ChessBase have launched another series in their Fritztrainer media DVD's.  These will take the format of tutorials and the very first available is on the openings and in particular this DVD deals with the open games.  Normally "open games" refer to openings that start 1.e4 e5 and the field of such games is so vast that it is almost impossible to cover these on one DVD. In order to make the subject manageable ChessBase have had to set parameters on the material available.  Thus the number of such openings and the depth of analysis have needed consideration. They have achieved this by shaping the subject matter to the needs of club players seeking to either construct a repertoire or revise and expand their current repertoire.  The main benefit in such an approach is that one can compare the relative values across the field of open games giving opportunity to select an opening and guide the viewer towards material that will expand upon the variations in more depth.  Thus the contents of this DVD may appear to be rather simplistic and outdated, but don't forget that Bobby Fischer studied the games and writings of Steinitz and turned up winning ideas based on these studies.  Furthermore, many active modern day players are rolling out winning versions from such openings.  A perusal of the 100 game database included on the DVD will demonstrate that these openings have been used effectively by Karpov, Kasparov, Shirov et al.

Today we have more sophisticated methods of conducting this examination than was available to Bobby Fischer.  Probably the easiest way to start this research from the material used on the DVD, is to record the lines that the presenter has examined and then, utilising the Chessbase function of opening tables, all the basic information necessary to make an in-depth study of the opening chosen for further examination is made available as the following screenshot of the Berlin Defence shows:

Click for larger image.

The openings examined on this first tutorial DVD starts with the King's Gambit (Accepted and Declined) and then, ranging through the Vienna,  Bishops, Italian, Petroff, Phillidor, Scotch, Evans' Gambit etc. we are given eight variations of the Ruy Lopez all in the video format covering some five hours and twenty-four lectures of expert tuition delivered by GM's Mikhalchisin and Schandorff, IM Lawrence Trent and FM Valeri Lilov.  All the presenters have prior experience of such teaching methods and are able to put forward their ideas and suggestions in a smooth manner that can easily be followed and assimilated.  

In addition - and this is a most welcome addition - the entire content and main variations are given in a sturdy booklet similar to that used by ChessBase Magazine.  This enables the student to narrow down the choice of opening to be set aside for further study.  This DVD must be considered as the hors d'oeuvre, the main course being the in-depth study of the selected opening(s).  In particular, such an approach will be rewarding to the new player who wants to build a solid opening repertoire based on 1.e4.

I found the lectures on the Italian Game to be of special interest, and realised that some variations lead to very sharp play.  Previously, when confronted with any version of the Italian Game, I have mentally prepared myself for a rather dull game.  Such will not be the case in the future, and it is possible that I may even play some of these lines as White.

Again, in order to adequately cover the subject matter, it has been assumed that the student is already familiar with the basic objectives of opening theory generally.  This is almost a subject by itself and wisely ChessBase has made no attempt on this DVD to expound on these matters.  

This is a very bold venture and ChessBase are to be congratulated for not only taking it on but also succeeding!  It must be stressed, however, that this is a platform on which to base further study and the diligent student needs to work out a method of expanding the learning process triggered by this DVD.  The method described above is a good starting point but one needs to establish how to store, analyse and up-date the results of their researches.    

This DVD is of very great value to anyone who needs to dig into their repertoire and carry out repairs and re-evaluations.  Christmas is looming very large and any parent of a budding grandmaster could well solve his shopping problems by purchasing this new ChessBase product.

Recommended price - 25:95

Further information:

Bill Frost

December 2010