30 May 2020

Seirawan, Nimzovich, and Chess960

In the previous post, Commentating Chess960, I listed two teams of chess960 commentators who handled responsibilities for high level events last year:-
  • Yasser Seirawan, Jennifer Shahade, and Maurice Ashley (in St.Louis)
  • Yasser Seirawan, Daniel Rensch, and Sopiko Guramishvili (in Norway)

The common member of both teams was GM Yasser Seirawan. He is the strongest of the five players, having twice reached the candidate stage of a World Championship cycle: 1985 Candidates Tournament and 1988-90 Candidates Matches. In his prime he was one of the ten best players in the world.

I discussed game two of the Norway event, the FWFRCC final, in the 'Commentating' post. In the video for game three, at around 17:20 into the clip, there was a brief discussion of 'Bad Bishops':-

YS: As Evgenij Ermenkov said, 'How could a Bishop ever be bad?'
DR: I thought Nimzovich said that -- your favorite, Nimzovich.
YS: No, no, he's not my favorite. [Everyone laughing]
DR: Would Nimzovich have been a good Fischer Random player? [Pause; YS thinks] Why don't you write a blog about that on Chess.com? Coming your way soon!
YS: Coming your way soon!

A few years ago, in Three Chess960 Developments to Watch (October 2017), I mused,

I've often thought that Nimzovich would have been a brilliant chess960 player, given his penchant for unusual openings and deep strategical concepts.

I started snooping around Chess.com, hoping to find a blog post by GM Seirawan on Nimzovich and chess960, but came up empty-handed. I found plenty of material by lesser lights explaining why Nimzovich wasn't Seirawan's favorite player, but that's a more suitable subject for my main blog than it is here.

I also took another look at Nimzovich's book 'My System'. Excluding a chapter titled 'The Isolated Queen's Pawn and Its Descendants' (IQP), all 15 chapters of the first two parts are just as relevant to chess960 as they are to chess starting from the traditional initial position. The IQP chapter might also be relevant, although my own experience is that the structure -- which can occur on the d- or e-file -- appears far less frequently in chess960. How many other classic chess textbooks are so relevant to chess960?

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