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LCB, Issue #058 --, Understand the Value of Space
March 01, 2020

Understand the Value of Space

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #058 -- GOTM #27

learn and play online chess
Your pieces need space to reach their maximum power. If you can gain control over more squares than your opponent, you're in control of the game and well on your way to victory.

Even those opening systems that seem to concede the center initially do so with the specific intention of seeking to undermine the center and to bring about it's collapse. All credible opening systems understand the importance of ultimate control of the center.

Let's visit Berlin, Germany in 1928 for a game between two legends of the game, Akiba Rubinstein and Aaron Nimzowitsch. One player gains the space, the other tries to bring about the collapse of his adversary's imposing center. The outcome of this struggle will decide the result of the game.

Understand the Value of Space

Rubinstein, Akiba - Nimzowitsch, Aaron[E32]

GotM #27 - Berlin Tageblatt, 1928
[Connaughton, Ken]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4

Nimzo-Indian Defense


Classical Variation, sometimes called the Capablanca Variation. The main ideas here for White are to prevent doubling of pawns on the c-file if Black trades on c3, also the Queen can support an eventual e4 push from the c2-square. Once the Main Line of the Nimzo-Indian, ironically Rubinstein himself developed it's usurper, 4.e3.

(4.e3 is the Rubinstein System which took over as the main reply to the Nimzo-Indian.)


Adopting a Scheveningen formation.

(Black often plays 4...0-0 5.a3 Bxc3+ and after 6.Qxc3 the Main Starting Position of the Classical Nimzo-Indian is reached.)


Rubinstein always liked this move, solidifying his Queen's pawn.

5...c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Nge2 e5

Game position after 7...e5


Relieving the tension, White chooses to advance rather than exchange.

8...Bxc3+ 9.Qxc3 Ne7 10.Qc2 0-0 11.0-0 Ng6 12.Ng3 Re8

Game position after 12...Re8

Threatening 13...e4

13.f3 Bd7 14.Bd2 a6 15.h3 b5 16.b3 Qb6 17.Kh2 a5 18.Rab1 b4 19.f4 exf4 20.exf4

White has successfully contained Black on the Queenside and is winning the struggle for space on the Kingside.

20...Nf8 21.Bc1 Qd8 22.Qf2 a4 23.Bb2 Ng6

Game position after 23...Ng6

Black's pieces are cramped. They move back and forth as White is steadily improving his pieces.

24.Rbd1 axb3 25.axb3 Ra7 26.Rde1 Rxe1 27.Rxe1 Nf8 28.Bxf6!

Played to expose Black's weakness on d6. This edge is a worthy trade for White's strong Bishop pair.

28...Qxf6 29.Ne4 Qh6


(29...Qg6 30.Nxc5; 29...Qe7 30.Nxc5; 29...Qd8 30.Nxd6)

30.f5 Ra3 31.Rb1 Ra6 32.g4 f6

Game position after 32...f6

Necessary but now the Queen is shut out of the game. White has gradually nursed a slight edge into a commanding advantage.

(32...g6? does nothing for Black's cause: 33.g5 Qg7 34.Nf6+ (34.f6 Qh8 35.Qf4 Ra2+ 36.Kh1 Bxh3 37.Nxd6 h6 38.gxh6 Nd7 39.Bf1 Bf5 40.Nxf5 Qxf6 41.Bh3 gxf5 42.Bxf5 Kh8 43.Re1 Nf8 44.d6+-) 34...Kh8 35.Re1 gxf5 36.Re7 Qxg5 37.Rxf7 Ra8 38.Nxd7 Nxd7 39.Rxd7+-)

33.Kg3 Bc8 34.Re1 Bb7 35.Qe2

White takes control of the open file, how does he now propose to get his Knight to e6?

35...Nd7 36.Nxd6!

Game position after 36.Nxd6!

He has a different plan. The Knight is sacrificed.

36...Rxd6 37.Qe8+

White's activity on the open file will give him back so much more than the Knight.

37...Nf8 38.Re7

White's not chasing after the useless b7-Bishop, he is after a bigger prize. Black is also forced to use pieces to blockade White's passed pawn on the d-file.

38...g6 39.Qf7+

Game position after 39.Qf7+

(39.fxg6 hxg6 40.Qf7+ Kh8 41.Re8+- leads to similar lines.)

39...Kh8 40.Re8 Rd8 41.Qxf6+

Even the Rook will not tempt him from his quarry.

41...Kg8 42.Qe6+ Kg7 43.f6+

Game position after 43.f6+

Black resigns.

(43.f6+ Nimzowitsch decides not to continue in view of the forcing line: 43...Kh8 44.Rxd8 Bxd5 45.cxd5 c4 46.Qe7 Kg8 47.f7+ Kg7 48.Qxf8+ Kf6 49.Qxh6 cxd3 50.f8Q+ Ke5 51.Qe3#)


Rubinstein - Nimzowitsch (Berlin Tageblatt, 1928)

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