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Paul F Johner vs Aron Nimzowitsch
"Johner in the Belly of the Whale" (game of the day Jun-03-10)
Dresden (1926)  ·  Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal Variation. Bishop Attack (E47)  ·  0-1
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Given 49 times; par: 57 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-24-14  paramount: Nice game from Nimzo.

But 25...Rg7 is much inferior compared to 25...h4!!

With h4, black sacrificing a pawn but opening the g-file for the rook(s).

Best play for white is 26.fxg5 Rxg5 27.gxh4 the white position is HOPELESS, crammed, dormant, really have no counter attack. after Rg8 (doubling the rook), and Nf5, win would be easy for black.

Other responses 26.gxh4/g4/Qe2/Ra2/etc etc are really no help for white. S

Conclusion is with 25...h4!!, white should be lose in no time.

26.gxh4 gxf4 27.exf4 Nf5 28.Qf2 Nxh4 29.Ng3 Ng4+!! 30.hxg4 Nf3#

26.Ra2 hxg3+ 27.Nxg3 gxf4 28.exf4 Nhg4+ 29.Kh1 e3 (with threat of Nf2+) 30.f5 Bxa4! 31.Nf1 Bb3 32.Rb2 Nf2+ 33.Rxf2 exf2 34.Qxf2 Bxc4 (0-1 with black up 1 pawn and rook for a bishop, with f more active position).

I have to mention that the position after 25.Nf1 is very interesting, very good to practice your calculations, just what you have seen, i just gave the 3 lines of those combination and its really really challenging.

But dont rely much to my lines, there are inordinate lines that good to see with the fact that black is much more superior in that position, almost every moves would lead to the black;s win just dont make a very severe mistake, you'll be fine.

Last note, Nimzo's move 25...Rg7 is a BAD move compared to h4. But it is really ambiguous in terms of "bad move".

Rg7 is "decent" move if you are NOT CAOMPARING with h4. You can win with Rg7 (like Nimzo) but you have to sweat much more and take a long detour compared with the real deal h4!!.


Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I have annotated this game in great detail on the back of a Dutch tram ticket.

If you want I'll post it to you.

But I have to have it back as I need to use the ticket next Thursday.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 30...e3! seems to be an interesting alternative to Nimzo's chosen move. If white takes the Pawn, then black Queen invades his position with decisive effect, for example 31.Nxe3 Nxe3 32.Bxe3 Qf5 33.g4 (33.Bg2 Rxg3 ) 33...hxg4 etc., or 31.Bxe3 Nxe3 32.Nxe3 Qd3 33.Nf1 Bxh3! 34.Kxh3 h4 . After 31.Qxb6 black gives a beautiful mate: 31...Ng4+! 32.Kg2 (32.hxg4 hxg4+ 33.Kg2 Qh3#) 32...Nh4+! 33.gxh4 Qe4+ 34.Kg3 Nf2+ 35.Kh2 Qxh1+! 36.Rxh1 Rg2#. But other moves are hardly better, for example 31.Qc2 Ng4+ 32.Kg2 Nh4+ 33.gxh4 Bf5 , or 31.Bf3 Nh4! 32.Bd1 Qf5 33.Kh1 Qxh3+ (or simply 33...Qe4+ 34.Kh2 Nf3+ ) 34.Rh2 Rxg3! (the Queen cannot be taken for mate) 35.Nxg3 Rxg3 36.Rg2 Rxg2! 37.Rxh3 Bxh3 and against threats Nf6-e4-g3#/f2# or Nh4-f5-g3# there is no satisfactory defense. And 31.Rgg2 (freeing g1 for the King) allows 31...Ne4 with fall of Pg3 and decisive attack of black.
Oct-12-15  Helios727: How would black proceed after 31. Qxb6 Bxc4 32. Rb2 ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Helios727: How would black proceed after 31. Qxb6 Bxc4 32. Rb2 ?>

32....Bxf1 33.Rxf1 Rxg3 threatens the neat 34....Ng4+ 35.hxg4 hxg4#!

Oct-12-15  Nerwal: <How would black proceed after 31. Qxb6 Bxc4 32. Rb2 ?>

White loses immediately there since g3 falls after a trade on f1.

Oct-18-15  Helios727: <keypusher> and <Nerwal> After 31. Qxb6 Bxc4 32. Rb2 Bxf1 33.Rxf1 Rxg3, does not 34. Bg2 hold? For instance 34... Ng4+ 35. hxg4 hxg4+ 36. Kg1
Sep-10-16  Howard: In the book How to Open a Chess Game, Portisch states that this particular game had a great influence on him during the early part of his career.

But, then, in Chernev's book The Golden Dozen he states that the game had a major effect on LARSEN during his early years.

Granted, the game may have influenced both players.

Sep-20-16  Howard: Somehow, it seems that once Nimzo posted his queen on h7, there wasn't much White could have done from that point. His game wasn't necessarily lost, but he was certainly cramped.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Here's an excerpt of Chernev's intro to the game:

<The game naturally won a first prize for brilliancy. It won other accolades as well. Dr. Emanuel Lasker considered it the best game played in ten years, while Bent Larsen recently said that this one game, more than any other, influenced his development as a player.

Nimzowitsch himself, who saw no need for false modesty about a notable achievement, said, 'One of the best blockading games that I ever played.'>

Of course, it would be nice to have the refs for both the Larsen and Lasker statements.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Oh, and confirmation about the Brilliancy Prize.

Maybe someone has the tournament book?

Mar-15-17  Retireborn: <z> The Larsen remark comes from an interview granted to Hugh Alexander during Hastings 1972/3. Edward Winter gives details:-

Mar-15-17  Retireborn: Re: the brilliancy prize, apparently Nimzowitsch won both the first and second brilliancy prizes - which were cigarettes!

Not encountered the name Johannes Fischer before.

Mar-15-17  john barleycorn: <Retireborn: ...

Not encountered the name Johannes Fischer before.>

He is a renowned German chess historian.

Mar-15-17  Retireborn: <john b> Thanks. Will look out for more stuff by him.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Helios727: <keypusher> and <Nerwal> After 31. Qxb6 Bxc4 32. Rb2 Bxf1 33.Rxf1 Rxg3, does not 34. Bg2 hold? For instance 34... Ng4+ 35. hxg4 hxg4+ 36. Kg1>

34.Bg2 Qg7 35.Rff2 Nh4 and I don't see a defense.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <RB>/<jbc> thanks both.

One problem seems to be that Winter's article, useful though it is, seems to not say anything about the games influence on Larsen.

I think I did find a good lead from a cached webpage (likely soon to be gone for good...):

#11 Jul 20, 2008

[... nimzovich vs. nimzowitsch ...]

What I would argue is required reading on the master is "Aron Nimzowitsch: Master of Planning", a reprint of Raymond Keene's "Aron Nimzowitsch: A Reappraisal".

For those many discerning readers who are aware of the poor quality of Keene's chess books, please accept my opinion or check for your self that this is one of the few attempts by Keene that is worth printing, let alone being kept in print.

The table of contents will provide a map of the author's discussion on his subject:

1. Why write about Aron Nimzowitsch?

2. How I became a Grandmaster (extracts from Nimzowitsch's brief autobiography).

3. A discussion with Bent Larsen (including influences of Nimzowitsch).

4. The influence of Nimzowitsch on modern opening play.

5. The Duality of Nimzowitsch.

6. Selected games.

It appears this book is out of print Frown, but can be found at for six to twenty-five dollars. HIGHLY recommended.

<In another Keene book, "Learn from the Grandmasters" (the 1975 not 2003 edition), 14 grandmasters had been invited to submit two chess games: one of his own wins, and another game which made a strong impression on the grandmaster. It is noteworthy that two contributors, Larsen and Szabo, each chose as his influential game the classic Johner-Nimzowitsch blockade. Keene indicates that Larsen criticizes white's play, and Szabo finds fault with black's!><<>>>


So, it seems that Keene's 1975 <Learn from the Grandmasters> is the source.

Here's another comment on how the games were selected, this time from Amazon:

<Petrosian on January 30, 2010

Format: Paperback

Fourteen grandmasters each contributed two annotated games for this book. The first annotated game had only one restriction: the annotator could NOT have won that game. Perhaps it was a game from a famous grandmaster the annotator studied as a youth; perhaps a game the annotator lost; perhaps it was a game with a beautiful finish. The annotators were left to their own rationale for including the first game.

The second game had only one restriction: The annotator MUST have won that game.


<Bent Larsen, whose annotations are gloriously unclassifiable, deserves special thanks for his contribution to the book.><<>>>

Mar-15-17  Retireborn: <z> I have a hardback copy of Ray Keene's Nimzowitsch book (which I have owned for well over 30 years!) and on p65 he writes "In an interview granted to C.H.O'D.Alexander after Hastings 1972-73, Larsen remarked that Johner-Nimzowitsch was probably the game by another Master which had exerted the deepest influence on his own style."

So the original source would be the Alexander book: A Book of Chess (London, 1973) page 86-94 according to Winter. I have never seen that book though.

I used to own the 1975 Batsford Learn From the Grandmasters and I recall that Larsen makes some similar comments there. As well as Larsen, Andersson, Browne, Kavalek, Hartston give entertaining analysis of their games; I recommend it if you can find a copy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Thanks <RB>, as always.

Of course Larsen probably reaffirmed the importance of this game at different times.

It's nice to have any given source. It's even nicer to know the source for where he said it in print for the first time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Chaps,

Larsen's remarks in 'Batsford's Learn From the Grandmasters.' that at first he thought of this game Rotlewi vs Rubinstein, 1907 and the impression it made on him when he was 13.

"However I preferred a game with strategical depth and tactical brilliance." so he chose this thread's game.

If you have a chance to get this excellent book then get it. All the games are good.

Larsen's notes to this game runs over 7 pages with some typical Larsen humour.

He questions there was such a thing as the Soviet School of Chess "...(how can Tal and Petrosian belong to the same school?")

adding: but there was a Danish School of chess kicked off by Nimzovitvh....even though at the time of writing (1975) he mentions that a Danish copy of 'My System' had not yet been translated.

Larsen's choice of his own game from the same book (you had to pick one game you felt influenced you, then one of your own) was Mecking vs Larsen, 1970

Szabó is brief about his choice. It made a lasting impression and he says he knows he is not the only one.

Szabo's choice of his own game was Szabo vs G Barcza, 1939 a game as yet unkibitzed (I'll change that right after this post)where Szabó sacs his Queen for 3 pieces on his way to scoring a 100% in a tournament.

For the record Reinfeld in 'Hypermodern Chess' (or Nimzovitch's Best Games)

"The definitive collection of Nimzovitch's revolutionary games and their startling unconventional theories."

In the intro to this threads games Fred writes:

"A great game. It's lifts originality to monumental heights."


And after all that and some Jasper has tagged it with a pun that it is not even a pun.

Mar-16-17  Howard: Portisch, too, said that this game had an effect on his early development as a player.

He stated this in the book How to Open a Chess Game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Good stuff Sally (and Howard).

Any other multiple-citation "influential" games in Keene's book?

Mar-16-17  Howard: Which book of Keene's are you referring to ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: I suppose the <Learn From the Grandmasters (1975)> that <Sally> quoted from.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: BTW- Was Keen's <LftGM's> algebraic reissue identical to the 1975 edition, or did they omit/add new GM's/games?
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