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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).


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 …)


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



Written by QChess

March 21, 2014 at 8:35 am

F.I.D.E. : How Everything Started.

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Alexander Rueb  (!882-1959)                                                                      

First  FIDE  President (1924).-                                                                           Dutch lawyer, diplomat and Chess official.   /FIDE logo

Leafing through some old Chess magazines I found a curious matter that left me pondering , trying to remember long-time-ago-half-forgotten fact. The fact was aroused by an innocent question:

“Who was the first FIDE  World Champion?”

In past posts I have always referred to Mijail Botvinnik as the first Chess World Champion under FIDE aegis… And if fact he was but there is a little story around it.

Everybody acknowledges W. Steinitz as the “first”  World Champion of Chess. The problem was that during the 19th century and the first  years of the    20th , the Champion had the “right” to impose the conditions on the possible challengers.  Either they accepted or there was no match. Lasker defeated Steinitz and Capablanca defeated the German doctor. Then the very players began to think about some sort of rules to govern the Chess world and, especially, the World Championship matches.

The  “Fédération Internationale des Échecs” (FIDE) was created in 1924,  the same year when the Paris Olympic Games were held. Alexander Rueb was its first President and it was born keeping the olympic spirit. Accordingly, FIDE managed to organize two World Championships for amateurs (in the above-mentioned  olympic spirit). In 1924 the winner was H.K.Mattison (Latvia), and in 1928 the winner was M.Euwe (The Netherlands).  In the 5th FIDE Congress held at The Hague, the General Assembly decided to acknowledge the match Euwe-Bogoljubow,won by Bogoljubow by +3 -2 =5 , as the first official match for the FIDE Championship. So, it was Efim D. Bogoljubow the first FIDE Chess Champion! . And here is the key: in those days Bogoljubow was FIDE Champion, and not World Chess Champion , -who at the time was Alekhine-, because FIDE was in its beginnngs and did not have the control of the whole matter, as later happened once one country after another joined in and agreed to allow the new body to take control of Chess throughout the world.

The idea of a Chess governing body was not new though, but could only be materialised betwen 1924 an 1947. (Credit must be given to Yuri Averbakh and E. Winter for their research and findings concerning the history of Chess)

Many events took place during that period, but it was not till 1947 (The Hague) that a FIDE congress decided to take over  everything concerning the organization of the World Championships. The World Chess Champion Alekhine died in 1946 without defending the title after regaining it from Euwe  (1937) -who had defeated him in 1935 . In 1946, a FIDE congress held in Switzerland with delegates from eight countries decided that the title would no longer belong to the champion and that from then on everything would be ruled by FIDE. The final decision was to celebrate a match-tournament to choose the new World Chess Champion (1948 , The Hague/Moscow).

This is only a brief summary. Things were not that smooth and there were many ups and downs, many proposals that were never put into practice, many problems to find funds and convince the different parties involved to accept the idea of an overall Chess  governing body. The Soviet Union joined FIDE  in 1947. Botvinnik and Euwe played an important role and the system worked well for decades.

Coda: But one day, two chessplayers, the World Champion G. Kasparov and the challenger, the British GM N. Short decided to put themselves above the rest and blew the whole thing up, creating a mess which lasts till today. Of course Fide had its share in all this disaster too… (Kasparov later showed some signs of regret…). In the end, Kasparov retired from Chess to devote himself to politics in Russia and Short simply got a lot of money to start slowly declining. Nevertheless, he enjoys the dubious honour of having help to destroy a building that had cost many years and a lot of effort to construct.  But, of course, this is a matter of opinion.



Problem 1.- Rb7!  if 1…, hg2:  2. Rh7 g1Q 3. Qg1: mate And if 1…, fg2: 2 Qa8! g1Q  3. Rb1 mate.

Problem 2.- 1. Bd1! and there is mate in three in all variations.

problem 3.- 1. Qg7!  and there is mate in all variations, as you can check by yourselves.


And now, enjoy the following game:

W.: Karpov (1)

B.: Miles (0)

Biel 1990

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6  3. Bb5 Nf6  (in fashion today, notice how Karpov administers it)  4.0-0  Ne4: 5. d4 Nd6  6. Bc6: dc6 7. dc5 Nf5 8. Qd8: Kd8: 9. Nc4 Ke8 10. b3 h5 11. Rd1 Be7  12. Bg5 Nh6 13. h3 Bf5  14. Be7: Ke7:  (The deception of simplicity – a Karpov’s specialty-: apparently the game began to slip towards  a drawish position… )  15. Nd4 Rad8 16. Rd2 Bg6 17. Rad1  h4  18. b4!  Nf5 19. Nce2 Nd4: 20. Nd4: f6 21. ef6 Kf6: 22. Nb3 Rd2: 23. Rd2: b6  24. Rd7 Rd7 Rc8  25. Rd4 Bc2: 26. Rh4: Re8 27. Rf4 Ke5 28. Rf7 Bb3:  29. ab3 Kd4 30. Rg7: Kc3 31. Rc7: Kb4: 32. Rc6: Kb3:  33. f4 Rf8  34. g4 Rf4:  35. g5 b5  36. g6 Rf8  37. g7 Rg8  38. Rc7 a5  39. h4 a4  40. h5 a3  41. h6 a2  42. Ra7  and Black resigned.


Written by QChess

April 26, 2012 at 7:55 am

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