Going Above and Beyond: Àlvar Alonso Rosell


Going Above and Beyond Alvar Alonso Rosell
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There’s a big part about Chessable courses that we sometimes forget – they’re living things. Mistakes are fixed, theory gets updated, and authors react to the latest student questions.

So in our new series Going Above and Beyond, we’re highlighting authors who go above and beyond to keep their courses up to date, answer your questions, and make their courses the best they can be.

Today we’re celebrating GM Àlvar Alonso Rosell’s latest update to his Lifetime Repertoires: Alonso’s Catalan. Àlvar is a strong Spanish grandmaster and the 2nd youngest Spanish Chess Champion in history. His biggest success came in 2018 when he won the super strong Sitges Chess Festival, ahead of Vasyl Ivanchuk and Dmitry Andreikin!

He’s been playing the Catalan for over 20 years, and if you follow him on social media, you’ll know it’s very much his favorite opening.

In this update, he covers the latest trends in the Catalan and keeps you up to date with theory. This update also features a new twist from Àlvar’s own games against the Benoni – he plays the repertoire in serious games and make sure it stands up to the toughest competition.

We sat down with Àlvar for some Q&A:

What made you decide to add these new updates to your course?

Hello! For many reasons:

First, I wanted to share my thoughts with the community. Some variations were pretty new, so it was hard to expect how Black would react (for instance in the Bb4+ Bd2 Be7 main line) when they were facing new positions. After a year, I had many games of my own, from students of the course and other chess players in general, so it felt fitting to talk about those games.

Secondly, I wanted to add some variability to the lines I felt were necessary. Especially the 4…dxc4 lines where I created a new dedicated video.

Finally, I had lots of fun checking some deep new ideas and some crazy variations, so some additions (4…bxc4 & 5…c6 and Qc2 in the Closed Catalan specifically) will give students the opportunity to appreciate deeper preparation. Not with the aim to memorize them, but to use them as a training tool or just to have them say “okay Àlvar, you didn’t need to add all of this!”

Are there any variations in your course that you are especially proud of or enjoy?

This line was especially cool as it took me more than 2 months to decide which variation to go for against 5…Be7. Then I managed to prove it was a decent try against very strong opposition as I was the first to play this idea. Finally, it was super cool to see someone like Nakamura quoting Chessable actually getting a win in the Grand Swiss with it!

I also wanted to mention this fun sideline, as it helped me achieve 4th place in the European Blitz in 2022. Recently, it was played in the Candidates by Praggnanandhaa!

What else are you working on these days?

Too much! I’m finishing a thesis on economic analysis. I’m also doing a couple more courses on Chessable. One is a 100 Repertoires (where I would be able to talk deeply about how I create repertoires) and another secret one.

On the other hand, I’m enjoying coaching a lot and getting to play with strong players.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important thing! I’m also competing in table tennis, so please Chess.com organize a Chesspong event.

What’s your philosophy on course creation?

The key concept for me is progressivity. The ultimate goal of a repertoire is to practice it, so it didn’t make much sense for me to give a repertoire where you need to know every critical line to play it. Alternatives are necessary in a full-scale repertoire to cover yourself while you learn the critical lines. A pretty clear example is the Exchange Slav covering the Slav + Chebanenko + Semi-Slav. It was so clear I almost exclusively rely on the Exchange Slav.

What I love the most is when students send me their games and they win because they understood “the feeling”, not necessarily because they memorized the variation. So my philosophy wasn’t really to give the objective best lines against everything, but to give a cohesive repertoire where the same ideas appear everywhere.

Another relevant approach, considering my experience as a coach, is that I love to add value with tactical/strategical/endgame/competitive thoughts here and there to spark curiosity and reward people that dig through the entire course.

On a final note, it’s not enough to have knowledge! My main goal is to see students have fun and enjoy the process through the intricate ways of the 64 squares!

Be sure to check out Lifetime Repertoires: Alonso’s Catalan today to see the updates and get a complete repertoire for the white pieces!

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