The Nimzowitsch precepts of positional chess

by ChessBase
11/21/2007 – Aaron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935) was one of the great teachers of chess. In tonight's Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos uses a 1922 win by Nimzowitsch to introduce us to hypermodern ideas like overprotection and the blockade. Or as Reuben Fine put it: restrict, blockade, destroy.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Aaron Nimzowitsch (1886-1935) was never world champion, but as a writer and teacher his influence on chess history is almost without peer. In his masterwork My System, and to a lesser extent Chess Praxis and The Blockade, he set the precepts of positional chess for generations to come. In addition to discussing classical topics like the importance of the center and development, the power of rooks on open files and the 7th and 8th ranks, passed pawns and so on, he introduced his readers to hypermodern ideas like overprotection and the blockade. Or, to put it in Reuben Fine’s great slogan, restrict, blockade, destroy.

This tripartite Nimzowitsch strategy is one he demonstrated repeatedly in his games, turning it into an art form. One such demonstration was his 1922 win against the Swedish player Arthur Hakansson (1889-1947), a beautiful game not in Mega2007 – you’ll have something to add to your databases! It started with Nimzo’s pet line against the French (3.e5 c5 4.Qg4!? cxd4 5.Nf3), and as was his wont he steadfastly refused to recapture the d-pawn, creating and then overprotecting his strong point on e5. Black very quickly found himself in a position without active possibilities (restrict!), and White locked up the board (blockade!) everywhere his opponent could conceivably pursue counterplay. Finally, it was time to put poor Hakansson out of his misery (destroy!), and Nimzo did it with a flair.

It was a one-sided affair, but replaying and studying such games can be extremely valuable. The point is that we get to see the winner’s strategic idea in its purest form, often in an unforgettable setting. I think you’ll find the game an attractive and memorable one, and French Defense-haters should tune in as well, to add another weapon to their arsenal. Remember, the shows are now on Wednesday nights, but still begin at 9 p.m. ET. Hope to see you tomorrow!et your weekly chess calendars for our great games series. Hope to see you tonight!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 01:00h GMT, 02:00 Paris/Berlin, 11:00h Sydney (on Friday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).

Monokroussos in Mexico: world championship 2007

Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

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