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Brief Summary on “Schools of Chess”

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Sometimes we get used to employing certain terms and really we only have a sort of intuitive understanding of them. Let´s speak of  the concept “Schools of Chess”. Supposedly the idea has to be understood related to the strategical side of Chess, and it would have to do with groups of chessplayers who would share the same strategical concepts to apply in the game. Everybody have read about the “Romantic School”, the “Classical School”, the “Hypermodern School” or the “Soviet School”. In my opinion these are the main ones though other authors have mentioned the Philidor,the Modenese even the English Schools too. But I consider them the precursors of the previously mentioned ones.

The so-called “Romantic School” developed during the 19th century. Chess was in its beginnings as far as strategical and defensive ideas were concerned. The players’ opening repertoires were narrow  and the games were characterized by sacrificial attacks. Accepting gambits was a matter of honour and nobody cared about defence. People associate the period to Morphy(1837-1884) and Anderssen (1818-1879). Then W. Steinitz (1836-1900) appeared. Being a player in the Romantic tradition in his beginnings, he was destined to become perhaps the first systematic thinker in the history of Chess. Unfortunately, his ideas (some of them bizarre, others too revolutionary for the time,etc.)  were not understood by the rest of players. Evidently, he found inspiration is some of his predecessors, and in this respect there is a name I would like to mention: Howard Staunton (1810-1874). In my opinion, he was the one who started to lay the foundations for the arrival of Steinitz (but this is simply an opinion).

Steinitz began to develop defensive technique and elaborated a theory of the middle game. He also formulated the theory of accumulating small advantages as the means to obtain a decisive attack. He accepted cramped positions, defensive centres, advocated the Bishop pair, and believed that any position, provided it had no weaknesses, could be sustained. In the same way that I have mentioned Staunton previously, now I must mention L. Paulsen too. (If you are interested in this or any other aspect here treated, the Internet will help you to widen your knowledge. Please be so kind to understand I am simply offering a few hints for the interested reader , since everything in this post has been dealt with in hundreds of books and thousands of www articles.)

The man called to explain and widen Steinitz’s theories was the German Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934) He was among the best chessplayers in the world in his time and played for the World Championship (with no luck). He developed Steinitz’s theories and established his own ideas. This period falls into what is considered as the “Classical School of Chess”.

Then a reaction against all this broke up with the appearance of the three apostles of a new School of Chess: The new ideas of the “Hypermodern School of Chess” (Nimzowitsch liked the term “Neoromanticism”) , a reaction against the “rigid” concepts advocated by Tarrasch, were heralded by G.Breyer (1894-1921), R. Reti (1889-1929) and , above all, by A. Nimzowitsch ( 1886-1935). The Hypermodern ideas were exposed in three books by Nimzowitsch : “My System“, “The Praxis of My System” and “Blockade“. They are exceptional documents. 

Curiously enough Nimzowitsch also mentions Steinitz, but the interpretation he gave to his predecessor’s ideas and the new ones introduced by the Hypermodern players constitute the establishment of a fundamental milestone in the history of Chess. Even today books keep being published discussing Nimzowitsch contributions to our beloved game. A new set of openings were invented, or rediscovered and put into practice by them. Everybody plays them today. The “system” worked in its time and works ,with the necessary adjustments, today. The English Opening, the Reti, the Larsen/Nimzowitsch, the Nimzoindian, Bogoindian, Queen’s Indian, systems with 1. Nf3 and all sort of fianchetto-based openings and defences like the Pirc, the Modern, the King’s Indian, the Grünfeld, the Bogoindian, the Alekhine and so on.   

And while all this was taking place mainly in Central Europe, a parallel movement with its roots deep in the 19th century tradition began to take place in Russia/the Soviet Union. With Chigorin as one of its foundling fathers, the 30`s and 40’s of the 20th century witnessed the appearance of an enormous Chess machinery:” The Soviet School of Chess”. (See the two posts  published on the 21st and the 23rd  of March 2012 for more information).

(Notes:

In the development of Chess ideas there is no watertight departments. Different ideas and different approaches, once established and formulated tend to coexist. Classicist and Hypermodernists lived and played together. A Capablanca and a Nimzowitsch or a Tal and a Petrosian. The topic I have written about is immense and a lot of players could be mentioned. But remember that the aim of this blog is to encourage the reader to make his/her own findings. Thank you so much.

Apart from the names mentioned above you may be interested in looking up the names of players like the following: S. Tartakower, E. Bogoljubow, J.R.Capablanca, A. Alekhine, E. Lasker, R. Spielmann,J . Zuckertort, F. Sämisch, L.Paulsen, G. Maróczy, F.Marshall, A. Rubinstein, Ilyin-Zhenevsky, N. Riumin, H. Pillsbury, G.A. MacDonnell, F. Yates, M. Euwe …)

Position

Mate in 3 moves.- N. Rubens, 1953.

QChess.

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Written by QChess

March 21, 2014 at 8:35 am

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