Understanding before Moving 138: Chess history in a nutshell (20)

by ChessBase
8/13/2023 – 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 137th instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman continues his series "Chess history in a nutshell" and continues to 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 (3)

The controversy between Aron Nimzowitsch and Siegbert Tarrasch has culminated in a conflict between the two gentlemen that has given modern chess strategy many wonderful ideas and manuscripts.

In our previous video we explained that the centre does not have to be occupied exclusively by pawns (as Tarrasch claimed), but that pieces can also take over this role, as Nimzowitsch showed; in some lines of the French the pieces effectively take over the role of pawns, and Nimzowitsch mentioned games in which white knights on d4 and e5 block black pawns on d5 and e6.

Nimzowitsch also suggested that fianchetto bishops and centrally placed rooks can have a great influence on the centre. Nimzowitsch also showed that advancing pawns in the centre is not necessarily dangerous - as Tarrasch suggested - by occasionally playing 1.e5 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6! in the Sicilian. Black lures the white pawns forward in order to provoke weaknesses in white's camp and to be able to attack the pawns more easily.

Alekhine went one step further by answering 1.e4 with the provocative 1. Nf6, Alekhine's Defence. After 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 White got the pawn centre "for free", but Black will soon undermine it with 4... d6, and White's centre often turns out to be fragile.

When Nimzowitsch published his famous books "My System" and "The Practice of My System" and reached the pinnacle of his career by winning the strong Karlsbad tournament in 1929, ahead of players like Spielmann and Capablanca, the controversy over his style died down. Nimzowitsch's ideas are still widespread today, and with the books mentioned above he is the founder of modern chess strategy.

One of his immortal games is his encounter with Paul Johner in 1926, which he used to demonstrate his famous "Hemmungstheorie" (translated into English we can speak of "Inhibition Strategy"). A number of modern grandmasters later described this game as one of the best in chess history. This is not only because the game itself is outstanding, but also because Nimzowitsch demonstrated the groundbreaking "Hemmungstheorie", the concept of prophylaxis, to perfection. In 2023 this concept is still very much alive!

In the diagram position, Nimzowitsch (playing with Black) made one of the most famous moves of all time. With this move he also introduced the concept of "prophylaxis". Do you happen to know which move he made, and do you know what deeper ideas lie behind it?

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.

This week’s show (for Premium Members only)


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