Pattern recognition

Review: Pattern Recognition, and Typical Plans, by Adrian Mikhalchishin

By Davide Nastasio

Mikhalchishin begins the first video with an introduction to the chess world in which he grew up. He mentions also the chess players with whom he shared time studying, and the victories they had in the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s. This group of players was comprised of Mikhalchishin, Beliavsky (4-time Soviet champion), Romanishin, Dorfman, and Marta Litinska (-Shul).



Young heroes of the Lviv team in 1979.


Mikhalchishin sent me this beautiful pic, where these three musketeers remind me of young Italian university students of that same period (the end of the 70s).



from the left: Mikhalchishin, Romanishin, and Beliavsky


The chance to know these legendary players through some of their games should be on everyone’s must-do list! I’d like to share some of my findings in this review, because they convey the love and passion for chess these young fellows had throughout their lives.   What can be better than a life spent doing something we love?

For example, in 1977, Romanishin had a wonderful performance in the October Revolution 60th Anniversary Tournament where he won first place with 11.5 points out of 17.  Notice that in that time Karpov was world champion, and he arrived fourth!

The following brilliant game where Petrosian, one of the most solid players of all time, is blown away from the board in just 30 moves can give you an idea of how Amazing Romanishin was!




Before I forget, Mikhalchishin mentioned trainer Viktor Kart, who was a good friend of Stein. I didn’t know anything about Mr. Kart.  Mikhalchishin said he wasn’t a strong player (he reached CM or FM strength), but often we forget that a trainer’s main task is not to be the strongest player in the world, but to convey passion and love for the sport, keep high the motivation to study for long hours, and then of course impart the technical knowledge.

Here is a recent picture of Mr. Kart, now living in Germany with Romanishin.



Mr. Kart on the left, Romanishin on the right



And what about Beliavsky?  I like Beliavsky for one book he has co-authored. Of course he has written many books, but I love the book below for the creative positions used in it.




This book begins with over 250 exercises on pinning!
This is an example of the first page:




Marta Litinskaya is also a great player.  She won the women’s Soviet championship in 1972, and in 2002 she won the women’s senior world championship.


Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Marta Litinskaya


This is one of her finest games:




Josif Dorfman, now living in France, is the author of the famous book The Method in Chess.




In this book he describes a “method” through which one can learn how to evaluate every position.  He also created a kind of algorithm for finding the right candidate moves in every position. Here is one interesting passage from this great book:





This is one of the most exciting games played by Dorfman:



Josif Dorfman




Why was it important to mention these names? Because chess culture and champions don’t appear like mushrooms after the rain, they appear if there are strong players who prepared the environment before them.  In fact, in the same area where the Mikhalchshin, Dorfman, and Beliavsky appeared, we have the appearance of Ivanchuk and Volokitin, just to mention two players known by everyone.



GM Vassily Ivanchuk



But the importance of the introduction is also in who Mikhalchishin trained.  One name known above all is Anatoly Karpov (trained from 1980 to 1986). Another world champion trained by Mikhalchishin is Maya Chiburdanidze. Chiburdanidze has been honored in many ways, like with the following stamp from Yugoslavia.




Of course there are too many chess players and teams trained by Mikhalchishin to mention them all. Notice that Mikhalchishin is a very active player.   In my Megabase 2017, I have over 1,700 games played by him, and the latest ones are from December 2016!

This is important, because some titled players don’t play anymore; they just coach, and have lost touch with the hard reality of today’s chess. Nowadays time controls are faster, and compared to tournaments played by the top GMs in the world (with one game a day), in the US chess circuit, most weekend tournaments consist of 2-3 games per day. This pace makes chess a stressful sport which requires good endurance and stamina for good performances!

Finally let’s talk about this quite instructive DVD: Mikhalchishin is creating masterpiece after masterpiece to communicate his chess wisdom to the masses.  Of the many coaches and famous chess authors, one comes to mind in particular: Mr. Jeremy Silman.   Silman continues to reiterate the concept of the importance of watching many games in order to learn chess (the idea behind it is to expose our minds to a lot of patterns, and eventually learn from them). The problem with such an idea is that the common amateur could watch thousands of games and still get nothing out of it, because the truth is we are all blind!

Instead, thanks to Mikhalchishin, a serious chess player has the chance to have one of the best coaches in the world at home! The real reason we need to watch Mikhalchishin’s DVD is based on the fact that after watching all the video clips, when we watch some games, our chess minds will be open to patterns, plans, and ideas we didn’t know before. Furthermore, we will watch games between top players, and in our minds we hear Mikhalchishin’s words, and understand what is actually happening over the board without the need of someone commenting them for us!

I’d like to offer an example. In the first two videos entitled Attack on H7, Mikhalchishin doesn’t show a boring Greek gift. Instead he explains how to create weaknesses, and play on squares of different colors. But the most important thing he shows is how he integrates the knowledge from the past to how GMs play today, and how we can benefit from the study of classic games.




In this position we see Botvinnik as White playing against Ragozin, Black, in 1947.  Botvinnik just played 13.Qc2, attacking H7. White is playing on the light squares, and trying to create weaknesses in the enemy castle.
Watch what happens if Black plays 13…h6; it would follow: 14.Qe2,Rc8; 15.Bc2,Na5; 16.Qd3,




Look how masterfully Mikhalchishin teaches a typical maneuver in this situation, which helps to switch the queen from behind the bishop to in front of the bishop.

But look what happens when Black tries to stop White’s threat playing 13…g6;




White continues with: 14.Bh6 (White begins to play on the dark squares) 14…,Re8; 15.Qd2, Rc8; 16.Rab1,Bf6; 17.h4,Qd6; 18.Bf4,Qa3; 19.h5,Na5; 20.Be5,




And here Mikhalchishin shows how White doesn’t care a little bit about the hanging Pc3, while the idea is playing on the dark squares’ weak complex, as highlighted by the arrows.

I could continue to explain more about this terrific example used by Mikhalchishin, but I prefer everyone to discover it through the video made by the Maestro himself!

I just wanted to show how his videos are eye-opening, and definitely worth memorizing, because they will build the bones of our chess understanding.

Mikhalchishin clearly explains that the typical plans are based on pawn structures, and he shows how, game after game, all one needs to know are such plans to win the game, or prevent the opponent from damaging us.
I found it very instructive how he was able to prove that the study of one of Botvinnik’s games gave him the idea of how to win one of his games.

I’d like to show these two games, because the way Mikhalchishin wins in his game is practically identical!



Before showing the second game I’d like to point out a couple of important points for the less expert players:

1. One of the struggles in the Sicilian is about control of D5, and this is shown quite well in Botvinnik’s game.

2. The English can be identical to the Sicilian, with color reversed, which means that the same motifs which are played by White in the Sicilian can be played by Black.



In conclusion: please don’t miss also the previous DVD Mikhalchishin released, because in my opinion it is fundamental for the formation of every serious amateur aiming to chess mastery!


Pawn structures


But most of all I think the important point of this DVD, as well as other DVDs made by Mikhalchishin, is the selection of games used as examples. In that selection we find all the wisdom of the Soviet School.  Through studying those games we can improve our chess above and beyond whatever chess book we can read!


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