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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.

Questchess

Written by QChess

March 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm

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