“In relating the Aaron Nimzowitsch anti-smoking anecdote on pages 104-105 of their book Chess Panorama (Radnor, 1975), W. Lombardy and D. Daniels presented the punch-line as follows:

In this situation Nimzowitsch opponent took out a cigarette case and put on the chess table. Nimsowitsch hated cigarette smoke and called the director and filed a complaint.

The director said, "He has not lit a cigarette and there is no smoke. So your complaint is noted but it is not valid."

“I know”, Nimzowitsch replied, “but he threatens to smoke, and you know as well as I that in chess the threat is often stronger than the execution”.

(This was one of the basic principles elaborated in Nimzowitsch’s brilliant work My System.)

Most of the time in chess there are constant threats made that forces an opponent to defend each of the threats.

I don't like threats against me. I like to constantly threaten so that I am in control of the game, but it generally doesn't work and I lose many games.

Do you always see most of the threats that are made in your games? . . .


not all. and sometimes I start seeing threats that are not there I start to see "ghost"
my problem is I tend to ignore past pawns as a thread I think I can deal with them later.


We see threats everywhere!! On the chessboard and off the chessboard the threats are there! That We have been diagnosed as paranoid-schizophrenic proves Our point as the diagnoses is threatening, in and of itself!


I have related this anecdote elsewhere.  His opponent was none other than Emmanuel Lasker and it was no mere cigarette, it was his odious brand of cigar.  Also Nimzowitsch had extracted a promise from him that he would not smoke since it bothered him so much.  Lasker always seemed to have his number.


very nice post! And thanks for remindind: The threat is much stronger than the execution



a very useful piece of philosophy...

and the threat is stronger than the execution, because psychologically, it's always bugging you and making you insane. once you execute it, it relieves you of any tension and you're better off...


Now that you gave me a taste of that movie, I will have to get the whole version and see it.



Many times I worry about moves that haven't been made yet . . .

Especially before and during the end game . . .