Monday, February 01, 2010


Nimzowitsch said:

"Weak points, and even more so strong points, (in short every point which could be described as strategically important) must be overprotected! The pieces which fulfil this duty are rewarded for helping to overprotect the said strategically important points by the fact that they are wellplaced when it comes to undertaking other duties; so to express it somewhat dramatically, the importance of the strategic point envelops them in its halo."

This is beautifully and poetically said, but it remains pretty vague. The book is full of this kind of poetic vagueness. The result is that every author who writes about My System will give his own explanation. Depriving the reader from the subtleties behind it. You really have to read the book yourself!

When I started to dive in the examples that accompanied the text, I found the following nugget:

Overprotection of an important central pawn leads to the following advantages:
  • It is impossible for the opponent to attack you succesful at a flank when you have the center firmly in your hands. So it is a prophylactic measure. I already noticed this when playing the kings gambit.
  • The higher goal of a central pawn (any pawn, for that matter) is to hit the road and go mobile. As is often said, a well protected pawn stands probably in the way. The square that the pawn leaves behind becomes a pivot point for the (ex-) protecting pieces which become now free.
  • And my most important discovery: if a pawn is attacked twice and defended twice, the pawn is not overprotected. The defending pieces are fully committed to the defense. If you overprotect the pawn, you will find that all the pieces become free for other duties. Not at the same time, but you are free which piece to pick for a little temporary tour to do another job. It makes all the defending pieces elastic.
Nimzowitsch was an emotional man. He often describes what he feels in a position. Laying it down in some poetic rule. It isn't enough to read Nimzowitsch. You must translate his rules into concrete ideas too. But it is more than worth the effort.


  1. Hey!

    This year I'm back to chess after some years out. I decided to study more seriously and try to improve my rating, as everyone else. I'll play in some tournaments at my city so I can know how the development is going. Below is what I'm studying to start:

    - Tactics: 3500 problems from real games (not just problems), gradually raising the difficulty level, solving around 10 per day; after finish them, I'll be repeating all

    - Endgame: How to win in chess endings (Horowitz), I think It's a nice start

    - Middlegame: The Fundamentals of Chess Strategy, in 3 Volumes (Pachman)

    - Openings: studying calmly, one book per opening, and writing down the lines I feel more comfortable with

    - Game analysis: I'm analysing my own games - and discovering how hard It is to play a single game without mistakes

    I'd like to know what do you think about my plan of study and the books I'm using.

    Thank you,

    Roni Santos

  2. Later in the chapter, Nimzowitsch also noted "I tried to explain overprotection to my wife, but she still thinks I only need to wear one condom."

  3. After reading this entry i will never read My System. It will cause me to much headache to decipher the secret poetic language of Minzowitch. :-/