Review of RCA’s NimzoIndian Opening Course

Quick Look

Nimzo-Indian Course

Subject: The Nimzo-Indian opening, from Black’s side

Recommendation: Not bad, but you get 98% of this if you get Opening Lab 2.

Buy it here: Nimzo-Indian at RCA

In Depth

GM Igor Smirnov and the Remote Chess Academy have created another mini-opening course, this time about the Nimzo-Indian defence.  It is near identical to the earlier Bogo-Indian course, so if you have that you know what to expect, just with different content.

Once again, GM Levan Aroshidze is our guide through the opening.  He does a fine job of explaining the various themes, though sometimes in not as much detail as I would like.  He often goes through variations, especially the minor variations, without much comment on the individual moves.  He’ll say, “Black is clearly equal here,” while making several rapid moves on the board.  Sometimes these are self-evident, sometimes not.

All in all, it’s about an hour of video lectures.  Much like the Bogo-Indian course, the majority of the theory is already present in Opening Lab 2, an excellent course I highly recommend.  If you get that course, you will get 95% of the theory presented in this course and also various other openings.  If money is not an issue, I would recommend that course 100%.

That said, this course improves over the Bogo-Indian course.  This one adds new theory lines to the main lines.  You now have the choice of mixing it up, and some of these ideas are interesting.  That said, I’m not sure it’s enough to fully recommend it.

The ‘standard’ for opening books of the last five years or so is either one line analyzed in incredible depth, or two options given for any major tabiya.  This course gives us neither.  We generally get one answer for each of White’s attempts, and the analysis is medium at best.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.  For instance, I have recently looked at Grandmaster Repertoire: The Open Spanish.  It is over 360 pages of deep analysis, often variations within variations within variations.  This is an insane level of detail, and I mean that literally.  There is no way I’ll learn even 50% of the material, not just because there’s so much, but because so much is unnecessary.  Do I really need exhaustive analysis of a minor sideline that no one will ever play?

Of course I don’t.  I need to know the main lines and the most common moves.  This course focuses exactly on this.  It doesn’t go into the nitty-gritty detail, and you certainly never learn anything unnecessary.  In terms of ease of study, that’s a plus.

Part of that, though, includes no options.  GM Levan Aroshidze has added a few extra lines, but by and large you have no choices.  In the 4.e3 variation, for instance, the recommendation is for the Hubner variation, a very blocked position.  Don’t like blocked positions?  Too bad.  This is somewhat odd, too, as the recommendation against 4.Qc2 is a gambit line leading to open, active play.  It’s night and day between these two variations, which makes it hard to apply lessons from one to the other.

Going deeper, each main variation comes with several annotated games, generally with lots of text commentary.  These often show the strategic themes even better than the theory section.  For instance, we will see a game where White plays inaccurately, misjudging the position, and we then see how Black responds.  I find such games invaluable when studying a new opening, as most players don’t make GM-calibre moves every turn (or at least, not the opponents I normally play!).

Again, though, this is at odds with the main course in some ways.  These games are .pgn files, not videos.  You need to go through them to get the most out of this course.  If you have Opening Lab2, then you already have these, as I did not notice any new commented games.  I imagine most people interested in a video course about an opening would prefer to have these games presented as video, not just a .pgn file.

In less ambivalent news, this course uses full advantage of the Udemy interface.  You can view it on any device, computer or mobile, with no loss of functionality.  The .pgn files will require a computer, obviously, but the videos are available anywhere.  One potentially very good thing is the discussion area, where you can post comments and questions about various lessons.  You can get feedback from other students and, hopefully, Igor Smirnov himself.  If GM Smirnov comments even semi-often here, that would be worth the price of admission alone.

[Edit: After a few months, there is very little commentary or discussion, so this is not a selling point.]

When it comes down to the final recommendation, though, I feel very unsure.  Mostly, I think most people would be disappointed.  They either want a) loads and loads of variations to memorize, b) hours of video going other everything so they can just watch, or c) Igor Smirnov instead of GM Levan Aroshidze as the presenter.  None of those things are necessarily good, but if people want something and don’t get it they’ll feel disappointed regardless.

Also, unlike the Bogo-Indian course, this time there is lots of other material to choose from.  The Nimzo Move by Move, by John Emms, has excellent reviews, as does Play the Nimzo-Indian by Edward Dearing.  Both offer far more in terms of choice and depth of analysis.  I do not know of any video series, but I’m sure a few exist as well.  The Nimzo-Indian is a popular opening with much to choose from.  I’m not sure if this course does enough to carve a niche into the current chess marketplace.

In the end, my recommendation is the same as with the Bogo: get Opening Lab 2 instead.  It gives you virtually the same theory but also incredible lectures that will improve your chess games as a whole.  That said, if you just want to study the Nimzo and don’t want to waste time with useless sidelines no one ever plays, this might be the course for you.  If you can get it on sale (such as the launch sale, the various holiday sales, etc), it’s a fairly cheap crash course on a popular opening that can last your entire life.

Get it here: Nimzo-Indian at RCA

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