23 February 2014

DVD completed: Viktor Kortchnoi - My Life for Chess, Vol. 2

As with most sequels, the second volume of Viktor Korchnoi's DVD game collection - following the introductory DVD - is not as strong as the first, although it is still worth investing time in.  Partly this is because the time period covered, with the video segments containing eight games from 1986 to 2004, is from after Kortchnoi's peak as a professional chessplayer.  He has fewer personal stories and chess history to relate as a result, although some are still amusing and provide context for the games, which include opponents such as Kasparov, Short and Onischuk.  A few errors are also made during the filming, such as an incorrect line of analysis that Kortchnoi catches at the end, which make me wonder why ChessBase simply didn't do another take of the filming.  It is remarkable that the two DVDs are so coherent, valuable and entertaining - a testament to Kortchnoi's mind - when the producers simply rolled the camera and did nothing else.  (This seems to be ChessBase's policy, as a more recent example is Lilov's DVD on the Stonewall.)

Production values aside, once again it was useful to experience a mini-master class given by Kortchnoi on each of the eight games with video annotations, with his commentary largely focusing on the opening variation choices and the middlegame tactics and plans.  His explanations of the ideas involved in each case are like nuggets of gold, insights that can be integrated into your chess understanding and practice.  The Kasparov game included is outstanding in that respect, for example.  Even though few of the games directly related to my opening repertoire, I feel I learned a great deal about different positional and tactical ideas that can easily carry over into my own games.

It was also refreshing to see Kortchnoi's objective and sometimes brutal evaluations of his own play, along with that of his opponents.  It is clear that he has no problem with expressing the truths of the chessboard and has nothing to prove to himself or anyone else.  This kind of attitude is the most helpful for an improving player, as the student can trust the material and not worry about the instructor's ego getting in the way.


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