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My System

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  946 ratings  ·  57 reviews
For many years, Nimzovich was known as the "Stormy Petrel" of the chess world. Today, his profound theories of positional chess are accepted as a matter of course, and a knowledge of them is essential to every player who wants to improve his game.

My System describes a theory of chess; it also describes the character and genius of its author. It is a very readable book, for
Paperback, 378 pages
Published 1975 by David McKay (first published 1925)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  946 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: games
One of the most influential chess books ever written. Controversy still rages as to whether Nimzovitch actually invented the ideas described here, but he was certainly the person who popularized them. And his writing style. If nothing else, it's memorable. What chess player is there who can't quote at least a few well-known precepts, like "Restrain, blockade and then destroy!" or "The passed pawn is a criminal, who must be kept under lock and key!"

Chess players divide broadly into "tactical" (th
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chess
This book has valuable information either for an amateur and a master chess player. I was recommended to read it each time I improved my play by 200 points ELO. The first part of the book, "The Elements", is well written and instructive for beginning-intermediate players, I've read it 2 times by now. The second part, "Positional Play" contains more advanced topics, such as Prophylaxis. I believe the second part may be somehow dull and not pragmatic for beginners, as it was for me at the time, th ...more
Apr 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: chess
This has to be one of the most highly overrated books in the history of chess. I admit though that if you were starting chess in 1960 it was much harder to find better books to teach you strategic ideas. This book would then have had to be on your shopping list to buy or check out from a local library. But by 2010 there are much higher quality books that will teach you all the same material with better illustrations and better explanations. Jeremy Silman's "Reassess Your Chess, 4th edition" come ...more
Gabriel Schoenfeld
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Nimzowitsch described My System as a chess manual based "on entirely new principles." His idea that pawn masses at the center of the board might be a liability -- vulnerable to attack from the flanks -- was revolutionary, toppling verities and generating fierce resistance. "The reward for my new ideas consisted of abuse," he wrote bitterly, "or at best systematic silence." Today, nearly a century later, he would delight to know that his hypermodern approach is widely accepted. But if My System a ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the edition I read, which is a large (bigger than trade) book with lots of room to annotate in the margins and really nicely printed diagrams.

There isn't much I can say about Nimzo that others haven't said better.

I will say that working my way through this book gave me a sense of confidence and direction in my game that was previously lacking.

Having a solid plan in the game is everything, and Nimzo's My System will definitely help with that.

Plus, the Nimzo-Indian is still pretty damned
Nick Craske
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written from 1925 - 1927 as separate journals, My System was the first grandmaster's book to be published. It is written in a lucid style and often uses metaphor and analogy to reinforce a tactical or strategical detail. Nimzowitsch's wry sense of humour also adds colour and a personal tone to the book, and while the analogies are of their time, they still ring true with a charming antique quality.

And of course the tactics and strategies are core to playing Chess competently.

Essential reading
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book - a true classic. The concepts and techniques are great. My only criticism is that I wish the writing was more prosaic. For example, page 19, "If I were running a race with someone, it would at least be a waste of precious time to stop in order to blow my nose, though there is nothing wrong with blowing one's nose". Some of these types of statements often made the points more difficult to understand. ...more
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chess
The most charming educational chess book, a beginner-friendly, yet deep display of concepts and strategy. It's old, but with an old world charm, and its concepts are brilliantly expressed, often even with humour. ...more
Eric Nielson
Dec 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: chess
A very subtle book of instruction on the finer points of chess. Not really a book for beginners or even intermediates. There is also a tone of arrogance to it, as he seems to feel that he invented the game or something. Not really my favorite, but I may not have been quite ready for this one.
Norman Styers
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wise and witty. The best book of chess instruction ever.
Antonio García Fernández
It's almost 90 years old and therefore there may be some ideas already outdated. Still, the best chess book I've ever read. ...more
Richard Lobo
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A classic, possibly the best book on chess I've ever read. Nimzowitch reveals the simple, pure positional chess style he was famous for, with unprecedented clear explanation and reason. Few other attempt to be an all-encompassing philosophy on how to play the game and how he saw the seeds of positional evolution in the most chaotic of situations. As one of the fathers of the hypermodern school, his mark on the development of chess theory cannot be understated, and this book perfectly encapsulate ...more
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some info in this book might seem outdated but even so it's extremely instructive to see how one of the best players of his time creates his ideas. Along with Chess Praxis Nimzowitsch's work is one of best works in chess literature. ...more
Jason Stansbury
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chess
This book transformed me from someone who loves chess, into someone who actually understands it and plays it. As soon as I finished it I found myself utterly destroying my usual club level competition.
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am leading a study group as we navigate this book. Anyone can join the group at ...
Tom Ritman-Meer
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obviously a classic but rather a chaotic structure and Nimzowitsch comes across as bitter to the point of tedium.
Brian bury
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
After reading and working through this book, I became a much better chess player. A classic.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Raymond 8E
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
amazing book teaches you a lot so good i went though it at least 3 times and it helps me everytime i have improved a lot by reading it. u learn many important ideas that helps you during games.
Marek Šajner
Jun 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
Extremely overrated, too dogmatic and doesn't even justify anything. ...more
David Laing
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Only took me three years to finish. Really an excellent book on chess.
Bhakta Kishor
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Right from the first few pages of My System, I learned things that I could immediately put to good use. The subject of tempo is just one of those things about which I've never read a satisfactory description, but finally, thanks to Nimzowitsch, I think I understand the use of tempo in the opening. Another issue about which I've been a bit shaky for some time is the use of rooks and open files. Again, Nimzovitsch does an excellent job of clearing up this subject. If you have studied many games by ...more
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Very good concepts explained in simple language with adequate examples. But variations predicted by nimzowitch may not be the best always. Some times Engines like Rybka, spike and AI Alpha Zero showing more concrete variations. But most of engine variations are difficult to calculate. So author's depth of knowledge about positional analysis came handy. Good read!! ...more
Mike  Davis
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, chess
This book is a classic in chess planning and strategy. Originally published in English translation in 1930, it is still a cornerstone of chess literature and a jump into more 'modern' thinking of chess positional play. My copy is a 1964 reprint and, as such, still retains the older 'English descriptional' notation rather than the current algebraic notation which has become universal with computer chess engines and virtually all chess literature published today. I believe there are recent publica ...more
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is perfect for any chess fan and is an instant classic. I have heard it is a bit outdated tactic wise but it is the bases of many common theories today. I learned a lot from studying and using the tactics in this book, it really helped my chess. In chess everyone sees the same thing, it's how you view it that matters and how you see it. It's hard to explain the board becomes just.... clearer.... you see moves that were never their before, new options, new tactics. It's like the pieces ...more
Parwiz Ahmadi
Aug 16, 2010 rated it liked it
This is the epitome of positional chess. It is an organized manner for the expert to transition into that of the master class player. This is not to say the book is without its own tactical surprises. Far from it! The blindswine and see-saw are covered in depth. I highly recommend reading this alongside a tactical book, such as the Art of Attack. A must for those serious about reaching candidate master strength.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The seminal chess strategy book which set the bar for all other chess books since. More than just chess, it's a high level view of the nature of struggles. People go crazy over Sun Tzu's "Art of War", but in my opinion Sun Tzu just offers mealy-mouthed platitudes, but Nimzowitsch offers genuine insight into deep questions, such as the difference between tactics and strategy, and the definition of a "threat", and the fundamental methods to cope with threats. A must-read for any chess player. ...more
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First chess book that I can say really helped me a lot. The fundamentals (part 1) are good for beginning players but the second part really helps paint the hypermodern school of thought for me. I had been taught and always played the classic school so when I started to really understand the hyper moderns I fell in love with them. As for the book, lists of pictures (we are all kids at heart haha), his writing is clear and pretty funny for, what to many, is a dry subject.
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
A simple yet effective approach to chess by one of the best and most famous players of the twentieth century. Nimzowitsch has been credited with starting a new school of modern chess theory. Definitely worth the read for those interested in the development of modern chess theory.
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book for intermediate players like me. I believe more could be gained by more advanced players as well. The book also had some good humor, but the post script' s criticism of Tarrasch and the overall repeated rebuttals of chess critics were a little annoying. ...more
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Aron Nimzowitsch (or Aron Isayevich Nimtsovich, or Aaron Nimzovich; Latvian: Ārons Ņimcovičs, Russian: Аро́н Иса́евич Нимцо́вич; born Aron Niemzowitsch; 7 November 1886 – 16 March 1935) was a Russian-born, Danish leading chess master and a very influential chess writer. He was the foremost figure amongst the hypermoderns.

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