Understanding before Moving 136: Chess history in a nutshell (18)

by ChessBase
7/30/2023 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books about chess training and chess strategy. In the 136th instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman continues his series "Chess history in a nutshell" and takes a look at the groundbreaking positional ideas of Aron Nimzowitsch. | Photo: Pascal Simon

Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2 Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2

In this two-part course the emphasis will be on typical pawn-structures.


Aron Nimzowitsch (1)

Born in Riga, Aron Nimzowitsch proved to be a gifted chess player at an early age. To escape the aftermath of World War I, he emigrated from Latvia to Germany after the end of war, but later moved on to Copenhagen, where he lived until the end of his life.

Nimzowitsch proved to be a rebel of the purest kind. He was against the established order, especially the classical style, which he saw incorporated in Tarrasch. Nimzowitsch vehemently opposed the dogmatism that Tarrasch represented.

But at first he was unable to express his revolutionary ideas. He made his debut in the Coburg Reserve Tournament in 1904, but had to wait until 1910 for his first major success. It came in Hamburg, where he finished third behind Schlechter and Duras, but ahead of Spielmann, Marshall and future world champion Alekhine.

His style of play caused quite a stir because it contradicted the generally accepted principles of positional play. His colleagues sometimes looked on in horror at his bizarre ideas, which were only accepted much later.

However, Nimzowitsch had a refreshing and original view of the game, which was indeed based on Steinitz's teachings. Nimzowitsch wanted to show that modern strategy expanded the previous ideas of positional play, and that the game had become much more complicated than the dogmatists suggested.

One of Nimzowitsch's pet ideas was the theory of "overprotection": you protect and strengthe an already strong point in your own position. Nimzowitsch discusses this idea in his book "My System", where he claims that if you concentrate your pieces on the strongest point in your position, you will automatically manoeuvre them into good positions.

In the video we discuss his theories and show a game that illustrates his ideas. Later we see that Bobby Fischer managed to put this concept into practice in a model game of the "King's Indian Attack".

In the diagram position below we see the white pieces "overprotecting" the strong pawn on e5. White now finished the game brilliantly. Do you see how Fischer concluded his attack?

Master Class Vol. 12: Viswanathan Anand

This DVD allows you to learn from the example of one of the best players in the history of chess and from the explanations of the authors how to successfully organise your games strategically, and how to keep your opponent permanently under pressure.

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