I become acquainted with the teaching skills of GM Petrov after reading his book on the Benoni Defense. I was really impress with the quality of the material and Petrov’s ability to summarize a complex opening such as the Benoni in a book of manageable size. In consequence, I jumped at the opportunity to review Petrov’s work across different subjects of chess beside openings.

Mastery Series DVDs by FT Marian Petrov

Summary: The Mastery Series DVDs by GM Marian Petrov, named, Positional Mastery, Dominate with 1.d4, Dominate with 1.e4 and Attack and Defense are a chess compass to help the intermediate chess player to navigate successfully his chess games. The chess game of intermediate players are more complex than the game among beginners since the players make less blunders and to move to the next level, players require to read the situation on the board better than his opponent.

The main premise the author highlights in each DVD is the emphasis of understanding over memorization. Many authors before Petrov aimed to develop chess material to intermediate players with understanding as priority, but just a few were able to deliver. Petrov’s work helps intermediate players to understand better the key concepts that govern a chess game because the author is both, a successful practical player and a chess trainer. This dual role as player and as coach make it easy for Petrov to establish a dialogue with the audience without relying on computer evaluations. Petrov’s ability to communique the right quantity of material in each DVD make watching his DVDs as close as it can gets to have a one to one lesson with the author.

The DVDs are reviewed in the order the intermediate player on a budget should get Marian’s DVDs (if you have the means to buy the whole series at once go for it). For Instant the DVD Positional Mastery is reviewed first because in addition to positional topics the author provides to the audience the backbone of an efficient and narrow opening repertoire. The suggested repertoire will guide the viewer and help you to “hit the ground running in his quest to become an advance chess player. My suggested order to buy study Petrov’s DVS is as follows.
1. Positional Chess Mastery
2. Dominate with 1.d4
3. Dominate with 1.e4
4. Attack and Defense

Positional Mastery DVD

In Positional Mastery, Petrov sets the fundamentals to understand ten key positional chess concepts and three less explored but equally important factors (reliable skeleton type repertoire with both colors and the best approach to beat top seeds in the last round of tournaments).
The ten positional elements covered in Positional Mastery are
1. Attacking the King
2. Open File
3. Semi Open File
4. Isolated Pawn.
5. Hanging Pawns
6. Double Pawns
7. Backward Pawns
8. Counterplay
9. Good and Bad Bishop
10 .Bishop Pair

The intermediate player struggles to find the right material to improve and the free material available online is entertaining, but random. In Positional Mastery Petrov offers the reader the right material in the right amount and explained it in a novel fashion. For example the chapter on open files has one example illustrating how to exploit central files and the second example illustrate how to take advantage of flank files (you also get the Classic example Karpov – Unzicker, every trainer has to show this game!). In other words, the examples in the chapters do not overlap and cover most of the situations you will encounter over the board.

The chapter on hanging pawns is also very instructive because the author explains how to use and fight against the hanging pawns. The author make a balanced exposition about hanging pawns not in favor not in con. Importantly, the audience can learn the topic under discussion but also the possible transformations in the pawn structure that may occurs after one side takes on hanging pawns. A remarkable feature of the examples is that one of them is a draw (Beliavsky-Karpov) this game illustrates that even after you play well against hanging pawns the results is not always a win. Your opponent is always find a way to make the win more difficult (see the chapter on the counter attack)

The two chapters on opening repertoire will save you time so you can focus on positional chess. The chapter on beating the top seed in the last round of tournaments is an important and underestimate topic. The information you get in this section is the type of inside knowledge only an experience and well paid coach will give you. Work diligently on this course and get ready to play better chess.

Opening Mastery 1. d4 and 1. e4 By Marian Petrov

The study of chess openings takes most of the study time of chess amateurs at the expense of other important areas of chess such as endings and middle game. It is difficult to find in the market a reliable source to study chess opening because most of the time the material is presented in a random fashion, without explaining the key ideas behind the moves and relying heavily on computer evaluation instead of practical assessment of the variations. The new DVDs Opening Mastery 1. d4 and Opening Mastering 1. e4 by GM Marian Petrov provides players below master level with the right amount of information to play with both, either 1. d4 or 1.e4.

Opening Mastery 1. d4

In Opening Mastery 1.d4 the author put into words all major openings after 1.d4 in ten video clips of about an hour length. In just sixty minutes, Petrov teaches the three pillars to understand any chess opening named, understanding the idea(s) behind the opening, the possible transpositions and the significance of move orders. I think, a precise knowledge of move orders and transpositions is more important after 1.d4 than after 1.e4, because early positional mistakes are costly in d4 openings. In contrast open games, may provide more opportunities to climb back from a positional hole. This is the reason why I value highly Petrov’s explanations on how White or Black may get the short end after a move transposition that looks similar to the main line, but land the unsuspected victim into a position he is not prepared to play or is one or two moves down.

The material in this DVD is organized in systematic fashion and the author layout from the start of the videos all the variations that are relevant to learn the opening at hand. Organization is a critical feature to learning and understand opening theory is not the exception, especially to players below advance level. Petrov does a great job teaching the key ideas behind such theoretical labyrinths opening such as the Kings Indian, Nimzoindian, and Gruenfeld to name a few. The author also mentions the evolution of some variations, so the audience can understand why a particular move order is preferred today.Petrov’s deep knowledge of the ideas behind the chess openings makes the videos flow naturally and the information is easy to remember. Petrov also finishes each variation with an evaluation in words and states clearly what positional factors favor White or Black of if one side has compensation for material deficit. Importantly, Petrov explains the nature of the compensation, such as initiative, bishop pair or pawn structure.

Overall the material in this DVD is balanced and realistic. The author does not promise a “silver bullet” to win the game out of the opening. Instead, Petrov delivers a realistic assessment of the resulting positions in every opening under discussion after 1.d4. Two factors about this DVD are worth to highlight. First, the information is delivered in video clips of one hour, which makes this DVD ideal for the busy amateur. Second the author uses a very efficient teaching method center around explaining the evolution of the opening in time, so the audience can understand why a particular move is playable, but not popular today since the old master exhausted all the possibilities. In other words. Petrov teach you openings at the same time that he increases your chess culture.


Opening Mastery 1. e4

In Opening Mastery 1.e4 Marian Petrov presents a deep survey on the open games. The main premise in Petrov’s work is that understanding takes priority over memorization and Opening Mastery 1.e4 follows on the same line of thought. The author covers a lot of material in this DVD, including hot opening such as the Sicilian and the Ruy Lopez. The presentation of each chapter is done at a good pace without rush. However, Petrov makes the most of the time in every opening and delivers the content in a rigorous, yet fresh style. Petrov’s incorporates his extensive experience, knowledge, and preparation in chess in every comment. In consequence, Opening Mastery 1.e4 is a worthy source of knowledge and preparation to successfully play the open games.

Petrov start his presentation of 1.e4 with the gambits after the sequence, 1.e4 e5 and make a compelling case why every chess player needs to study the open games if he really wants to really begin learning chess. Petrov elaborates how the knowledge of the evolution of open games theory helps the aspiring chess player to understand more advance concepts later on and to take advantage of the heritage of the masters of the past to speed up his chess improvement.

Later, the author, teaches the fundamentals of the Ruy Lopez and the Sicilan in a very clear manner. The Sicilan and the Ruy Lopez are heavily analyzed openings and many authors before Petrov got lost in the myriad of variations and sub variations before really helping the reader to understand what is going on in both systems. For instance, if you read a book on the Sicilan you get variation after variation, yet the author never clarified why the black queen is developed early to c7 in many Sicilian set ups. In contrast, Petrov explains the role of a Black queen in the e6 Sicilian as follows” If you delay the move d7-d7 then your queen has to go to c7 to cover e5”. Learning openings as Petrov advocates, helps the student to organize opening knowledge around ideas that can serve a player longer that rote memorization.

Learning the open games around ideas at the intermediate level significantly cut study time. It is important to highly that as the chess players builds his understanding of the open games he is paving the way to assimilate more complex material as he move to higher levels of chess. The DVD also comes with all the games in pgn format as well as challenging training positions to solve. Opening Mastery 1.e4 is worth the time and money of the intermediate player seeking expert guidance in the open games.

Attack and Defense

The Attack and Defense DVD by Marian Petrov uses thirty four games to illustrate a series of important chess topics to improve your overall chess playing strength. The content of this DVD is of universal application, unless opening theory and can be used regardless of the stage of the game, the color you have or your overall chess skill. Petrov delivers the content in a very professional way in both content and level of explanations. The improving chess player that works his way through Attack and Defense will acquire knowledge of great practical value and easy to remember the next time he plays a chess game.
The topic discussed by the author in Attack and Defense is the following.
1. Attacking the King in the Center
2. Attacking the Castle, King.
3. Attacking in Opposite Side Castling.
4. Attack on the Queenside.
5. Attack on Both Sides.
6. Defending Basic Principles.
7. Creating Problems for the Attacker.
8. Counterattack.
9. Sacrifice.
10. Simplifying the Position.

The content of The Attack and Defense DVD is of universal application and will help any chess player to become more versatile. In the context of a player’s chess style player with an aggressive or counterattacking style in chess will learn how to increase both their attacking and defensive skills respectively. Attack and defense are the opposite side of the same coin. Chess players with competence in only one of the “side of the chess coin” will hamper their chess progress.

Following the same line of thought about the universal application of Marian Petrov’s Attack and Defense DVD. We can say that the knowledge, acquire working on this DVD can be used at any stage of a chess game. For example the chapter basic principles of defense can be used in the opening, middle game or end game as soon as you realize that to stay in the game you need to play defense.

Many authors before Petrov worked on the subject of attack and defense in chess, but this DVD is different because the author selected relevant games that are presented in a didactic fashion. For instance, every chapter starts with a classic game followed by a modern game. In chess, the classics are an important part of the culture of a chess player and usually contain material suitable for the levels of most chess players looking to buy this DVD. Unfortunately, many authors neglect the importance of classic model games and rely heavily on modern complex games to teach intermediate players.

Modern chess games from top players can only be explained with the assistance of a computer. In addition, top games may not hold teaching value to intermediate players because the mistakes the modern masters make are too subtle or sophisticated for an amateur player to grasp. In contrast, in The Attack and Defense the author uses a classic game starting 1e4-e5 such Tarrasch- Chigoring (Match 1893, game, 5) to illustrate the fight with king on opposite wings and next, Petrov uses a more complex Sicilian to illustrate the same type of middle game fight.

Petrov also provides the audience with the practical applications of the material covered in The Attack and Defense and multiple training positions to work on. Importantly, the author plays a series of blitz games at the same time that he explains the situation on the board and all the aspects relevant to attack and defense. It is amazing how Petrov can play master level opposition in a three minute game and describe what is going on at the same time that he plays. It is nice to see the thought process of a GM in action and realize that the principles of attack and defense are timeless and universal. If the intermediate player does a serious work on The Attack and Defense DVD by Petrov, he will become a better chess player.

Attack and Defense with GM Marian Petrov


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