05 December 2020

Videos completed: "Why You Should Study Master Games" by Tatev Abrahamyan


"Why You Should Study Master Games" (parts 1 and 2) are the final videos in the Chess.com series by Tatev Abrahamyan. I've made a point of periodically doing "commentary" annotated games of master (usually GM) level games on this blog, including collecting them in a PGN database available for download on the sidebar link; I posted some previous thoughts on the process in "Analyzing master games for training".

Part 1: Abrahamyan introduces the video with the observation that by studying master games, we will see more ideas and also be able to avoid known mistakes, thereby not having to reinvent the wheel in our own games. Studying historical games therefore is relevant for today's training.

The first example game given is Capablanca - Treybal, in an inferior Stonewall type position for Black. Capablanca fixes the pawn structure and then, as is common in closed positions, can take his time to organize pawn breaks and put his pieces on optimal squares to make progress. Also illustrated are the benefits of a space advantage and White's avoidance of exchanging pieces, which would just make Black's life easier.

The second game is Petrosian - Ledic. The structure is very similar, but without queens on the board. Black gets frustrated and loses more quickly than necessary, but White could have won in any case, with his ability to play on both sides of the board and target Black's weaknesses faster than they could be defended.

Part 2: the theme of modern relevance is continued, with the first example game being again from Capablanca and the second from Carlsen. Capablanca manages to win an even-looking double rook ending, by staying patient and flexible and working to provoke weaknesses, using a minority attack on the kingside to open up the h-file for a rook. 

The second example game is Radjabov-Carlsen from 2012. The structure is again very similar, with the addition of light-squared bishops on both sides. Black wins the endgame using a strategy reminiscent of Capablanca's.

I found the examples useful in both video parts, which together total around 20 minutes, but I felt the broader theme was treated rather perfunctorily. To do it properly, though, would take a lot more content.

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