30 December 2017

Annotated Game #183: A lesson in exchanging queens and the initiative

This third-round tournament game was a hard-fought draw and I showed some resilience in achieving that result after the blundering loss the previous round (Annotated Game #182).  (Interestingly, in my latest tournament I had a very similar board sight problem that could also have been solved by playing Kg2 - "stepping up in the pocket" would the the sports term in American football - so there's a learning point for my game analysis.)

This particular variation (with 4. e3, reached by a different move-order here) used to be called the "Slow Slav" but now it's quite standard at the professional level.  At first it looks harmless, but the positions hold the metaphorical "drop of poison" for Black if he doesn't know what he's doing, as was the case this game.  I decided to exchange queens early on, which looked quite reasonable, but then White essentially by force gets a lot of space and pressure on the queenside, with no compensating counterplay for Black, who finds it difficult to place his minor pieces well and come up with a useful plan.  For Slav players, this points out why ...Qc7 rather than ...Qb6 is the standard reaction to White's queen sortie Qb3.

The middlegame is a study in contrasts, as I finally get some counterplay going (starting with 18...e5), but White puts on a very effective squeeze and gets a large advantage as a result.  I refuse to roll over and die, though, and continue searching for any counterplay possible.  Move 29 was a psychological victory for me, using a tactic that my opponent had overlooked, although by move 37 White was in the driver's seat in the endgame.  However, I was able to drum up some activity on the kingside and in the rook ending make some threats, causing my opponent to falter and force a draw.

So, multiple lessons from this game:
  • What to do (and not do, in other words exchange queens) in the Slow Slav after White brings out Qb3
  • Never give up fighting and trying to create counterchances
  • The initiative is a real phenomenon (in human chess) and if you can disrupt your opponent's momentum, it will have a positive impact on the game 

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D12"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "114"] [EventType "simul"] [EventRounds "6"] {[%mdl 8192] D12: Slav Defence: 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 e3 Bf5} 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 4. c4 c6 {now in a Slav Defense by transposition.} 5. Nc3 e6 6. Qb3 Qb6 7. c5 Qxb3 (7... Qc7 {is by far the most played at the master level. We'll see why over the next few moves. Black can also play this the previous move; the current sequence has the effect of provoking the c4-c5 advance.}) 8. axb3 Nbd7 9. b4 Be7 10. b5 {so far my opponent is playing the main database line, and effectively. White after the exchange of queens has grabbed space on the queenside.} O-O 11. bxc6 bxc6 12. Ra6 Nb8 {awkward, but probably best for defense.} 13. Ra2 {it's not clear what square is best for the rook on the a-file.} Nbd7 {now White has to come up with something different than moving the rook back. Effectively he gained a tempo with the maneuver, but it's not a particularly important one.} 14. Be2 a5 {getting some much-needed space for myself on the queenside. The a-pawn is still a target, however.} 15. O-O Rfb8 16. Bd2 $14 {White has a small advantage out of the opening, as his pieces are somewhat better placed and he has fewer weaknesses. My next move magnifies his minor piece superiority, unfortunately.} Bd8 {done with the idea of defending the a-pawn, but more activity rather than less was called for. White will also simply be able to double rooks and then unmask the Bd2 in order to win the pawn, so I should have sought counterplay instead.} (16... Ne4 $5 17. Nxe4 dxe4 18. Ne5 Nxe5 19. dxe5 Bxc5 $14) 17. Rfa1 $16 Bc7 {at least it's on a better diagonal here.} 18. Ne1 {White retains an advantage after this, but I now get counterplay in the center.} e5 {a thematic (and only available) pawn lever.} 19. Nd1 {attacking the isolated pawn on a5, but the minor piece arrangement is rather comical and I have a bit of compensation due to White's limited knights. } exd4 {necessary to open lines in the center for counterplay.} 20. exd4 Re8 21. Ne3 Bg6 {played automatically.} (21... Rab8 $5 {can be played due to the pin of the Ne3 against the Be2.} 22. Bxa5 Bxa5 23. Rxa5 $16) 22. Bxa5 { realizing the pawn advantage.} Bf4 23. Bd2 Rab8 (23... Rxa2 $5 24. Rxa2 Nxc5 { is an interesting tactic:} 25. dxc5 d4 {and Black regains the piece, but White is still better.}) 24. g3 Bxe3 {not the best decision. In general, exchanging when down material isn't good, plus keeping the bishop on the h6-c1 diagonal would generate useful pressure.} (24... Bh6 $5 $16) 25. Bxe3 h6 {played to give the king some luft and in the absence of any better ideas.} 26. Kf1 { protecting the hanging Be2.} Ne4 27. Nd3 $18 {White has now sorted out his minor pieces, is a clear pawn up, and dominates the a-file, while I have no threats. It's not looking good for the home team.} Rbc8 {a passive choice, looking to defend the c-pawn, but there's not a lot that's much better.} (27... Nef6 28. h3 $18) 28. Ra7 Nb8 {an all-too-familiar place for the knight in this game. White is just squeezing me to death at this point, while I try to hang on via static defense.} 29. Bg4 $6 {White is still winning comfortably by the engine's calculation, but there's a big tactical opportunity now with the Nd3 hanging and on the same diagonal as his king. This also marks a major psychological shift in the game, as White is no longer just squeezing a helpless opponent.} Nxg3+ {I see a chance to get back the pawn and take it.} 30. hxg3 Bxd3+ 31. Ke1 f5 {I keep playing actively, to try to keep my opponent off balance.} (31... Rcd8 32. Kd2 Bg6 33. Rb7 $18) 32. Kd2 (32. Bh5 {would sidestep the threat.} Red8 33. Bf7+ Kh7 34. Be6 $18) 32... fxg4 33. Kxd3 Rf8 { still looking for counterplay. The rook is doing more on the f-file.} 34. Rb7 Rf7 {played with the idea of preventing White from getting doubled rooks on the 7th rank.} 35. Rxf7 Kxf7 36. Ra8 $6 {White picks the wrong rank for the rook, although the pin on the Nb8 looks dangerous, with Bf4 threatened.} (36. Ra7+ {maintains the advantage.} Ke6 37. Rxg7 Nd7 38. Rxg4 Nf6 $18) 36... Re8 $6 {takes care of the pin threat, but not in the best way.} (36... g5 {would take away the f4 square from White's bishop and help prevent further progress by my opponent.} 37. Ra7+ Kg6 $14 {in contrast with the game continuation, here my c-pawn is still well protected.}) 37. Bf4 $18 Nd7 38. Ra7 {maintaining the pin and the advantage.} Ke6 (38... Re7 39. Rc7 Nf6 40. Rxc6 $18) 39. Rc7 {White is now firmly back in control of the game.} g5 40. Rxc6+ Kf7 41. Bd6 Re6 42. Rc7 Ke8 43. Rc8+ Kf7 44. b4 Rf6 {I'm doomed on the queenside, so my only real hope is to try to drum up something on the kingside.} 45. Ke2 (45. Rd8 $5 {might be the shorter path} Rxd6 46. cxd6 Ke6 $18) 45... h5 46. Rh8 (46. Rd8 {keeps an even firmer grip} Re6+ 47. Kf1 Rxd6 48. cxd6 Ke6 $18) 46... Re6+ 47. Kf1 Nf6 48. Be5 Nd7 49. Rh7+ Ke8 50. f4 {rather than focus on the queenside, where he's winning, he starts playing on the kingside. He's still winning, but again this gives me some hope for counterplay.} gxf3 51. Rxh5 Nxe5 52. dxe5 Rxe5 { we now have an interesting position where the computer has White winning by a landslide, but it's not so easy to see.} 53. g4 $2 {this gives me a crucial tempo.} (53. c6 $1 Kd8 54. b5 {and Black can't stop the pawns, with White's rook able to play on the 7th and 8th ranks.}) 53... d4 $16 54. Rh3 {and now it's a draw, according to the engine, although I don't go about it the best way. My opponent had little appetite for continuing at this point, however.} ( 54. Rh6 Rd5 $16) 54... Re3 (54... d3 {is the key idea.} 55. Rxf3 $2 d2 56. Rd3 Re1+ {wins.}) 55. Kf2 (55. c6 d3 $11) 55... Re2+ 56. Kf1 Re3 {Twofold repetition} 57. Kf2 Re2+ 1/2-1/2

27 December 2017

New chess game replayer for 2018

Because of improved security features (using the HTTPS protocol which is now becoming standard) and additional available functionality, I've switched all of the games on this blog to using the ChessBase online replayer.  It's free and easy-to-use; instructions are in this link.  Being able to "full screen" the games, make your own variations on the board while replaying it, turn on an engine, and other capabilities are all quite nice to have when going through games.

Please note that this won't affect the PGN databases that are available for download; they were in fact used to update all of the posted annotated and commentary games to the new format.

There are still a few game fragments in past posts that I haven't updated, and may or may not get around to.  If you find one of particular interest, post a comment on that page and I'll see about updating it.

Annotated Game #182: Remember that your king can move (and other board sight freeze-ups)

This short, rather sad second-round tournament game illustrates the title quite well.  An example of how not to play the English very effectively, plus I got flustered by my opponent's sudden tactical threat at the end.  I occasionally have these types of board sight / move choice failures, which typically fall into the categories of not seeing: 1) king moves while on the defense; 2) pawn advances; and 3) backwards moves.  What I believe is going on is that my brain assumes that the pieces involved are either static, or should move in a different direction (forwards, in the case of missed backwards moves).  These are all understandable failures due to mental bias, but they will hold my play back if I don't think more dynamically on a consistent basis.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "ChessAdmin"] [Black "Class B"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A11"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventType "simul"] [EventRounds "6"] {[%mdl 8192] A11: English Opening: 1...c6} 1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Bf5 5. O-O e6 6. d3 {I thought for a while here on this option. White can play reasonably with different approaches.} (6. b3 $5) 6... Bd6 7. Qb3 {this seems a premature queen development, although the idea of taking advantage of the absence of Black's light-squared bishop is a standard one.} (7. cxd5 exd5 8. Nc3 O-O 9. Nh4 Be6 10. e4 Na6 11. Qe2 Re8 12. h3 Be5 13. f4 Bxc3 14. bxc3 dxe4 15. dxe4 Bd5 16. e5 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 Qd5+ 18. Nf3 Rad8 19. c4 Qe4 20. Re1 Qxe2+ 21. Rxe2 Nd7 {Carlsen,M (2813)-Smeets,J (2651) Nice 2010 1-0 (36)}) 7... Qc7 8. Bg5 {the idea was to get the bishop developed first, then play Nbd2.} (8. Nc3 { is a quite reasonable square for the knight, though.}) 8... Nbd7 9. Nbd2 { the position is very equal here. Unfortunately I have a lack of strategic ideas, however.} h6 10. Be3 {now the drawback of the Bg5 development is evident, with its limited squares. Compare this to how it would look on the long diagonal, for example.} (10. Bxf6 $5 {at the time, I thought that exchanging would leave Black better off, but the Nd7 is in fact well-placed where it is rather than on f6, so this would have been a worthwhile trade for me.} Nxf6 11. cxd5 exd5 $11) 10... O-O 11. Rac1 Rfd8 12. cxd5 Nxd5 13. Nc4 (13. Bd4 {when other plans aren't obvious, one can always improve the position of your worst piece.} e5 14. e4 exd4 15. exf5 Bc5 16. Ne4 $11) 13... Nxe3 14. Nxe3 {Black has the pair of bishops now.} Bh7 15. Nc4 Be7 16. h4 $6 {a pointless move, since there are no attacking prospects on the kingside and the g5 square is not critical to control. In the game, I wanted to transfer my knight to e4 via d2 and avoid ...Bg5 pinning it, but the manuever just isn't worth it.} Bf6 17. Nfd2 (17. Rfd1 Nb6 $11) 17... Nb6 18. Ne4 Bxe4 19. Bxe4 {now we have an opposite-colored bishops position.} Nxc4 20. Rxc4 {after some dubious middlegame ideas, I emerge with a pleasantly even position.} Rd4 21. Rfc1 (21. Rxd4 {there's no reason not to simplify down further at this point.} Bxd4 22. e3 Bf6 23. d4 $11) 21... Rad8 22. Rxd4 {this is not in fact the losing move, although it allows Black to set up the potential tactic.} (22. e3 Rxc4 23. Rxc4 $11) 22... Bxd4 23. Qc2 $4 {played as I recall rather automatically, not realizing until too late what my opponent could play.} (23. Kg2 $11 {this should have been easy to find (or Kf1).}) 23... Qxg3+ (23... Qxg3+ 24. Kh1 Bxf2 25. Bh7+ Kh8 26. Bf5 exf5 27. a3 Qh3#) 0-1

25 December 2017

Video completed: Safe and Active with the Dutch Stonewall

"Safe and Active with the Dutch Stonewall" by GM Leonid Kritz is one of the ChessBase 60-minute series of videos.  Most of the FritzTrainer type DVDs/videos are several hours long, so these are designed to be more focused and necessarily less comprehensive, although that's not necessarily a drawback.  The video lecture is delivered in a no-nonsense style and gets right to the point, so I will too.


1. Introduction - a helpful tour of the variations GM Kritz will be covering, focusing on the main Stonewall lines with White fianchettoing his bishop on g3.  He also covers non-fianchetto development and the Staunton Gambit, assuming that Black starts with 1. d4 f5.

2. Variation - 5. Nh3.  This is a tricky idea that some White players see as the best antidote to the Stonewall.  GM Kritz does a good job in 13 minutes of showing how Black can effectively respond to White's ideas of using the f4 square and repositioning his knights.  Key general Stonewall principles are also highlighted, including the idea of it being a benefit for Black to exchange on e5 so a White pawn arrives there.

3. Variation - 5. Nf3 and later b3.  This is the classic White strategy of seeking to exchange dark-squared bishops.  GM Kritz shows how to maintain equality with the modern Stonewall approach of developing Black's light-squared bishop to b7 or a6.  I like the fact that in the main line he shows two Black approaches, with 9...b6 and 9...b5.

4. Variation - 5. Nf3 and later Nc3.  This is more of a catch-all of White variations without the b3 idea.  GM Kritz at the beginning says he gives fewer concrete variations than in the previous section, but this is more to sensitize the viewer to the fact that the lines covered should be studied more for their ideas, since there are plenty of concrete moves, especially with the immediate Bf4 idea for White.  Here he introduces the alternative Black light-square bishop development idea as well (Bd7-e8-h5 or g6).

5. Stonewall without g3 - GM Kritz highlights the alternative of Black playing ...Bb4 early in this line, in order to turn the position into a type of enhanced Nimzo-Indian.  It seems that this is the way he'd prefer to play, but instead of delving into that, we look at the classical Stonewall development scheme and various White and Black options.  It's helpful in this presentation to see several examples of inferior choices by both White and Black, and how they are exploited by the other side.

6. Staunton Gambit - GM Kritz chops through the variations effectively in less than ten minutes, showing how Black stays at least equal and presenting a number of inferior White deviations that can be punished.

General comments:
  • Each of the sections has the variations presented also available in game format, so you can copy them for analysis or look at them again on your own.  This is very helpful in building your repertoire database.
  • Although this is intended for Black players, the narration stays even-handed - this is not a "Crush Your Opponent" type of hyped-up video.  With best play in the lines, Black ends up solid and equal.  That said, a number of White alternatives that are considered inferior are highlighted, which is a real benefit.  I believe these types of explanations of openings are most useful, rather than simply running through best play for both sides in a repertoire style format.
  • Most of the emphasis of the lines presented is on the modern play with ...b6 and ...Bb7, focusing on the ...c5 break and queenside play for Black.  There's enough kingside counterplay illustrated, however, to get a feel for when Black should initiate it, along with the idea of the Bd7-e8-h5 or g6 development
  • While you probably could start playing the Stonewall with just this video, you would need to also 1) look at some games to see how the opening evolves into typical middlegame plans, and 2) look at some of the other Anti-Dutch variations White can play, notably 2. Bg5, if you plan to play 1...f5.  GM Viktor Moskalenko and some other Stonewall practitioners for that reason play 1. d4 e6, but of course in that case you need to have some idea of what to do in the French if White plays 2. e4 (a low but real probability).
  • Within the constraints of the 60-minute format, the lessons deliver a good deal of value and should be a helpful resource to players studying the Stonewall.

17 December 2017

Annotated Game #181: Deceptive quiet

This first-round tournament saw a very drawish-looking position appear already as of move 13, the result of a somewhat unexpected equalizing line that I took in the Caro-Kann Classical; by my opponent's reaction, he hadn't seen the 12...Qa6 idea before.  However, it's been a weakness of mine in the past to evaluate a position as "equal" or "drawish" or "quiet" and then lose interest in it.  If your opponent doesn't agree and wants to continue, that kind of attitude can lead to significant problems, since they will undoubtedly put more effort into the game than you will.

It's better, I think, to treat each position as a puzzle to be solved, a truth to be discovered, or whatever metaphor of your choice, so you can invest real concentration in divining its most important characteristics.  This leads to better play, as you more deeply understand the needs of the position, rather than just playing decent-looking moves without real interest.  Analysis of move 14 already shows the benefits of this type of approach, as the only database game (14...Nb4) and Komodo's recommendation (14...c5) are both more dynamic responses to White's knight sortie.

The endgame is actually rather instructive, as White's 3-2 pawn majority could have proven a more significant advantage, but at the same time I could have followed better paths to neutralizing it.  Particular attention should be paid to the rook's role on the 5th rank as a defender.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B19"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventType "simul"] [EventRounds "6"] {B19: Classical Caro-Kann: 4...Bf5 main line} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bf4 Qa5+ {a logical reaction to White's more aggressive placement of the bishop, rather than on d2.} 12. Bd2 Qa6 {something which makes this a unique line, rather than simply retreating the queen.} 13. Qxa6 (13. c4 {is the other main try, avoiding the queen exchange.} Nbd7 14. a4 c5 15. O-O cxd4 16. b4 Rd8 17. Qxd4 Nb6 18. Qxd8+ Kxd8 19. b5 Qxa4 20. Rxa4 Nxa4 21. Ra1 Nb6 22. Ne5 Kc8 23. Rxa7 Bc5 24. Nxf7 Rf8 25. Ne5 Nxh5 26. Ne4 Kb8 27. Ra2 Bd4 28. Be3 Bxe3 29. fxe3 Nf6 30. Nc5 Rd8 31. Kf2 Rc8 32. Nxe6 Re8 33. Nxg7 Rxe5 34. Rc2 Rc5 35. Kf3 Nxc4 36. Kf4 Nd5+ 37. Kg3 Ndxe3 38. Rf2 Rg5+ 39. Kh4 Rxg7 40. b6 Nxb6 41. Kh5 Rxg2 42. Rf3 Nec4 43. Rf4 Ka7 44. Kxh6 Ka6 {0-1 (44) Gochelashvili,D (2432) -Motylev,A (2675) Sochi 2017}) 13... Nxa6 {the position is now very drawish, as neither side has any real weaknesses or advantages.} 14. Ne5 {a bit overly aggressive.} Be7 {solid but unimaginative.} (14... Nb4 15. Bxb4 Bxb4+ 16. c3 Bd6 17. f4 c5 18. dxc5 Bxc5 19. Ke2 Ke7 20. Kf3 Rhd8 21. Rad1 Bd6 22. Ng4 Nxg4 23. Kxg4 f5+ 24. Kf3 Rac8 25. Ne2 Kf6 26. Rhe1 Bc5 27. Nc1 Bb6 28. Nd3 Rd5 29. Ne5 {Trenchev,J (2260)-Loos,R (2239) Bayern 2003 0-1 (68)}) (14... c5 $5) 15. O-O-O O-O 16. c4 Rac8 17. Kb1 Rfd8 {developing the last of my pieces.} 18. Be3 c5 {always a key pawn lever in the Caro-Kann Classical. It both hits White's center and allows Black's pieces greater activity.} 19. dxc5 {after the following exchanges, White gets a 3-2 queenside pawn majority, but my piece activity compensates.} Bxc5 20. Rxd8+ Rxd8 21. Bxc5 Nxc5 22. Kc2 Nce4 23. Nxe4 Nxe4 24. Rh4 {this is a slip by White, but again I play too solidly rather than actively.} Nf6 (24... Rd2+ $5 25. Kc1 Re2 $15) 25. f3 {Consolidates e4+g4} Kf8 {activating the king, now that we've reached the endgame.} 26. Nd3 Rc8 27. b3 Ke7 28. Kc3 b6 {Covers c5} 29. a3 a5 {here I was playing for restriction, but should have been more aggressive about disrupting White's pawns in subsequent moves.} 30. Rh1 Nd7 (30... b5 $5 {would have continued the minority attack idea, well supported by the Rc8.} 31. c5 Nd5+ $11) 31. g4 Nc5 32. Nxc5 Rxc5 {this makes it easier for White to make progress.} (32... bxc5 $11 { and the two isolated pawns are not in fact weak, since White cannot exploit them, plus they double-cover b4. For example} 33. b4 axb4+ 34. axb4 cxb4+ 35. Kxb4 Rb8+ 36. Kc3 Ra8 $11) 33. Re1 g6 {an unnecessary distraction. I was thinking I could try to make progress on the kingside, but it's really better to focus first on the queenside.} (33... Rg5 {keeps the rook deployed along the 5th rank, to good effect. After this, ...g6 makes more sense.}) 34. hxg6 fxg6 35. b4 axb4+ 36. axb4 Rg5 $6 {it's funny how much sequencing effects a position. Now the idea of bringing the rook over causes me problems.} (36... Rc8 $11) 37. Kd4 $6 (37. Ra1 $5 $16 {and now White penetrates on the 7th rank.} ) 37... h5 $11 38. gxh5 (38. Rg1 hxg4 39. Rxg4 Rf5 $11) 38... gxh5 {and now the strengths on the different flanks balance each other out nicely.} 39. Rh1 Kd6 40. Ke4 Rf5 41. f4 Ke7 42. Rh4 Kf6 43. Rh1 e5 44. fxe5+ Rxe5+ 45. Kf4 1/2-1/2

14 December 2017

DVD completed: Crushing White with the Caro-Kann Defense

The "Crushing White with the Caro-Kann Defense" (Reloaded Edition) DVD by GM Maxim Dlugy contains a series of lectures on suggested lines to play as Black in the Caro-Kann, along with a brief (2-page) summary of the main points of the four chapters in PDF format, and 10 games in PGN format on the disc.  Not all of the games/variations he presents are contained in the PGN files.

The video lectures are grouped into four chapters:

Chapter 1 - the Advance Variation, featuring Morozevich-Dlugy (2015).  Dlugy advocates the usual 3...Bf5 response by Black and looks at some of the more aggressive options for White featuring the g2-g4 advance, as well as the standard Nf3/Be2 development (Short System).

Chapter 2 - the Main Line with 4...Nd7, including four games from various points in Dlugy's career.  This is valuable for anyone who plays that line, but it is no longer very popular.  I've never been interested in playing it, in part because it makes development of the light-squared bishop more difficult.  Anatoly Karpov used the variation for a long stretch as his main defense, probably its greatest claim to fame.

Chapter 3 - the Exchange Variation and the Panov-Botvinnik Attack.  There is no actual database game given regarding the Exchange Variation, but Dlugy spends some time looking at an offbeat but effective-looking treatment of the line, using a maneuver with 6...g6 followed by ...Nf6-h5 as the main idea for Black.  After that is finished, the lecture includes two database games on the Panov-Botvinnik Attack that feature the solid 5...e6 variation; the other two main approaches are 5...Nc6 and 5...g6 (a gambit).  The PDF notes for this chapter are also quite helpful in outlining specific ideas, for later reference.

Chapter 4 - Dlugy returns to the Main Line with 4...Nd7.  This section has three more database games, including the infamous 1997 Deep Blue - Kasparov game where the computer won in 19 moves; this probably is the real reason (if not a completely valid one) for the variation's subsequent unpopularity.  The centerpiece of the chapter, as a somewhat strange choice, is a blitz game Dlugy played against Radjabov.

Comments and observations:
  • This DVD isn't comprehensive enough of an intro to the Caro-Kann to stand on its own, if that is what you are looking for.  For example, it doesn't cover some of the White variations often encountered at the club level (Two Knights, King's Indian Attack, Fantasy) and the PDF lecture notes are of uneven helpfulness (Chapter 3 being the best).
  • As basically a repertoire-based lecture on the main lines, it does offer some good ideas in the particular variations Dlugy uses.  Chapter 3 was particularly valuable for me, as Dlugy offers concrete strategic, tactical and even "philosophical" insights into Black's play in the Exchange (which he calls the "Fischer" variation) and the Panov.  The first part of the Panov variation presentation I found valuable, following a particularly instructive Karpov game, but the second part featuring one of Dlugy's own games was not as convincing or well-organized.
  • I found it annoying in a video lecture aimed at the Black side to still have a board with the White pieces at the bottom.  It would seem that the software used to record it would not allow for flipping the board, which is simply antiquated.  While having White on the bottom is still mostly standard for diagrams in Black-oriented repertoire books (if not 100% of the time), it felt rather awkward watching the board from White's perspective for the whole video. When you're reading a book but have a separate board set up in front of you, the diagrams are less of an issue, but using a separate board is not practical to do with a video lecture.
  • The presentation quality is uneven, with some segments flowing well and with insightful integrated commentary.  Others however show Dlugy being somewhat unprepared and having to check his notes.  I don't really understand why presenters don't simply do a retake when this happens, but it's a common phenomenon with chess videos across different publishers.
  • Dlugy sometimes plays out the (relatively few) games to the bitter end in the endgame, commenting along the way.  Sometimes this can be good when typical structures for an opening are presented, but other times it just seems to drag things out, for example with the last blitz game.
  • There are 10 pages of PDF puzzles also included, with two positions per page, but which variation they are taken from is not referenced in the text.