"My System" An apostate view

  • #1

    Canadian GM Kevin Spraggett has some strong words about Nimzovitch's "My System" and "Praxis" -- basically he thinks they're self-promotion and hype. (I'm not nearly good enough to have an opinion that matters on the subject  --)

    http://www.kevinspraggett.com/Nonimzo.htm

    but he gives a very nice "good chess books list" and anyone who calls Emmanuel Lasker, God... can't be too wrong ;)

    http://www.kevinspraggett.com/favorite.htm

  • #2

    Wow!  I have always enjoyed Nimzo's books.  This is really the first time I have seen them highly criticized.

    Hmmm.

  • #3

    Some very interesting comments by Spraggett.

    I agree with many of his "favorites list", but never did get much out of the difficult to read/digest "Pawn Power in Chess" by Kmoch. It is also curious that Spraggett lists all three volumes of Alekhine's best games when the third book was published posthumously with notes by C. H. O'D Alexander, which are certainly better than mine Wink, but not the same level as Alekhine's in the first two books.

    Also, Alekhine's two books were also said to be "promotional" to elicit support for his match against Capablanca.

  • #4

    Spraggett> "I think that you will find it very difficult to find former 'Soviet' GMs to say anything nice about Nimzo's books."

    Mark Taimanov: However, the books of Nimzovich were those which made the deepest impression on me. During my learning years as a chess player, his books, among which "My System" obviously, played a fundamental role. When I teach chess, I always tell my pupils to study all of Nimzovich's books

    Brent Larsen: Maybe it was Petrosian. We had the same basis: “My System,” by Nimzovitch. We are so called foster-brothers.

    Mihail Marin regularly references My System in his annotations of strong tournaments like the MTel Masters and Wijk Aan Zee.

    Evgeny Sveshnikov wrote fondly of My System and how it shaped the French Defense.

    Roman Dzindzichashvili based his strategy DVDs around My System.

  • #5

    Nimzowitsch certainly does a lot of self-promotion and hype in his book.  But it was written at a time when these qualities weren't considered to be much of a problem.  There were no TV's, very few "superstar" celebrities...  many of his readers probably read the text as a candid view into the mind of a chess revolutionary.  My biggest problem with My System is the lack of a procedural organization - you will have to bounce around in the text to get the most effect out of it.  It would have been nice, since we were expecting a "systemic" approach to chess, to have an ordered procedure of thought (i.e. step 1, step 2, etc...)

  • #6

    In contrast to Niven42, who preferred to start with the endgame chapter, I feel the first chapters of My System are solid gold and logically presented. Develop, open files, then penetrate! You can literally crush 1500-1600 OTB competitors by consistently applying the simple principles layed out there (the Devil is in the intricate details of the many examples, and in making these maneuvers into a habit).

    As far as exchanging, endgame strategy, pins, and discovered checks, and pawn chains--are these 'sequential' concepts? I'm not sure any strategy book covers them that way. You could, I suppose, make a case for putting endgame strategy last. But I don't see any need to bounce around as you read through the chapters. Unless you find that helpful to connect the different ideas together. :)

  • #7
    likesforests wrote:

    Spraggett> "I think that you will find it very difficult to find former 'Soviet' GMs to say anything nice about Nimzo's books."

    Mark Taimanov: However, the books of Nimzovich were those which made the deepest impression on me. During my learning years as a chess player, his books, among which "My System" obviously, played a fundamental role. When I teach chess, I always tell my pupils to study all of Nimzovich's books

    Brent Larsen: Maybe it was Petrosian. We had the same basis: “My System,” by Nimzovitch. We are so called foster-brothers.

    Mihail Marin regularly references My System in his annotations of strong tournaments like the MTel Masters and Wijk Aan Zee.

    Evgeny Sveshnikov wrote fondly of My System and how it shaped the French Defense.

    Roman Dzindzichashvili based his strategy DVDs around My System.


    Applause to likesforests!

  • #8

    /agree with Niven42.  Even though Nimzowitsch may have been one of the strongest players in the world in his time, it's clear by reading his books that his opinion of himself is even higher.  A fault not uncommon in world-class chess players, unfortunately.

    Nonetheless, I think it's hard to dispute the importance of My System.  Even if Mr. Spraggett has a personal preference for other tomes, I can't help but notice that almost every one of the authors from his list comes from an era that was highly influenced by Nimzowitsch's thinking.  If those brilliant players have improved upon that foundation, so much the better, but IMO that doesn't reflect poorly on their forebear at all.

  • #9

    You can't deny Nimzowitsch's influence on chess.  Many of the concepts in My System are the basis of chess today.  As far as self-promotion in his books?  Yes, it's there and it's sometimes a little silly and annoying.  Who can deny Alekhine's great chess ability though, and he was king of bragging and self-promotion.  Look at it this way- Alekhine was a jerk and in my opinion a coward for dodging Capablanca, Fischer was a pompus jerk, and Nimzowitsch was self-promoting.  Nimzowitsch doesn't sound so bad to me.

  • #10

    I have not found anyone saying/writing anything bad about Anand. Laughing

  • #11
    nimzovich wrote:

    I have not found anyone saying/writing anything bad about Anand. 


     This is true, has anyone read any "dirt" on Anand?  I also have never read any "dirt" on Boris Spassky.....has anyone else? As for Nimzovich....after I read/studied My System my otb rating jumped 300 points in one year ! I have never had such a rating jump before nor since and due to that I always recommend My System to those who ask about good chess books. It is my favorite book simply because it helped me more than any other single book to "understand" chess better. When I was starting out in tournament chess (1973) I asked every master  (2200 and up) that I ran into which book(s) they most recommended and My System was the one named more than any other. I am friends with Spraggett and well aware that he is of a different opinion as we have argued over this on several occasions. We remain friends however and dont let our differences of opinion change that . 

  • #12

    I have always told me people who ask how to improve their game to read My System. I went thru it cover to cover when I was 14. It is a great foundation to build on. John Watson's recent books I have found to be excellent also.

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