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Run, Forrest! Run!

  • GM Gserper
  • | Feb 12, 2012
  • | 13077 views
  • | 40 comments

The playing styles of two chess giants GM Aron Nimzowitsch and the World Champion Tigran Petrosian have many similarities. It is not just a coincidence since Petrosian was a diligent student of Nimzowitsch's books, and especially his iconic "My System".  The future World Champion lost both of his parents at a very young age and therefore in order to save money to buy chess books he had to skip meals. As Petrosian jokingly said once "I have Nimzowitsch for breakfast today!"

In this article I want to discuss one chess trick that both Nimzowitsch and Petrosian used more than any other chess player I know. They really liked to move their Kings from one side of the board to the other! Why would they do it? There are two major reasons for what initially looks like a madman's run.

The first reason is similar to the famous episode from one of my favorite movies "Forrest Gump".  When Forrest is chased by bullies, Jenny screams " Run, Forrest! Run!"  But both Nimzowitsch and Petrosian preferred to send their Kings into safety before bullies actually started chasing him, when it might be too late. The funny thing is in many cases the prey turns into the hunter!  As you can see in the next two games, White started his attack on the King's Side only to get crushed on the King's Side after his opponent's Kings fled the dangerous place.

 

 

 

But in many cases the intentions of such a King's run can be very aggressive. Say you want to attack your opponent on the King's Side and in order to do it you need to push your pawns there.  But if you do it, then you will endanger your own King (just as we saw in the previous two examples).  So, before you push the pawns in front of your King, you might want to send him to the safety of the Queen's Side. Only after your King's journey is over do you start your pawn advance on the King's Side. The next games illustrate this idea very well:
If you like this strategical concept and cannot wait to use it in your own games, please remember that only few positions meet the necessary requirement for the King's run.  In most cases the position is either semi-closed or the pieces of your opponent are so passive that they cannot really harm your wandering King. If you decide to move your King from one side of the board to another side in an inappropriate situation, then your King can get himself in big trouble. That is the reason why not so few chess players (with the exception of Nimzowitsch and Petrosian) did it on a regular basis!

Comments


  • 13 months ago

    nimzotech

    Niemzowitsch was the man!

    "I can't believe I lost to this idiot!"

    - A.N. whilst playing Saemisch

  • 2 years ago

    GM_rudy

    TQ SIR...

  • 2 years ago

    Norb68

    And they call me FORREST GUMP.

  • 2 years ago

    Norb68

    I agree RUN FORREST RUN!

  • 3 years ago

    knide

    Erich Cohn (?) vs. Aron Nimzowitsch (?)
    Karlsbad | 07 | 1911 | ECO: D30 | 0-1
    above games is boring....
  • 3 years ago

    Thron

    For most players this skill is a bit too dangerous to practice..

  • 3 years ago

    GM Gserper

    @Talminator

    After 85. Qc4 Qf5+ Black wins after either 86. Re4 Rf3+ or 86. Kc3 Rc2+

  • 3 years ago

    TALminator

    @GM Gserper, In the first game you stated after 85...Rd7 "White resigned since his King will get checkmated!"

    I see that the immediate threat is 86.  Qxd4++, but isn't this met by 85. Qc4 or Re4?

  • 3 years ago

    paulzagoretz

    I think the king as the Maharajah, being weak, arrogant and freakish like the master of Mir Sultan Khan, who was a Maharajah and who forced Sultan Khan to leave chess. But not as Forrest Gump. Perhaps this article let me change my opinion; still, I cannot compare the escape of Forrest Gump from bullies to all these manoeuvres, because the king was not under the direct attack in any case. It should be compared to an escape from some pursuit by checks. Mr. Serper is right when he writes that "both Nimzowitsch and Petrosian preferred to send their Kings into safety before bullies actually started chasing him", why then has he made such a contradictious comparison? I think this seeming contradiction will be eliminated if we accept that these two players both had a tremendous endurance, like Forrest Gump. I admire all of them as their endurance. I think that rondo is wrong when he expresses his disaffection to such a style, sometimes purely defensive, sometimes suffocating the opponent like a python. Mental endurance and defensive strength are two of the decisive factors in chess, because it is the result of a game that is decisive.

  • 3 years ago

    pawngenius

    Run Gserper Run!!

     

  • 3 years ago

    joederrett

    great article whenever the thought of doing that enters my mind i always dismiss it assuming it would jus waste too much time but this games prove the contrary. Many thanks.

  • 3 years ago

    sryiwannadraw

    Great games really. Arons game was my pes. fav. :)

  • 3 years ago

    ChrisIsMeChris

    Awesome article. Also really enjoy rondo's comment - That first game vs. Alekhine really made me laugh, as I could imagine how annoyed white was by the repetition draw threats. Then, finally, after the smoke clears the counter-attack begins, great stuff!

  • 3 years ago

    rondo09

    Is it me or is part of petrostian's and especially nimzowitsch's plans were to piss of their oponent as much as possible. It seems w=one of ther big strengths was there mental endurance. To simply outlast their oponent, to drag the game out as much as posible with almost obnoxious repetiveness until finally a mistake was made or an opurtunity opened up. I bet even the great grandmasters of their respected eras did not look forward to playing them because of how mentally exhausting it was to face these to extremely patient grandmasters. It worked for them as they are two of the best to ever live but for God sakes look at look at that horribly redundant 100 move game between Nimzo and Cohn. That is the ultimate example of just wearing your opponent away to nothing.

  • 3 years ago

    shequan

    I find the title inappropriate, random

  • 3 years ago

    Pavrey

    Must make my King get more exercise now

  • 3 years ago

    amrita1

    I too had at times this feeling that i should carry my King to another side after castling ! Now,i will be able to do it more confisently if any such situation aries in future !

    Thanks for the article !

  • 3 years ago

    anoopp

    inspirational article

  • 3 years ago

    anoopp

    inspirational article

  • 3 years ago

    AwkwardPiece

    Oh, run Samson run, Delilah's on her way...Undecided

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