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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.)


Written by QChess

October 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm


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The clear understanding of strategical themes through careful study of games is of  paramount importance to play good Chess.  To me, one of the most important books to read is Nimzowitsch’s  “Chess Praxis”. One of the concepts exposed there is that of blockade. (He also wrote a booklet dealing with the matter: “Blockade”, but I find that the treatment he gives to it in the former is much better).  Nimzowitsch connects blockade to two other ideas formulated by him: “prophylaxis” and “restraint”. (“Prophylaxis” understood as prevention of the opponent’s counterplay/aka “preventive thinking” and “restraint” understood as control and prevention -related to advance of Pawns, freeing manoeuvres, etc.)

He used to say that the process in a typical game was something like: RESTRAINT-BLOCKADE-DESTRUCTION . Handling a blockade game is difficult. Some of the concepts expressed by Nimzowitsch are difficult to grasp. I understand that when he speaks of “blockade” that implies much more than a blockaded center. In fact, I believe that a typical “blockade” game implies to put under a blokade network as much territory as possible: either the whole board or at least the center+ one of the wins. Nimzowitsch himself stated that it was very difficult to protect an extense blockading network against ruptures, but that forceful attempts to break a blockade are condemned to failure.

In any case, I hope that the following games may help you to see how most of the ideas Nimzowitsch left to us are modern and may appear in our practice. I will include some  games by Nimzowitsch and others by modern players. To understand them, bear in mind the basic idea:


W.: Berger (0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

London 1927

1. c4, Nf6 2. Nc3, c5  3. g3, g6  4. Bg2, Bg7  5. d3, 0-0  6. Bd2 ,e6 7. Qc1, d5  8. Nh3, d4  9. Nd1, Na6  10. a3, Qe8  11. b3, e5  12. Nb2, Bg4  13. Ng5 , Rb8  14. b4, b6  15. b5, Nc7  16. a4, Bc8  17. a5, Bb7  18. f3, Ne6  19. a6, Ba8  20. h4, Nh5  21. Nxe6, Qxe6  22. g4, Nf6  23. Bh3, Qd6  24. Nd1, h5  25. g5, Nh7  26. Nf2, f6  27. gf6, Bxf6 28. Bg5, Bxg5  29. hg5, Rf4  3. Rg1, Rbf8  31. Bf1, Rh4  32. Qd2, Rh2  33. Rg2 Rxg2  34. Bxg2, e4  35. de4, Qg3  36. Kf1, Nxg5  37. Kg1, Rxf3  38. Qxg5 , Qxg5  39. ef3, Qe3  40. Rd1, Qb3  41. Rc1, g5  42. Kh2, Qe3  43. Rf1, Qe2  44. Nh3, d3  45. Nf2, d2  46. Kg1, Qxc4  47. Rd1, Qc1  48. Bh3, g4  49. fg4, Bxe4  50. gh5, Bf3   and Berger resigned.  

W.:  Hage (0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

Arnstadt 1926  (Simuls)

1. d4, f5 2. e6, d6  3. Bd3, e5  4. de5, de5  5. Bb5, c6  6. Qxd8 ,Kxd8  7. Bc4, Bd6  8. Nf3, Nf6  9. Nc3, Ke7  10. a3, ,Rd8  11. Bd2, b5  12. Ba2, a5  13. 0-0, b4  14. Nb1, c5  15. Bc4, e4  16. Ng5 ,Ba6  17. Bxa6, Rxa6  18. ab4, ab4  19. Rxa6, Nxa6  20. c3, h6  21. Nh3, Ng4  22. g3, Ne5  23. Kg2, g5  24. Bc1, b3  25. Nd2, c4  26. Ng1, Nc5  27. Ne2, Rg8  28. Nd4, f4  29. Nf5, Ke6  30. Nxd6  f3  31. Kg1, Kxd6  32. Rd1, Ke6  33. Nb1, Ncd3  34. Na3, Kd5 35. Nb5, Rb8  36. Na3, Ra8  37. h3, Kc5  38. Kf1, Nc1, 39. Rc1, Nd3,  40. Rb1, Nxb2  41. Rxb2, Rxa3  42. Rb1, b2 /  0 – 1

W.: Nimzowitsch (1)

B.: Colle (0)

London 1927

1. d4, Nf6  2. Nf3, e6  3. c4, b6  4. g3, Bb7  5. Bg2, Bb4  6. Nc3, 0-0  7. 0-0, Bxc3  8. bc3  9. a4, a5  10. Ba3, Nbd7  11. Nd2, Bxg2  12. Kxg2, e5  13. e4, Re8  14. f3, Nf8  15. Rf2, Qd7  16. Nf1, Ng6  17. Bc1, Kh8  18. Ne3, Ng8  19. h4, Qc6  20. h5, N6e7  21. Qd3, Rf8  22. g4, g6  23. Bd2, gh5  24. Nf5, Nxf5  25. gf5, Nf6  26. d5, Qd7  27. Qe3, Rg8  28. Kh1, Qe7  29. Rh2, Rg7  30. Be1, Nd7  31. Rxh5, Rag8  32. Bf2, f6  33. Rh2, Rg5  34. Bh4, Rh5  35. Rg1, Qf8  36. Rg4, Qh6  37. Qxh6, Rxh6  38. Bf2, Rxh2  39. Kxh2, Rb8  40. Rg1, Nc5  41. Ra1, Kg7  42. Be3, Kf7  43. Ra2, Nd3  44. Rd2, Ne1  45. Kg3, Rg8  46. Kf2, Ng2  47. Bh6, Nf4  48. Bxf4, ef4  49. Rd1, Ke7  50. Rh1, Rg7  51. Rh4, c6  52. Rxf4, h5  53. Rh4, Rh7  54. Rh1, Kd7  55. Rg1, cd5  56. cd5, h4  57. Rg8, h3  58. Ra8, Rh6  59. Ra7, Kc8  60. Kg1, h2  61. Kh1, Rh3  62. Rf7, Rxf3  63. Rxf6, Kd7  64. Rf7, Ke8  65. Rb7, Rxc3  66. Rxb6, Ke7  67. Rb7 ,Kf8  68. Ra7, Rc4  69. Rxa5, Rxe4  70. Ra7, Rf4  71. a5, Rxf5  72. a6, Rf1  73. Kxh2, Ra1  74. Ra8, Kg7  75. Kg3, Ra4  76. Kf3, Kf6  77. a7, Kg7  78. Ke3  and Colle resigned.

W.: M. Voroviov (1)

B.: A. Yusupov (0)

Irkutsk, 1985

1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3. d4, ed4 4. Nxd4, Nf6  5. Nc3, Bb4  6. Nxc6 ,bc6  7. Bd3, d5  8. e5 (The phase of restraint starts) …, Ng4  9. 0-0 ,Qh4  10. Bf4, Nh6  11. Ne2, Nf5  12. c3, Bc5  13. b4, Bb6  14. Qc2, Ne7  15. Bg3, Qh6  16. Kh1, 0-0  17. f4, f5  18. Bf2 ,Be6  19. Bc5! (now the process of establishing a blockade network) ,… Bxc5  20. b5 ,Kh8  2. Nd4, Rae8  22. Rab1, Bc8  23. Rf3, g5  24. Rh3, Qg7  25. Rg3!, g4  26. Re3, Qg6  27. Qf2, Ng8  28. h4! ,Bd7  29. g3, Ne7  30. Re2 ,Rb8  31. Reb2 ( final step: destruction) ,… Qg8  31. Rb7, Rfc8  32. Rb7, Rfc8  33. Ba6! ,Rxb7  34. Rxb7, Rb8  35. Qb2!, Rxb7  36. Qxb7 ,Qd8  37. Qxa7, Ng6  38. Bb7, Nxh4  39. Qa8!  Black resigned.

In positional/strategical games it is very interesting to study the game from the strategical point of view and then from the tactical one, tying to find the justification of every move.

When I was studying the games to include I realised the complexity of this strategical theme.  Trying to understand better the process and wanting to represent it, I devised the following description. What I am trying to depict is  how    POSITIONAL  PRESSURE  TURNS INTO TACTICAL RESOLUTION OF THE POSITION :



The opponent breaks up under the pressure which creates:

1) Uncoordination of the pieces which are unable to prevent all the threats.

2) Ruptures impossible to stop so as to open up the position .


W.: K. Burger (0)

B.. E. Lobron (1)

New York, 1983

1. d4, Nf6  2. Nf3, e6  3. c4, c5  4. d5, ed5 5. cd5, d6  6. Nc3, g6  7. Bf4, a6  8. a4, Bg7  9. e4, 0-0  10. Be2, ,Bg4  11. 0-0, Bxf3  12. Bxf3 ,Qe7  13. Re1, Nbd7  14. Qc2, Ne8  15. Qd2, Nc7  16. Bg5, f6  17. Bh6, Bxh6  18. Qxh6, b5  19. b3, b4  20. Nd1, f5 21. Qd2, Ne5  22. Nb2, f4  23. Nd3, h5  24. Be2, ,Nxd3  25. Qxd3, Qe5  26. Qh3, Rf7  27. Rad, Kg7  28. Bc4, a5  29. Qd3, g5  30. f3, ,Kf6  31. Kf2, Rg8  32. Qb1, g4  33. Qa1, Rfg7  34. Bf1, Qxa1  35. Rxa1, Ke5  36. Rad1, Ne8  37. Ke2, Nf6  38. Kd3, c4  39. bc4, Nd7  40. Kc2, Nc5  and Burger resigned. An excelent example.

W.: J. Timman (0)

B.: A. Karpov (1)

Tilburg 1988

1.d4, Nf6  2. c4, e6  3. Nf3, b6  4. a3, Bb7  5. Nc3, d5  6. cd5, Nxd5  7. Qc2, Nxc3  8. bx3, Be7  9. e3, Qc8  10. Bb2, c5  1. Bb5, Bc6  12. Bd3, c4  13. Be2, Nd7  14. a4, a6  15. 0-0, 0-0  16. e4, b5  17. Ba3, Bxa3  18. Rxa3 , Qb7  19. Nd2, Nb6  20. a5, Nd7  21. f3, e5  22. d5, Qa7  23. Kh1, Bb7  24. Raa1, f5  25. Rad1, f4  26. g4, ,Rf6  27. Qb2, Re8  28. Rg1, Bc8  29. Rg2, Nf8  30. h4, Rh6  31. Rh2, Qe7  32. h5, g6  33. Qb4, Kg7  34. Rg1, Nd7  35. Qxe7, Rxe7  36. hg6, Rxh2,  37. Kxh2, Kxg6  38. Kh3, Nc5  39. Kh4, Rc7  40. Rb1, Nb7  41. Ra1, ,Nd6  42. Nb1, R7  43. Na3, Kf6  44. Rg1 N7  45. Kh3, h5 / and Timman resigned. Another superb example.


Written by QChess

November 8, 2012 at 8:30 am

White or Black?.- Black and White!

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Have you solved this mate-in-two-move problem??. Here is the solution:

The only possibility to reach this position with a mate in two moves is if Black last’s move had been … f7-f5/ (!!). (So perhaps you were thinking that these problems start with White on the move… Well, this is so ,but since problems have to show possible, legal positions these positions come from some previous position… and as White first move must be legal nobody says that move could not be “in answer to a previous Black’s move” – lateral thinking!-)

This position could not have occurred on its own because it would be illegal -but for a previos Black move. So, White’s first move is 1. g5f6: e.p.  g7f6: 2. Nf6: mate !

This problem contains a tale: in Chess, don’t give anything for granted. Don’t think in a linear direction. There may be roundabouts, backwards manoeuvres, waiting moves, and so on.



Chess has several topics repeated ad infinitum and ad absurdum as if they were some sort o “Holy Writ”. One of them is that which states that “White has the advantage because  s/he plays the first move”. This implies many pre-judices : White has to attack/Black can only defend, etc. One of the facts given is that statistically speaking the White pieces win more games han the Black ones (I  call it “the statistical fallacy”).  Before continuing, let me recommend you the book “Chess for Zebras” by GM. Rowson. In my opinion, he is one of  today’s the most lucid writers .   To show my idea, I will list some thoughts:

– Statistics do not win games, points or matches: they only show tendencies.

-Even same or similar ELO rating ( again we should exclude  top level GMs) does not mean same Chess ability, less possibilities of making mistakes,same degree of knowledge). (GM Rowson says that even games played by  GMS are full of mistakes, after all -I add- OTB Chess has a powerful and very dangerous component: the clock)

-The Hypermodernists, the Soviet Chess School and many individuals (Nimzowitsch, Botvinnik, Fischer, Adorjan, Tal, Kasparov …) have defended /investigated the aggressive recourses at Black’ s disposal. Please consider that many opening discoveries by the Hypermoderninst were for the Black side: Alekhine, Grünfeld, Benoni, King’s Indian, Nimzoindian etc.defences).

Then came the Soviet Chess School immense theoretical contribution in the above + the French, the Sicilian, the Dutch an so on. Bobby Fischer made giant strides when he realised that Black could fight for a victory and began to work on an aggressive repertoire as Black.

-Many chessplayers seem to be labouring under a sort of 19th century mental attitude: “White must play to win, Black must defend, so as White I should win and as Black I could lose or make a pathetic draw”.

-Different chessplayers have different attitudes and goals.

-Many people began to speak of a curious “attitude”:  ” To win as White and draw as Black  = victory in tournaments”. (Simply: try this is at any ICCF event and you will see what happens: you will not be able to win all your games as White and will lose many as Black…). Apart from this, nobody knows how to do it.

-Chess has many levels of confrontation: what may be relatively valid for the strongest 10 or 15 first world GMs may not be valid for the rest of GMs , IMs and average players. (Remember there are GMs with 2400 ELO points…, not all GMs have 2700…, O.K.?  -A chessplayer gets it if  s/he  fulfils all the requirements to receive the GM title. Then he may lose many rating points but he keeps the title forever. I remember that during the 60’s at least this was not so.)

-Many things written in books and Chess magazines are written/said by top level players in a given situation. (What Kotov wrote in his age could not be totally valid  today.)

GM Rowson theory of “Ceteris Paribus” and his idea that winning at Chess may have to do more with one’s skills/abilities even the particular mood the day of the game than with information and statistics should be engraved in gold.

-Today, in an age of ultra-dynamism, the possible starting gap (if any) between White and Black is less and less wide.

-It is not the openings alone, today’s defensive technique has nothing to do with the same in any past period of time.

-Chess is a confrontation between two chessplayers, not between two statistical approaches. (Karpov has won many top-level games with the Caro-Kann an opening considered tame and drawish by many “experts”.)

-I am biassed towards the Black pieces because when I began to study Chess I was very surprised to see  how many games Nimzowitsch was able to win as Black… As White I have a main 1st move, and two useful stand-by ones. From time to time I change that 1st move so as to let it “rest”, play new positions and refresh the old, mechanical  ideas.

Even now,playing as Black seems exciting to me:   “what if my opponent starts with 1. e4? -Shall I play a Sicilian, or perhaps a Pirc, or better a Modern, or a Cao-Kann, even the Alekhine can be a useful idea… And if he plays 1. d4?- Perhaps a Nimzoindian against 3. Nc3 or the Queen’s Indian if 3. Nf3. But I have also played the Grünfeld and The Benoni? Shall I take risks then?. And against 1. Nf3 I have those systems + 1. …b5 .- If not, I have the uncommittal 1. Nf3 , Nf6 -wait-and-see policy-“. And so on. These and others are some of the thoughts I entertain when I am Black.

In OTB Chess players try to refine their repertoires trying to avoid theoretical novelties. Some GMs have relatively short repertoires, others can play a variety of systems. In CC the many players are trying to find computer-proof systems -if any-  while others try to play sound systems without caring for their opponents programs. Good positions are good positions, and this means that now I have become less and less speculative: in today’s CC games any sacrifice -of a Pawn or a piece- must be positionally and tactically sound: you cannot expect your opponent to make an analysis mistake “because-the-position-will-get-so-wild-that-in-the-end-he-will-have-to-take-some-risk-on-his-part”, as if in CC this was already difficult in the past, today, with the computer, this is, simply, suicidal. And all in all, sacrifices are possible because not all Chess is clear-cut tactical. Chess programs are too strong, all right. But I am convinced there is particular field you can catch them on the hop. The problem is how to provoke such positions one time after another (and it is not in the field of opening gambits -“Fritz and Friends” know everthing about it-.)

Before including some games, let me say that in Chess you are playing against an opponent. No statistics will help you find the best move. So, work on your repertoire , play confidently  but, above all, try not to make mistakes: leave them to your rival!.


W.: Kotov  (0)

B.: Tal (1)

Riga 1958

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 Bg7  4. g3 0-0  5. Bg2  d6  6. 0-0  Nbd7  7. Nc3  e5  8. e4 c6  9. h3  Qa5  10. Re1  Re8  11. a3  ed4  12. Nd4: Ne5  13. Bf1  a6  14. Bd2 Qb6  15. Be3  c5  16. Nb3  Be6  17. Nd2  Nc6  18. b4 Ng4!  19. hg4  Bc3:  20. Rc1  Bg7  21. Nb3 Rad8  22. Nd2  Qc7  23. Rb1  Ne5  24. Be2 b5  25. cb5  ab5 26. Bb5: Bg4:  27. Be2 Qd7  28. Bg4: Ng4:  29. Kg2 h5  30. Bg5 Bd4! 31. Re2  f6  32. Bf4  g5  33. f3  Nf2  34. Rf2: Bf2:  35. Kf2:  gf4    36. gf4 Qa7  37. Qb3  c4  38. Qe3  Qe3:  39. Ke3: d5  40. Rg1  Kf7  41. Ke2  c3  42.Nb3 de4  43. Rc1  ef3  44. Kf3:  Rd3  45. Kf2  c2  46. Nc5 Rd2  47. Kf3  Re1!  48. Re1:  Rd1./   White resigned.

W.: Olafsson (0)

B.: Miles (1)

Las Palmas 1978

1. c4  b6 2. Nc3  e6  3. d4  Bb4  4. e3  Bb7  5. N1e2  f5  6. a3 Bd6  7. d5  Nf6  8. Nd4  0-0  9. de6 Ne4  10. Qc2  Nc3:  11. Qc3:  Qf6  12. ed7  Nd7:  13. Bd2  Nc5  14. Nf3  Qg6  15. h4  Ne4  16. h5  Qg4  17. Ne5  Be5:  18. Qe5:  Rae8  19.  Qh2  Nd2:  20. Kd2:  f4  21. ef4  Rf4:  22. Qg3  Rd4  23. Kc3  Qg3:  24. fg3  c5  25. Kb3  Re3  26. Ka2  Bc8!  27. Rh4  Bg4!  28. Rc1  g5  29. hg6  hg6  30. Rc3  Rc3:  31.bc3  Rd2  32. Ka1  Bd7  33. Rf4  Kg7  34. Rf3  Bc6  35. Rd3  Rf2  36.  Rd1  Ba4  37. Re1  Kf6  38. Bd3  Rf2:  39. Rf1  Kg5  40. Rf3  Bc2  41.  Bc2: Rc2:  42. Rf7  Kg4  43. Ra7:  g5  44. Rb7  Kg3:  45. Rb6:  g4  46. a4  Rh4  47. a5  g3  48. a6  g2  49. Rb1  Rf2  50. a7  Rf8                  51. Kb2  Ra8 / White resigned.

W.: Beliavsky (0)

B.: Karpov (1)

Linares 1992

1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  e6  3. Nf3  b6  4. g3  Ba6  5. b3  Bb7  6. Bg2  Bb4  7. Bd2  a5  8. 0-0  0-0  9. Bc3  d5  10. Ne5  Qe8  11. Bb2  dc4  12. Nc4:  Bg2:  13. Kg2: Qb7  14. f3  Rd8  15. Qc2  Nc6  16. a3  Be7  17. e3  b5  18. Nce2  Na7    19. Ne4  Ne4:  20. Qe4:  Qe4:  21. fe4  c5  22. a4  cd4  23. ed4  Nc6  24. Rd1  Rab8  25. ab5  Rb5:  26. Rd3  f5  27.  ef5  Rf5:  28. Nd2  Rfd5  29. Re3  e5  30. Nc4  Bg5  31. Re4  ed4  32. Re6  Nb4  33.  Rd1  Nc2  34.  Kf3  Rb5  35. Rd3  a4  36.  h4  Bf6  37. Ke4  ab3  38. Rb6 Re8  39. Kf4 Rb6:  40. Nb6:  Be5  41. Kg4  Bc7  42. Na4  Re3  43. Re3: de3  44. Kf3  Bg3: / White resigned.

Written by QChess

May 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm


with 2 comments


Can you solve this one???: I bet a 99% cannot. Perhaps one may think that if 3-movers are “easy”, 2-movers are easier… Well, over to you:

Klett, “Schachprobleme”, 1878 .   MATE IN 2  MOVES:



The Hypermodern movement , historically speaking, has three “great priests”: Gyula Breyer, Aron Nimzowitsch ad Richard Réti. There were many others, and there is an OLMS edition written by other hypermoderninst, S. Tartakower, which is a reference book:  “Die Hypermoderne Schachpartie” . Today we may have lost a clear perspective of the matter, so we could make a trip down memory lane…

Nimzowitsch wrote his masterpieces as a reaction against what he considered Tarrasch’s dogmatism. I think every chessplayer should read or study “My System”, “Chess Praxis”  (“My System in Practice”/ “The Practice of My System”) and “Blockade”.

Apart from the new approaches concerning the middlegame, it may be debatable whether the most important contributions are in the field of the openings and their relations with middlegame plans under the new approach.

The importance of all this is very present in today’s Chess. For example, some of the contributions can be summarized as follows:

The Nimzoindian and Queen’s Indian Defences. The Nimzowitsch Defence against 1. e4. The Dresden Variation in the English. Nimzowitsch’s 1.b3  (and 1.f4 , …/ 2. b3), the Advance Variation in the French. All these by Nimzowitsch. Apart from those ones, he also played the Caro-Kann system: 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. de4 Ne4: 4. Nf6, and a system  with …b6 in the French Defence as Black . He also had a variation in the Sicilian and the system 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 .

Reti with his Reti opening. Bogoljubow with his defence, the Alekhine Defence and all the Indians systems, the Bacza Opening,, Grünfeld and his defence, the Two Fianchetto Opening,  etc. Fianchettoes were the order of the day and so today we play the King’s Indian, the Benoni, the Pirc and all sort of  first move fianchettoes as White and as Black, apart from the English opening, “the strongest first move in the world” according to Tartakower.

So, today we are playing the defences/openings  these chessplayers invented or advocated. And this implies that the middlegame principles they discovered are totally sound.

The reaction against classicism in Chess meant a new approach in the concept of the centre and this implied that a whole new set of openings began to be used. They realised that there was life beyond 1. e4 e5 , 1. d4 d5 and the occupation –de facto– of the central squares: the centre could be controlled from the flanks and the strategy was one of accumulating energy instead of space. Other ideas were that Black could fight for the initiative conceding the centre and attaking it from the sides with Bishops on g3/b3/g7/b7, and that the defensive resources were there to be found instead of seeing how White smashes  Black through beautiful combinations (defined as “one plays, the opponent applauds”). The concept of weakness was reassessed and reformulated (“a weakness is not that important if it cannot be attacked), new values of the pieces were established (in the Nimzoindian Black readily plays ..Bc3: ceding the Bishop-pair in the very opening stage and without tactical compensation, for instance), and the study of the different Pawn constellations was of paramount importance. Chess strategy suffered a revision. Wild opening gambits were not taken into consideration, defensive resources praised and what at first were dubbed as  bizarre (even ugly) ideas  slowly began to take over.

In a sense, the Soviet Chess School synthetised the valid classical ideas and the new ones developing the machinery which dominated the Chess world for decades.


Nimzowitsch is reknowned mainly for two books: “My System” (1925) and “Chess Praxis” (“The Praxis of My System”) (1929). But there is another publication which has passed if not unnoticed very little considered: “Blockade”, published in 1925 too. This is more a booklet -the edition I own has 91 pages and was published in the USA by Chess Enterprises Inc. I own another edition of Nimzowitsch’s writings this time in Russian: in a single volume the three books. You may notice that in “Chess Praxis” there is a chapter devoted to the theme of blockade too.

The best thing for you to do is to get the book and study it by yourself. In it Nimzowitsch deals with the topics of passed pawns, mobile majorities, and blocked positions and how to handle them. The following game is considered as “…one of my best accomplishments” by Nimzowitsch, who also said it was relatively unnoticed:

W.: van Vliet  (0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

Ostende 1907

(Punctuation marks by Nimzowitsch)

1. d4 d5  2. Nf3  c5  3. e3  e6  4. b3 Nf6   5. Bd3 Nc6  6. a3 Bd6  7. Bb2 0-0  8. 0-0 b6  9. Ne5! Bb7 10. Nb1d2 a6!  11. f4 b5!  12.dc5! Bc5:  13. Qf3 Nd7  14. Nc6: Bc6:  15. Qg3 Nf6 16 Rad1? a5!  17. Qh3 h6 18. g4 d4  19. e4 Qd7  20. Rde1 e5! 21. f5 Nh7  22.Nf3 Qe7  23. Qg3 Rfe8  24. h4 f6  25. Ra1 Qb7 26. Rfe1 Kf7  27. Re2 Rh8  28. Kg2 Nf8  29. g5 hg5  30. hg5 Nd7  31. gf6 gf6  32. Nh4 Rag8  33. Ng6 Rh5  34. Kf2 Nf8  35. Rag1 Rg5  36. Qh4 Rg1: 37. Kg1: Ng6: 38. Qh5 Kf8  39. fg6 Qg7 40. Rg2 Rh8  41. Qe2 Rh4! 42. Bc1 Re4:!  43. Qd2 Rh4  44. Qa5: Qd7  45. g7 Kg8  46. Bc4 bc4  47. Qc5: Rh1!    and White resigned.  Nimzowitsch seemed proud of the defensive web he was able to weave all over the board. He combined the strategies of restraint and blockade into a sort of process:




Incidentally, on move 15th Nimzowitsch in his notes says that “…this and the next move are mistakes” though he puts a question mark only on the 16th move.  This brought to my mind something Abrahams believed : he said that a strategical mistake did not imply a tactical mistake, but that two strategical mistakes do imply a tactical one (!!).


Written by QChess

May 17, 2012 at 9:37 am

Mijail M. Botvinnik: deviatii diagonal*

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* “the ninth diagonal

My feelings towards Botvinnik are , today in 2012, contradictory. Some 30 years ago Botvinnik’s games taught me the art of planning in Chess. You may know strategy, you may be able to play combinations, calculate variations, etc. But one day you realize you are not progressing… That happened to me: I could understand any positional game, no matter if that was played by Petrosian or Karpov. And?. And you have to learn how to  make plans and integrate them in the framework of a chessgame. I even discovered , on my own, that planning was not only referred to “strategical planning”, and realized there was also “tactical planning” : I called it “tactical strategy” .

(I will explain my method of training with Botvinnik’s games later. )

Botvinnik was the first Soviet chessplayer in becoming World Champion of Chess. He was an exceptional strong player: hard-working, talented, with a scientifical mind he applied to Chess, absolutely self-disciplined and goal-oriented, with a deep positional knowledge and accurate calculation skills, able to study and prepare in a systematic unprecedented way, who spent much time devoted to his engeneering work and was able to keep ready for the Chess battles holding secret matches at home… He also made a thorough study of the openings and the typical middlegame positions stemming from them

Botvinnik learnt Chess at 12, and became a GM in 1950. Champion of the Soviet Union in seven times.  In 1948 a match-tournament was decided as the way to find the Chess World Champion. Alekhine had died two years before and the old method of choosing a challenger died with him as FIDE took over the ruling of the Chess world. The “chosen few” were Botvinnik, Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky, Fine and Euwe. Reuben Fine declined to take part and when the smoke of the battle cleared Botvinnik had won the event.

In 1955 he defended the title against Bronstein and retained it because the rule was that in the case of a final tie the Champion retained the crown (later Bronstein hinted at having suffered some sort of pressure not to win the match…)

In 1954 the same happened in his match with Smyslov: a final tie with Mijail Moiseyevich retaining the crown…

In 1957, Smyslov defeated him becoming Champion of the World. For cases like this , Botvinnik had secured a return match in a year’s time. In 1958 he regained the title.

In 1960 Tal beat him but in 1961, again in a return match, Botvinnik defeated his opponent… Again World Champion.

In 1963 Petrosian defeated him this time with no return match. It was said that Bovinnik never forgave FIDE for such a “treason”.


Botvinnik had to learn to live -as the rest of the USSR citizens- in the terrible Stalinist era. Apparently he knew how to do it. He was the Chess “blue-eyed-boy” of the regime, and he knew how to move his pieces on the political board too. Not only in the Keres’ controversy, but also when he feared he could not be taken as the best to play against Alekhine… Apart from Stalin himself – remember Chess was  a “matter of state” in the former USSR, it seemed he was in good relations with names like V. Snegirov, Nikolai Krylenko (1885-1938), People’s Commissar of Justice and Prosecutor General of the RSSFR and, in the 30’s,  also head of several sports associations,with  Chess among them. The last was V. Molotov (1890-1986): Stalin’s protegee, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, Minister of Foreign Affairs, First Deputy Premier.

Many pages have been written about all this. I have my own opinion, of course… But curiously enough, all his political influences could not prevent him from being excluded of the Soviet Union Chess Team for the Helsinki Chess Olympiad. Botvinnik explained that was due to two bad results (The Maroczy Memorial and the USSR Chess Championship) but he was far from pleased since he wrote that the decision was taken in a “strange way” by voting it among the rest of Team members : Bronstein, Keres, Smyslov, Boleslavsky and Geller (remember what had happened with Keres before, and later with Bronstein…) The result of the “poll” was unanimously against him with a blank ballot (!) .-So he would never know who to really blame for the offence!-.

Botvinnik had a natural talent for strategy and planning. He tried to find an “opponent-proof”  opening repertoire focusing on the English/ Catalan/ QG as White and the French as Black . Against the QP he used several defences within QGD boundaries but also the Grünfeld though one of his pet lines was the Dutch. He made a great contribution to the theory of the middlegame systematizing many positions and procedures.

The two big questions which will never be answered are:

– Is the Bronstein story true?

-What happened in the Keres case?

The same I said in the post about Keres (nº. 2) I believe happened -if it really happened- with Bronstein.

The Soviet authorities had many ways to do things. They did not bother to kill Petrov as you know. In the Keres case, he knew what he had to do to survive and did it. In the Bronstein case I suppose the adequate hints operated the miracle. But we will never knew the truth. In the case of chessplayers nobody can explain why some suffered such criminal treatment while others could speak even criticize openly without too many problems.

Well, going back to Chess, I must say that Karpov had taught me how strategy worked in practice but Botvinnik taught me how strategy worked in theory...


If you want to use my method, follow the folowing steps:

1.- Copy a Botvinnik game in a sheet of paper in columns.

2.- Play the first ten-twelve moves on the board.

3.- Cover Botvinnik’s moves with a paper and try to find them one by one. Once you ave cosen your move (the move you think Botvinnik played, uncover it and check it against he move you chose.

4.- Once you have finished the exercise, replay the game writing down why you thik Botvinnik played each move.

You can obtain the percentage of the moves you managed to guess following this method:

-take the total number of moves of the game.

-take down the number of opening moves you played.

-add two zeroes to the number of moves you have guessed.

-divide this number by the number you got in step two.

For instance: let’s suppose the total number of moves was 40. You played ten opening moves. So, 40 -10 = 30.

20+oo = 20000

If you have guessed 20 moves, then 2000/30= %

A percentage 0f 70% or + is excellent.

This is the way I used to train.


P.S.  The blog has been flooded by spam comments so from now on it will be necessary to register to leave a comment.

I hope you understand this decision and encourage you to leave comments. Thank you very much indeed..- Questchess.

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