A Review of The Killer French DVD with GM Simon Williams
I was quite surprised when I came across Ginger GM’s new DVD on the french (The Killer French DVD with GM Simon Williams). I had recalled visiting his website a while back and it looked like a place to bookmark and come back to. Plus, there are not that many titled players with their own web page/presence trying to interact with the overall chess community. Ginger GM (Simon Williams) was! (http://www.gingergm.com/).
His DVD Killer French came a bit unexpected because as a casual chess fan, you become accustomed to the producers of content and it was quite a spin to get to see this new streamline of chess materials, specifically DVD’s.
I am not a French defence player myself, therefore I cant judge the overall material based on the lines suggested, but I wanted to experience for once, to gain an appreciation of Simon’s new line of DVD’s ( I have worked with video before, and grew up watching Dzindi’s material) and also, well, to see what the french was all about.
Personally, I think this puts me in a good perspective because I would be unbiased towards the recommendations given on the DVD. Therefore, I would like to state that for some one who is new to the french, this might be a great introduction to picking up a new opening. In DVD 1 Simon covers The Advance Variation and Tarrasch Variation. This is a two part series where in DVD 2 he covers The Winawer Variation, Exchange Variation, Kings Indian Attack and Any Other Possibilities.
I watched DVD 1, and was quite happy when it ended ( I just finished watching it) and I feel like I have grasped the main ideas that Simon was trying to portray in these two definitely theoretical variations of the french defence. Simon purposely proposes to start with these lines because he states that for the student, it is helpful to learn how to handle these beginning pawn-structures, to gain a better understanding of how to play the opening in general.
The video is over 5 hours long, and I liked that I was able to play it on my computer and speed the delivery after 2 hours to a higher speed through my video player while recording the analysis on Chessbase. Being able to speed the delivery made the video watchable for one sitting.
The content is split up by brief introductions to what is going to be discussed, model games, and then the theoretical section where a more in-depth overview of the lines discussed in the model games is presented.
For adamant followers of the french, it will be important to share what lines are recommended in the video:
The Advanced Variation:
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 *
Simon states that he prefers 5…Bd7 over the more patented 5…Qb6 because after Qb6 white plays 6.a3 and the queen seems to have problems on the b6 square. He also adds that there are times when the queen has to move again to place a piece on b6 etc.
The main idea of the line suggested by Simon is to hold off on the development of the queen, and play Nge7 followed by Nf5, primarily pressuring the d4 pawn. The key game here is Shabalov-Shirov.
vs. The Tarrasch Variation:
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. c3 (5.f4) c5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 (7. Ngf3) *
A quick breakdown on the recommendations for black on The Tarrasch:
5.f4 Simon, gives importance to this move and likes Moskalenko’s suggestion of playing on the queenside with a5!? therefore, he recommends to exchange on d4 (5…cxd4, followed by a5!?). The play can be concrete if black does not know how to stop white initiative on the kingside, but the advice to is to prevent the advance of the pawns (whites pawn mass) with g6 and later h5.
7.Ne2 The common way of playing the Tarrasch, Simon likes the lines with Qc7 and the exchange sacrifice on f3 (Rxf3!?). Excellent, and exciting chess where ones preparation pays off with plenty of points in the long run.
7.Nf3, coined The Universal System, Black chooses, Be7, followed by the later a5!? for example:
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 Nc6 8. O-Oa5 9. Re1 cxd4 10. cxd4 g5!?
Over all I felt that the material was quite exciting and that it was pleasant to see Simon Williams deliver the lecture on film. I feel like he went through the ideas of the opening system well to the point where I am enabled to play these lines in blitz to get better experience before deepening my understanding prior to a tournament.
I think the DVD is perfect, for anyone interested in the french, and ideal for anyone +1700 Rating.
Killer French Defense, Parts 1 & 2 – Two Chess DVDs