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Louis van Vliet vs Aron Nimzowitsch
"Nimzowitschcraft" (game of the day Dec-13-2014)
Ostend-B (1907), Ostend BEL, rd 3, May-18
Rubinstein Opening (D05)  ·  0-1



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Given 13 times; par: 77 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-27-05  kingkill: beautiful finish
Apr-12-07  whiteshark: I like this game, too
May-10-08  whiteshark:

<43.Qf2!> was the only move that could have kept the position in balance.

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♖e4 is still under attack and has no good flight square. After <43...Re3 44.Qh4 Bxg2 45.Kxg2>

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♖e3 is pinned due to the threat of Bh6. Thus <45...Qb7+ 46.Kh2 Qf3> (If 46...Qg7 47.Kg2=) <47.Bxe3 dxe3 48.Qh7 Qf2+ 49.Kh3 Qf3+ 50.Kh2 =>

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Jan-04-11  flashlock: 20. g5!! saves white.
Oct-17-11  DrMAL: 20.g5 is good move but white is far from lost here, position is basically equal and 20.Rde1 was OK too. Game is diagram #144 in "My System" book I went through as young boy. I made notebook with ideas and questions for teacher. It has this game and idea that 22.f6!? would be better than 22.Nf3 played.

A) 22...gxf6 23.Nf3 idea is to put N on f5 and use pawns as shield (and activate Bc1),

B) 22...Nxf6 23.Rxf6 gxf6 with either 24.Nf3 similar idea or probably better 24.Qxh6 first.

In looking today, position after 21...Nh7 favored black already and 22.f6 seems best way to give white initiative. 22...Nxf6 is best so only 23.Rxf6 gxf6 sac is examined further.

With 24.Nf3 black can go 24...Kg7 so that after 25.Nh4 rook can be activated 25...Rh8 and then 26.Nf5+ allows 26...Kf8 for K to escape. So, 24.Qxh6 intermediate move seems indeed better.

After 22.f6 Nxf6 23.Rxf6 gxf6 24.Qxh6 threat of 24...Qxg4 is artificial after 25.Kh1 white is winning with 26.Rg1 unstoppable. Position after 24.Qxh6 is rich in tactics, here is computer eval it takes hours to converge. With sharp position black has to play very accurately to survive as was done here.

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Houdini_20_x64: 30/77 15:23:57 530,502,142,430
+0.55 24. ... Rfe8 25.Nf3 Qe6 26.Bc1 f5 27.Qg5+ Qg6
+0.17 24. ... Rfc8 25.Re2 Qd6 26.Rg2 Qf8 27.Qh5 Qg7
+0.17 24. ... Qe6 25.Re2 f5 26.Qxe6 fxe6 27.exf5 Bd6

In 24...Rfe8 line 28.exf5 is probably best but 28...gxf5 is also good. Score is around same as after 21.f5 but white has better chances. 22.f6 is good sharp move leading to positional sac it takes advantage of tempo. Only very few players valued initiative in Nimzowitch's time, difference in thinking is exemplified here.

Jun-06-13  xombie: This is the sort of game that often features practically, and yet, we do not see these things being annotated in an understandable way. It is not for me to quibble, but I will allude to the analysis above for running evaluations (which IMO are quite meaningless). Moreover, I just looked at this game a few days ago from my Dover edition from the year dot, so I can try to shed some insight (which may or may not be meaningful, of course).

First of all, I think this setup by white featuring Bb2 is less good than the usual stonewall setup with c3 - the white pieces are placed poorly and will be driven away, and as this is a race of sorts (only, of sorts), every tempo gained is useful. In the corresponding setup with the pawn on c3, the push c5-c4 by black would lead to a closing up of the center, thus making it easier for white to proceed with the kingside pawn storm. And therefore, I think that white had gone wrong right from the outset. Nimzo had probably seen this when he played his earlier moves.

In effect, this is a reversed Queen's Indian setup for white. From analogous positions in the QID, we have a plausible setup with Bb2 and c3 for white. He should have marked time, as Nimzo might say, and only then committed to the f4 push. Notice how black plays b4! only after white pushes his pawn to f4.

That long (and pretty philosophical) comment aside, here are a few other points about kingside restraint. Needless to say, this game was a masterpiece of anticipation by Nimzo.

19 ... Qd7! is obvious with hindsight - to provoke f4-f5 as soon happens, perhaps to deny the white knight the f5 square.The point is the sequel to that with the king's flight.

King's flight: Here, I recall a point regarding the mysterious 21 ... Nh7. Why, we might ask, does black does not immediately prepare to play Nd7 with Qe7, when in point of fact, it lands on d7 anyway later? To this, I believe the answer lies in the direction of making white show his cards. That is, white at this point can do both a piece attack with Nf3-h4 and a pawn attack. The point of Nh7 is to anticipate either of those - and it has a lot to do with psychology. A more wily player might have refrained from immediately showing his hand, but here, Nimzo's waiting tactics work for him.

By playing 24. h4 white shows his intentions. The move initiates the pawn storm, but it stops piece attack. And somehow, maybe he had worked out that the pawn storm was not good. I refer to his very entertaining comment regarding 'dry rot' having set in to white's position. And we can see that that is indeed the case. In the end, white is saddled with a weak pawn on g6 which is surrounded and blockaded. In the process of carrying out this pawn campaign, white weakens his king (we can see how draughty it becomes) and expends resources in guarding the pawn.

Finally, he points to a nice tactical resource (he criticizes his move 41 ... Rh4 for this reason. Apparently (as most people would) he had assumed that the rook on e4 could not be captured owing to the discovery check ... d3+ winning the queen. However, both he and Tiechmann (who was presumably watching - I think I got the right name) had missed the exchange sac 43. Qxe4! Bxe4 44. d3+ Kf2 whereupon he concludes that it would be difficult for black to make progress (or something like that).

Either way, I think the tactical details don't really matter that much. It's the philosophy of the game that is extremely interesting (founded upon tactics, of course). If we can anticipate the course of the game the way Nimzo does here, we are well on our way to mastery. It is all well and good to proceed with 'natural' (or shall we say, 'trivially obvious') moves, but it takes a genius to apply prophylaxis to such high levels - it plays out the consequences of the 'natural' looking moves and gets things and puts its own spin on it.

Jun-07-13  Nerwal: 19... ♕d7 is quite a one-dimensional move : the whole point is to prevent 20. g5 by answering e5 to kill the attack and so to force f5 limiting white's activity. So the principled answer to this move is to prevent e5 in a direct way with 20. e5!? ♘d5 21. ♘e4, winning another tempo on the black bishop.

click for larger view

Now white's minor pieces are working full strength and white is ready for f5 or g5, sometimes even ♘f6+. In many lines white can simply ignore the threat of ♘e3. This position is still very complicated but in a practical game I think white's chances of success are excellent. Which would cast some serious doubts on 19... ♕d7's soundness.

Sep-25-14  birthtimes: This game is annotated by Nimzowitsch in his book entitled, "Blockade." I suspect he would have played 20...Ne8 if White had played 20.e5!?
Sep-25-14  ljfyffe: How about "Black be Nimzo"...what? ....what?? say its been used already?.......Darn....
Dec-13-14  RookFile: White had his chances on move 20. One advocates 20. e5, the other 20. g5. Seems reasonable to me. Rde1 spoiled things for white.
Dec-13-14  moi: Beautiful game, beautiful pun!
Dec-13-14  morfishine: A pity White passed on 20.e5. I'm guessing he was over eager and too enthusiastic about his prospects, which were actually very good. The sudden and gorgeous finish must've been a heavy shock to him
Dec-13-14  TheBish: Just reviewed the game with Guess the Move. Got a good lesson, and did pretty well... considering I'm not Nimzowitsch! (Got a couple of moves wrong.)
Dec-13-14  Fabrizio Vanzan: 13 ..Nd7? 14 Bh7 Kh7 15 Qh5 Kg8 16 Rf3 Nf6 17 Qh4 Re8 18 Rh3 Kf8 19 Qh8 Ng8 20 Ng6 fg6 21 Qg7#

19.. Ke7 20 Qg7 Ne5 21 Be5 Nd7 22 Qg5 f6 23 Rh7 Kf8 24 Qg7#

22.. Kf8 23 Bg7 Kg8 24 Bf6 Kf8 25 Qg7#

20.. Rf8 21 Ng6 and White ends up with decisive material advantage

Dec-13-14  nazgulord: An awesome game from Nimzo the master.
Dec-13-14  kamagong24: i dont like the way white conducted his attack
Dec-13-14  kevin86: Nimzo and Orthodox: as far as the east is from the west...
Dec-13-14  sorokahdeen: This position lends itself to the classic bishop sacrifice.


15. Bh7+ ?
15. ...Kh7
16. Qh5+ Kh8
17. Bg7 Be3+
18. Kh1 F5
19. Rf3...

With attack.

There are variations here that give mate. Is there a clear refutation? Does it win? Draw by perpetual. I don't have a chess engine laying around.

Dec-13-14  john barleycorn: Nimzowitsch gives this game in his book "Die Blockade" as #1 and with revised annotations in "Die Praxis meines Systems" as #29.

Remarkable fact is that neither Teichmann, Nimzowitsch himself nor other commentators noticed the opportunity for white to (probably) draw the game with 43.Qxe4 as Nimzowitsch noted.

Nimzowitsch asked the reader to play the black side after 30....Nfd7 in order to hold the game. An interesting and useful excercise in his words.

Dec-13-14  tatarch: <sorokahdeen: This position lends itself to the classic bishop sacrifice.>

Good call, but I think Be3+ is enough to at least stall any quick mating threats because black can follow it up with Bxf4 (or Qb6 if the rook captures).

I'm imagining something like
15.Bxh7+ Kxh7
16.Qh5+ Kg8
17.Bxg7 Kxg7
18.Qg4+ Kh7
19.Rf3 Bxe3+
20.Kh1 Bxf4
and then black can either regain a tempo if white takes the bishop or meet 21.Rh3+ with Bh6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  NM JRousselle: As much as I like Nimzowitsch, many of his games are against lesser players. In this game, White could sealing the entire board with h5 instead of g5. It would have been far more instructive if the games in his "system" were against world class players.
Dec-13-14  Garech: Damn, I've been plagiarised!

I nominated this game some time ago under the pun "Nimzowitschery"!

Unmask yourself, felon!


Dec-15-14  john barleycorn: <NM JRousselle: As much as I like Nimzowitsch, many of his games are against lesser players. In this game, White could sealing the entire board with h5 instead of g5. It would have been far more instructive if the games in his "system" were against world class players.>

He published "Die Praxis meines Systems" with quite a few games against top players.

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