Semi-Slav "Hero": Alexei Shirov

Semi-Slav "Hero": Alexei Shirov

NM CraiggoryC
May 15, 2016, 10:50 AM |
When I was a kid, I had a lot of sports heroes that I idolized: Ken Griffey Jr., Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretsky, Garry Kasparov (when I started studying chess) etc. But then as I grew up, I stopped having idols. I never really thought anything of it, until I read a book on finance (out of all things) that said one of the best ways to improve yourself is to find someone to idolize and (to a certain extent) imitate.

My advice to serious students is to try to find their own idol/hero. Some ways to find your idol and/or get the most benefits from an idol:

  1. If your idol plays similar openings to you this will also help your opening study
  2. Don't limit yourself to just one idol, you may idolize Botvinnik's play in the French Winawer and Garry Kasparov's play in the King's Indian Defense. The more the merrier!
  3. Try to find at least a few "heroes" from the 1940s-1970s. This is when chess openings were in their infancies, so you can really see the ideas behind the openings. Players were experimenting with almost anything then and you can see which ideas worked and which ideas didn't.
  4. Once you find your idol, try to find a well analyzed book or chessbase collection of games by that player. If the analysis is by the actual player that's even better!

Below are some tactics and/or strategies taken from games by Shirov in the Semi-Slav defense. In my opinion this is a great way to improve both your chess abilities and also learn some opening theory along the way! Have at it!

White just played 22. Qc4?, leaving Black an opportunity for a relentless attack! Do you know the thematic attacking move that Shirov played, and can you follow it up to a nice mate?
The whole (crazy) game from above: