all the rest that one would like to have for reference.  Still this issue of Chessbase Magazine has a total of 3,872 games! And this beats all the competition.

The magazine continues with “Opening Trends,” which features an in-depth article on openings which are popular among amateurs. In this issue, Igor Stohl writes about the Benko Gambit.



GM Pal Benko with the Benko Gambit Initial Position in 2005



The reason I love Chessbase Magazine is the amount of theoretical material they pour out to keep our opening repertoire updated. The section Opening Repertoires contains 11 articles by top GMs like Mihail Marin, Tatiana Kosintseva, and Michal Krasenkow.  In this issue the French Defense had 3 interesting articles by 3 different authors.  Since I learned the French, thanks to GMs Pert and King, I read the articles, especially the one by Petra Papp because it was recommended for White.  I want to be sure I don’t have a bad surprise at a tournament!





In his column on 0penings, Rainer Knaak made 2 videos with themes of double attacks by the Queen in the opening.  He also presented 9 test positions asking how a player should continue, showing how some opening traps always find new victims!

The following is an example of the questions he asks:





The most important reason I wanted to review this issue of Chessbase Magazine is related to the new system of tactical analysis developed in Chessbase 14.





The engine was fed 50 different Spassky games, and they were all analyzed and classified thanks to Tactical Analysis.




The colors in the “medals” column represent different strategical and tactical motifs which were found by the engine inside Spassky’s games.  Once they are opened they can be seen as a normal game, but when they reach a critical point they are shown with a diagram.  One could then enable training to test himself on these games, as I did for the following position:





This was a particularly nice feature from Chessbase, since to analyze 50 games can take days.  To have them ready with the bulk of the job done was quite thrilling.

Maybe in the next issue they could also add the training questions, because Chessbase 14 can add that to an analyzed game automatically.

The section on strategy is authored by GM Marin, and he does a superb job in this article.  With the topic of the Positional Queen Sacrifice, this section is worth the price of the book. He divides the article into 4 parts, and with a wealth of positions and games to illustrate how such a sacrifice works and when it doesn’t.

Notice that GM Marin’s article is not asking you to just read, but to find the right moves at the right moment, as in the following game:





Marin poses the following challenge: “Chances are about equal, and Black seems to have a normal position, but Nezh found a way to change the course of events abruptly.  Your Move.”

I believe just the section on strategy shows why one must have Chessbase Magazine.  In a paper magazine it would be impossible to print such a long article with so many examples and test positions.  Instead, thanks to Chessbase 14 and Chessbase Magazine, I can train myself on strategy while reading an article which is essential for learning.

Oliver Reeh is a famous chess journalist, titled player, and he authors the section on tactics.





Notice that in the videos he also shows wrong tactics.   That is also important because often we succumb to “natural” moves which are blunders, but in our minds they were a fork, as in the above position.

I don’t want this review to become too long.  Unfortunately, Chessbase Magazine is so big and full of material for studying that I’m afraid of being accused of negligence if I don’t try to cover it all. But I can’t cover it all, so I will just limit myself to briefly mentioning two sections which I think are important, and leave the rest to the readers to discover.

Chessbase magazine has 2 sections which I read first when I receive it. “Read” is not the correct verb, because they are mainly comprised of videos. The endgame section by worldwide endgame expert GM Karsten Mueller, and the Guess the Move video made by GM Simon Williams. These are the two parts I advise everyone to watch, because on those parts you’ll gain the most reward in your games.

In conclusion: Chessbase Magazine is all I need (even more than what I need) for honing my chess skills and improving on them. The quality of the game annotations, the videos, and the positions chosen by the best in their field are of immense importance for the serious amateur on the road to mastery!


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