Subject: The Bogo-Indian opening, from Black’s side
Recommendation: Not bad, but you get 98% of this if you get Opening Lab 2.
Buy it here: Bogo-Indian at RCA
On August 11, the Remote Chess Academy released a ‘new’ opening course on the Bogo-Indian. This appears to be the start of a new trend with the RCA, releasing dedicated opening courses to specific variations.
It should be noted that GM Igor Smirnov did not do this course, or at least he is not in the lectures. Instead we have the delightful GM Levan Aroshidze. As far as guest coaches go, Levan is perhaps my favourite. He has produced several free videos that you can find on the RCA YouTube channel, and these are all high quality. I highly recommend them, and they are free!
Let’s get into the details. This is not new material, at least not if you own the Grandmaster’s Opening Lab 2. The Opening Lab had a complete section on the Bogo-Indian as a PGN file. People evidently complained that there were no actual video lessons on any of the openings, which irritates me. People seem to be complaining the least important part was covered in the least important way, but that’s a subject for another time.
If you own Opening Lab 2, this new course is virtually nothing for you. All the lines, all the variations, all the suggestions are identical. I found no new novelties. The only addition are about one hour’s worth of video lessons. These lessons go over most of the selected lines, but no further. Levan offers some advice, and he indicates precisely where you need to focus your most attention, which lines seem to be the hardest to face for Black, but he offers frankly little that you would have got from just going over the notes.
If you are a very auditory learner, if you need to have someone walk you through the moves and tell you what is happening, you might get some value of this. The more you understand chess, the less you will likely get. The video simply offer the same material in a different format.
Let’s talk about the material. As far as openings go, the Bogo-Indian was probably the most thorough of all the Opening Lab variations. It looked like the most care and the most thought was put into this variation. The theory lines are fairly complete, covering most logical White moves, and some even extend into the endgame. All Black’s options, though few in number, are explained clearly. There is little worry about minor sidelines that sometimes plague repertoire books. Really, this course examines the four most common and most logical white setups and explains how to play against them.
In addition to the theory, they are 17 commented games. These games further reinforce the guiding strategical principles of the opening, and they often show how to punish people who make mistakes. For example, there are two games where grandmasters play against non-grandmasters. Obviously the grandmaster is going to win, but the real lesson is seeing how White plays faulty strategies and then watching Black capitalize on those mistakes. As most of us will not be playing grandmasters, this is very useful to know.
In addition, there are 30 complete games played by strong players for you to study, so roughly 8 or so games per major variation. Notice I said ‘study.’ These 30 games have no notes to them. Going through them will help aid your understanding, but you have to really study them to get anything of value. That may be more work than most people purchasing an opening course are willing to invest.
Once again, I need to say that all of this was in Opening Lab 2. The theory hasn’t changed, the games haven’t changed, nothing’s changed. That’s fine, as there hasn’t really been any major developments in Bogo-Indian theory. If you’re looking for something more than that, though, you’ll be disappointed.
If you don’t have Opening Lab 2, you get a sneak peak of the practical section of that course in this course. You can see how the lines work and how everything is organized. In addition, you get the video explanations. Nothing too fancy, really.
The question now becomes, do I recommend this? If you own Grandmaster’s Opening Lab 2, you largely do not need this. Really, you don’t need this at all unless you only learn through video explanation. If you don’t own Opening Lab 2, get that instead. You get the very same lines and the very same variations, but you also get the excellent opening advice. Opening Lab 2 is perhaps RCA’s best course in terms of lecture quality, so instead of paying $19 for this course you should save up and spend the $98 for that one.
I should also point out that this is not a complete look at the Bogo-Indian theory. It is very much repertoire based. One main line is completely neglected as it is suggested as too drawish, with no real chances for Black to win the game. That’s fine, but it also means if you know any prior Bogo-Indian theory, it may be completely ignored. I should add as well that is very little published material on the Bogo-Indian. Certainly no major work is shown up in the last 15 years. My quick search suggests that the few books released in the last few years had mixed reviews. This may be the best way to get into the Bogo-Indian if you’re interested in it.
In my brief experience playing the Bogo-Indian, I mostly enjoyed it. I certainly haven’t lost out of the gate because of the opening. Some of the strategic positions are quite interesting, and this is a perfect opening for understanding the plans and not so much needing to memorize the theory. Unfortunately, the main reason I hadn’t planned much is very few people, at least on the Internet where I play, play 1.d4 and 2.c4. The Colle and London setups have exploded in popularity, which hasn’t given me many practical chances to use it.
It’s not a complete look at the Bogo-Indian, but it’s a really good start. So do I recommend it? As I said before, get Lab 2. That’s probably the best investment that you can make, especially if RCA keeps making courses based on the material from that course. Think about it: if you buy five individual courses at $20 a pop, you could’ve bought the entire Opening Lab 2 and got all the lines with it. That makes the most sense to me.