Tuesday, July 27, 2021

My System ch 2. Open file

 The following concepts emerged:

  • A file is open when your own pawn is missing or hidden
  • Ultimate goal of an open file is the penetration of the 7th or 8th rank
  • There is no difference between play against a piece and against a point
  • Attack the defenders of the entrance point
  • A file is opened when the opponent trades a piece that is defended by a pwan
  • Provoke such caption by placing your pieces in the center
  • The file next to the exchanged piece will be opened
  • Obstacles on the open file can be removed by piling up (evolutionary)
  • Or by a sacrifice (revolutionary)
  • An open file can be used as a rooklift
  • A knight as outpost undermines the pawn that it is blocking by attacking its defending pawn
  • An outpost must be supported by a pawn
  • An knight as outpost provokes the defending pawn to step forward
  • The power of an outpost is derived from the open file and the pieces and pawn behind it
  • When an outpost is exchanged, and you take back with a pawn, the enemy pawn is blockaded. At the same time the adjacent file is opened for penetration and encircling of the blockaded pawn
  • On a flank file the outpost should be a heavy piece because a light piece has ti little radius there
  • When the heavy outpost is traded, you often can create a passed pawn


  1. I never analyzed my own games for a very simple reason. I didn't know how to do that. What I did know though, was that I had to improve in tactics. I gained fairly easy 250 rating points, as everybody who has no previous training done in that area, no matter the method. But then I stalled. I started with analyzing tactics, my failures and improvement methods. After 15 years I finally cracked it. But before to apply the newly concocted method with myself as guinea pig, I decided to give a kick to my openings systems and middlegame strategy first.

    Aox has given me plenty material to work out, and My System describes a system for practical application. This means that my game has now a goal from the get go. When you have no goal, you can't analyze your games. Every move is equally good when you can't compare it with a goal you want to reach.

    All and all my gusto in chess is back!

  2. BTW, I adopted the Dzindzi-Indian too for black. Since the combination Dzindzi-Indian, Sniper! and HAD complement each other really well.

    For white, I have adopted the London Jobava system.

  3. PART I:

    I have a question (at the end of this set of comments) regarding an outpost, referenced in a Nimzowitsch annotation. I include the relevant section for reference for those who may not have the Quality Chess edition of My System.

    In My System, Part I - Chapter 7, Section 3. The problem of unpinning, Nimzowitsch lays out a "problem" and then proceeds to discuss potential solutions to that problem.

    After the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5. d3 d6, White can establish a pin by 6.Bg5 and miraculously this simple little pin can conjure up a whole forest of possibilities.

    Should Black immediately challenge the cheeky bishop by 6...h6 7.Bh4 g5 or should he demonstrate the greatest of reserve and with a smile play 6...Be6? Or should he go in for the risk of a counter-pin (...Bg4)? Or finally, perhaps it might seem appropriate to ignore the threat which is linked to the pin (7.Nd5 and disruption of his kingside by N or Bxf6) and calmly "centralise" with 6...nd4? Also worth considering is 6...Na5 and 6...O-O cannot be dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders either. We shall now try to look at individually the most important methods of unpinning.

    a) Challenging
    It will immediately be clear that an early advance of the flank pawns must have a compromising effect. To take one example, in the Scotch Game, after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Ncd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d5 8. exd5 cxd5 9. O-O O-O 10.Bg5 c6 11.Ne2 we can see the continuation 11...h6 12.Bh4 g5?. But after 13.Bg3, [DIAGRAM 249] White has the attacking move f4 and the possibility of occupying the squares h5 and f5, which have been weakened by the move ...g7-g5 (there can no longer be any cover provided by a pawn on g6). "Challenging was therefore not appropriate.

    On the other hand, challenging can exactly fit the bill, e.g. in the opening of the following tournament game, E. Cohn - Nimzowitsch, Karlsbad 1907: 1.4 e5 2.Nc3 Bc5 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Be2 O-O 7.O-O Re8 [DIAGRAM 250]

    Black has abandoned the centre, but is putting pressure on the WPe4. 8.Bg5? (the correct move was Bf3) 8...h6! 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Nxe4 11.Nxe4 Rxe4 12.Nb3 Bb6 13.Bd3 Bg4! 14.Qd2 Re8 and after ...Bc6 and ...Qf6 Black had consolidated his position; in other words the d5-pawn appeared to be stable. Black won easily.

  4. PART II:
    We have intentionally looked at two extreme cases in order to see what "challenging" was all about. We have reached the conclusion that "challenging" loosens up a position and should therefore only take place when there is some other compensation.

    Such compensation is frequently that the bishop which is forced away ends up in some wilderness. Such a wilderness is however transformed into a garden in full bloom if the centre is opened. The following examples will make my meaning clear.

    After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bb4 5.O-O O-O 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.d3 Bg4 8.h3 Bh5 9.Bg5 (the immediate 9.g4 would be a mistake on account of 9...Nxg4 10.hxg4 Bxg4 (then ...f5) 9...Qd6 10.Bxf6 Qxf6, then 11.g4 is quite correct, because the black bishop ends up on g6, from which it can do nothing against the solid pawn mass of e4 and d3. (If Black had still had his d-pawn, i.e. a pawn on d6 rather than c6, then some life could be brought to the wilderness by d6-d5.)

    Of course, the BBg6 can be brought to f7 after ...f7-f6, but that takes time. But White has no worries, since with a solid centre a loose kingside is easy enough to defend. Even more than that, his "loose kingside" will turn into a slow-moving but safe instrument of attack, like a tank, with the help of Nf5 at the right moment (c.f. the game Nimzowitsch - Leonhardt, page 136).

    And now that we have to some extent defined the logical link between the "wilderness" and the "centre", it will be a pleasure to analyse the position referred to at the start of section 3.

    After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 [DIAGRAM 251] we have to be interested in he question as to whether the wilderness to which the Bg3 has been banned can in fact be made to bloom. To do so, we have to scrutinise closely what attacking possibilities there are for White in the centre. These turn out to be: Bb5 then d3-d4, or else Nd5, followed by c3 and d4.


    (In passing, it should be pointed out that the Nd5 is an outpost on the diagonal of the Bc4, similar to an outpost on a file.)

    [MY QUESTIONS: Are there any other references by Nimzowitsch to an outpost ON A DIAGONAL as contrasted by an outpost ON A FILE? How do we translate the "rules" regarding an outpost on a file into "rules" for an outpost on a diagonal? If the ultimate goal of an outpost on a file is to penetrate to the 7th or 8th rank, then what is the corresponding ultimate goal of an outpost on a diagonal? Could this concept be important for analysing how to handle modern opening such as the HAD and the Hedgehog openings?]

    [For sake of completeness, I include the rest of this paragraph.]

    After 8...a6, to take away the first possibility, there could follow 9.Nd5 Be6 10.c3 Bxd5 11.exd5 Ne7 12.d4 exd4 13.Nxd4. Black can win a pawn, but after 3...Nexd5 14.O-O [DIAGRAM 252] White's position would be preferable, because life has been breathed into the Bg3 which need no longer exercise any restraint.

  5. My System revolves around the stoppage and annihilation of a mobile pawn mass. Which results in a passed pawn and/or infiltration of the 7th or 8th rank. A rook on an open file has a line of attack towards the criminal pawn. The knight outpost on the open file is designed to provoke a covering pawn to be pushed forward. Thus weakening the blockaded pawn. Another provocation is that it asks to be exchanged. Thus giving you the chance to open another file for undermining the criminal.

    I see no structural role for a bishop in this. Other than to occupy the outpost himself in case of an exchange.

  6. PART I:

    Chess Programming Wiki - On a Half-open file

    "One game commentary mentions also "a diagonal outpost", though this subject is not expanded."

    Continuing to read through My System, I found two more references to a diagonal outpost in Nimzowitsch's annotations.

    Note: All references are to the Quality Chess edition.

    Reference 1 - Page 132 - Part I - Chapter 7: The pin; 3. The problem of unpinning; a) Challenging

    Previously given.

    Reference 2 - Page 194 - Part II - Chapter 1: Prophylaxis and the centre; Game 23

    Nimzowitsch - Prof. Michel, Semmering 1926

    This illustrates the ideal of "total mobility", but also touches on the problem of prophylaxis.

    1.Nf3 d5 2.b3 Nf6 3.Bb2 c5 4.e3 e6

    An innovation. Black avoids the development of the Black Knight to c6, because it could lead to it being pinned (WBb5).

    5.Ne5 Nbd7 6.Bb5

    Here 6...Bd6 was better that the text move, firstly when you think of development and secondly because White is threatening to become strong down the b2-g7 diagonal (he is also seeking to support the outpost e5 on that diagonal).

    COMMENT: In this position, there is no supporting pawn for the outpost (WPf4). Using Nimzowitsch's own analogy [page 39], there is "capital which is backing the firm" [the WBb2], but there is no "supporting political party" [a pawn on f4].

  7. PART II:

    Reference 3 - Page 196 - Part II - Chapter 1: Prophylaxis and the centre; The surrender of the centre; Game 24

    Dr Tarrasch - Mieses, Berlin 1916

    1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4

    Gives up the centre, but opens the d-file and the b7-h1 diagonal for pressure against White's centre.

    4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Bd3 Nxe4

    A more solid try was 6...b6, but the text is also playable.

    7.Bxe4 Nf6 8.Bd3

    If 8.Bg5 Be7 9.Bxf6 then best is 9...gxf6.

    8...b6 9.Bg5 Bb7 10.O-O Be7 11. Qe2 O-O 12.Rad1 [DIAGRAM 367]


    Showing a lack of the necessary tournament tenacity! Why not 12...Qd5? If after that 13.c4 then 13...Qa5, possibly followed by ...Rad8, and the pressure starts to make itself felt. But if 13.c4 Qa5 14.d5 then 14...Rae8! with strong counter-threats, e.g. 15.dxe6? Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Wxg5. It is immediately obvious why the "contact" with the d5-square is so effective: here d5 constitutes first the outpost square on the d-file. and secondly the outpost on the diagonal b7-h1, and finally even a blockading square. The enormous strategic significance of the d5-square explains why even a fleeting contact with it works wonders!

    COMMENT: In this position, both of the supporting cast members are in place - the BBb7 and the BPe6.

    @ Temposchlucker: Your comment can be applied to a diagonal outpost.

    "The knight outpost on the open file is designed to provoke a covering pawn to be pushed forward. Thus weakening the blockaded pawn."

    I readily agree that an outpost on a file is a much more significant strategic issue than an outpost on a diagonal.