Sunday, December 2, 2007

All Worth It


Here it is (see diagram on right) , the reason why I:
a. forfeited my last 6 games in my chess club competition
b. took 1 week of annual leave from my work
c. woken up with "keyboard" face (aka. falling asleep at my keyboard) more times than I can count
d. ate instant noodles the last 8 days

My next study term doesn't start till February next year. So I have a good 3 months to brush up on my OTB chess skills. *grin*

Now that we got that out of the way, I thought I take a little breather (especially after that last post) and post a small little review of a Chessbase (yes, the nerds from Germany- I can't count the number of times that website has pictures of attractive looking women playing chess which is highly embarassing) DVD.

It's a slightly dated DVD. It's from GM Daniel King's PowerPlay 1 DVD - Mating Patterns.

Yes, it's another less than veiled attempt by Chessbase to seduce you to part your hard-earned money.... and to provide GMs with some additional income.

Btw the picture on the right of Daniel King is not him asking you for a handout (although it may appear to be so) nor to buy more of his DVDs (which he certainly won't mind).

Bad jokes aside, in this DVD, King explores in detail the following main mating patterns:

a. the Greek gift sacrifice
b. the Lasker double bishop sacrifice
c. the Lawnmower Mate
d. the Bishop See-Saw
e. the H-file Rook distraction
f. the Knight mate
g. the Back Rank mate

In each of these patterns, King throughly explains the combinations needed to carry out each of these tactical treats successfully and when to recognise the tactics fail.

I have to say that among other commentators in other Chessbase DVDs, he is one of the most interesting commentators and there's seldom a dull moment in his presentations.

King is precise, clear and engaging. He also slips in a few jokes to keep up the interest of the viewer, which I think is wonderful in that it breaks up the monotony - especially if you've been viewing 3 or more lectures (like I have been doing) consecutively.

In all, there are approximately 40 lectures and 11 exercises in this DVD, totaling about 4 hours.

The only caveat of this DVD is that most of these tactics can be read from say, Vladimir Vukovic's classic The Art Of The Attack and there is little fresh material here if you are already versed in these mating attacks.

Most of the lectures start off from middlegame positions where tactical shots abound.

There's a minor quirk here. King was puzzled at one stage on how to remove the arrows he had placed all over the board and had to ask, "Mr. Cameraman, what am I doing wrong?" which clearly demonstrated his unfamiliarity with the ChessBase user interface. *tsk tsk*. ;)

But other than that small slip, his annotations are excellent.

Now the million dollar question. Will I recommend this DVD to other players?

Well, I am quite tempted to ask you to read Vukovic's classic and other well known chess tomes instead. This DVD fills the gap for an improving player who has little time to study and wants an introduction to the world of mating attacks and mating combinations.

I would rate this DVD more suitable for beginners to early intermediate players.

Oh, I find the review at Chessbase on this DVD is pretty much spot on.


  1. Great review.

    "I am quite tempted to ask you to read Vukovic's classic and other well known chess tomes instead."

    Vukovic's Art of Attack is on my strategic reading list right after HTRYC and HTRYC Workbook so I guess I can safely pass on this.

  2. Thanks!

    Daniel King is an interesting presenter no doubt but one of the problems with Chessbase DVDs is the amount of material that is necessary to be covered is far less than what can be found in a typical book on chess combinations.

    I find the one advantage the DVD has is its ability to convey its message quickly and you tend to absorb the information far much faster than going through it with a book because of the visual impact.

    The DVD has its place but for that price that Chessbase is selling, I can get 2 decent chess books for it.

    I am fortunate. My retired father-in-law is a chess fan and has an enormous chess library including DVDs etc. so he tends to lend me some of his chess DVDs. My 1700+ rated brother-in-law Steven can attest to this. Sometimes he complains that he gets far too many chess videos than he can watch.

    All up, I didn't have to pay a cent for this. :D

  3. Oops, forgot to add.

    I think Silman's books are very good and I am glad to hear that you're working through them (best of luck!). I am quite tempted to get them but I am still working on the Total Chess Training set from Convekta (that endgame section is driving me insane!)