Bulgarian Grandmaster Dejan Bojkov’s third DVD for Chess Base differs considerably from his first two which were devoted to teaching openings (the Kalashnikov variation of the Sicilian and the King’s Indian). This time around, with Chess Highways, he aims to instruct amateur players on the power of queens, rooks and bishops in both the middle and endgame.
The medium for teaching this material is 48 carefully selected games and positions which are thoroughly explained. The mini-lessons run from roughly five to ten minutes (running time for the DVD is 5 hours 38 minutes). Bojkov is well-prepared and familiar with his material. Although English is not his native language he is easy to understand and pleasant to listen to.
The examples are divided between classics and more recent games. Those of a certain age are likely to remember the famous game Karpov - Unzicker, Nice (ol) 1974, which is featured here. The soon-to-be World Champion won a beautiful encounter in which his control of the only open file played a pivotal role in deciding the game.
The following example from the author’s practice, which is also featured, drew inspiration from Karpov’s gem.
Note this accompanying ChessBase file is an abridgement of the audio commentary.
Dejan Bojkov – Eric Van den Doel , Zwolle 2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Be7 5.0–0 0–0 6.Re1 d6 7.c3 Na5 8.Bb5 a6 9.Ba4 b5 10.Bc2 c5 11.Nbd2 Nc6 12.Nf1 Re8 13.Bg5 h6 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.Ne3 g6 16.Bb3 Rb8 17.a4 b4 18.Bd5 Ne7 19.Bc4 Rf8 20.Nd5 Nxd5 21.Bxd5 Bg7 22.Nd2 Kh7 23.a5 Be6 24.Bxe6 fxe6 25.Nc4
"Although Fritz 9 (the strongest engine by the time that the game was played) evaluated that this position is in favor of Black (!) I am inclined to think that White is strategically winning. My plan is simple-to put the knight on b6, after which he has or to stay at one place when I exchange on b4 and later win this pawn, or exchange on c3, after which I double the rooks on the b file under the knight protection and penetrate with the them in the proper moment.”
"This loses a couple of tempos. Better is 25...Rf7 26.Nb6 bxc3 27.bxc3 Qh4 28.Qe2 h5 29.Rab1 Rbf8 (29...Rfb7 30.Rb3 (30.Rb2 Bh6 31.Reb1) 30...g5) 30.Rf1, although here too, White conducts easily his plan.”
26.Qe2 Bf6 27.Reb1 Rb7 28.Nb6 bxc3 29.bxc3 Rbf7 30.Rf1 Bh4 31.g3 Bg5 32.Nc4 Qd7 33.Rab1 Bd8 34.Rb8 h5 35.Kg2?!
"I started to feel quite nervous in his own time trouble, and missed the clear win with 35.Rfb1! Rxf2 36.Qxf2 Rxf2 37.Kxf2 Kh6 38.R1b7 Bc7 39.Rh8+ Kg7 (39...Kg5 40.h4+ Kg4 41.Kg2) 40.Ra8 Kf6 41.h4 winning. The rooks enjoy their files greatly. For some reason I thought that somewhere in this lines he can come with his queen on a4 and find some perpetual.”
35...Bc7 36.Rxf8 Rxf8 37.Rb1 Rb8 38.Rxb8 Bxb8 39.Qb2 Qb5
"Somewhat more tenacious is 39...Ba7 40.h4 with a clear advantage.”
40.Qxb5 axb5 41.Na3 b4 42.Nb5
"Now it is under control again, though Fritz evaluates for quite a long time that it is slightly better for Black (!).”
42...Kg7 43.a6 b3 44.Kf3 Kf6 45.Ke2 b2 46.Na3 Ke7 47.Kd2 Kd7 48.Kc2 Kc6 49.Nc4 d5 50.a7 Bxa7 51.Nxe5+ Kd6 52.Nxg6 dxe4 53.dxe4 c4 54.f3 e5 55.Nh4 Ke6 56.Nf5 Bg1 57.h4, 1–0.
Chess Highways should prove useful to two groups of amateur players. The first is those who are starting, particularly young players who need a solid grounding in the fundamentals. The second group who would benefit from the work are experienced adult players who do better learning from DVDs than books.
The System requirements for this DVD are: Pentium-Processor at 300 Mhz or higher, 64 MB RAM, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, DVD drive, mouse, soundcard. It does not require Chess Base to run, instead using ChessBase Reader, which is provided.
The price of $32.95 might seem steep compared to a book but cheap for a 5 ˝ hour lesson with a Grandmaster.