Going Above and Beyond: Michiel Abeln


Michiel Abeln
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There’s a big part about Chessable coursers we sometimes forget – they’re living things.

They’re like books, in that they contain a lot of similar information to chess books. However, books don’t have video. books don’t have the ability to train the information. And perhaps mostly importantly, books don’t get regular updates.

Chessable courses are alive – mistakes are fixed, theory gets updated, and authors react to the latest information.

So in our new series Going Above and Beyond, we’re highlighting the 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 FM Michiel Abeln’s latest update to his popular Leningrad Dutch course. Michiel is a Dutch author and FIDE Master. He is perhaps best known as the author of The Anand Files, an in-depth look at the 15th World Champion’s life and games.

FM Abeln’s update features analysis on recent games played after the course was first published, along with new variations responding to recent Chessable course – particularly against IM Alex Banzea’s London System and GM Simon Williams’ Jobava London.

Check out FM Michiel Abeln’s newly updated course, The Leningrad Dutch: An Uncompromising, Attacking Opening

We sat down with Michiel for some Q&A on his update and what he’s been working on recently.

What made you decide to update your course?

When I started on Chessable I promised to my students that 1) I would typically react to questions on the discussion forum within 24 hours and 2) I would keep the course live and up to date. For me, that means the student and I have a partnership: you invest in the course and I try to help you in the best way possible, regardless of your rating. I think it is important that if someone buys the course today, he/she will receive a similar treatment as someone who bought the course two years ago: fresh lines and direct access to the author.

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

If you look at the Lichess database, it is clear that for White players the London System (sometimes combined with the Jobava setup) is immensely popular. I am really happy with the system I have developed. It’s easy to remember and scores very well for Black. If I knew for sure that my opponent would play this system for White, I would always go for the Leningrad Dutch. You also see at the top level that grandmasters play something different each time when they face the Leningrad system, simply because there is no line for White that promises a clear advantage. So these grandmasters jump around a bit and try to surprise Black, which is not easy to do because the Leningrad is a very strategic opening; it is about concepts you need to implement, and exact move orders are less important.

What’s your philosophy on course creation?

When I create a course, I put the student central. When you select certain lines, you need to ensure there is logic and repetition between the different parts of the repertoire so that it is easy to remember. You need to teach the student how to handle the position. A good course teaches chess. It helps the student to improve their level and the material should give some inspiration and fun. After all, chess is our hobby; we should enjoy the time we invest!

So if you’re looking for an aggressive response to 1.d4, the Leningrad Dutch could be your new favorite. And if you’ve already got your hands on this course, then be sure to check out this free update to your existing repertoire.

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