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Review: The Modern Pirc, by Viktor Bologan

By Davide Nastasio

Bologan begins with a statement which impressed me because I didn’t consider the Pirc a good opening played for winning.  He says he has played hundreds of classical games with it. I made a database updated to April 2017 with all his games in the “Modern” Pirc, and in fact he has played it quite a lot as Black against 1.e4.  But what really impressed me, and this cannot be conveyed in a book, was his tone of voice.  From his voice and body posture it was clear that he considered the Modern a strong opening.

What is the Modern Pirc? It happens when against 1.e4, we answer 1…g6;

 

modern_pirc

 

Bologan explains that the adjective “Modern” was introduced to better define the modern pawn structures and mix of ideas, sometimes based on the Pc6 and Pd5, sometimes with Pc6 and Pd6 pawn structures, which this opening has evolved into through the years.

Basically the main idea is Pg6 and Bg7

 

Pg6_Bg7

 

and then depending on what White does, one answers with the correct “Modern” pawn structure.

Why did I want to learn this opening from Bologan? Well, the reason is simple: recently I wrote a review for one of the latest Bologan books on the King’s Indian Defense (from now on abbreviated as KID) published by New in Chess, and I realized the potential for learning the Pirc/Modern/KID and have an entire repertoire which covers all of White’s common first opening moves through the use of a kind of fianchetto system.

Bologan confirms my hypothesis (learning the Modern and the King’s Indian could be all one’s needs to have a complete repertoire) in video n.4 of this DVD, which is based on the sequence of moves 1.e4,g6; 2.d4,Bg7; 3.c4,

 

white_3_c4

 

For those who, like me, want to learn the KID, then Bologan did another DVD.

 

kings_indian_modern_approach

 

However, in this DVD he doesn’t approach the problem telling the viewer to learn the KID.  He just gives us another way to deviate from what White wants to do, which is to bring us inside the KID maze through a transposition.

Let me reiterate the point: in my opinion, one shouldn’t steer away from main openings like the KID, the Sicilian, or the Ruy Lopez, because in the long run they will form us as players. But if one doesn’t have much time to study and wants to go to play in a weekend tournament, then Bologan definitely did the right thing giving a way to avoid the KID.

Bologan well explains it in the introduction video about the possible setups and how they passed from the Classical Pirc to the Modern Pirc.    He also adds that in Moldova, his native country, this opening was developed by two important chess coaches: Viacheslav Chebanenko and students, and Viktor Gavrikov.  He also mentions Bukhuti Gurgenidze in relation to the pawn setup of the Modern Pirc. I also felt it important to mention these names because nowadays we are all armed with the latest databases, and one could look into the names mentioned by Bologan in relation to the opening and see a kind of timeline or evolution of the opening itself.

The author of the DVD outlines some of the moves we must remember at all costs, like after the following moves 1.e4,g6; 2.d4,Bg7; 3.c4

 

remember_3_Nc6

 

He says one must remember 3…,Nc6; and it is very important!

Bologan says he won or tied first place in the New York Open 1997, making 4 points out of 4 games with Black, thanks to the Modern!

I managed to track down some of those games because I believe Bologan is an amazing teacher, hence one MUST study his games.  I wanted to witness and share such a show, the amazing grinding machine that Bologan was when he was young.  To win 4 games with Black is not an easy task, especially at the World Open where everyone plays the best to win the big money!  One of the games is not a pure Pirc/Modern so it is not included, but if one buys Megabase 2017, they are all included in that database.  That is where I turn for most of my searches!

 

mega_database_2017

 

For example, this first game wasn’t won by an opening novelty, but by creating so many problems for the opponent that he lost on time.  Still, however, Granda Zuniga is one of the best South American GMs rated over 2600!

 

GM_julio_granda_zuniga

GM Julio Granda Zuniga

 

 

 

GM_Bologan_in_2013

GM victor Bologan, 2013

 

 

 

 

GM_Alberto_David

GM Alberto David

 

 

 

Bologan’s words are quite honest, since he said, “I don’t want to propose only this opening as your repertoire, since the ideas behind e5 and c5 are important, but from time to time… as a surprise weapon….”  These words resonated within me, because Bologan is clearly saying, “if you want to be a complete chess player you need to learn to play 1…e5; or 1…c5; but at the same time, if you want to go to play at a weekend open tournament and be successful, then this can become a great weapon in your hands to win games!”

And we can notice Bologan’s consistency as a teacher, since he made 2 DVDs, one based on the Berlin Wall and one on the Najdorf, showing that one MUST know those openings.

 

bologan_najdorfbologan_berlin_wall

 

The author in the introduction video also utters another important truth: “If you know your opponent is a strong theoretician, just go for 1…g6!”  And in fact I was the victim of 1…g6 a few times.  I’m not a theoretician like the top GMs, but I’m considered one thanks to all these reviews that I write.

Bologan begins the DVD with a sideline, and this is a nice approach because often we play Blitz or Bullet to practice a new opening and acquire awareness of its common problems, and thanks to this approach we will not be surprised by our opponents. In today’s rapid time controls, a surprise can cost 5-10 minutes to be neutralized, and that can cost us the game. Hence the smart choice made by Bologan into teaching sidelines in the beginning of the DVD.

Now, in order to learn this opening, there is clearly a lot of work to do. I felt it just watching the first video which was based on 1.e4,g6; 2.h4,

 

2_h4_for_black

 

Beginning with a few of the lines Bologan presented, I understood one needs to practice the opening moves that were made against a computer, and discover the main motifs of this opening.
For example, lately I got Komodo 11,

 

komodo_main_screen

 

and what I did was to insert the moves given by Bologan, for example: 1.e4,g6; 2.h4,d5; 3.h5,

 

play_against_engine

 

placing the position on a real board, like in a tournament, and playing it against Komodo like I would do in a tournament. This gave me immediately two main points of feedback:

1. Showed me if I like this opening
2. Made me understand the problems inherent in the position, instead of discovering it in a tournament game.

Then another important approach is to watch the games which come with the DVD.  The working database is made of of 20 games/lines presented in the videos, and one can use them to improve the theoretical understanding of a line, especially after playing a game (one would add the new moves played by the opponent or by oneself to the file, keeping it updated, and eventually watch it quickly before a tournament game, to refresh one’s memory).  Or it can be used as an “opening trainer” database to better remember the moves with the new tools provided by Chessbase in programs like Chessbase 14 or Komodo 11, or even online!

The other database of model games is made up of 96 games and they are the ones we must study in order to have a grasp of the main middlegame themes and endgames resulting from this opening.  The DVD is made up of 20 videos which analyze and explain the theory of the opening, and 16 interactive videos in which Bologan presents some positions and asks the student to find the correct continuation.  The interactive video provides feedback when one plays the wrong move and reinforces the main ideas when one gets it right.

In conclusion, I’m quite happy Bologan made this DVD on the Modern-Pirc and the one on the KID because, thanks to them, I hope to learn a new tactically sharp repertoire to use for my next tournaments, which could give me an edge over my opponents like it did for Bologan!

 

 

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