By Carsten Hansen
The Catalan: A Complete Repertoire for White (DVD) by Victor Bologan,
ChessBase GmbH 2011, Running time: 5 hours 29 minutes, $36.95 (ChessCafe Price
The Catalan is a very solid opening for White, but it is strategically complicated.
Play can turn from quiet to tactically complicated in an instant and vice versa.
In the introduction, Bologan tells us that he is the perfect guide for presenting
this opening because he plays it himself and can even speak a few words in the
slightly obscure language that is Catalan.
The material is divided into nineteen segments:
02: 4…b6: Miton – Brownscombe
03: 4…c5: Gelfand – Grischuk
04: 4…c6 5.Nf3 Nbd7: Miron – Chrzaszcz
05: 4…Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7: Tkachiev – Filippov
06: 4…Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Bd6: Meier – Ponomariov
07: 4…Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Bd7: Gleizerov – Horvath
08: 4…dxc4 5.Bg2 b5: Buhmann – Bologan
09: 4…dxc4 5.Bg2 c6: Iskusnyh – Yemelin
10: 4…dxc4 5.Bg2 c5: Fominyh – Ruban
11: 4…dxc4 5.Bg2 a6: Kopylov – Solleveld
12: 4…dxc4 5.Bg2 Bb4+: Eljanov – Fedorchuk
13: 4…dxc4 5.Bg2 Nc6: Khalifman – Ivanov
14: 4…dxc4 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 Nbd7: Meier – Ghaem Maghami
15: 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2: Dydyshko – Petrik
16: 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Ra7: Shirov – Jakovenko
17: 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1: Grischuk – Solomon
18: 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1 Qc8: Kramnik – Leko
19: 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1 Bb7: Nielsen – Hou
The first thing to note is that Bologan has a very distinct Slavic accent
that is occasionally difficult to understand. It would seem to be for this reason
that he avoids long explanations of what is happening on the board and limits
himself to terse, safe statements.
The repertoire in itself is interesting and will undoubtedly provide some players
with ammunition in particular lines. However, the DVD is mainly aimed at players
rated below 2000 and it is not simplistic enough in its approach to be of any
great value for players of that strength, nor does it provide enough detail
in the variations to be of interest to players who are much stronger. As someone
who has played the Catalan Opening regularly, I found myself wanting to get
specifics in various lines, but almost every time Bologan stopped short of what
I would have wanted.
Overall, this is a decent DVD, but it could easily have been considerably better.
My assessment of this product: Uneven (three out of six
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- Carsten Hansen’s review
Viktor Bologan: Fit For the French — A Review
On this DVD Viktor Bologan offers White a complete repertoire against the French Defense. He divides his material into 22 chapters and recommends 3.Nc3 with the intention to head for the mainlines afterwards as the best way to fight the French. After 3…Nf6 he recommends 4.e5 instead of the alternative 4.Bg5. Against the Winawer 3…Bb4 he advises to play 4.e5 and 5. a3 and to enter the very sharp lines with Qg4. I have been playing the French for years and although the DVD offers a repertoire for White I still found it very interesting.
1: Introduction, why Bologan prefers 3.Nc32: Fort-Knox, 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd73: Rubinstein, 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7, 6…c54: Rubinstein, 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7, 6…Nxe45: 3…Nc66: 3…Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6.Nf3 Qb67: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 Be7/Rb88: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 0-09: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 a6 and …b510: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 Qb611: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qb612: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 Bxd4 and the Qb6 endgame13: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 sidelines like 4…Ne7 and 6…b614: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba515: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Kf816: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Qa517: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Qa518: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 f5 and other lines19: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Nbc620: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Nbc6, and Nce721: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc722: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Qc7
7: A very nice idea for White is 7…Rb8 8. a3 b5 9.Ra2! – a prophylactic move directed against Black’s idea …b4.
9: In the line 8.Qd2 b5 9. a3 Qb6 10.Ne2 b4 11.axb4 Qxb4 12. c3 Qb7 13.dxc5 Nxc5 14.Ned4 I like Bd7 instead of Bologan’s proposal 14…Be7. Black should be close to equality.
21: This is the most important chapter of the whole DVD. The lines arising after 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 are very sharp and you really have to learn theory to find your way in these positions.But I do not entirely agree with Bologan’s summary ‘White is better’ after 12…d4. I think, Black is okay in this line and in practice he has scored 3.5/4. This does not mean that Black is better (my engine claims that White is slightly better) but it shows the danger White faces in practice. A typical example is the game Pacher-Petrik 2011:
I also disagree with Bologan’s summary after the alternative 11…Bd7 followed by a later 16…Na5. I think the position after 17.Rb4 a6 18.g4 Ne3! is quite playable for Black, see the recent game Wlodarczyk-Guth, 2016:
Bologan offers White a complete repertoire against the French. He advises White to play 3.Nc3 and to follow the main lines afterwards. This means that you will have to learn a lot of theory if you want to follow his recommendation. Therefore, the target audience of this DVD should be players with a rating of 1800+ though grandmasters will also profit from Bologan’s work. He explains the variations and the typical ideas in the various positions very well and closes each with a nice summary. Fortunately (at least for me who regularly plays the French with Black) some of the lines Bologan gives in the sharp Winawer with 7.Qg4 Qc7 can be improved. All in all I would rate this DVD with an ‘’A-“.