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Review: Improve your Tactics with Tania Sachdev

By Davide Nastasio

This is the second DVD authored by IM Sachdev. The first was on how to improve one’s positional game, and better understand and evaluate games through positional concepts and the element she explained so well.

 

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FIDE IM and Woman Grandmaster Tania Sachdev

 

Tactics is likely the most used word in the chess world, and the secret everybody would like to master. I believe IM Sachdev chose the right approach to teaching tactics. She has selected some very important classical games, and through them she shows how a position can be conducive to the tactic theme we would like to implement in our own tournament games. While the first part of the DVD uses classical games we should all know, in the second part IM Sachdev uses her own games to show how tactics can be created during a game.  She also outlines what the most beautiful tactical games have in common: good development, harmonious interaction of our pieces, the use all pieces for attacking, moving them toward the center, etc.

The classical games used as examples are, in my opinion, the best. For example, in the following position between Morphy and Brunswick, Black just played Qe7 trying to protect the heavily attacked F7.

 

 

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If you were White how would you continue? The question seems silly, since there is a pawn up for grabs on b7, but Morphy (and this is the immense instructional value of watching his games) wasn’t a pawn grabber! He would develop all his pieces, even give material for the attack, and then begin to pound on the enemy position.

 

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Paul Morphy

 

 

In the case of the diagram above, Morphy continued with 8.Nc3, instead of taking the pawn on b7.  But I’d like to show you why this game is so great, because it gives us a lot of ideas to think about.

 

morphy_brunswick_move13

 

 

Black just played 12…Rd8; to defend the Nd7. And obviously White sacrificed and played 13.Rxd7. Now this brings up the question of whether or not 13.Rxd7 is a real sacrifice.  The answer is an obvious yes! But please notice the pieces I have highlighted: the Rh8 and the Bf8. After 12 moves, they are still buried like in a tomb, so we can say that White gave a rook for a defensive piece, which was really important. He removed a defender, because the goal of a chess game is to give checkmate. Black in reality is playing with 2 pieces less: the Bf8 and Rh8 that are totally useless. If we would put two bricks in their place, they would have the same value.

IM Sachdev’s teaching skills show up when she asks us to pause the video and find how the game ended. Again, my little secret is the following: I placed the position on my chessboard and gave myself 10 minutes, like in a tournament game, to find the way to win from this position.

 

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As reviewer, I have the duty to be honest and try to be precise, within the limits of my chess knowledge, which of course is a work in progress!
IM Sachdev has presented some beautiful games for which I’m quite grateful. However during video n. 3, in the game Nimzowitsch vs. Tarrasch 1914, around 5 minutes and 40 seconds, she says: “This concept of double bishops sacrifice in H7-G7 or H2-G2, became quite a concept, and this is the game which started it all.”  I disagree on this point, because there is a very famous game printed in many books, like the following:

 

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or even in Chessbase DVDs, like this one by Andrew Martin:

 

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They all commented this famous game, which I do have the pleasure to show you here. It has the double-bishop sacrifice, in the same fashion of the game Nimzowitsch vs. Tarrasch:

 

 

This is the game presented by IM Sachdev, which is beautiful but which doesn’t pre-date Lasker vs. Bauer, which was played 25 years before.

 

 

In the DVD she has used 8 games to present her ideas on how tactics flow out from a superior position. I loved the games she presented, because it was like visiting an art gallery with an art critic who is explaining in detail each masterpiece. Of course, her advice is phenomenal. In one video she presented a game from the match Karpov vs. Kasparov from 1985, and that game is a masterpiece of domination.  Then she shared her opinion on which world championship matches she learned more from.

Afterward she also shows a couple of games from her favorite player: Fischer! Also in that case one can understand how she reiterates the important points we should remember if we want to create tactics in our games. Once more it is clear that tactics come out from superior piece placement, an art in which Fischer was unmatched!

 

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GM Bobby Fischer

 

 

By the way, the last of the classic games presented is Short vs. Timman.  Clearly IM Sachdev is in love with this game; however, it was also presented in another Chessbase DVD: Greatest Hits, Volume 1 by Nigel Short, video 2, entitled Daring King March!

 

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The DVD ends with 17 videos taken from IM Sachdev’s games where tactics played an important part. I think this is the salient part of the DVD.  It is only in this moment when one watches her games that one can understand and give meaning to the phrase “tactics flow from a superior position.”  This is what troubled me.  Often on commercial chess sites they recommend we do tactics because they improve us as players. Some say 20 minutes; some 1 hour of tactics a day. But honestly after watching IM Sachdev’s games I began to have big doubts because the tactics in her games weren’t skewers, pins, or other quite common and easy tactical motifs.  The “tactics” were critical moments in real games when the right decision brought the win, and the wrong one gave a draw or a loss. I’m not saying there weren’t sacrifices, but the sensibility to understand which move to play at the right moment, or where to place a piece in the right square, was what we should really learn, because that will score us points in a tournament. Instead on some commercial sites, I’ve seen tactics which maybe are taken from blitz games, or games between low-rated players, and yes the tactic is there, but the piece placement is totally wrong. This also made me think that in order to improve our chess understanding, we need to find tactics or critical moments in the openings we do play, and thanks to Chessbase 14 this is possible, but it is not the topic of this review.

These last 17 video clips use the Fritztrainer system, where IM Sachdev asks a question for a certain position, the video stops, and the player has the time to think and try some moves. If the wrong move is selected, there could be a small red flashing phrase: “wrong move,” or IM Sachdev appears with a feedback video where she explains why that move was wrong, and gives us a hint on how to find the right idea.

In conclusion, I found I learned a lot from this DVD, not really about tactics, but about chess principles that are far more important to implement during a game. IM Sachdev mentioned more than one time how tactics come out from a superior position, and she proved it over and over with examples from her own games. The hours spent on this DVD were quite useful for my chess training. Let’s hope more Chessbase authors follow this example, and create more training material in this fashion.

 

 

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