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The System

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Nimzowitsch wrote three books: “My System”, “Chess Praxis” ( a.k.a. “My System in Practice”) and “Die Blockade”. Much has been writen about them and they have become a sort of  milestones for every chessplayer. But the whole thing can be very obscure, especially pre-conceptions concerning “My System” and “Chess Praxis”. What is that of a “system”? Are there “systems” to play Chess?. Is the system first and the games derive from it or were the games first and he derived the system from them?. Well, let’s assume a system, in short, is but a set of  organised and related concepts. In this respect, what Nimzo did was to reasses Steinitz’s theories, add  new ideas he and others had found concerning the openings, increase the number of playable positions and start playing new openings. We are dealing with new strategical concepts a broader understanding of Chess positions and openings and a fight against Tarrasch’s dogmatic points of view.  Nimzowitsch, Reti, Breyer et alii studied the games and ideas played/used by their predecessors, broadened them , start playing new openings and changed the assessment of different strategical concepts . If their predecessors defended the occupation of the centre with Pawns and the use of openings leading to that, they advocated an indirect approach and proved it can be as valid as the opposite point of view. To control the centre was not necessary to play e4-d4-Nf3-Nc3-Bc4-Bf4 and so on. You could play ,for instance, c4-g3-Bg2-Nf3-Nc3 and exert pressure on it attacking from the wings. This gave rise to a number of new openings for White and for Black: the English,  fianchetto openings, the so-called Indian Defences including the Nimzoindian, etc. These new ideas changed Chess and after applying  them in his own games, Nimzowitsch could later speak of a system (Larsen somewhat was of the same opinion). In this same respect Soviet trainers could do the same after working very hard on the strategical aspect of Chess mainly after WW2 (They did not do it speak of a “system”- though everybody knows the meaning of the term “Soviet Chess School”.)   

One of my first Chess books was Nimzo’s “Chess Praxis”. I have  re-read it tens of times and it has always been a source of inspiration. (Of course the first times I studied it -starting around 1979- I understand little… This usually happens when you learn Chess by yourself.) The games there always offer something new to me and I enjoy reading Nimzo’s prose. Sometimes I simply open it and without looking at the chapter the games belong to I represent them on the board. The advantage of such an approach is that you are not influenced by the main topic the game features and you get more benefit from it. Some weeks ago , while doing this, I came across two games which made me enjoy myself on a depressing Sunday afternoon  :

W.: Yates (0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

London 1927

A typical game … even for today’s standars.

1. e4, c5/ 2. Nf3 , Nf6 (one of Nimzowitsch’s pet variations. It pursues the same idea as the Alekhine Defence: to provoke the advance of the enemy’s Pawns overextending the centre and try to destroy it from the wings.)/  3. e5, Nd5/ 4. Nc3, Nxc3/ 5. bxc3 (today 5. dxc3  is considered better) , 5…, Qa5 (Also the typical Nimzo’s bizarre move) / 6. Bc4, e6/ 7. Qe2, Be7/ 8. 0-0, Nc6 (Nimzowitsch proposed …b6 instead) / 9. Rd1, 0-0/ 10. Rb1, a6/ 11. d4 (White has no problems. Nimzo gives a variation showing that now 11…, Qxc3 is not possible but computer analysis may give a second opinion: this is your work for today) 11…, b5/ 12. Bd3 (Nimzo says nothing, but here 12.d5 must strongly be taken into consideration .Work it out by yourselves) ,…, c4/ 13. Be4, f5/ 14. exf6 ep, Bxf6/ 15. Ne5, Bxe5/ 16. dxe5, Rf7/17. Qh5! (and  Nimzowitsch has managed to create an attacking position … for White. White reaches the King’s side ,creates threats and destroys Black defences there) 17…, g6/ 18. Bxg6, hxg6/ 19. Qxg6, Rg7/ 20. Qe8, Kh7/ 21. Qh5, Kg8/ 22. Bh6, Qxa2 (only move) 23. Bxg7, Kxg7/ 24. Qg5, Kf7/ 25. Rbc1, Qa3/ 26. Re1, Ke8 / (Now Nimzowitsch writes that White, instead of trying to chase Black’s King he should have remembered he had a passed Pawn – h2-. Yates lets victory slip trhough his fingers…) 27. Re4, Qe7/ 28. Qh6, Kd8/ 29. Rd1, Kc7/ 30. Rg4, Qc5/ 31. Re4 , Ne7/ 32. Qd2, Nd5/ 33. h4 (too late), Bb7/ 34. Rd4, Rh8 (Bishop and Rook work as a deadly team) / 35. Qe1, Bc6/ 36. g3, Qf8/ 37. f4, Qf5/ 38. Qf2, Qh3/ 39. Qh2, Qg4/ 40. Qf2, Rxh4/ 41. f5, Nf6 /42. Qe3, Qxe4!/ 43. Rxd4, Rh1/44. Kf2, Ng4/45. Ke2, Rh2/ 46.Ke1, Nxe3 / White resigned.

W.: Kmoch (0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

Niendorf, 1927

A typical game with some imprecissions and an excellent example of tournament Chess.

1. e4, Nc6 (Nimzo’s trade mark again) / 2. Nc3, e6/ 3. d4, Bb4/ 4. Nge2, d5/ 5. e5, h5 (Again typical in Nimzowitsch and his (extreme) “prophylaxis theory” though he says 5…, Nge7 was better) 6.Nf4, g6/ 7. Be3, Bxc3?!  (again …Nge7) / 8. bxc3, Na5/ 9. Bd3, Ne7/ 10. Nh3, c5/ 11. Bg5, c4/ 12. Be2, Nac6/ 13. Bf6, Rg8/ 14. 0-0 (Nimzowitsch recommends 14.Ng5),…, Qa5/ 15. Qd2, Nf5 / 16. Rfd1, Kd7/ 17. Ng5, Rf8 /18. h3, Kc7/ 19. g4, hxg4/ 20. hxg4, Nfe7/ 21. Kg2, Ng8 (Nimzowitsch labels this as an error and proposes 21…, Bd7/ 22. Rh1, Rae8/ 23. Rh7, Nd8 ) / 22.Bg7, Re8/ 23. Rh1, (Nxf7 – Nimzo), Bd7/ 24. Rh3, Nd8/ 25. Rf3, Rc8/ 26. Rh1?! (26 Nxf7 or 26. Qc1 -Nimzo-), … Qxa2 27. Rh7 , Kb8/ 28. Nxf7, Nxf7/ 29. Rxf7, Bc6/ 30. Bf6, a5/ 31. Rh1, Qb2/ 32. Bg5, Rf8/ 33. R7-h7, Rc7/ 34. Rxc7, Kxc7/ 35. Qc1!, Qxc3/ 36. Qa1, Qxa1/ 37. Rxa1, Ra8 (Black has managed to disentangle himself taking advantage of defensive subtleties, intermediate moves his opponent inacuracies and  his typical defensive technique. The process is worth a study. The game enters a new stage : manoeuvres to break White’s position whose Bishop pair offers good defensive perspectives ) 38. Bd2, b6 /39. Kg3, Ne7/ 40. Bd1, Bd7/ 41. Bb4, Nc6/ 42. Bd6, Kb7/ 43.c3, b5/ 44. Rb1,b4/ 45. Ba4, b3/ 46. Bxc6, Kxc6 (Like Steinitz, Nimzowitsch saw the King as a strong piece, and used it accordingly: it is not a piece to be hidden in safety: he must play with the other fellow companions. In this respect, we can say both Masters … played a piece up!.) 47. g5, Ra7/ 48. Rb2, Rb7/ 49. Kf4,Bc8/ 50.Kg3, Rb4! 51. cxb4, a4 / 52. b5, Kxb5/ 53. Ba3, c3/ 54.Rb1, Kc4/ 55. f4, Kxd4/ 56. Kf2,Kc4/ 57. Ke1, d4/ 58. Ke2, Kd5/ 59. Kf3, Bb7/ 60. Re1,Kc4/ 61. Kf2, b2/ 62. f5, exf5/ 63. e6, Bc6/ White resigned.  

(By the way, Nimzowitsch games are very good to study the topic of piece exchanges and the transition from one postion to another, especially because he preferred closed positions and complicated strategical decisions. This can be done with many other players, of course.)  

(Possible idea for a future post: perhaps in some of your games you have hesitated  between, say, 1. e4 or trying 1. d4… Or as Black between 1. d4 d5 or 1. d4, Nf6. This is normal especially if you are a CC player: doubts about playing one’s pet opening or have a try at something new and perhaps more exciting…  But , what about “the second move”???. The answer in a future post.)

QChess. 

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Written by QChess

October 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

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