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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

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