Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mr Nimzowitsch, meet mr Vukovic

Black to move.

In my belief to follow mr Nimzowitsch, I tried to stop whites attack by bolstering the center by playing 13. ... Bb7 here. Since the preconditions of a kingside attack are met here according to Vukovic, I was immediately lost. Whites pieces are outnumbering the black pieces by 3 on the kingside while the center is stable. (Standard recipe: trade the defenders, sacrifice then 1 of the 3 extra pieces to open the kingposition while the 2 other extra pieces deliver mate).

You can clearly see that I'm experimenting with the idea's of My System:
  • I traded dxe4 since a center square can be occupied by a piece just as well as by a pawn.
  • I opened up the d-file in order to get an outpost on d5 and to get pressure on d4.
  • I aimed my pieces at the center.
  • I attacked the base of whites pawnchain with my b-pawn. In dorder to undermine d4.
The advantage of moving according a system is that the system acts like a coathangerrack which helps you to hang your lessons on. Of course I will suffer an ugly loss every now and then while taking rules too literally. But that is no big deal since it all is about the why behind the rules. Without a system these lessons would disappear in the chessblur of many, many games.

In fact this is a very important position to analyze. It can happen in all sorts of openings where black plays d5 and e6. Basically you hand over the keys of your kingside to white and wish him good luck. Most of your pieces are cut off from the defence so you must have a plan B when whites starts to murder your king. For years my plan B consisted of avoiding systems with e6 and d5 all together at all costs. The reason I got into this position is that for some openings I'm sitting between two chairs. I renounced all gambits but against 1.f4 I haven't an alternative yet. So I based my moves on logic in stead of rote memorization of variations. Since my logic is based on insufficient knowledge disasters can happen, occasionally.

The past years my adagium was "piece activity". That helped me to avoid such disasters. But now I want to understand the center and its relation to piece activity.


  1. Instead of attacking with Rf1-f3 white could also have played positionally with a2-a4. Black has invested tempi into getting his pawns on c4 and b5 but there they are static and have become potential attacking objects for moves like a4 and b3. The black c-pawn was needed on c5 to maintain the pressure on d4 and thus prevent e4. Put the bishop on b7 to control e4 and the c6 knight elsewhere (d7, b8). Preventing white from freeing himself.

  2. Hi tempo,

    Interesting position. And I understand your taking of risks in order to improve your understanding in the long term. I am interested in how your opponent executed his attack as an illustration of Vukovics rule. Is it possible to give us the rest of the game?


  3. 13. ... Bb7 14. Nxf6+ Bxf6 15. Bxh7+ Kh8 16. Rh3 g6 17. Bxg6+ Kg7 18. Rh7+ Kg8 19. Qg4 Nxe5 20. fxe5 Bg7 21. Rxg7+ Kxg7 22. Bf5+ Kh8 23. Qh3+ Kg7 24. Qh7+ {Mate} 1-0

  4. This may be heretical, but in most of his games it is not immediately apparent that Nimzovich ever played consistently to a system... so applying his principles and then blaming your application of them when you lose is not going to help your play.
    For my money, one of the most helpful books on strategy is Michael Stean's "Simple Chess" - still in print after nearly 30 years by Dover Publications.