By Davide Nastasio
After this review, Charlie Storey and I will end up on the FBI watch list. When one writes the word “Sniper” over and over in a book, it may get you special treatment aboard a plane (you may even get seated near a federal Marshall).
But the story of the Sniper (as an opening) is an old one I think. In 2011, FM Storey wrote The Sniper, published by Everyman Chess. In the book he mentions that he gave it a try at the British Chess Championship of 2009, where thanks to the Sniper he achieved a performance of 2600, winning 4 games out of 4 with Black! I checked and the story is a little different. He played 5 games with Black. Four were definitely what we could call a pure Sniper, and he lost one (against GM level opposition, hence he could have the best opening in the world, but if one’s endgame technique is not GM level, one will get crushed!). The other was a Sicilian, of which he warns in the book saying the Sniper can transpose into other openings. Here are the games for those interested in a quick preview of the Sniper played by its main expert!
Charlie Storey introduces the Sniper as a universal opening system against every move White can play; however, he honestly says in some cases it’s impossible to use the pure Sniper, and he will teach us how to play in those cases. In fact, his introductory video spans 3 videos, in which he seriously outlines the entire system which will be covered deeply in detail in the next 8 hours of the DVD!
FM Storey also introduces a new opening classification system, based on Soccer team styles. While I don’t particularly like soccer, I must admit Storey’s explanations and names given to pawns and pieces are quite unique and very smart. The guy is a world class teacher! Look at the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin, and you’ll never see the board and pawns as before!
Such a trick will definitely help you remember more meaningfully the wise lessons Storey teaches us in the videos. By the way, Storey will make you laugh endlessly, so just for this the DVD is worth the price, like when he says, “The Arsenal is the best team in the world, but I’m not biased….” LOL
He gave the name Arsenal to the line if White plays 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3
Obviously we all know he is wrong, and misspelled the name of the best team in the world for AC Milan! But I’m sure in the comments other readers of this article can explain it to Charlie and make him see the truth!
Now apart from the soccer debate which will surely ensue, I found quite interesting the deep understanding of the position he has, because after the moves 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3
FM Storey says, “Now it is not safe to play the Sniper, and it is better to play the Pirc.” Luckily, thanks to Chessbase, we do have other titles which can guide us through the Pirc labyrinth, like the DVDs made by Marin.
The Sniper is based on the idea of playing 3 moves: g6, Bg7 and c5 in various orders, depending on what White plays.
This is the pressure and the fight for control of D4. However today White players have prepared anti-sniper setups, and of course Storey has dedicated a good time to explain them—and neutralize them.
Obviously the Sniper could be defined as a hypermodern opening, where Black allows White to take control of the center while aiming at it from afar. And at the right moment Black advances the central pawns, E or C, to attack the the center.
In this DVD FM Storey also tries to give us some meaningful chess lessons on the value of the pieces and the pawns, and their influence.
Now coming to the actual content of the DVD: There are a total of 112 videos on the opening!! The videos are divided in groups, depending on the variation Storey is analyzing. He has been really thorough, because even for the lines he didn’t give a soccer team name (since they are minor and maybe not encountered easily) he still devoted 4-5 videos for each one of them! While for the main lines there are at least an average of 6-7 videos to explain them.
The DVD ends with 17 videos of interactive tests. The DVD comes with a database of additional games, 74 in all, for studying. There is a nother database of 120 lines, on which the videos and the theoretical framework of the Sniper are based. And one last database made up of 39 blitz internet games, used to illustrate how to use the repertoire we are learning for blitz and bullet. This last database is quite interesting because it shows how tuned FM Storey is to our chess time. Today some of us don’t play tournaments, but we love to smash over and over all the amateurs we can meet online. That makes the choice of this opening repertoire and to study this last database quite sensible for satisfying our online chess needs!
Pro and Cons: Charlie likes to say “So” practically every minute in the beginning introductory videos, but he is not referring to GM Wesley So! To some it could be annoying. But the important part is the “content,” because FM Storey said he spent a long time to be sure we would be able to use the Sniper against anything, and weed out the bad moves Black can play. On the other hand, the Sniper is definitely the opening for players who, like me, have work, family, and stuff going on 24/7, but who also want to go to a weekend tournament and not spend all the preparation time studying opening theory. The Sniper can do that for us, a system which we can use against most of White’s replies, letting us focus on middlegame fireworks and endgame mastery!
In the Introductory video 1, Storey was mentioning some moves: f4, c4, etc. I could hear the click of the mouse, but I couldn’t see the moves actually played on the board, maybe a technical glitch.
In the first 5 videos Storey repeats himself a little too much. The point of giving the name to the variations as football teams was clear in the first video. To reiterate it too many times makes it boring. But at the same time Storey gives some very useful chess lessons, which will make us better players, and that makes the DVD valuable not only for the opening, but for the lessons themselves. On the blitz database, the game n. 5 is just 3 moves, and White resigned. It doesn’t make sense, maybe it should be removed and another more meaningful game put in its place (for those having a Chessbase online account, they can play this position against Fritz to gain practice on this opening). But also game 11 of the blitz database it is not really clear why White resigned. The game was a 3 minute-game. Maybe not enough time left, or White didn’t see the move Bc1 which would save the Nd2? I mean I don’t know if I’m the only guy who meets players online that continue to play till the end despite being one piece down!
Now before closing the review, I’d like to share a game played by Karjakin which I found particularly crazy, and which maybe can give a hint to the reader if this opening is for him/her!
Final thoughts: I found the way Storey teaches quite refreshing, and quick to the point. He clearly has a lot of years of teaching under his belt, and I’m quite grateful Chessbase gave him the chance to explain the Sniper, because he is passionate. He really loves this opening, and he is the guide every serious student of the game wants! By the way, thanks to the large amount of videos and the great quantity of chess ideas Storey shares, it is very important to watch the videos more than 1 time, because some of the rules he describes will improve us as players, hence they need essentially to be memorized or understood deeply to be used in our games. I hope to see him doing other DVDs.