Strategy Step by Step

Posted: May 30, 2011 in Chess
Tags: , , , ,

I have now finished watching all of my dear friend Rustam Kasimdzhanov’s Chessbase DVD called Strategy Step by Step.

Why do I call him “my dear friend”? It’s because he has the endearing habit of calling all of us, his viewers and pupils, his dear friends, and I feel very honoured and privileged to be amongst this select group of chess players.

It is difficult to know from the blurb on a Chess DVD who it’s going to appeal to. When I ordered this I thought it might be too advanced for me. In fact Rustam makes everything very clear, whatever your level of playing ability. He has selected the games to illustrate some general strategic principles but he explains almost every move. Even in the opening.

For example, after introducing the first game (a win aginst Anand from San Luis, 2005), he shows the first moves 1.e4 c5 and he says “And this is the first place where I’d like to stop.” He then begins an explanation that he continues throughout the game showing how White is fighting on the light squares and Black on the dark ones.

There are only six games on this DVD but Rustam breaks them down into several parts and gives a very detailed commentary throughout. He talks quite fast but I just about managed to keep up with him most of the time. In fact his language is very attractive. I like to listen to him because his words are very well-chosen.

I was a bit surprised by the way in which Rustam approaches teaching strategy. I was expecting topics like control of the centre, blockading, open files, isolated pawns and so on. Rustam does mention these things but he mentions them almost incidentally. He is a very concrete player. He talks about strategic themes only in so far as they provide a basis for a concrete plan. Much of his analysis is focused on specific variations, with the strategic considerations simply providing the backdrop to the action.

For example, in his game against Dautov, Rustam, who is playing Black, has an open file occupied by two rooks. A winning advantage, you might think. But the rooks can achieve nothing on their own. Black needs to whip up some action elsewhere on the board and that’s why Rustam is looking at the d5 square, where he’d like to place a knight. Knowing this, it’s not hard to guess his next move.

Position after 23.f4 (Black to play)

But you need to do the analysis.

By the way, like many Chesbase DVDs it seems to have been put together in a bit of a hurry. This is no reflection on Rustam, who has prepared his commentary very thoroughly, but on the Chessbase production team. The order in which the videos are presented does not appear to be the order Rustam intended.

This doesn’t diminish the instructive value of the material but makes the presenter look a little bit confused when he says “Finally, I would like to present…” and follows it with a final game at the end of which he says “… and so we will proceed with some other examples in the next lessons.”

Now here is the rest of the game against Dautov.

23…. Ne4 24.Nxe4 dxe4 25.Qxe4 Nf6 26.Qe5 Nd5 27.Qxc7 Rxc7 28.Ra1 Rxa1 29.Rxa1 Nxe3 30.Ra8+ Kh7 31.Nc1 Rd7 32.Nb3 Nc2 33.g3 Nxb4 34.Kf2 g5 35.Kf3 Kg6 36.Rg8+ Kf5 37.g4+ Kf6 38.fxg5+ hxg5 39.Ke4 Ra7 40.Nd2 Ra3 0–1

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