I was in Hamburg this week making two more DVDs for Chessbase, Tricks and Traps in the Flank Openings and The Vienna with 3.f4. So I thought I’d say a little bit about my philosophy in making these products and how I think they can help the improvement process.
Basically I see DVDs as being an easy way for people to familiarize themselves with certain concepts and ideas which should then be reinforced via other means. It’s unrealistic to expect that we will know how to play an opening after watching a DVD once or even several times as this does not provide the kind of deliberate practice and personal knowledge that is usable under the stress of tournament competition. But it is certainly a good way to start.
What steps should be taken after watching a DVD? Well you could try playing it in some offhand games on the internet to get a feel for playing it over the board. And when you’ve done that you’ll start to develop a growing awareness of the problems and issues with this way of playing. Perhaps some of the presenter’s comments will make more sense, others you might take issue with. But you are then on the road to making this opening your own, an extension of your chess playing persona. And this process can be furthered by analyzing games in which the opening was played.
Needless to say this is not the way that most people do it as their ‘studies’ remain passive, listening and trying to repeat rather than participating with every atom of their being. I’ve thought long and hard about how to foster greater student participation and one of the best ways is to deliberately ask them questions. A few books adopt this approach but it’s not strictly necessary. We can also ask the questions ourselves, once the habit of doing so has been developed.