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"My System" Anyone waded through this book by Nimzowitsch? What level player is it good for? Reviews?
A classic, to be sure!
I went through this as a beginner, and learned quite a lot. Probably useful up to about 1700. Hopefully it's been translated to modern notation by now, so make sure you check on that. The language is a little stodgey, but you'll get used to it. :)
In Nimzowitsch time there obviously were much fewer books than these days. I don't know if that's the reason or maybe it's because Nimzowitsch was aiming to write comprehensive presentation of his views on chess but the book contains material on many different levels. It begins easy (if somewhat overly naive) and the first chapter while containing definitions of some of the books key concepts is clearly written with a relative beginner in mind. However, the sophistication increases as we go along and the books reputation surely rests on the later chapters. It's clear that Nimzowitsch also intended his book to be read by the leading players of his era.
I'm not willing to pin it down to any exact level but rather than for people up to 1700 I would recommend it for people already past 1700. I suppose You can read it on many level but certain things possibly only really begin to make sense once you are strong enough.
One more thing, although My System remains important not everything in it is generally accepted nowadays. One has to read it with critical eyes, compare to other sources and then form his own opinions. I imagine this might easily lead to confusion among less experienced readers.
Interesting take, Shakaali. I confess I stopped reading it before I hit 1700 OTB. But by that time I had way too many chess books clogging my shelves.
Well worth it and quite entertaining in terms of Nimzo's tantrums and funky analogies. For me it was a serious eye opener in many respects as it taught me what the game is really about, you know; 7th and 8th rank, development, pawn chains, positional play, discovered attacks, exchange technique and so on. Pretty much the fundamentals and beyond in a neat package.
The only drawback is that you have to chew your way through aforementioned tantrums/analogies which can be a little on the heavy side, but hey...
I used to see chess as very linear. He takes, I recapture, he makes a strange move out of category, I take etc etc etc ...I lose. - with the occasional "I got lucky" tendency. Nimzo helped me see my errors in those respects (still working on it, mind you :))
Obviously it doesn't adress modern playstyle, but for the novice it's a virtual gold mine as far as I'm concerned.
Frankly I've been somewhat surprised that it is so rarely mentioned on these forums. Not that I have anything against Silmann or anything, but I'm puzzled that no one seem to have any interest in Nimzo (or Dvoretsky for that matter).
Ah, but this book represents the birth of modern playstyle!
Ooops, I was thinking of hyper modern of course.
I play chess for fun, to keepy brain active and to meet great people. My System does all that for me. I love the book!
Maybe time to read it again. Possibly I should also read it again someday but not yet as I actually read it for the first time only relatively recently.
Okay, thanks all, i ordered it.
I know its a classic. This may come off as blasphemy but its not an easy read. Its like reading literature. Reassess your chess is so much easier to follow.
I can't comment about "How to Reassess Your Chess" as I haven't read it but in general I get your point and to a certain extent agree with it.
Nimzowitsch prose is certainly very different and more colourfull than what you are likely to find in a modern chess book. Some like it and it can be entertaining but personally I'm not convinced the heavy use of analogies in the book really helps if you are seeking the thruth. It's good to read My System at some point in order to familiarize oneself with the ideas that have had such a profound influence in modern thinking about chess but probably one should first read some good, more modern (and drier(!)), systematic treatment on strategy.
Chess strategy for club players I've heard is a great book. I just ordered it off of amazon.
While I completely agree with you on this post, I'd suggest simply disregarding the analogies and just 'eating the meat' if it becomes too much with the marital culture of russian peasants in the 1800's, children at the stock exchange, the blind rage directed at potential critics and what have you. :)
On a different note alltogether, what strategy books would you recommend? Thus far, I've read My System (and reread a bunch of the chapters in order to see if I could manage to internalize them better) and these days I'm having a go with Dvoretsky's 'Endgame Manual' which is also rather on the heavy side, but I might need to read something simpler.
Any sugestions would be most welcome :)
I'm afraid I can't really help there. I've actually read very few chess books - that's major weakness in my chess education. The ones I've read I've mostly read recently and consequently tend to be somewhat on the advanced side. Also, the first books I red were in finnish.
While I cannot recommend any general strategy manual let me at least mention couple nice game collections from classic authors that contain lots of instructive examples on strategy: "The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever played" by Irving Chernev and "Masters of the Chessboard" by Richard Reti.
I tend to subscribe to the theory that the fastest way to learn is to work just out one's comfort zone. In view of this I think it might be worth for you to check some easier books if you still find them challenging enough. But don't get me wrong, I think that Dvoretsky for example is great book to have because it can be used as an encyclopedia and is bound to last a lifetime (unless pages start falling off).
Some strategy books I have that I like:
How to Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman. Very helpful to me. A lot of people seem to like this, though I have heard less than good things about the sequels, which I don't own.
Winning Chess Strategies by Yasser Seirawan. This is a great book if you're still new to strategical ideas. It's definitely not as deep, but it's very easy to read, and covers some basic concepts quite well.
Positional Ideas In Chess by John Love. This is not too bad, though the format is a little hard to go through. It's visually a bit ugly, and it's a little variation-heavy.
Modern Chess Strategy by Ludek Pachman. Very good ideas, but make sure there is a new version with modern notation (mine is not). This one absolutly requires you setting up pieces on a real board and going through the examples.
Pawn Power In Chess by Hans Kmoch. I haven't seen this one mentioned before, but I think it's fantastic. It's not about strategy in general of course -- it's an entire book just on how pawns work, and you are sure to learn some powerful concepts. This one I also have in the old notation system, so check on that before you buy.
Thank you for the suggestions chaps, I'll be sure to look for them next time I'm inspecting my friends book shelf - also thank you JK for the fair warning; I always become dizzy when trying to read old notation :D
Man, there's sooo many chess books out there. So little time.
No problem, vulpes. Most good chess books in old notation get updated to algebraic, so there's a very good chance you can find what you want.
I have two 1930 editions of "My System" published by Harcourt, Brace. Both are the same size but one has the rounded paper edges found on books of that age and the other has the normal square ppages. Both books are the identical with the ad in the back and the numerous errors in this edition. Anyone familiar with the first english edition of this book?
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