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Aron Nimzowitsch vs Alexander Alekhine
"Semmering Below the Surface" (game of the day Nov-01-2010)
Semmering (1926), Semmering AUT, rd 1, Mar-07
Alekhine Defense: Scandinavian Variation (B02)  ·  1-0


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Given 37 times; par: 53 [what's this?]

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Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Somebody at is watching!

kingscrusher chessforum

Nov-01-10  Knight13: This turned into a Closed Sicilian-like game, where White plans is to attack on the kingside and Black storms on the queenside.

But then Alekhine neglects the all-important ...P-QR3, ...R-QN1, ...P-QN4, etc. advance and gets his brain splattered all over the board.

Then Nimzovich ate them for breakfast.

Disturbing, but very effective.

And, of course, well done Mr. Nimzovich!

Nov-01-10  Elsinore: And that my friend is how you play chess. White looks like he's a move away from getting beat. But when you're already playing a move ahead, I guess it balances out. A really nice game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: hedgeh0g: Yes, I think this game is quite important from an evolution of style perspective. Without Alekhine winning against Capablanca, the Dynamism aspect of chess might not have been given too much counter-profile to Capablanca's usage of Steinitz and Tarrasch in a manner which emphasised winning with technique and minimal risk.

Here it seems, Nimzovich uses less of "My system" but more of Alekhine's own tactics and dynamism against him - and seems to find a way to break through to Alekhine's king, although there appears with the help of engines to have been a drawing resource available to black at a critical moment after the Qg4 move - Rg8 I think offhand.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Haha, thank you for making this game of the day. I have been doing a lot of Nimzovich illustrative game videos recently at

Nimzovich at his peak between 1925-29 was I think in the World's top five players. After winning in Karlsbad 1929, he arrogantly but amusingly wrote that the World owed him a World championship match against Alekhine. Alekhine had not himself played at Karlsbad 1929.

My evolution of style series roadmap is here for those interested:-

Alekhine put the Dynamism back into the technique-death Capablanca was inflicting on the game. But Nimzovich put the "My system" into the game which has influenced many generations of players after him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Of course Capablanca played many beautiful games - but I think the World of chess needed Alekhine to emphasise also the dynamic richness of the game.

Nimzovich's "My system" is a classic work, which I hope most members of are fully aware of. If not here is a video about Nimzo's My system. For me it represents the antithesis of Kotov's "Think like a Grandmaster" in that it makes several chess representations of the Art of War - chess from a strategic and new "Prophylaxis" perspective, perhaps offering a new direction to the Steinitzian accumulation of advantages model, which lays the foundation for modern positional play.

"My system" video:
N.B. My system was first published in 1925.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: BTW, I had video annotated this game back in November 2007 :

But I think I should revisit this game and annotate it again from a Style perspective of what it represents.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: When I was checking the game again myself actually last night as it happens - it seemed that perhaps Qg4 was a logical tactical move to make way for the rook to swing to h3. And also it seemed that the Bc4 move could have perhaps been played after the more simply Qxg6. It just seemed that Nimzo had used two very cunning waiting moves - but perhaps the tactical combination is not as mysterious as I first assumed in that video I did in 2007. Also the resource black missed would have secured Alekhine a draw it appears.
Nov-01-10  Whitehat1963: I am totally confused by the tactics in this game beginning with White's 20. Qf3. Why not 20. Qxe3, for instance?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: 20.Qxe3 Bc5 is good for Black.
Nov-01-10  Whitehat1963: Oops! Yeah, that's pretty blind of me.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: I have done a new annotation of this game now in two parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: It looks like maybe Nimzo might have gotten Alex drunk here.

White will exchange off all of the pieces and win with the queenside pawns and passed king rook pawn.

Nov-01-10  JCRchess: Nimzo thwarts Alekhine's attacking potential with remarkable accuracy in this game. This is one of his finest games.
Nov-01-10  drpoundsign: Alekhine didn't lose often!
Nov-01-10  WhiteRook48: stupid pun
Nov-09-10  LIFE Master AJ: It is a rather obvious pun.

BUT!!! Good game by the mighty Nimzoidavitch.

Jun-29-11  DrMAL: <hedgeh0g:> Agreed, especially since Nimzo uses Alekhine's style as well. This is one of my favorite games from that era because of it's exciting double-edged struggle.

Nimzo's 11.g4 (instead of 11.c4 dxc3 12.bxc3) is quite risky, making f4 weak but adding to control of e4. But Alekhine's 12...gxf6 to open the g-file is also risky, the center is still fluid and this move weakens his own king.

Immediate 18.Ne4 was probably better than 18.dxc4 no need to help black open the a7-g1 diagonal. Then 18...Ne3 was surely less effective than simply 19.Qxc4 but again, Nimzo neglects 19.Ne4 and plays 19.Bxe3 a mistake helping black.

After 19.Ne4 Nxf1 20.Rxf1 Nc6 21.Nxd6 Qxd6 22.b3 black would be up the exchange (R for B+P) but have little counterplay.

With now 21.Ne4 Be7 black still has threats on the dark squares (especially the a7-g1 diagonal) and the game remains very double-edged with equal chances.

26.Rae1 was better than 26.Rfd1 but now black finally decides to play 26...Kh8 (instead of 26...e2) slowing his attack. Black sacs his e-pawn to gain tempo back and after 31.Rae1 (31.Bc4 was better) black is clearly ahead.

But then Alekhine misses 32...Rg8! probably winning (33.Bg2 Nf4 with a decisive queenside attack after 34...Rad8 and later either Qa6 or Qa5 if rooks are exchanged).

32...Nxc3 allows Nimzo to escape, which he does via 33.Ng6+ and after 34.Qg4 the game is equal again. However, Alekhine blunders now with 34...Rf7 (instead of 34...Rg8) and Nimzo starts playing out the winning tactics. But then Nimzo plays 37.fxg6 instead of obvious 37.Qxg6 and black has some hope.

Alekhine blunders again with 37...Nxe4 instead of 37...Rc7 and Nimzo finds a path to victory (faster was 39.Qg8+ Ke7 40.f8Q+ Rxf8 41.Rh7+ Bf7 42.Rxf7+ Rxf7 43.Qxf7+ Kd8 44.Rxe4).

Jan-16-15  bahamutneo: At move 39 white could have played Qd7
defending pawn on f7 and threatening mate on Rh8 or did I miss something defence black can do?
Jan-16-15  disasterion: <bahamutneo> 39.Qd7 Nf2+
Feb-10-15  bahamutneo: thx disasterion. Now I see the threat in three with the Nf2..
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 4 f4 was a new idea possibly with the idea of avoiding a transposition to the French Defense. 7 Bh3 is an interesting alternative with the idea of inhibiting ..f6. After a fascinating back and forth struggle Black would have been close to winning after 30..Rg8 31 Bc4..Rg7 32 b4..Rd8. As several have pointed out 34..Rf7? was the losing move; the game would likely have been drawn after 34..Rg8 35 fxg..Kg7 36 Rd7+..Bxd7 37 Qxd7+..Kxg6 38 Bd3..Kh6 39 Qh3+..Kg7 40 Rg1+..Qxg1+. 42..Qc6 43 Rh7+..Ke8 44 Bb5 would not have helped Black.
Sep-17-16  ChapSlop: I don't know why white moved his king into the corner
Oct-03-16  Aunt Jemima: It looks like a French once it gets going, even though it starts as an Alekhine's defense. so interesting to see Alekhine playing the black side of a French structure again Nimzovich.

I did wonder if 4. e6 would have been a sound sacrifice.

Feb-28-17  Saniyat24: Nimzowitsch's 38.gf7+ is a beautiful discovered check....and after his 45th move Qe3, it looks like the White Rook, White Bishop and the White Queen is giving a guard of honour to Alekhine's dark-squared bishop...!!
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