General Jun 20, 2019 | 11:57 AMby chess24 staff

The Method in Chess: 5 new video series

“Clearly the best educational book about chess” is how Alexander Grischuk once described Iossif Dorfman’s “The Method in Chess”, and we’re thrilled that the legendary Soviet and French Chess Champion has now filmed a 9-hour video series on his method with Jan Gustafsson. That’s just one of five new series you can check out now on chess24, including Sopiko Guramishvili on playing 4.f3 against the Nimzo-Indian and Romain Edouard providing a full repertoire for the French Defence as well as taking us through some great attacking games by Veselin Topalov.

Iossif Dorfman explains his method to Jan | Jan draws arrows

The chess calendar has been so packed with events recently that you might have missed the publication of new video series here on chess24, so let’s take a look at some of the recent releases:

1. The Method in Chess | Iossif Dorfman & Jan Gustafsson | 10 videos, 8 hr 48 min 

Grandmaster Iossif Dorfman won the formidable Soviet Championship in 1977 and the French Championship in 1998, but he’s best known as a chess trainer. He seconded Garry Kasparov for four World Championship matches and coached 8-time French Champion Etienne Bacrot from the age of 9 until he became the youngest grandmaster in history (at the time) at 14 years and 2 months.

Dorfman’s wider renown rests on two books in which he outlined his approach to the game, something he’s now replicated in this series with Jan Gustafsson. It’s incredibly ambitious, as he explains to Jan:

This method, this, if you like, system, really gives an algorithm for how to search for moves, which never existed. This is a completely new approach. I don’t only analyse the elements but I give the priorities, I place them in a certain order and depending on this order I show you how to find the right decision in any position.

As with any system that aims to explain everything, you can argue with Dorfman – as the late, great Mark Dvoretsky, also a chess24 author, did – but his ideas have resonated with even the world’s best players since they were published. At Norway Chess recently Levon Aronian commented on a pawn push in his win against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov:

It’s one of those things I learned from Dorfman’s book… if you have a strategical risk you have to play fast. Definitely Black has more strategical risk, because once White’s pieces come out, I’m busted!

Or take Alexander Grischuk, when analysing Vassily Ivanchuk’s 15…Rh5!? against him in the 2011 World Cup (the WhyChess article is currently only available as a cache):


Ivanchuk realises that his king is statically weak, and he embarks on a dynamic operation in order to change the unfavourable for Black static balance. If the previous sentence struck you as abstruse, pompous or you just had no idea what it was on about I highly recommend reading Iossif Dorfman’s book “My Method in Chess”. You’ll have a lot of fun and, besides, in my opinion that’s clearly the best educational book about chess.

Of course one big element of modern chess you can’t ignore is opening theory, and we have some great contributions from our authors.

2. Four Knights | Jan Gustafsson | 5 videos, 1 hr 49 min   

The Four Knights is one of the easier chess opening names to explain, most commonly arising from the moves: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6. As Jan comments:

Any 1.e4 e5 player has to think about what to do in the Four Knights and I hope in this video series I can give you the tools to deal with it.

There are two big branches of the opening, the Scotch Four Knights, where White plays d4, and the Spanish Four Knights, where White plays the Ruy Lopez Bb5. In fact Jan confessed that was the reason he chose to film the series now:

We recently published a series by Laurent Fressinet on the Berlin, which I thought was very good, and I told him, don’t worry about 4.Nc3 here – I will cover the Four Knights eventually.

That’s one of the points about the Four Knights - that various different openings can transpose into it, including the Petroff. Meanwhile the Scotch Four Knights was on show in the recent Norway Chess, where Yu Yangyi played it against both Levon Aronian and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. 

We can all feel invincible when backed up by Jan's opening preparation! | photo: Lennart Ootes, Altibox Norway Chess

Levon played what Jan had called, “a reasonably current, sharp and interesting idea” and had the better of a draw, while Shak diverged from Jan’s recommendations and went on to lose. There’s a lesson in there somewhere 

3. 4.f3! against the Nimzo-Indian | Sopiko Guramishvili | 14 videos, 5 hr 12 min

The Nimzo-Indian Defence, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 is one of Black’s most solid and trusted openings, but in this series Sopiko shows us how to immediately pose problems to our opponents with 4.f3!, “one of the sharpest lines, if not the sharpest line, of the Nimzo-Indian Defence”. It’s an opening Sopiko has tested herself at the highest level, using it to beat the hugely talented Sarasadat Khademalsharieh twice in model games in the first round of the 2017 Women’s World Chess Championship in Tehran:


If you work through Sopiko’s extensive repertoire you can be sure to have a lot of fun and make your opponents suffer a lot in your own games.

4. Play the French | Romain Edouard | 13 videos, 5 hrs 14 min

The French Defence, 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5, is one of the major chess openings, and in this series French Grandmaster Romain Edouard gives you everything you need to play it with confidence with the black pieces. He covers all the major branches (3.dxe5, 3.e5, 3.Nd2, 3.Nc3) so you’re prepared for everything White might throw at you.

One of the great appeals of playing the French Defence, especially at anywhere below the very highest level, is that Black isn’t only playing to equalise. As Romain puts it:

With the French Defence there is more to do than just making draws or having solid positions. I really think that in many of the lines there is a possibility to win with the black pieces and to surprise your opponent. I wish you excellent games with the French Defence!

Who is Romain? Well, apart from being a 28-year-old former French Champion with a peak rating above 2700 and the Managing Editor of Thinkers Publishing, he worked as a second for former World Champion Veselin Topalov from 2010-2014. That brings us to the last series we’re going to look at:

5. Veselin Topalov: The Initiative in Chess | Romain Edouard | 5 videos, 1 hr 26 min

Veselin Topalov is one of only 7 players ever to have been number 1 on an official FIDE rating list, and although his 27 months at the top is shorter than the stay of Kasparov (255 months), Carlsen (108 and counting), Karpov (102) and Fischer (54) it’s longer than that of Anand (21) and Kramnik (9). That would be reason enough for looking at five of his best ever games, but the other reason is his style. As Romain explains:

He was one of the best attacking players of all time. He is one of the few players who all his life has never been happy to make a draw, he has been sacrificing so many pieces. He was always trying to attack and to set traps and play for a win.

"This knight was a real magician" Romain says about this amazing game

This is a series simply to enjoy, though if Topalov was only emerging on the scene now we’d be comparing him to AlphaZero. Romain mentions that there may be something for viewers to learn:

I hope it will help you take a little bit more risk in your games!


You can find all those series and more on our Video Series page, and if you go there as a registered user (that costs nothing) you’ll be able to watch one free preview video for each series. You can purchase the series individually and you have access for life, which for the five above will currently cost $129.95. You may well prefer, however, to get unlimited access to those and dozens more series with Premium Membership, with is just $9.99 per month or $99 for a year (the longer the subscription the cheaper per month). Sign up on our Premium page!

One of the additional advantages of going Premium is that you can ask questions of Magnus Carlsen second Jan Gustafsson in Jan’s Opening Clinic. Admittedly Season 23 has dragged on a very long time (questions were asked here, and Jan responded in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), but it ends today as Jan completes the season in a final live show.


Another major benefit is the chance to challenge top chess players to a game. In fact, sometimes you get to challenge the very best! This Sunday World Chess Champion, world no. 1 and arguably the greatest chess player of all time Magnus Carlsen will play his 4th session of Banter Blitz here on chess24.


Don't miss it!


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