What is your most reliable chess strategy

Nimzo Indian = modern chess strategy

Grandmaster Ludek Pachman (1924 - 2003) praised the importance of the Nimzo-Indian defense for the development of modern chess strategy:

"Without exaggerating, one can say that with this opening the development of the current, modern chess strategy began."

On the idea of ​​defense, Pachman continues:

“Black controls the central area with pieces (Nf6 and Bb4, which captivates the Nc3) and can still form his pawns in the central area as he likes. (...) In addition, in many variants Black can create a double pawn c3, c4 for White by exchanging Bc3: + and make this double pawn the target of his attack. "(A)

A face-down card game

Another advantage of the Nimzo-Indian Defense is that Black fights for the center without offering White an attack marker in the first place, as is the case with e.g. B. would be the case after 1.d4 d5 2.c4. In the Queen's Gambit, White is known to attack Black's d5 middle pawn from the flank and often gets a pawn majority in the center by exchanging his c-pawn for the opposing d-pawn. In the Nimzo-Indian Defense, Black is free to attack White's center from the flank using c7-c5. While Black has not yet decided whether he wants to gain a foothold in the center with d7-d5 or d7-d6 and e6-e5, he is playing with cards face down, so to speak, which makes it more difficult for White to come up with a suitable counterplan.

Nimzowitsch shakes Tarrasch's teaching about the peasant center

The Latvian grandmaster Aaron Nimzowitsch (1886 - 1935) used the opening named after him as early as 1914 in Saint Petersburg in a game against David Janowski. It ended in a draw after 85 moves. Since 1923 he played the Nimzo-Indian defense several times in tournaments and competitions. In Karlovy Vary in 1929 he defeated with her the World Cup challenger Evfim Bogoljubow and was tournament winner with 15 out of 21 possible points ahead of Capablanca and Spielmann (each 14 ½). It was also Nimzowitsch who opposed the especially of Grand Master Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch presented the opening concept of the farmers' center rebelled. In a 1913 article in the “Wiener Schachzeitung” entitled “Corresponds to Dr. Tarrasch's 'Die modern Sachachpartie' really modern conception? ”He explained the differences between Tarrasch's view and his own:

“With the disappearance of a farmer from the center (...) the center is by no means given up! (...) The concept of the center is much broader! (...) It is true that the pawns are the most suitable for building centers because they are the most stable, but pieces placed in the center can very well replace the pawns. And also a pressure exerted on the hostile center, starting from working towers resp. Runners, can be relevant! That is the really modern view, especially one that I hold. "(B)

World champions discover the Nimzo-Indian defense

The first world chess champion to play Nimzo-Indian with Black was the Cuban José Raul Capablanca. In ChessBase's MEGA database I found 20 Black games in which he used this opening. But all world champions after him from Alekhine and Euwe to Botvinnik, Smyslow, Tal, Petrosjan and Funky to Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand and Carlsen have played Nimzo-Indian with success. From the abundance of outstanding games, I have selected two that give a good impression of what the Nimzo-Indian defense is all about.

Hawkins - Kramnik

Photo: Wikimedia (steenslag)

Vladimir Kramnik, the world champion from 2000 - 2007, succeeds in a game played sharply and imaginatively on both sides in a tragic-comic forced move in which White runs out of moves at the end. His opponent is Jonathan Hawkins, the two-time British Championship winner in 2014 (shared with David Howell) and 2015.

Vladimirov - Kasparov

Photo: Kasparov.com

Garry Kasparov, the 1985-2000 world champion, was known for his excellent preparation for the opening. He had probably discovered the nice sacrifice he made in his game against Vladimirov some time before. The variant shows how dangerous it can be to lead your own queen into the opposing camp without the support of other pieces. The white queen's bishop also plays a pitiful role because it remains completely ineffective throughout the game, while the black knights in the center unfold undisturbed on squares of the opposite color.

The match was particularly explosive due to the fact that Vladimirov was fired as a second from Kasparov in 1986 because he was suspected of having sold the preparation for the opening to his World Cup opponent Karpov. Kasparov had lost three games in a row after a 4-1 lead. Whether Vladimirov really passed the opening analyzes on to Karpov or only copied them for private purposes, however, could never really be clarified. (c)

Nimzo-Indian Powerbook 2019

How do you play Nimzo Indian? Does white have promising variants or can black build up a waterproof repertoire? The Powerbook provides the answers based on over 327,000 games, most of which are played by engines.


Sources and Notes:

(a) Ludek Pachman, opening practice in chess, Munich 1976, p. 126

(b) This article was reprinted in Aaron Nimzowitsch's book "Mein System", 2nd edition Hamburg 1965, pp. 250-258.

(c) There are two interesting articles on the Vladimirov affair in English on the Internet: www.chessforallages.blogspot.com/2009/11/vladimirov-affair.html and www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/child.html