Aron Nimzowitsch

On the Road to Chess Mastery, 1886–1924


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About the Book

One of the greatest chess legends of all time, Aron Nimzowitsch (1886–1935), is best known for founding the Hypermodernism school of chess, which emerged after World War I to challenge the chess ideologies of traditional central European masters. This first full-scale biography of Nimzowitsch chronicles his early life in Denmark, his family and education, and his fascination with the game that would become the focus of his life. Also included are explorations of his tournament games and records, his dispute with influential chess teacher Siegbert Tarrasch, and his role in the development of Hypermodern Chess. With detailed accounts of nearly 450 games and the only narrative of Nimzowitsch from 1914 to 1924, a period formerly cloaked in mystery, this volume offers the most thorough profile available of one of chess’s greatest innovators.

About the Author(s)

Per Skjoldager is an IT contractor, chess historian and chess book collector. He lives in Fredericia, Denmark.
Former editor of Danish School Chess Magazine and Junior Chess Instructor, Jørn Erik Nielsen lives in Aabenraa, Denmark.

Bibliographic Details

Per Skjoldager and Jørn Erik Nielsen
Format: library binding (7 x 10)
Pages: 468
Bibliographic Info: 426 annotated games, 88 photos, 10 maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6539-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1832-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments and Thanks    v

Preface    1

Chapter 1 : 1886-1904

The Jews of Riga    3

The Nimzowitsch family    4

The spelling of the name    7

The young Nimzowitsch    8

First published game    10

Königsberg in 1902 and Berlin in 1903    10

Göttingen in 1903, then back in Berlin in 1904    15

Coburg 1904    18

First game against Tarrasch, Nürnberg    23

Chapter 2 : 1905-1906

Vienna 1905    25

Munich in 1905: First match against Spielmann    30

Munich in 1905: The first simul    33

Barmen 1905    34

After Barmen    45

Education    47

Zürich in 1905    49

Match against Lurie, Riga in 1906    50

Berlin in 1906    51

Munich 1906    52

Chapter 3 : 1907-1909

Munich in 1907    59

To Zürich, then a simul in Winterthur    60

Ostende 1907    60

Karlsbad 1907    75

Munich in 1907, and a simul    93

Second Match against Spielmann, in Munich, 1908    95

Chess in the Baltic, Riga in 1909    98

Chapter 4 : 1910

Professional life in Riga    100

Preparing for Hamburg 1910    104

Hamburg 1910    110

Visit to Dorpat    120

Back in Riga    125

Visit to Pernau    127

Chapter 5 : 1911

Leaving Riga    128

Match against Leonhardt, Hamburg    128

The Tarrasch-Nimzowitsch dispute, 1911 to 1913    133

San Sebastian 1911    134

Correspondence match against Behting    143

Karlsbad 1911    145

Another visit to Dorpat    165

Chapter 6 : 1912

Marshall in the Baltic    170

Riddles by A.N.    172

Rigasche Rundschau in 1912    172

San Sebastian 1912    173

Nimzowitsch: An open letter to Tarrasch    188

Vilnius 1912    189

Chapter 7 : 1913

Rigasche Rundschau in 1913    202

Nimzowitsch on The Modern Chess Game by Tarrasch    204

Nimzowitsch: “The New System”    210

Nimzowitsch on the surrender of the center    214

Father of Hypermodernism    216

Match against Giese, Riga    220

Correspondence match against Fluss    221

Capablanca in Riga    223

Chapter 8 : 1914

Rigasche Rundschau in 1914    225

All-Russian Tournament of Masters at St. Petersburg    226

Play­off match against Alekhine    237

St. Petersburg 1914    240

Der alte Ganeff    251

The Great War and Riga    254

Chapter 9 : 1915-1919

World War I at a glance    257

Riga in 1915    258

In the Russian Army, 1916, out 1917    259

Riga under German rule, 1918    262

Chess editor of the Baltische Zeitung    264

Riga simuls    265

Latvian independence, then the Bolsheviks    266

Liberated by the anti–Bolsheviks    269

Chess editor of the Rigasche Rundschau    271

At war with Russia and Germany    272

Chapter 10 : 1920

Simuls in Latvia, 1920    274

Heading for Sweden    277

Göteborg 1920    278

Match against Bogoljubow, Stockholm    289

Stockholm simuls    292

Second Stockholm Jubilee Tournament    295

Chapter 11 : 1921

Swedish tour, January to March    305

Mysterious matches    311

Visit to Kristiania (Oslo)    317

Visit to Bergen    321

Summer vacation    322

Back to Bergen, Norwegian tour    325

Chapter 12 : 1922

Nimzowitsch in Bergen    327

Swedish Tour, January to March    331

Second match against Håkansson    334

Back in Stockholm    336

Visit to Denmark    337

Danish tour, April to June    338

Summer vacation    344

Further Danish tour, October to November    348

Copenhagen 1922    350

Chapter 13 : 1923

Match against Brinckmann    354

A small tour in Jutland    357

Copenhagen chess clubs    358

Danish tour, February to March    359

Copenhagen 1923    363

Nimzowitsch the smoker    368

Back to work    375

Karlsbad 1923    377

Danish Tour, October to December    391

Chapter 14 : 1924

Simul tour in March and April    395

Correspondence match against Krause    400

On vacation at Vidtskue    404

Copenhagen 1924 (Nordic tournament)    405

Danish Tour, October to December    419

Organizing a Simul Tour to Norway    423

Appendix A. Puzzles and Studies    427

Appendix B. Schaie Niemzowitsch Games and Problems    431

Bibliography    435

Index to Games by Opponent    439

Index to Openings (ECO Codes)    442

Index to Openings (Traditional Names)    445

General Index    447

Book Reviews & Awards

Book of the Year—
“Skjoldager and Nielsen have produced a magnificent book which not only surpasses everything else we have ever seen on the subject of Nimzowitsch but also one which enjoys the extremely high production values typical of McFarland. The depth of research is apparent from the very first page…the book contains an excellent collection of games. This is the finest book written on Aron Nimzowitsch and the authors should be applauded for their efforts. In my opinion this is easily the best and most important chess book of 2012, a fascinating book on a fascinating man”—Chess; “at last we have a magnificent biography of the famous grandmaster, Aron Nimzowitsch. This volume tells his story up to 1924 in great detail…exhaustive”—British Chess Magazine; “an epic piece of work…splendid, meticulously researched…serves as a critical biography as well as a repository of nearly four-hundred fifty of the Master’s games…a substantial reference volume which traces Nimzowitsch’s life chronologically,while also providing a treasury of charts, drawings and photographs to bring this intriguing chess master into contemporary understanding…the most comprehensive treatment available of Nimzowitsch’s life and work up to 1924…uncovers numerous sources that provide as full as possible a picture of this chess genius. This book will take an esteemed place in chess literature and is gratefully received”—IM John Donaldson (; “supremely well researched”—Edward Winter, Chess Notes; “fills in a big gap in the chess literature…this book has everything you could want and more…. The authors have produced a fine tribute to one of the founding fathers of Hypermodern chess. The physical qualities of this book are of the highest standard…beautifully and sturdily bound…will sit proudly on any shelf. This is a book for all lovers of chess history. Strongly recommended!”—Chess Today; “the first fully-fledged biography…produced by McFarland publishers in the impeccable way that they are known for. The authors have left no stone unturned to find a wealth of unknown material about the life and games of Nimzowitsch. Many interesting and beautiful old photographs adorn the well-written text. A great book”—New In Chess; “truly exceptional book”—,; “merely opening this book might immediately raise the reader’s pulse with beautiful page spreads, solid binding and a cover that feels inviting. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy, both for the scholarship I knew it would contain, and for the history it was sure to reveal about chess in a bygone era. Part biography and part games collection, this compendium captures a golden age of chess culture through the life of Aron Nimzowitsch, a progressive force in the growth of of twentieth century chess. Skjoldager…has unearthed and compiled a wealth of information about the first part of Nimzowitsch’s life that is a rare combination of comprehensiveness and readability. This may be the most thorough treatment of Nimzowitsch and his times ever in print. This book has everything. Readers interested in early twentieth century chess will find hundreds of games to study. Stories are filled with colorful anecdotes. The book is filled with nostalgia, beauty and atmosphere. The feel of this book is very solid, and its font is easy on the eye, and looks appropriate. Printed in the U.S. on acid free archival stock, all pages are bound together in signatures for durability and permanence. Only the best books are still produced this way. There is far more scholarship in Skjoldager’s book than the average reader might comfortably take in, it is exhaustive in its research and its revelations. Skjoldager and Nielsen have produced a significant work. It is wonderfully written and edited, and beautifully bound and produced. This tribute to Aron Nimzowitsch represents the spirit of traditional book publishing at its unqualified best”—