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Strategy of 'My System', Lesson 5

We're learning chess strategy from the classic My System by Aaron Nimzovich. I'm your guide, likesforests. Grab a cold one, pull up a chair, and enjoy. :)


§1.6 - Avoid grabbing pawns in the opening

Nimzowitsch spends a chapter explaining that it's wrong to take free pawns in the opening (except central pawns, which are worth the risk). Don't believe him. Strong players take free pawns all the time. But know the costs. Most pawns aren't free. You must spend time capturing them and retreating, and you open additional lines of attack for your opponent.

You have to weigh carefully whether the benefit outweights the risks.

shoshaz1-likesforests 1-0, chess.com

You know me, always trying to apply these principles in real games.

Question: Is 1...Qxb2 sound?

Answer: After 1...Qxb2 2.O-O Bxc2! not only is Black up two pawns, but he's also prevented White from using the newly opened b-file. So yes, it's a fine move.

 

Illustrative Games for Chapter One

Nimzowitsch - Alapin. This was an unofficial game played between the two somewhere between 1911 and 1914. It's as instructive as it is entertaining. Challenge yourself to understand the moves that surprise you, and try to guess White's moves 12-18.


Teichmann - Nimzowitsch, Karlsbad 1911. This is a serious tournament game. Teichmann wore an eye patch and is famous for saying, "Chess is 99% tactics." Only the first 25 moves illustrate chapter one, but the endgame after 31.Qxe1 is also interesting.

Chapter One is over. Woohoo! If you've absorbed all or most of the knowledge in these first five lessons you'll probably see your opening play improve. :)


I welcome criticism and even praise if you feel it's deserved. Lesson 6 will be out next Friday... if you haven't already, Add me as a Friend to enjoy it hot off the press!

Comments


  • 5 years ago

    figrock

    Thank you for the post..! It helped a lot..! Cool

  • 5 years ago

    estevon

    Very entertaining game around between Teichmann versus Nimzowitsch.

  • 5 years ago

    estevon

    Very outstanding great game=Nimzowitsch Versus Alapin.

  • 6 years ago

    Dmaster995

    I like

  • 6 years ago

    KnightlyKing

    thank you very much ..very helpful!

  • 6 years ago

    normajeanyates

    likesforests>10...Qg6? is the actual tactical error. Rybka3 evaluates 10...Qh3 as roughly equal.

    That's life..

    10...Qh3 is almost impossible to find by humans! A patzer may 'accidentally' play it, a good player...

    reminds me of a bridge deal defensive discard from Clyde Love's 'bridge squeezes complete' - "Only an imbecile or a genius would discard a club."

    On second thought: if black sees the N-sac and yet goes pawn grabbing, it is because black saw the threat on his Q1-square from the open Q-file - so 10..Qh3!! Dissolving the threats [Q is on the right diagonal c8-f3 - will be protecting B/N if B/N has to go to Q2 <ie e7> etc. ... and calculation confirms it...] 

    [written&posted as my thought processes went - no edits - i thought this post would be interesting that way ..]

  • 6 years ago

    unclenugget

    im already seeing great opening improvements in my game, cheers man

  • 6 years ago

    normajeanyates

    thanks likesforests for doing the rest of the hard work too :)

    likesforests>It's hard to anticipate the knight sac 12.O-O-O this far out  [ ie from the position [Nimzowitch-Alapin] after white's move 9].

    true!

  • 6 years ago

    likesforests

    normajeanyates - maybe run rybka 3 - on black's move 11 backwords?

    I believe Alapin made the calculation error just before playing 9...Qxg2. That's when he would've calculated deeply, and if you spend a couple minutes calculating from there you'll probably realize the queen's in danger of being trapped. Maybe he decided 9...Qxg2 was safe after seeing 10.Bf3 Qg6 11.Qd2 e5! (and after the knight runs ...Be7 and ...O-O). It's hard to anticipate the knight sac 12.O-O-O this far out.

    10...Qg6? is the actual tactical error. Rybka3 evaluates 10...Qh3 as roughly equal.

  • 6 years ago

    normajeanyates

    yes, I made a logical howler - my statement, purely logically speaking, was nonsense!

    'black's best on 12... only gives a +-' is not absurd, [and +0.8 is surely +-!] it merely implies that black was already in dire straits after black's move 11. That is, black [Alapin] made at least one howler or a series of mini-howlers on or before move 11.

    Okay, that's worth looking into - keeping 'My System' in mind... over the next few days... perhaps someone else would also be interested -- maybe run rybka 3 - those who have it - on black's move 11 backwords?

    Point granted.

  • 6 years ago

    likesforests

    likesforests> 11...e5 is a strong move, despite being counter-intuitive...

    normajeanyates> Excuse me, but that is nonsense, what are you saying!

    11...e5 is one of Black's best options (and probably the very best). It's no mistake.

    normajeanyates> If 11...e5 is a strong move, then what is the refutation of 12.O-O-O, pray? 12...Be7 and 12...Nd7 both lead to +- for god's sake! And others are worse...

    Let me turn that around. Can you back up your words? Tell me what you would play instead of 11...e5 that's significantly better. As I wrote in my notes the natural 11...Be7 12.O-O O-O loses on the spot due to his trapped queen, so that would be a mistake.

    I asked Rybka3 for the top seven lines. At depth=18 it only really considered three:

       11...Qf6 12.O-O-O: +.83

       11...e5 12.O-O-O: +.85

       11...Bc5 12.O-O-O: +.89

    Note that while all these moves are theoretically equal, 11...e5 gives White practical chances to go wrong and retreat his knight instead of playing 12...O-O-O. So I believe this was Alapin's best option, and at the very least it's a strong move.

  • 6 years ago

    normajeanyates

    re Tiechmann-Nimzowitch:

    likesforests> I didn't put 1-0 at the top of the game because I didn't want to ruin the suspense for people playing through it.

    Okay, good idea it was, actually :)

    re Nimzowitch-Alapin

    likesforests>11...e5 is a strong move, despite being counter-intuitive...

    Excuse me, but that is nonsense, what you are saying! If 11..e5 is a strong move, then what is the refutation of 12. O-O-O, pray? 12...Be7 and 12...Nd7 both lead to +- for god's sake! And others are worse...

  • 6 years ago

    likesforests

    normajeanyates> I don't understand why did you put "*" as score rather than 1-0

    I didn't put 1-0 at the top of the game because I didn't want to ruin the suspense for people playing through it. But I should definitely have added a note that Nimzowitsch resigned at the end of the game. Will do that now.

    normajeanyates> I was wondering how this illustrated the victory of Nimzowitch's ideas until I came to the end... and saw that it didn't :)

    See? I kept you guessing. ;)

    Only the first 25 moves illustrate Nimzowitsch's opening strategy... and how he was able to use them to achieve equality as Black. The rest is purely a fun and instructive endgame.

  • 6 years ago

    likesforests

    mauerblume> But in your own game "pawnrobbery" seems dangerous in my view.

    Absolutely... it's tactically sound, but quite dangerous.

    Nimzowitsch goes too far when he says to always decline "free pawns" (except central pawns) in the opening and gives accepting the King's Gambit or Evan's Gambit as examples of opening mistakes. In practice, it's a really tough choice when you see free material. Your tactical side and strategic side are often at odds which each other. When it's a close call, I guess it comes down to which side of you dominates?

  • 6 years ago

    likesforests

    shuttlechess92, Bodhidharma, greatexcalibur - Glad you enjoyed. :)

    normajeanyates> Alapin played this??

    Nimzowitsch claims he did. The first edition of Mein System was published after Alapin's death and doesn't provide a date or location for the game. It was likely a practice game during their Karlsbad 1911, Vilnius 1912, or St. Petersburg 1914 tournaments. In that period Nimzowitsch was at his peak and Alapin was aging. We also have no idea how much Vodka was sampled before the game or if there were other extenuating circumstances.

    normajeanyates> The first black move I would query would be 11..e5?, not earlier.

    11...e5 is a strong move, despite being counter-intuitive...

    normajeanyates> I'd say 12..exd4?? I mean that's a patzer blunder,

    Yes, this was a howler!

  • 6 years ago

    normajeanyates

    just went through Teichmann vNimzowitch - so Teichman got the pawn majority and won! I was wondering how this illustrated the victory of Nimzowitch's ideas until I came to the end... and saw that it didn't :)

    likesforests, I don't understand why did you put "*" as score rather than 1-0 [Nimzowitch lost] which it was. [unless  game was abandoned for no doubt non-chess reasons..]

  • 6 years ago

    Heinrich_24

    Good "relaxed" presented lesson!

    But in your own game "pawnrobbery" seems dangerous in my view. Although he cannot use b-file,white is completly developed and has square d4 for example for his bishop...

    Congratulation for successful presenting of chapter one!

  • 6 years ago

    normajeanyates

    As yet I found time only for the Nimzowitch-Alapin game.

    Likesforests's annotations have done most of the work - so the rest is relatively easy on this one. Caveat, this is off-hand.

    The first black move I would query would be 11..e5?, not earlier.

    I'd say 12..exd4?? I mean that's a patzer blunder, Alapin played this??

    See, for black the real danger is white's R and Q doubled on the open d-file, with d8 only once-protected (by the black K).

    So,  likesforests gives 12..Be7 [protecting d8 twice] 13.Rhg1, but now black can play 13...Qd6!. Now the white N is really attacked, and I'd give it a +- only, not an outright win for white.

    Similarly 12...Nd7 [closing the d-file] 13.Rhg1 Qd6! +-, but not 1-0. [this one keeps black's g7-pawn protected.]

    comments and corrections welcome.

  • 6 years ago

    greatexcalibur

    It gives me deeper understanding of wining a Tempo is very important even if you have to pay it with pawn(s) or even piece(s)!

    Teichmann vs Nimzowitsch game give me good lesson about how to make opponent's pawn majorities useless in an endgame.

    Another interesting and useful lessons, likesforests. Thanks!

  • 6 years ago

    Bodhidharma

    Tempo is one of the hardest thing to understand. Well done, likesforest.

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