Monday, February 15, 2010


This morning I read on the ChessBase website, as the lead article, that the new Yasser Seirawan My Best Games DVD was "the best." I will be listening to it this afternoon along with the rest of "1.e4 Repertoire..." by Sam Collins.

One purchasing client told me he thought the Sam Collins DVD was too monotonic. His ear. I played it and found it "even" which is different than monotonic. My ear. Even though Sam won the Irish Championship, he doesn't sound too Irish! Americans know what Irish sounds like since we can find it in all parts of many of our family trees.

Sam is even, again. And he says "aah" a lot (in the beginning--he cleans up well later; nerves perhaps). I don't necessarily fault him on that because I was watching a news show on the TV at the gym last Saturday and the transcriptionist for "close captioned" had to keep typing "You know." In one sentence the guy on the tube must've said "you know" at least 4-5 times. That person should have been hosed down and taught how to communicate before ever being allowed to speak nationally.

As to Mr. Collins, a little change in inflection would help (he's in the spirit at the end of the DVD). And, it would help even more if he seemed excited about his topic rather than sounding like he was just doing a job. Smiling more wouldn't hurt either. People love smiles--even Korchnoi (Viktor the Terrible) knows how to do this.

On the other hand (OTOH) he does a credible job. There is a lot of material to show how after 1. e4 White can handle what Black throws at him. As usual, they leave out those openings that "unreal opponents" will throw at you (Nimzovich Defense, for example). Why is that? Unless there is a part II, which I very much doubt, it HAS to be because they don't have something good against the stuff they left out or they would be dying to show you! Sam is not alone, it happened in FCO and other books too.

But, OTOH, I've seen books which DO give lines to use against the "lesser light openings." Sometimes they are quite interesting if brief. But, when thinking about it, how does someone reduce a book of 180-200 pages on a particular system with just one line or a pair of lines? There is little press on the Richter-Veresov except for a book by Gufeld which TPi published and a book written by Nigel Davies from Everyman. Yet last week I got a nice letter of testimony from IM Walter Shipman telling me how much he likes the work of TPi. He also wanted to know if I could round up a spare copy of Richter-Veresov, the Chameleon Chess Repertoire. He had a game in it where Dzindzichashvili had the advantage, but lost (Shipman was White). Life and chess are like that.

Hence, just because someone is dismissive (using the old, "I only have so much space" line) doesn't mean it can't work for you.

Sam covers 1. e4 c5 2. c3. (Alapin Sicilian). He then tackles 1. e4 e5, a very big job. There are five games with the Two Knights Defense (with 4. d3). I was surprised the Two Knights was this popular, but, there you are (he may use Bc4 to avoid tons of Ruy Lopez theory for Black). Then comes the Petroff and Philidor. Following that, there are five French Defense games (using the Tarrasch). Then the Caro-Kann (five games) followed by three Alekhine's Defenses. Then one Center Counter and two Pirc/Moderns (with one of them being played by Collins himself (2194 in 2001) against the Modern-Pirc whiz GM, Tiger Hillarp Persson (2438 same year obviously)). As Sam pronounces the Pirc as Pirk, you can ignore that mispronunciation as so many others blow this one too.

He says he pretty much has been playing these systems all of his chess life... that's worth something to the viewer. He has some nice setups AND there are 50 clips of presentation. A good workmanlike job to save you from too much study (if that is a problem for you).

The Seirawan review will be covered in this Friday's edition of The Chess Reports.

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