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Opening Instructor Review
keywords: opening, MCO, ECO, concepts, Kalinichenko
Robert Pawlak
Saturday, January 21, 2006

Convekta has taken a slightly different approach with this latest opening CD. If you've purchased any of their products, it doesn't take long to realize that they typically contain vast amounts of chess material that can keep the average chess player busy for years. However this can be a two-edged sword when it comes to opening study - there are times when it's easy to lose sight of the forest because of the trees.

Thus this latest CD presents an overview of nearly all the openings that you're likely to encounter. So you may not find guidance for every conceivable opening, but you will find it for most. Incidentally, at this point in the review, I was prepared to lament that the Fried Liver attack was given short shrift. But much to my chagrin, I found that there are three relevant games included (!). So you may very well be surprised at what is covered on this CD.

A complete list of the openings covered by the "Opening Instructor" can be found here. Note that in the above example of the Fried Liver attack, the relevant material is covered under the two-knights defense.

Kalinichenko uses 334 games and fragments to cover all the openings. In a sense, the objective of this CD is similar to Soltis' "Opening Ideas and Analysis", but goes into greater detail, and covers more material.  There is also quite a bit of English explanatory text - much more than one finds in competing products. Below, I've shown a screenshot to give you an idea of the level of detail that one can expect in terms of annotations:

[Reti example]

Note that there is both historical background and discussion of potential plans and pitfalls.

The material on the CD is organized using a tree structure that is used by many Convekta products. This organizational scheme breaks games into three main categories: open, closed and semi-open games. Within these three categories, you'll find the individual opening names listed. Double-clicking one of these will produce a list of the relevant games. Many people will find the organization intuitive, so there should be no problem quickly finding what one needs.

Below you can see a partial list of the openings that are covered in the Semi-open games category. The tree structured opening classifier is shown on the right, with explanatory text for that highlighted branch shown on the left. Below the tree you can see a list of games that deal are included in the semi-open games category.

[classifier example]

You might wonder at the difference between this product and Chess Openings 2005, also by Convekta. The latter contains a great deal of theory, and the material is accessed via Convekta's opening tables feature (more detail here and here). The Instructor simply presents the material in game format, which makes the study of transpositional lines less convenient. The Instructor is also meant to impart the flavor and key ideas of a specific opening, rather than present detailed theoretical recommendations for all the openings. Since the opening tables mode is not supported, this program is not the best choice if you want to store and study your own repertoire (Chess Assistant 8, or Openings 2005 is a better match). However, if you want an easily accessible one-stop overview of all the openings, then the Opening Instructor is a good choice.

All in all, this CD should be first on your list if you want to quickly come up to speed on a particular opening, since it has the right amount of material to orient the typical player, without getting lost in too many details. You can get more information on this CD from ChessOK.

Copy Protection

Must install from the original CD.


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