I am often asked which players I admire most and which grandmasters, writers and champions exerted the most influence on my own chess development. In general I was most impressed by the strategists and writers such as Richard Réti, whose games were brilliantly elucidated in an anthology by grandmaster emeritus Harry Golombek OBE, and Aron Nimzowitsch, who expounded his own theories in the two didactic masterpieces, My System and Chess Praxis. Others who fall into the strategic category are Mikhail Botvinnik and Tigran Petrosian; and two superlative tacticians in the persons of Alexander Alekhine and Mikhail Tal.
In the weeks ahead I will be coupling creative achievements by these heroes with games of my own which were plainly inspired by illustrious forebears. I kick off with a win by Nimzowitsch, followed by my attempt to emulate his style.
Nimzowitsch-Rubinstein; Berlin 1928 (see diagram 1)
15 e4 dxe4 16 Nxe4 Nxe4 17 dxe4 e5 Black does not wish to allow the advance e4-e5 but this move creates its own problems. 18 Nf3 exf4 19 gxf4 Rfe8 20 e5 The white pawn duo on the e- and f-files is very powerful. 20 ... Nc5 21 Nd4 Ne6 22 Rad1 Nxd4 23 Bxd4 Bf5 24 Be4 Bxe4+ 25 Qxe4 Rad8 26 e6 Disrupting the black king’s position. 26 ... Bf8 27 Be5 Qc8 28 f5 fxe6 Losing. 28 ... Rxd1 is essential. 29 f6 Rxd1 30 f7+ Kh8 31 Rxd1 Rd8 32 Qg6 Black resigns After 32 ... Rxd1+ 33 Kg2 mate will follow on h6.
Keene-Janetschek; Barcelona Zonal 1975 (see diagram 2)
14 e5 Nc5 Black too appears to be following a model, but his is the unsuccessful pattern established by Rubinstein. The time had come to vary with, for example, 14 ... b5 15 Nd4 Ra6 with counterplay. 15 Nd4 Ra6 16 f4 b5 17 g4 f5 Black panics in his desire to prevent White’s juggernaut continuing its advance with f5. 18 exf6 gxf6 19 Rf3 Rf7 Black does his best to defend, planning to parry 20 Rh3 with 20 ... Bf8. 20 Bh3 bxa4 21 bxa4 Bd6 22 g5 Black’s next move displays an ingenuity born of despair. His problem is that conventional defences all fail to mass sacrifices based on the exposure of the black king. 22 ... Bxf4 23 g6 Were White to play 23 Rxf4 Black could resist for some time with 23 ... hxg5. True, he would be a piece down, but the breaches in his front would have been repaired and his centre pawns could have provided counterchances. By this intermezzo, White keeps his piece and the attack. 23 ... Bxg6 24 Rxf4 e5 25 Rg4 Kh7 26 Rag1 Black resigns The final justification is as follows: 26 ... Bh5 27 Rh4 Bxe2 28 Bf5+ Kh8 29 Rxh6+ Rh7 30 Rxh7 checkmate.
Reti’s Best Games by Harry Golombek is published by Hardinge Simpole.