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Mir Sultan Khan vs Aron Nimzowitsch
"Nimzo Indian" (game of the day May-31-2011)
Liege (1930), Liege BEL, rd 10, Aug-29
Queen's Indian Defense: Fianchetto. Check Variation (E15)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: Nice win by Nimzovich.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: This is the 14th pun of mine that has used since December 14, 2010: Game Collection: Puns I submitted. Two of my favorites among my 74 remaining pun submissions are Chandler vs V Wolf, 1985 (Hungary Like V. Wolf) and Short vs A A Lopez, 2008 (Short Lopez).
May-31-11  Oceanlake: 7. Qxd2 is better.
May-31-11  abstract: OMG.. Just lastnight I was cheking this game..
May-31-11  Gilmoy: <norcist: whats the idea behind Ba6?? Someone once told me that all it does is lose a tempo...> Many ideas in Nimzo-Indian hinge on clogging White's ideal piece flow. White would love to get b3, Bb2, Nc3; therefore, Black loves to force White to not do that.

<4.g3 Ba6> White has telegraphed his intent to play Bg2; hence his B can't stay to defend c4, and <5.b3> he returns the tempo. Long-term, this tends to give White an immobile Q-side pawn structure. Also, it prevents Qb3 lines.

Now <5..Bb4+ 6.Bd2> Black forces the B off its strongest diagonal. 6.Nd2 Ne4 is the canonical Nimzo threat. The dropback 6..Be7 is also playable, and is called the "Intermezzo Check" line. Black hasn't lost a tempo because White's B is really poor on d2, and inevitably moves again.

<7..Bb7> is fine. This B did its dawn job (jog? :) by forcing White to commit. Now it's biting on granite at c4, so there's no point in staying, and it shifts to its day job.

<8..c5> Black doesn't fear a "bad" pawn structure: c5 isn't weak, and half-open b is more useful for his heavy pieces. a7's weakness doesn't matter, as he already plans the minority attack <15..a5 19..a4>. Then White's a2 turns out to be the real weakness.

Black's play is quite deep; he's doing stuff on moves 3-7 that he smoothly exploits from moves 10-25. That's fitting; he spent much of his career home-prepping this opening.

May-31-11  fokers13: actually while most people have a good point pointing out moves that they consider inprecise this is a very precise game for the most part and if i had to complain about black's play it would be at 31..Kg7? instead Nd7-Nc5 was much better and could guarantee a central pawnstorm that would have wiped out white
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: This game and the reasons for White's loss are superbly analyzed by Neil McDonald in his book "The Giants of Strategy". A highly recommended book, BTW. Starting at the position after White's 35.Kg2, he analyzes and contrasts the positions of all the pieces and the pawns and shows why White lost in spite of being a pawn up, having an outside passed pawn, and a bishop vs. knight advantage. Very, very instructive and eye opening.
May-31-11  lemaire90: I don't get 57. Kh2... letting the bishop hang ?
May-31-11  Catfriend: <fokers> <Guarantee> is such a strong word ;)

Yet another interesting point is 18..Qb7. 18..a4 19. bxa4 Qd7 is worth considering.

Instead of 19.Qd3, maybe f3, reinforcing the center, is better. Over-protection vs. Nimzowitsch!

I agree that 29.g4 looks ugly. If White was so desperate to gain counter-attacking chances, 29.f4 would be the move. Then, put a rook on f2 and push with f5!

Another opportunity to put a harder fight was at move 48. I don't really understand the Rb2-e2 dance. The straight-forward 48.Re2 Ne4 49. Bg2 might be suggested.

The final mistake, it seems, is 54.h4+? wasting a vital tempo. 54.Re6 Kf4 doesn't work just as well for Black: 55.d6 Ra1 56.Rxh6 and I'd argue White isn't lost at all here.

55. Rd8?? rather than 55.Rxh6 brings the end faster. If Black would continue as in the game, 55..Ra1 56. Rh8 Ng3? (56..Nd2 does win, but less rapidly), White has the h-line to check on: 57. Rf8+ Kg4 58. Rg8+ Kxh4 59. Rh8+ ... going to e3 won't avail the Dark King: Re8, and if Kd3, d6 and White's playing for victory!

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: How about this! A REAL Nimzo-Indian!
May-31-11  Catfriend: <lemaire90: I don't get 57. Kh2... letting the bishop hang ?> Black's threatening Rxf1 with mate. Rook-checks won't help White: 57.Rf8+ Kg4 58.Rg8+ Kxh4.

The poor Bishop's doomed anyway. Let's hope he was of the child-molesting variety.

May-31-11  Marmot PFL: <Why didn't Nimzowitsch play simply 39...Rxa2!>>

Because the threat is stronger than the execution.

May-31-11  Chessmensch: How about In Sultan Kahn?
May-31-11  Gilmoy: <lemaire90: I don't get 57. Kh2... letting the bishop hang ?>

<Catfriend: The poor Bishop's doomed anyway.>

I think White wrote off the B as lost as early as <50.Re8>, abandoning the a2-pawn for active Rook checks from behind, and a thin hope that <53.Rxd6> might mobilize his pawns.

After <52..Rxa2> White sacs the B outright with <53.Rxd6>. He knows the obvious fork <53..Ne4> is coming, preventing Kf2, and then he can't answer <54..Ra1>: the N will double, and White's R can't defend f1. Normally, the two passers would give Black a pause, but here Black has mate threats, and queens first himself.

May-31-11  WhiteRook48: finely played by Nimzowitsch
Sep-03-12  birthtimes: Raymond Keene, in his book on Nimzowitsch entitled, "Master of Planning," wrote the following after Nimzo's 39th move..."Nimzowitsch did not want to grant counter-chances after 39...RXP 40. P-B5.
Sep-03-12  birthtimes: Keene also gave a question mark to Nimzo's 35th move, and wrote, "Time-trouble! Black could win at once by means of 35...N-B4! 36.Q-N1 N-R5 followed by...N-B6 or 36.Q-K2 P-K5. After this slip, Black retains a positional plus, but he can no longer count on rapid victory."
Mar-07-14  Garech: 60. Rxf5! you can almost feel the spite in this move. Seems like Khan had a great position and made the error of relaxing here. Well held by Nimzowitsch, for sure, and superb endgame play.


Jul-26-14  Ke2: a real nimzo-indian
Apr-01-17  suenteus po 147: From Tartakower's book of the tournament: "By far the most talented and interesting characters at Liege that year were Aron Nimzovich and the chess genius Sultan Khan from British India. They met in the tenth round. While I have no wish to besmirch the reputation of Mr. Khan, it is important for the reader to recognize that it is not pure talent alone that accounted for his shared first place with your humble author after nine rounds. Khan had been tutored in chess of the occidental variety by his maharajah. From there, the British champion F.D. Yates had further instructed this illiterate in contemporary theory and systems, primarily from Aron's own recently published writings on the game. I was given to understand he learned from positions and moves, not in fact from Aron's words and pages. Would that I had been as wise as Mr. Khan. Fluency in German was no advantage whatsoever in making sense of Aron's fancies. There was much excitement from the tournament players surrounding the meeting of these two luminaries. The student and the scholar would clash. Yet it almost didn't happen. I apologize for the following digression from what is no doubt the source of primary interest to the reader, which is specifically the moves of the game, but I promise to be brief and to the point..."
Apr-01-17  suenteus po 147: (continued) “Two consecutive losses had brought Khan’s exhibition to a halt and he had informed Yates at the end of the ninth round that he must needs withdraw. His duties to the maharajah in the evening were taxing his strength and lack of sleep was compounding his difficulty at the board. What’s more, his sahib did not approve of entering his valet into tournaments to see him lose or draw (which given his results up to the eighth round put me in mind to get my own sahib to invoke his disapproval that my own tournament play might improve). Though Yates’s attendance was merely as a correspondent, he was invested in this disciplined young man who played as well as any of us. It seemed a blasphemy against Caissa to allow his withdrawal. Therefore, Yates conscripted Thomas and myself to go the maharajah’s that evening and convince him otherwise. The fellow’s name was Khan as well, a fatuous, preening sort; absolutely infatuated with his own station as it pertained to the world at large with no ambition whatsoever of doing anything about it with his wealth or knowledge. In short, a politician, and a rank amateur at that. He had been entertaining the 3rd Earl of Granville for the past several nights, explaining Sultan Khan’s evening exhaustion and sleeplessness. Mir Khan was in fact dressed in evening attire holding aloft a silver tray with wine glasses when we were permitted entrance into the villa. I had met the Earl in his previous incarnations on previous occasions in Vienna (attaché), Paris (counsellor), and The Hague (ambassador) and we reacquainted ourselves quickly and amicably. I silently commended Yates on his stratagem. I was friends with the maharajah’s guest with whom he hoped to ingratiate himself and therefore an essential piece in the game to win Sultan Khan back to the tournament. I soon formulated my plan…”
Apr-01-17  suenteus po 147: (concluded) “One of my pastimes with the Earl of Granville in Paris had been tennis and so I proposed a doubles match while there was still adequate light. Thomas and I would square off against the Earl and the maharajah. All agreed and we dressed. The Earl had been keeping up with his tennis and despite the maharajah’s lack of grace in the game they won the first set easily. I then proposed a wager. If Thomas and I could win the next set we would claim Sultan Khan as our valet for a few days’ time (I had always wanted a servant, I said. One who plays chess well enough to play for me would be even better). If we lost then I volunteered to serve as the Earl’s valet and Thomas would serve the maharajah for a fortnight. The Earl was tickled by my conceit, but his partner scowled with such ferocity that his brow darkened like a sky before a storm. Given the Earl’s gentle ribbing, he could not help but accept. “What’s the deal, Savielly?” Thomas whispered to me behind the baseline. “I’m not a bloody servant.” “We won’t lose,” I said. “Serve to his ad court.” I knew my opponent, and we were both younger men. At deuce of the final game I attacked the net as if it were made of isolated queen’s pawns and the set was soon ours. The maharajah grumbled, but not so much that it would ruin the Earl’s hearty chuckle after the game. That evening, Yates brought Khan to the hotel to stay until the tournament’s end. I’ll never forget Yates outside my room door after dinner with his stoic charge in tow. They had come to thank me personally for my assistance. I offered them some wine and we chatted for a while, mostly Yates and myself since Khan’s English had barely allowed him to express his gratitude. Alas, I had done the poor man no favors. Aron beat him in the game before you, proving once again that those who can, do, and those who can also can’t teach (or write) worth a damn.”
Apr-01-17  JimNorCal: <s-po147> What a story! But this being April Fools Day, forgive me if I ask ... :)
Mar-25-18  Saniyat24: Once upon a's a very nice story, one I want to and probably believe...beautiful piece position in the early middle game...truly true Masters...
Mar-26-18  Saniyat24: I liked 49...Kf5 at the back end of the game, Nimzowitsch's King gave a decisive jump and cornered Mir Sultan Khan...!
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