Aron Nimzowitsch

Aron Nimzowitsch bigraphy, stories - Danish chess player

Aron Nimzowitsch : biography

7 November 1886 – 16 March 1935

Aron Nimzowitsch (or Aron Isayevich Nimtsovich, or Aaron Nimzovich; , ; born Aron Niemzowitsch; 7 November 1886 – 16 March 1935) was a Russian-born, Danish leading chess master and a very influential chess writer. He was the foremost figure amongst the hypermoderns.


Born in Riga in Livonia, then part of the Russian Empire, the Jewish German-speaking Nimzowitsch came from a wealthy family, where he learned chess from his father, who was a merchant. In 1904, he travelled to Berlin to study philosophy, but set aside his studies soon and began a career as a professional chess player that same year. He won his first international tournament at Munich 1906. Then, he tied for first with Alexander Alekhine at St. Petersburg 1913/14 (the eighth All-Russian Masters’ Tournament).

During the 1917 Russian Revolution, Nimzowitsch was in the Baltic war zone. He escaped being drafted into one of the armies by feigning madness, insisting that a fly was on his head. He then escaped to Berlin, and gave his first name as Arnold, possibly to avoid anti-Semitic persecution., by Hans Kmoch, The Chess Cafe

Nimzowitsch eventually moved to Copenhagen in 1922, which coincided with his rise to the world chess elite, where he lived for the rest of his life in one small rented room.The Oxford Companion To Chess, 2nd Ed. (1996), by David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, p. 272 In Copenhagen, he twice won the Nordic Chess Championship, in 1924 and 1934. He obtained Danish citizenship and lived in Denmark until his death in 1935. Although he had long suffered from heart trouble, his early death was unexpected; taken ill suddenly at the end of 1934, he lay bedridden for three months before dying of pneumonia.The Oxford Companion To Chess, 2nd Ed. (1996), by David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, p. 273 He is buried in Bispebjerg Cemetery in Copenhagen.


There are many entertaining anecdotes regarding Nimzowitsch—some less savory than others. For example, he once missed first prize in a tournament in Berlin by losing to Sämisch, and when it became clear he was going to lose the game, Nimzowitsch stood up on the table and shouted, "Gegen diesen Idioten muss ich verlieren!" ("That I should lose to this idiot!").

Nimzowitsch was annoyed by his opponents’ smoking. A popular, but probably apocryphal, story is that once when an opponent laid an unlit cigar on the table, he complained to the tournament arbiters, "He is threatening to smoke, and as an old player you must know that the threat is stronger than the execution."Edward Winter, . Retrieved on 2009-03-02.

Nimzowitsch had lengthy and somewhat bitter dogmatic conflicts with Tarrasch over whose ideas constituted ‘proper’ chess.

Nimzowitsch’s vanity and faith in his ideas of overprotection provoked Hans Kmoch to write a parody about him in February 1928 in the Wiener Schachzeitung. This consisted of a against the fictional player "Systemsson", supposedly played and annotated by Nimzowitsch himself. The annotations gleefully exaggerate the idea of overprotection, as well as asserting the true genius of the wondrous idea. Kmoch was in fact a great admirer of Nimzowitsch, and the subject of the parody himself was amused at the effort.The full text of the parody is reprinted at and in Keene’s biography on Nimzowitsch (Chapter "A parody by Hans Kmoch").

Kmoch also wrote an article about his nine years with Nimzowitsch:Hans Kmoch, . Retrieved on 2009-03-02.

Nimzovich suffered from the delusion that he was unappreciated and that the reason was malice. All it took to make him blossom, as I later learned, was a little praise. His paranoia was most evident when he dined in company. He always thought he was served much smaller portions than everyone else. He didn’t care about the actual amount but only about the imagined affront. I once suggested that he and I order what the other actually wanted and, when the food was served, exchange plates. After we had done so, he shook his head in disbelief, still thinking that he had received the smaller portion.