Saturday, December 15, 2007

Slacker Chess

The Romanticism of Staunton’s school of thought on Chess produced Swash-buckling players like Paul Morphy, Anderssen and Philidor with his Book titled The Chess Player’s handbook. ( available online here:,M1) Fisher once claimed that Howard was actually way ahead of his time after studying his games. He claimed that his style was more in line with the hypermodern movement of the 1920’s. Which is pretty excited when following the romantic period was a Classical period by Steinitz and Tarrasch who had such dogmatic platitudes to chess with their books.

The first rebels of chess to challenge the stodgy boring methodologies and idioms of Tarrasch’s and Steinitz’s Classical chess were the bad boys of the hypermodern school, led by Richard Réti, Aron Nimzowitsch, and Savielly Tartakower. Chess took on an edgy appeal in this era. They challenged the concept of controlling the center with their slacker approach with wing pawns and fianchetto’d bishops. This “relaxed” approach allowed the dogmatic Classical opponent to establish a pawn center that then became a target of attack with the distance skewer’s. None of these bad boys of the hypermodern school ever achieved World Champion Status though they were still strong players. What was cool, was that they didn’t care. They were still respected and had openings named after them.

Instead of riding motorcycles, wearing helmets with spikes and leather jackets with “ The Hyper-Mods” embroidered on their backs, they all wrote books. One, I feel worth mentioning ( and you will see where I am going with this long winded intro to my lost game) is Richard Réti, who published Die neuen Ideen im Schachspiel (the English translation, Modern Ideas in Chess, was published in 1923). He brought back the ideas of Staunton as this was an examination of the evolution of chess thinking from the time of Paul Morphy through the beginning of the hypermodern school. Plus he had an opening named after himself.

In that light, here is a game I played recently at the Harry Nelson Pillsbury Memorial that I totally botched with the wrong plan.


Glenn Wilson said...

Interesting game, basically a Sicilian with colors reversed.

A couple of quick thoughts:
8...Nxc3 can't be good; it brings a pawn to the center for white.

Somewhere around here I like the idea of playing for ...f5 (without ...Nxc3).

10 ... Qc8. Isn't Qd7 a more active spot for the same purpose?

BlunderProne said...


Thanks for the comments.

On 8...Nxc3 I was aiming for simplification with a higher rated player. The thought was to weaken his queen side as my play eventually landed there. In hindsight it was wrong... and looking at it more... Why give up a strong central night. I rarely play f5 but come to think of it... I think that would have been a nice move in that position. I do play f4 as white in some positions against the sicilian. I never thought of a colors reversed situation. I will open my eyes more in the future.

AS for 10... Qd7 instead of hte text, true. I can't recall why I went to c8. Perhaps I wanted to make sure I had a retreat spot for the bishop.

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Getting to 2000

James Stripes said...

Steinitz and Tarrasch who had such dogmatic platitudes to chess with their books

I heard this sort of statement quite frequently, but I've also heard that Tarrasch made the principles of Steinitz into dogma. I have been reading Steinitz, The Modern Chess Instructor the past two months and do not find the alleged dogmatism.

BlunderProne said...


Thanks for visiting. True, Sigbert Tarrasch did turn Steinitz's ideas into a "formula" for Classical chess. It really made for easy pickings when the hypermods came into town.

Robert Pearson said... a big fan of Dr. Tarrasch let me offer a slightly different perspective. I think the formulae and "dogmatism" of Tarrasch's instructional books was his attempt to guide beginners; in his play over the years he showed more flexibility, including playing a lot of opening that his books consider inferior.

He was pretty old and drained from his WWI experiences when he lost some games to the Hypermoderns in the 1920s. There is probably a grain of truth in the dogmatism trope but I just wanted to stick up a little for Herr Doktor, since I really enjoy his games and annotations.