by Steve Lopez

A couple of quick notes before we dive into a preview of a new CD...

The ChessBase USA web site is in a state of transition; we're moving everything to a new server. Sometime over the next few weeks, ETN will be available exclusively at the new site and new ETN issues will no longer be available here. Please excuse our proverbial dust as we make the transition.

This Tuesday marks the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. Longtime ETN readers and folks who have seen my personal profile both at the ChessBase GmbH site and on my computer chess CD know that I'm a fiend for Civil War history. So I'll be out there hiking the battlefield from the pre-dawn hours until sometime in the late afternoon or early evening this Tuesday. Consequently, telephone tech support will be (temporarily) moved this week to Thursday evening (9/19) from 6 PM to midnight ET, as I may be out on the field well into the evening on Tuesday. Tech support will return to the regular Tuesday evening hours on September 24th.


by Steve Lopez

Hot on the heels of the ChessBase CDs previewed in last week's ETN comes a new one, authored by FM Martin Breutigam: King's Indian with h3. This setup for White against the KID has previously received very little attention, and this is something of a mystery: it scores a solid 60% statistically, so you would think that there would be a lot more written about it. Yet it's consistently ignored in many opening books. This sends up an immediate signal to me: secret weapon.

On this CD, Breutigam provides us with eighteen explanatory texts on this little-known White setup:

We can easily see what he discusses on the CD. For the whys, we turn to his introduction to the disk:

Funny, a lot of opening books merely mention the h3-system against the King's Indian in passing: it doesn't even have a name. On the other hand, during the last decades more than 6000 games, which can all be found on this CD, have been played with this system. White scored about 60 percent, which is a better result than most of the other systems against the King's Indian can boast of. Thus, moving the outside pawn has long ceased to be a marginal opening variation.

Chess theory marches ever onward. New ideas are developed all the time and it often takes them a while to make it into standard opening texts. If, as White, you often find yourself playing unsuccessfully against the KID, this system might provide the answer for you -- the chances are good that your opponents won't be familiar with the ideas of this setup. But this CD doesn't cover only ideas for White; again we turn to FM Breutigam's introduction:

...note that this CD doesn't pay tribute to White's plans while neglecting Black's, but presents the best strategies for both sides as objectively as possible.

So Black players who are confronted by this White system will also find help on the CD.

Who plays and/or advocates the h3 system against the KID? GM Bent Larsen is one prominent name that springs to the fore; He's been playing it for about 40 years. GM Lubomir Kavalek (who writes the chess column for the Washington Post, and between columns sometimes exchanges hilariously funny e-mails with me) has also analyzed the h3 system extensively. You can also add names like Ivanchuk, Bareev, and Beliavsky to this distinguished roster (and you'll find games played by all of these players on this CD).

The meat of this CD lies in Breutigam's explanitory texts (listed above). In these, the author explains in clear concise language the ideas behind each of these variations (and, as you know from my past articles, I'm a big "idea guy" -- ideas will get you a whole lot farther than rote memorization of variations). Each of these texts contain links to key illustrative games showing those ideas in action; just click on a game link to load that game and play through it. The vast majority of these games are annotated, so there's further explanation contained in the notes to each game. The instructional database on this CD contains over 150 illustrative games showing the h3 ideas in actual practice.

The CD also contains a main master database of over 10,000 games using this system, ranging from Tartakower's first experiment with it in 1907 to games from 2002. More than 300 of these contain variations and/or commentary. There's also a database of twenty games containing timed training questions so that you can test your knowledge under simulated game conditions ("trial by fire").

Additionally, there's a complete opening tree on the CD, which can be used for statistical analysis of the positions or can be loaded into any of the Fritz "family" of playing programs, forcing Fritz to play nothing but that opening. This gives you ample opportunity to thoroughly explore this system in actual games against your computer; when you play it in a game against another human, you'll be ready.

And the CD is a standalone product: it comes with the ChessBase Reader program, so no other software is required. However, owners of ChessBase or our various playing programs will want to use their full-featured programs to read this CD (to allow them the use of the whole range of electronic tools that these programs provide).

Secret weapon? Heck, yeah! Whether you're looking for an antidote as White against the KID, or are a Black KID player who wants to learn how to counteract this White weapon, King's Indian with h3 by FM Martin Breutigam may well be just what the doctor ordered.

Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments, suggestions, and analysis for Electronic T-Notes.