By Davide Nastasio
I would like to tell a funny anecdote that happened today. I wanted to know more about the Veresov, and Andrew Martin is a very pragmatic teacher. He really provides a broad base of basic knowledge, and then if one wants to delve further, there are more theoretical works available as well, including the heavy stuff we generally use to keep books from falling down from bookshelves. Today when I got this title I just had the time to download and install it, but unfortunately on a Tuesday life, work, and family are quite hectic. So at some point in the day when I had a few minutes off, during my lunch break while reading a blog for which I write from time to time, I saw a game of a very young US expert (someone who is less than 10 years old, and already over 2000!) and he used this opening! The young kid lost in the endgame due to time but the position was equal, and he was playing against a veteran master player, showing that the opening is quite good if one can draw easily against someone 300 points stronger.
I do have a repertoire with 1.d4, but I play in a limited geographical area, three different nearby states in US, and the other players do pay attention to how I open, and they prepare for it. Hence there is the need for something which is considered solid, and not dangerous by those playing with Black. Something which can be quite aggressive if taken lightly, and not studied.
What I like about Andrew Martin is his dynamic style in presenting games. He doesn’t take one hour to show you a game. Like a sketch artist, in less than 10 minutes he is able to show all the important points of a game one must know. Then of course it will be up to the individual to do the rest of the homework.
In the introductory video, Martin shows a game by GM Alburt, saying he is one of the experts in this opening. But when I searched Megabase 2017, I found less than 20 games played by Alburt with the Veresov.
Generally to learn an opening, one must find a hero, a player who adopts it consistently. The database which comes with the DVD has 50 essential games. In these games the only name which stands out is Nakamura. But also for Nakamura the number of games he played with this opening can be counted on the fingers of two hands.
I was a little annoyed by not finding a hero for the opening. Once again I opened the universal answer to my chess problems, also known as Megabase 2017, and just set the filter to D01, the ECO code which defines this opening. In the blink of an eye, more than 16,000 games were found, from classical times through today. (By the way, how did I discover D01 was the ECO code for this opening? Simple, as mentioned before, the DVD comes with a database of 50 essential games, 46 out of 50 had D01 as code.)
I began to see the classical players using this opening, because before watching Martin’s skilled and extremely good opening videos, I wanted to form an idea for myself.
Once I was following a lecture by GM Naroditsky, and he said that one should watch 50-100 games on the opening he wants to play. In this way, he gets a feeling and understands if that opening is really for him.
And so I did it. I watched the games played by Reti, Tartakower, Alekhine, and Bogoljubov. Tartakower was a champion for this opening. Sometimes using it for short draws. Some games were fought hard, like the following:
The next game, also by Tartakower, shows how the old master continued to use this opening till the end of his chess life:
In reality, the opening should be called Richter-Veresov, in honor of the two masters that played it often and added the most theoretical novelties. I watched many of the games played by these two masters. The following by Veresov is quite interesting:
Also Kurt Richter played many exciting games. Here are two:
In more modern times, a GM who championed the Veresov is Miles, a highly creative player who is worth studying and learning from his games.
Perhaps the first player to use the Veresov in a kind of hybrid form (sometimes the opening is called Levitsky Attack) was Stepan Levitsky, a contemporary of Chigorin who was the Russian champion in 1911. For those who have passion and time, please look at his games. It is interesting to learn about the genesis of an opening.
Let’s review the DVD. I like Andrew Martin because he is quite clear when speaking, and like a soccer commentator, he inspires passion for the game and clearly explains what’s going on. He focuses on the critical moments of each game and identifies them for us. He has a system for teaching the opening. He begins with a couple of games for inspiration that show how exciting this opening can be, and then he shows the dark side, when one makes mistakes and loses when using the opening.
I felt the absolute key to this opening is related to when one should play some pawn levers, and Martin does an exceptional job in explaining when and how. But he also conveys important ideas. For example, in the following position Martin was explaining why the middlegame was better for White, but he also added an idea for the endgame, since there is a clear target.
These common moves highlighted by Martin are important, because when we watch other games with the Veresov, we will spot them and understand the reasons behind them right away. Of course, Martin also highlights the important tactical moments in a game. The following one was played between Bellin and Prins. Can you see why Black cannot take the Pb4 with the Be7?
This DVD is huge! Thirty-six videos of commented games, which I love because they are easier to remember. One video of theory, and a final video are also included. The 36 videos are followed by 8 videos of test positions, plus 50 essential games one should know in order to play the opening. The videos are quite short, often just 5 to 10 minutes each, and this helps to keep the attention high and the learning student focused! When a video is 30 minutes or longer, one tends to forget the important points. I’m quite excited about this opening, and I wish to be able to incorporate it as soon as possible in my own repertoire!