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Semion Alapin vs Aron Nimzowitsch
Karlsbad (1911), Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) AUH, rd 16, Sep-11
Caro-Kann Defense: Accelerated Panov Attack (B10)  ·  0-1



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Given 62 times; par: 82 [what's this?]

Annotations by Aron Nimzowitsch.      [48 more games annotated by Nimzowitsch]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-04-02  bishop: It was not the best policy for white to let his pawns be doubled on the kingside as an attack on the open g-file was not to be.
Nov-14-05  Mostolesdude: I didn't know Nimzo was funny
Premium Chessgames Member
  Moondoll: Nimzo is hilarious!
"That pompous White c-pawn, has passed away, unwept, unhonoured, and unsung." If you read more of his annotations, he is full of witty quips such as these. Backed by his unquestionable natural talent, I find his notes give a unique look at the battle that is Chess.
Jan-18-06  euripides: This game feels as arrestingly modern as Nimzo's famous win against Salwe at the same tournament. It's really not a Caro-Kann but an Old Indian played very dynamically, rather like Bronstein's games in the King's Indian.
Jan-28-06  ronvolt: Aron is a good trainor!
Feb-04-06  Mostolesdude: you mean trainer?
Feb-24-06  who: The notes to 22 should say sounder would be 22.Be3 Qa5 23.Qg1
Feb-24-06  buRnINGbeNd: <who> Qg1 is not a valid move there.
Feb-24-06  who: I meant 22.Be3 Qa5 23.Bg1
Feb-08-08  littlefermat: Nimzowitsch has the weirdest annotations...
Feb-11-09  Chachaman: That was a great game by Nimzowitsch. He took advantage of Alapin's errors, namely advancing his pawn center too far, and made Alapin pay the price.
Feb-12-09  Oregon104: <I meant 22.Be3 Qa5 23.Bg1>

I agree. I assume that they translated this from descriptive notation, it said "23. B-N1", and the translator was careless...

Apr-19-09  xombie: On seeing games like these, one can see how future players like Tigran Petrosian may have been affected. I find Nimzo's games much more transparent than Petrosian's, but we can see the commonalities.

Nimzo's understanding must have been superlative. I could never tell from two little moves that they are the key to the combination, not of dessimating the king or anything, but just ensuring that he has the center.

May-09-09  karnak64: The annotation to move 19 is worth the price of admission ...
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I hope my tombstone doesn't say the same thing as the c pawn's eulogy.
Oct-07-16  Aunt Jemima: Nimzo's style was so modern even in 1911. He plays so carefully, watching every square and every pawn, patiently shuffling his pieces around in his cramped position only to come out ahead somehow.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: No carbon-based annotator looks too good under the silicon microscope, but I can’t imagine many look uglier than Nimzowitsch. Of course unleashing Stockfish on a human, especially a human from 100+ years ago, is unfair, but if someone publishes nonsense and calls it instruction, that is worth pointing out.

5.f4 is going overboard; just continuing in classical style with Be2, Be3, Nf3, and 0-0 is good for a solid advantage. After 5….e5! 6.Nf3 exd4 7.Qxd4, stronger than “vulgo” the center 7.…Nc5 (whatever that means) is 7….d5! Bc5 9.Qd3 Ng4 10.Nd1 cd 11.e5 0-0=.

8.Bd3! Qb6?!

8….Nxd3+ 9.Qxd3 Be7 10.Be3 0-0 11.0-0 would give White a small though enduring advantage. He gets more than that now.

9.Bc2 Be7 10.0-0 0-0?

10….Bg4 followed by …Bxf3 and 0-0-0 is stronger.

11.Kh1 Rd8 12.Rb1 Be6?

Nimzowitsch is overestimating his position.


Nimzowitsch writes, <A heavy surrender, for now the White center loses considerably in mobility.> This is nonsense. The “mobility” of the White center consists of its ability to play e4-e5 or f4-f5. Alapin has apparently reduced his pawn center’s mobility by…moving it (with gain of tempo).

A better criticism is that White has left a hole at e5. But experience teaches that a move like f4-f5 is, at worst, double-edged (Game Collection: Lasker's Secret Weapon ); here, with tempo and White’s other advantages, it’s considerably better than that.


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White’s strongest move here, evaluated at about +3 on a deep search, is 14.Qg1!! to be followed by Be3 and g4-g5 and the smotheration of Black’s kingside. Admittedly, 14.Qg1 is an engine move. But more ordinary moves like 14.Qf2 (14….d5 15.ed cd Nxd5 17.Re1 Bf8 18.Bg5 Nf5 19.Ne5) or 14.Bf4 Ncd7 15.Qd2 also secure White a large advantage.


Just obstructing the g-pawn. But White is still a lot better.

14….Ncd7 15.Qd2 a6?

Black doesn’t have time to play this way. Now 16.Na4! Qc7 17.c5! Nxc5 18.Nxc5 dxc5 19.Qc1! Ne8 20.Bf4 Qa5 21.e5 (I spy a mobile pawn center, getting ready to trash Black’s king).

16.b3? Pushing either NP two squares forward would have left Black in a world of hurt. But White is still a lot better.

16….Qc7 17.Rbd1 b5 18.Rfe1?

Alapin gives away almost his entire advantage here. Instead 18.Bf4 gangs up on the weak (oops, sorry “elastic and strong”) pawn on d6 and clears the path for the g-pawn. If 19.Bf4 Ne5? then 20.c5 dc 21.Qe2 Rxd1 22.Rxd1 Nfd7 23.Rxd7 +-. After the stronger 19…bxc4 20.Bxd6 Bxd6 21.Qxd6 Qxd6 22.Rxd6 White has a much better ending.

18….Ne5? Premature! 19.cxb5?

And now Black’s extravagant play is finally justified. 19.c5 is not nearly as strong as it would be with White’s bishop on f4, but it still secures White some advantage after …dxc5 20.Qf4 Rxd1 21.Rxd1 Nh5 22.Qh4.

Nimzowitsch completely outplays Alapin from this point on.

What can we learn from this game?

I. Just like Tarrasch said, massive pawn centers are a good thing, most of the time. A move like f4-f5 is committal, but can be very powerful, especially if there is a followup like g4-g5 on tap.

II. A backward pawn on an open file has considerable dynamic potential (viz. move 7 here), but also requires careful tending. 

III. But you know what really requires careful tending? Your king! Nimzowitsch neglected that lesson here, but got away with it.

IV. In sum, the gods of the copybook headings with terror and slaughter return. <euripides> (who I really miss) said this was like a Bronstein game, and he was right. I was reminded of the magnificent Reshevsky vs Bronstein, 1953. But on that page you’ll find a link to a Daniel King video. He points out that the King’s Indian variation that Bronstein played has gone out of style, because modern players think that you just can’t give your opponent that much dominance in the center. 

That lesson applies here too.

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