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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

Nimzowitsch:The Crown Prince of Chess.

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My second chess book was Nimzowitsch’s “Chess Praxis”. It became one of the most important books I have ever read.

Aron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935) was born in Riga, Latvia, moved to Denmark where he lived until his untimely death. He, together with R. Reti and R. Breyer ,is considered one of the fathers of the so-called “Hypermodern movement” aka “Neo-romanticism”).Essentially, it was a reaction against the too dogmatic and rigid interpretations of Steinitz’s strategical ideas made by S. Tarrasch -also one of the most important chessplayers in the history of Chess and one of those “greats” who never managed to become Champion of the World.

Nimzowitsch has been one of the deepest thinkers in the history of Chess.His three books:”My System”, “Chess Praxis” and Blockade have been studied by generations of chessplayers and the new set of strategical concepts have passed the test of time -with the necessary readjustements-. The new ideas on the control of the centre, the prophylaxis, the blockade, the play on squares of the same colour, etc. are fundamental to understand and play most of today´s openings (Bobby Fischer is said to have studied Nimzo’s ideas in depth for the 1972 match, and some authors pointed out that one of Spassky’s drawbacks was that he did not understand the hypermodern ideas…)

The neo-romantics introduced a whole set of new openings focusing on the new ideas on the centre and its control. Occupation does not implies control, so they started to cede the centre to their opponents and attack it from the flanks.This is the basis of openings/defences like the Nimzoindian,King’s Indian, Queen’s Indian,BogoIndian,Grünfeld,Reti, Catalan,Bird, Benoni,Larsen/Nimzowitsch,etc. Nimzowitsch also played 1…Nc6 against 1.e4 and devoted a lot of effort to 1.e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5.  and introduced the Dresden variation. He als studied and played the Hanham V. of the Philidor Defence.As you can see, most of them are played today and have  passed the test of time (and analysis)  as I said before.Chess was never the same,  though a reassessment had to be done for the sake of progress.

Nimzowitsch also advocated the “small centre”. This is the type of centre which appears in many Sicilians (Pawns in e6-d6 by Black) and was the seed for the famous “hedgehog” systems. These set-ups can be seen in a number of well-known and much-played openings.

One of the most important concepts he started to develop is that of “prophylaxis”, which today is applied as “prophylactic thinking” (you can find this subject treated by super-trainers like Dvoretsky, and players like Karpov -who made of it the centre of his strartegical ideas- , to mention only two of them).Nimzowitsch defined it as the prevention of undesired posibilities on your opponent’s part.Today, in an age of dynamism, it has nothing to do with passive or defensive play. In my opinion, today’s expanded concept of prophylaxis is one of the secrets to play good Chess, and must be studied accordingly.

(Note: in these first t I am mainly dealing with Chess personalities. Later I will try to write about concepts and ideas alone.)

Nimzowistch never played for the World Championship. First Capablanca never accepted such a match (in those years the Champion imposed the playing conditions and the money.The challenger had to accept the conditions and find the financial support). Later, Alekhine avoided it too, perhaps fearing a defeat.). About our man a lot of stories have been told. He is said to be a fanatic or/and an ill-tempered man. He suffered a lot -like many others- due to the miserable conditions the I World War left behind… But I would strongly recommend his books. You can find wonderful manoeuvres, you can start to grasp the rudiments of most of the openings in fashion today.You will start to learn Chess.

I like the following effort:

White: E. Cohn

Black A. Nimzowitsch

Carlsbad 1911

1.d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c5 4. e3 Nf6 5. Bd3 Bd6 6. 0-0 0-0 7. a3 cd4: 8.ed4: dc4:  9.Bc4: Nc6 10. Nc3 b6 11. Bg5 Bb7 12. Qe2 h6 13. Be3 Ne7 14. Ne5 Ned5 15.Nd5: Nd5: 16. Qh5 Be5: 17.Qe5: Nf6 18.Rfe1 Bd5 19. Bd3 Rc8 20. Rac1 Ng4 21.Qg3 Ne3: 22.fe3: Qd7 23.Ba6 Rc1: 24.Rc1: Qa4 25.Bf1 Qb3 26.Qf2 f5 27.Qd2 Rf7 28.Qc3 Qa4 29.g3 Kh7 30.Bg2 Qb5 31.Bd5: ed5: 32.Qd2 Qb3 33.Qc3 Qb5 34.Qd2 Qb3 35.Qc3 Qb5 36.Qd2 Re7 37.Qc2 Qd7 38.Qd3 Re4 39.Kf2 Qe6 40.Rf1 Qg6 41.Kg2 Qe6 42.Kf2 Qg6 43.Kg2 Qe6 44.Kf2 Kg6 45.Rc1 Kh7 46.Rc2 Qg6 47.Kg2 Qg5 48.Rf2 Qg6 49.Qe2 Qe6 50. Qf3 Kg6 51.Re2 Kh7 52.Kf2 Qc8 53.Kg2 Qe6 54.Kf2 Qg6 55.Kg2 Qg5 56.Kf2 Qf6 57.Kg2 Qg5 58. Kf2 Qg6 59.Kg2 Qe6 60.Kf2 Qc8 61.Kg2 Qe6 62.Kf2 Qc8 63.Kg2 a5 64.h4 Kg6 65.Kh2 h5 66.Kg2 Kh6 67.Rf2 g6 68.Rf1 Kg7 69.Rf2 Kf7 70.Kh2 Ke7 71.Re2 Qc1 72.Qf2 Kd7 73.Rel Qc6 74.Kg2 Rg4 75.Rf1 Qc7 76.Qf3 Kc8 77.Qf2 Kb8 78.Kh3 Ka7 79.Rg1 Qd7 80.Kh2 Qd6 81.Kh3 Qc6 82.Re1 Qe6 83.Kh2 Qe4 84.Kh3 Qe6 85.Kh2 Qe7 86.Kh3 Qe4 87.Rg1 Qe6 88.Kh2 Re4 89.Rc1 Re3: 90.Qf4 Re2 91. Kh3 Ka6 92.b4 ab4: 93.ab4: Kb5 94.Rc7 Qe4 95.Qe4: Re4: 96. Rg7 Re6 97.Rd7 Kc4 98.Kg2 Kd4: 99.Kf3 Kc4 100.b5 d4 101.White resigns.

(The final part is annotated by Nimzowitsch in “Chess Praxis”)

I would also like to strongly recommend R.Keene’s masterwork on Aron Nimzowitsch and the book (in Danish) by B. Nielsen . “Nimzowitsch Danmarks Skakklaerer”.Exceptional.


Written by QChess

March 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm

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