Friday, May 11, 2007

My Second Recommendation

Enough dilly-dalling, it is time for me to let you know what I think is one of the best all time documentation available for the non-expert player.

The title is the The Scandinavian the Easy Way, by IM Andrew Martin. Published by Chessbase. It sells for about 29.99 and you can find it at many places including Chessbase has a review as well.

I also ordered the ABC's of Chess Openings by IM Andrew Martin as well. As excited by the Scandinavian disk, I am horribly disappointed by the this one, so it isn't all peaches and cream.

Both of these titles use the Chess Media System. They are essentially databases of AVI files. How much you get out of them depends on how you view the material. You can open the AVI files and watch them just fine in Quicktime on a Mac. (This might be due to the fact that I have flip4mac installed. But if you are ever online you really need this to be installed anyways). But they do not have any of the board demonstrations, and since the author assumes there will be board demonstrations you get lost.

It can also run under something called Chess Reader which is available for install on the disk, so that you can see the board demonstrations as well.

But they can also be run under the Fritz Family interface. I run under here because you get the additional benefit of having the board being watched by your own personal grandmaster who is providing constant feedback. You can see the lines, the options and stop if you wish and run some of your own lines and ideas and restart.

This is, simply a fantastic way of obtaining and learning chess information. When done well. Chessbase, unfortunately doesn't always do well. But this disk is done extraordinarily well.

Andrew Martin is exceptionally good at this. He has a nice sing-song english accent and an incredibly expressive face. This allows him to keep the user interested and provide terrific emotion to his distaste and joy of various different lines. You just know when things are horrible and why things are good. He also runs the equipment very well, and at a non-fumbling speed that allows him to zip and zoom through material so you can see why something is a good idea, or a bad idea.

He often will illustrate things that other mediums would just say... Bad idea, or "a win for white". He will show you in a quick one off various traps that might lay, and why someone eventually just resigned.

He often demonstrates lines by focusing on the history of the lines and attempting to find demonstrative and yet recent games that demonstrate the point. And then he will interrupt games to show you the interesting side variations, and why the experts have gotten where they are at. This is the best version of the recommended following a master's game I have seen.

And... And THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT... He discusses the theme and means of the opening. What black is trying to do if essentially unmolested, the goals of the opening, where he is attempting to put his pieces, why his pieces are there. Then he goes over several attempts that the other has tried over time to interrupt those plans. And what happens if tries to overplay those plans.

At the end of the first viewing of the disk, which takes about three hours, you not only have an understanding of the opening, you have a deeper understanding of chess. And an aching hunger for more. This in any measure, should be what chess education is about,

Takchess had published a Scandinavian game using the same Qd3 system that is espoused on this disk. It unfortunately didn't go well for him, but as a general ol' patzer who had just watched the disk, you could just see where he had lost clarity of the opening, and reasons why it didn't go as well as it should.

If you didn't get how profound that last paragraph was. It is a very different way for the likes of me to look at a game. I don't know how a GM looks at a game, but it sounds like this. In a single 3 hour disk, Andrew Martin has provided me a framework of looking at an opening that I had always desired but couldn't express because I didn't know what to ask for.

I will get flack for this. But so what. If there was a single purchase you should make and you're a knight, get PCT. If there is a second purchase, get the Scandinavian the Easy Way. Even if you don't play the Scandinavian, it will help you with a different perspective on how to see the board during the opening.

(PS... On the recommendations of the Knights I am getting the Idiot's Guide to Chess. I have high hopes! I hope to review this by next week).


hisbestfriend said...

An interesting aside. Topalov just lost to a Qd6 Scandinavian. Almost as interesting the line was not mentioned on Martin's CD. Martin suggests Nc6 rather than c6 for black on move 5. Which seems to make sense. Unless you are playing the once World Champion. It isn't the opening that cost Topalov, he lost it at the end at move 44. Though white missed the forced mate at the end.

[Event "Sofia 2007"]
[Date "2007.05.11"]
[White "Nisipeanu"]
[Black " , Topalov"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd6!
4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 c6!?
6. d4 g6 7. Bf4 Qb4 8. Nge2 Bg7 9. Qc1 O-O 10. O-O Bg4 11. a3 Qa5 12. h3
Bxe2 13. Nxe2 Nbd7 14. c4 e5 15. b4 Qc7 16. dxe5 Nxe5 17. Qc2 a5 18. Rae1 axb4
19. axb4 Rfe8 20. c5 Nd5 21. Bd2 Nd7 22. Qc4 N7f6 23. g4 h5 24. Ng3 hxg4 25.
hxg4 Qd7 26. g5 Rxe1 27. Rxe1 Ne8 28. Bf3 Nec7 29. Bg4 Qd8 30. Kg2 Nb5 31. Rd1
Ra1 32. Rxa1 Bxa1 33. Bf3 Be5 34. Ne2 Ndc7 35. Be3 Ne6 36. Bg4 Nbc7 37. Qe4 Bg7
38. f4 Qd1 39. Kf2 Bc3 40. b5 Qe1+ 41. Kg2 Nd5 42. bxc6 bxc6
43. Qd3?? Bd4!
44.Bxe6 Nxe3+ 45. Kh2 Qf2+ 46. Kh3 Qf3+?! {Qg2+ continues forced mate in 5} 47. Ng3 Qg2+ 0-1

Blue Devil Knight said...

Wow you make me want to start playing the Scandy. I have yet to see the Qd6 variation as white. I guess I need to study it a little bit. Perhaps I'll take a look at the CD to help me as white when I confront it: do you think it would help for white?

Based on your writings, I'm not sure you will learn a lot of new stuff in the Idiot's Guide. But when I read it a year ago, it taught me a helluva lot (the chapter on weak squares I found very helpful).

hisbestfriend said...

Actually BDK...

Nope, not unless you want to.
I bought both of the trainer's based on one of the Playchess Radio shows that I accidently came across, and the presentation piqued my interest. I had read one of the reviews, and I honestly thought it may help anyways.

I watched the first one (Scandy) and the chess knowledge connected, but I still don't play the opening ;-}. Fundamentally, it has changed how I look at the board. How freakin' cool is that?

I watched the second one, and if only for the contrast is it any good. It suffers from most of the problems I rail about.

It is obviously a black oriented DVD. However, it does tell you what white's plans are, and how the opening should be attacked. So, yes, it *can* help white.

And I still have high hopes for the Idiot's guide from what I read. Realize, I am still not an expert by test. So I know that I am missing, and I have a strong sense of what I am missing, so I am searching. This blog is part of that process.

Roger Coathup said...

Hi, good to read a detailed DVD review. You're right, done well we can absorb a lot in a short time, but there are bad ones out there (even from Chessbase).

RE: Peep Show...

It's the episode (series 4) when they go off an canal barge for Mark's 'stag cruise'... the chess computer goes along (oh, and there's a barbequed dog!)