Aron Nimzowitsch

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Aron Nimzowitsch : biography

7 November 1886 – 16 March 1935

Many chess openings and variations are named after Nimzowitsch, the most famous being the Nimzo-Indian Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4) and the less often played Nimzowitsch Defence (1.e4 Nc6). Nimzowitsch biographer GM Raymond Keene and others have referred to 1.f4 followed by 2.b3 as the Nimzowitsch–Larsen Attack. Keene wrote a book about the opening with that title. These openings all exemplify Nimzowitsch’s ideas about controlling the center with pieces instead of pawns. He was also vital in the development of two important systems in the French Defence, the Winawer Variation (in some places called the Nimzowitsch Variation; its moves are 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4) and the Advance Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5). He also pioneered two provocative variations of the Sicilian Defence: the Nimzowitsch Variation, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6, which invites 3.e5 Nd5 (similar to Alekhine’s Defence) and 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d5?! (the latter regarded as dubious today). International Master John L. Watson has dubbed the line 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4 the "Nimzo-English", employing this designation in Chapter 11 of his recent book Mastering the Chess Openings, Volume 3.Gambit Publications, 2008, ISBN 978-1-904600-98-5

Notable chess games

  • The "Immortal Zugzwang Game" sees Saemisch get tied up in knots.
  • One of Nimzowitsch’s most famous games sees White fall deep into passivity and get squeezed. This game was chosen by Bent Larsen as his favourite game in ‘Learn from the Grandmasters’
  • A crafty blending of strategy and tactics.
  • Two of the top hypermoderns cross swords to showcase their latest ideas.
  • Another encounter of hypermodern heavyweights sees Nimzowitsch with two knights in the endgame, and he handles them perfectly.

Chess career

The height of Nimzowitsch’s career was the late 1920s and early 1930s. Chessmetrics places him as the third best player in the world from 1927 to 1931, behind Alexander Alekhine and José Capablanca., Chessmetrics web site, accessed 7-May-2007 His most notable successes were first-place finishes at Copenhagen 1923, Marienbad 1925, Dresden 1926, Hanover 1926, the Carlsbad 1929 chess tournament, and second place behind Alekhine at the San Remo 1930 chess tournament. Nimzowitsch never developed a knack for match play, though; his best match success was a draw with Alekhine, but the match consisted of only two games and took place in 1914, thirteen years before Alekhine became world champion.

Nimzowitsch never beat Capablanca, but fared better against Alekhine. He even beat Alekhine with the black pieces, in their short 1914 match at St. Petersburg. One of Nimzowitsch’s most famous games is his celebrated immortal zugzwang game against Sämisch at Copenhagen 1923. Another game on this theme is his win over Paul Johner at Dresden 1926. When in form, Nimzowitsch was very dangerous with the black pieces, scoring many fine wins over top players.