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Review: Power Play 25: Popular’s Queen’s Pawn Openings – a Repertoire For Black, By Daniel King

Chessbase 2017

By Davide Nastasio

The entire series of Power Play DVDs, written by GM Daniel King, is geared toward bringing a player from beginner to master level. Lately King has begun a series on opening repertoires. The reason is simple: in order to access all the middlegame and endgame ideas he so skillfully explained in the other DVDs, one must be able to survive and get out of the opening.

Previously King made two DVDs giving a full opening repertoire based on the Queen’s Gambit Declined, and against the Catalan for Black players.

 

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Now he is giving a repertoire for Black on those openings which once were considered sidelines, and at this time are commonly found both at amateur as well as top GM level, openings like the Colle,…

 

colle_opening

 

or the London.

 

london_opening

 

It is interesting to notice how chess changed thanks to the introduction of computers. From one side there was a period in which everyone enjoyed having the silicon monster find a novelty around move 8-10 which would give a nice advantage and convert it into a winning endgame. Then things became more complicated: the engine monster was finding novelties, but around move 17 to 25 it became a battle of memorization.

On the other hand, amateurs most of the time never really had the memory for opening novelties to spring up around move 25, in fact they didn’t even have memory for lines 10 or more moves long. So amateurs and club players began to use systems like the London, or the Colle, where ideas are more important than the memorization of a series of moves.

Nowadays, even GMs discover it is easier to play a system, and then just play chess, instead of reciting the moves found by an engine. As a result, systems like the London or Colle became popular even at top level chess, as in the following game played by Carlsen:

 

carlsen

 

 

King begins to reason that “opening systems” give an advantage to Black, because they don’t pose immediately the question of how to solve the center problem. In fact, King is candid about it: “If White doesn’t play Pc2-c4, this gives a chance to Black to dominate the center….” I have played some of the systems mentioned as White, and in fact King’s words resonate particularly true.

This DVD is quite useful because King enumerates and explains the goals a player should have in the opening as Black, and how to apply them against these opening systems which are so popular today.
What are King’s recommendations? Simply the following:

1. Get the pieces developed, placed on the correct squares
2. Come out of the opening with a sound pawn structure.
3. Have a safe king position.
4. And in the end, have a position, once out of the opening, with dynamic winning chances.

King is also covering the Colle-Zukertort opening, which we have after the moves: 1.d4,d5; 2.Nf3,Nf6; (of course King points out that we can reach the same position with different move orders) 3.e3,e6; 4.Bd3,b6; 5.0-0,Bb7; 6.b3,

 

colle_zukertort

 

If instead one plays 6.Nbd2 with idea Ne5, that is the Colle:

 

Colle_Nbd2_Ne5

 

Another line which King examines is the following: 1.d4,d5; 2.Nf3,Nf6; 3.e3,e6; 4.Bd3,b6; 5.c4,Bb7; 6.b3,

 

portisch_karpov

 

By the way, here is the real reason I wanted to watch the DVD.  I’m a 1.d4 player at the moment, and to ignore what the best teachers are providing as weapons for Black players means to have a very bad opening preparation. So while it is important to know the opening that one is playing, one must make the effort to understand the ideas and plans of the other side.

In this direction, King against the London shows one of the most brilliant players of the last few years: Wesley So, battling the king of the draws, Anish Giri.

 

GM Anish Giri

 

 

 

While this game is beautiful for the battle till the last man standing, I think the real learning experience is King’s annotations and references to other games one must know and study.

The above game is important also for another reason: during the video, King often pauses the video in some critical moments and asks some training questions. In this way, the person watching the video becomes involved in the learning process.

King also points out some of the most modern systems used in top level chess, like the Jobava system in the London 1.d4,d5; 2.Nc3, Nf6; 3.Bf4,

 

jobava_system

 

And of course he also shows games and lines to deal with the Veresov, which we can have after the moves 1.d4,d5; 2.Nc3,Nf6; 3.Bg5,

 

veresov

 

King says the theory didn’t change much for years, however one shouldn’t underestimate the poison of such an opening, as taught by Andrew Martin in another Chessbase DVD.

 

wicked_veresov

 

And of course King is also treats the Trompowsky Attack 1.d4,d5; 2.Bg5,

 

trompowsky

 

Or a Trompowsky sideline with Nd2, like after 1.d4,d5; 2.Bg5,Nf6; 3.Nd2,

 

trompowsky_sideline_Nd2

 

Another important 1.d4 sideline is the famous Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, which can be used against many different openings.
1.d4,d5; 2.e4,dxe4; 3.Nc3,Nf6, 4.f3,

 

blackmar_diemer

 

As always, since the move order can be quite flexible, King shows also possible tricks White can try, thanks to different move orders.

I find King’s DVDs quite laser focused! He doesn’t give the student 2000 games to watch, but just 5-6 games for each line, and he goes deep into dissecting those openings and the ideas behind them.

The first 10 videos of the DVD are dedicated to the Colle / Colle-Zukertort and Colle-Zukertort Queen’s Indian. Thanks to the wise explanations on the pawn structures given by King, I was able to correlate in my mind the same structures for Black when playing against White. This was quite useful, because I began to have a picture in my mind which connected common moves played in those structures with the plans for both sides.

Here is a list of the content of the DVD: the London System has 3 video; the Jobava system has 2 videos; Vereson has 2 videos; Blackmar-Diemer gambit 3 videos; and 6 videos with the Trompowsky.

Some players, and I was one of them, want to avoid learning such a big repertoire, which now translates into 3 DVDs.

 

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GM L’Ami just made a DVD for chessbase to learn how to use the Dutch Stonewall.

 

stonewall

 

 

There are also DVDs made on the Classical Dutch.

 

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This repertoire given to us by King teaches us the fight for the center, and how to fight against the sidelines. I believe this repertoire is more complete than the Dutch, and will allow an amateur to become a better and more complete player.  This is especially true in what regards pawn breaks, when to push a pawn and destroy the enemy center, and when opening the lines to your advantage.

Of course, one can learn the Dutch and use it as a surprise weapon from time to time.
But in general I believe King’s repertoire is going to be more formative.

I’d like to conclude this review with a game by Hou Yifan, one of my favorite players. I selected the game because it shows how after the fog of battle is cleared, magically Black has a quality advantage!

 

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GM Hou Yifan

 

 

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