Sunday, June 17, 2007

Brief update, and a preview of Daniel King's DVDs

Getting my stitches out on Wednesday. Just wanted to post an update, and a few random thoughts.

Currently playing through the NY 1924 tournament games annotated by Alekhine, and taking notes. I've entered the Finkelstein games into my master games database, but oy! what lousy annotations by the author! Even without the computer I found many. The longer and more linear the line he gave, the more certain that it'd be completely debunked.

I'm entering material from the giant Laszlo Polgar book Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games into Chessbase as well. The goal is that by the time I've gone through 2-3000 master games, that book will be completely entered as well. Ditto with the Encyclopedia of Chess Middlegames and Tal's Winning Chess Combinations. Yes, I am insane. I'd better start backing up my files more regularly...if all this stuff got erased from my hard drive I'd flip out.

When I renewed my USCF membership I also ordered a mousepad roll-up board and heavily-weighted Marshall plastic pieces. I can now play outside without the wind blowing stuff all over the place. Since the shipping was so much for the pieces, I said "what the heck" and ordered the 2nd and 3rd of Daniel King's Power Play DVDs. Very good so far. I didn't order the first because I felt the material would overlap with material I already have (e.g. The Art of Chess Combination by Eugene Znozko-Borovsky and The Art of Attack in Chess by Vucovic). Similarly, I'm holding off on the 4th CD until I hear more about it, since it supposedly deals with opening play.

Themes from the second DVD are:

  • a strong center is generally a prerequisite for an attack, and an attack may be thwarted by counterplay in the center
  • King emphasizes the need to get the heavy pieces involved in an attack. I get the feeling the second DVD focuses on rook lifts to get your heavy pieces in front of your pawns, and the third DVD will focus on pawn storms backed up by heavy pieces.
  • A weak, poorly defended king is an obvious sign of a possible attack, but an even stronger theme is lack of coordination between the defender's pieces, esp. if the Queen can't get back to the kingside easily and if rooks can't coordinate on the back two ranks. So the real "blood in the water" is realizing that you can develop a local superiority of force around the enemy king. This in itself is not that profound, but how it's reinforced through example is enlightening. I kept comparing this concept to the concept of the "mismatch" in the endgame, where say bishop and pawn or two pawns are able to overpower a rook and thus queen a pawn.

So a summary would be: a strong center cramps your opponent, whose army is divided in two with limited ability to swing from a queenside assault to kingside defense. The attacker swings queen, a rook or two, and any other available pieces to the kingside and mates the king faster than Black can defend. Easy, no? The "HULK SMASH!" school of chess.

Edit 6/19/07: The second DVD also covers the advance of the g pawn to open lines. The advances of the f and h pawns are covered in the third DVD. So, it seems it was a good idea to buy the two DVDs together. I found the g pawn material in particular to be enlightening. I also want to point out that the material is quite balanced. King has you find not only good moves for the attacker, but for the defender (or bad moves to avoid) as well. Also, in the f-pawn material he has multiple examples of how pushing the f-pawn creates weaknesses that ultimately cost the original attacker the game.

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