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Demchenko – Understanding Material Imbalances

A friend from Buffalo told me: “all Canadian women look like models.” Honestly I didn’t believe it. He was also complaining about the Canadian border which is closed because of COVID etc. Bottom line: we are both single, and looking for a soul mate.

In any case, when I got this DVD, I thought the lady teaching it, based on her last name, was from Russia (some could say: but with that name it’s possible she is from Ukraine… well it all depends on what Putin thinks!).

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Instead in the introductory video of the DVD she said she is from Canada!! This shows my bias, I thought they were only playing hockey in Canada, thanks to the great availability of ice and snow!

But the next question which popped in my mind was: she looks like a model, how did she end up with chess?? And then of course I thought of the meters (“feet” for Americans) of snow they have in Canada, making chess the only sport one can practice indoors!

Anyway, I was interested in this DVD, because the subject of imbalances is one of the most interesting in chess. In fact GM Kaufman, with his evaluation of the pieces has made the Komodo software one of the strongest.

And of course one of the most famous authors: Jeremy Silman, has written a book which has reached the 4th edition, all about imbalances.

The DVD is made by 6 sections.

The first is Rook vs 2 pieces in the endgame.

It’s made by 5 videos. Each video, apart the first which is an introduction, is related to a game played by champions of the past. WIM Demchenko shows a position in the game, shows how the champion created an imbalance, and asks to find the right move/plan with which to continue.

The following position comes from Tal vs Grave Peteris.

In this position I played Pg2-g4, and then a video clip by WIM Demchenko popped out explaining why this wasn’t the right move. Then I tried Rhe1, also in this case a new video by Svitlana came out which showed a line to refute the idea of Rhe1. Obviously the third try is a charm, and I finally got it right. But the nice point here was the training. I had a titled player, showing me a position, and I had the time to reason and find the right move, while getting feedback.

The DVD continues with the chapter dedicated to Rook vs 2 pieces in the middlegame.

This is a position from the above chapter, Aronian vs Shirov, here WIM Demchenko asks how White should transpose into such imbalance and what is the plan.

As we can see this is a real training, because WIM Demchenko gives explanations for each wrong try, and obliges us, as in a real tournament game, to think and create.

Instead if we go to a commercial site, and just practice endless tactical exercises, we will find ourselves in trouble, when moves are not forced, and we actually have to develop a plan.

The next section deals with the Queen vs 2 rooks, also quite important.

The DVD continues with Queen vs Pieces, and then the part I’m quite interested is “practice positions.” Chess cannot be learned if we don’t practice, and the more we practice the better we become.

When one clicks on a position, it is taken to the Chessbase site, to play against Fritz.

The DVD is made by 26 videos, 8 practice positions, a bonus section which comprises the games analyzed in the videos 20 games, and a section of 9 games used as example of imbalances. The videos should be a total of 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Pro and Con: Svitlana Demchenko looks like a tv-news personality, announcing the news in the evening. I definitely enjoyed this new author. The chess world is great for this reason, we have so much diversity, and each new player, can teach us something. For a little less than 30 dollars I got more than 4 hours of training. It makes 7 dollars/hour, which is slightly above minimum wage.

My previous job as chess coach paid lessons with a great GM we had on our staff. Unfortunately one hour was something like 100$. And I felt pressured in not wasting time, when the GM asked me to answer a question, because if I would take 10 minutes to find the answer, it would have cost  the company 16-20$. Here instead we have the advantage of not having pressure in answering a question, because I’m not paying by the hour. I definitely love this way of training.

In the practice positions section there are only 8 positions, maybe 20-25 would have been better for training.

Final Thought: I’m happy I added this new DVD, because the topic is not related to forced moves, which we often find in tactics and checkmates, but to the essence of chess, which is something less tangible than a mere calculation where one exchanges pieces or pawns of equal value. Here one accepts an imbalance in the forces over the board, for something which cannot be seen, like Activity! But how do we measure activity as humans? Yes a computer can calculate the number of squares a piece controls, and determine an exchange to be advantageous, humans need to practice, and be exposed to the wisdom of other players, like WIM Demchenko, in order to improve. Personally I think these 4 hours and 30 minutes of training have been quite useful, in improving my chess understanding.

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