Aron Nimzowitsch- A Chess Giant, Part I

Aron Nimzowitsch- A Chess Giant, Part I

Mar 21, 2018, 2:42 AM |

Throughout my blogging experience here, I have avoided blogging about some players, because they are so high in the chess firmament, and I feel so small in comparison, it is like a firefly talking about the moon!

But, nevertheless, it must be done, because their contribution is so momentous, that I cannot avoid it!

Today I am drawn to the life and games of Aron Nimzowitsch. This will probably be a multi-part blog, due to the vast amount of relevant games available.


So here we go!



Aron Nimzowitsch



Aron Nimzowitsch, born in Riga, Latvia in 1886, came to prominence in the chess world just before the First World War. He was Russian Champion in 1913 (jointly with Alexander Alekhine) at St.Petersburg. He won a string of international events in the mid-1920s which led him to challenge Jose Raul Capablanca to a World Championship match in 1925, but negotiations dissolved after monetary backing could not be found. He took first place at Copenhagen (1923), Dresden (1926), Karlsbad (1929) and Frankfurt (1930).

Nimzowitsch's chess theories flew in the face of convention. He had a lengthy and somewhat bitter conflict with Siegbert Tarrasch over which ideas constituted proper chess play. While Tarrasch refined the classical approach of Wilhelm Steinitz, that the center had to be controlled and occupied by pawns, Nimzowitsch shattered these dogmatic assumptions, and proposed the controlling of the center with pieces from afar. In this way, the opponent is invited to occupy the center with pawns which thus become the targets of attack. This idea became known as the hypermodern school of chess thought.

Nimzowitsch, along with other hypermodern thinkers such as Richard Reti, revolutionized chess, proving to the chess world that controlling the center of the board mattered more than actually occupying it. Nimzowitsch is also a highly-regarded chess writer, most famously for the 1925 classic My System, to this day regarded as one of the most important chess books of all time. Other books include Chess Praxis which further expounds the hypermodern idea, and the seminal work The Blockade explores the strategy implied by his famous maxim, "First restrain, then blockade, finally destroy!"

As a profound opening theoretician, Nimzowitsch has left a legacy of variations, many of which are still popular today. The Nimzo-Indian Defense (1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 e6 3.♘c3 ♗b4) is named after him, as are several variations of the French Defense. He also is credited in part for the Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein (B29) Variation (1.e4 c5 2.♘f3 ♘f6), the Nimzovich-Larsen Attack (A01) (1.b3), the Nimzowitsch Defense (1.e4 ♘c6), and many others.

He died of pneumonia on March 16, 1935 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Wikipedia article: Aron Nimzowitsch


First we will concentrate on games annotated by him, of which there are many!








In the next game, against the great Akiba Rubinstein, the game reaches a perfect balance, but instead of repeating moves, Akiba goes for the win....and loses!



In the next game, a young Schlechter tries to attack against Nimzo, but has to resign when Black reveals the tactical exactness of his defense!



In the following game, Nimzowitsch combines attack and defense in a brilliant strategic victory. His notes are elucidating, and I believe that his comments have the capacity to improve anyone's understanding of the game of chess.



In the next game, Nimzowitsch's refined technique in the art of "overprotection" is a Master Class by itself. As he explains in his notes, the attention to detail is of great importance in the execution of his idea.



In the next game, playing Black against Alapin, Nimzowitsch allows White to have more space, with an apparent grip on the centre, only to plan a deeply conceived counter-strategy. White decides to close the centre, and Nimzo adapts accordingly, and at the appropriate moment, with a neat combination, Black demonstrates the superiority of his understanding in the position.



In the next game, played at a Russian All-Masters event in 1912, Nimzowitsch faces a bold attack by Black, but he succeeds in blocking the avalanche, and takes over the posiiton!



The next game, against Semion Alapin, is a classic! I remember seeing it in the 70's!....

It is very instructive, how Nimzowitsch opens the position and punishes Black for going after a pawn and lagging too far in development!



The next game is a strategic victory, where Nimzowitsch's better understanding of chess shows itself.



The next game, and last in this Part I about Aron Nimzowitsch, is quite notable because Spielmann is noted as a great tactician, yet in this game Nimzowitsch, playing Black, sacrifices a piece for two pawns and an attack. The closed, French-style centre allows him to do so, as his King is quite safe, while White's King is exposed. Spielmann fails to find the right defense, and Nimzo hunts the White King down.