The Evolution of Chess Style



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See also Schools of Chess in Glossary for how particular groups of players with similar styles formed virtual 'Schools' of thought for the game.
Philidor and Pre Philidor
Philidor believed a mobile mass of pawns is one of the key positional factors in the middlegame. He also believed an attack would fail unless the pawn structure was not there to support the attack. He warned about pawn weaknesses such as isolated backward and doubled pawns! He also linked the complementary nature of pawns and pieces e.g. good and bad bishops. He also emphasised a purely positional sacrifice - sacrificing for getting better pawn structure or piece mobility.
The Evolution of Chess Style #1 - Philidor
The Evolution of Chess Style #2 - Philidor continued
The Evolution of Chess Style #3 - Pre Philidor
The Evolution of Chess Style #4 - A closer look at Greco
The Evolution of Chess Style #5 - A closer look at Greco (2 of 2)
The Evolution of Style #6 - Even more Greco!
The Evolution of Chess style #7 - Even more Greco!
The Evolution of Chess Style #8 - Greco with the black pieces! Part 1 of 2
The Evolution of Chess Style #9 - Greco with the Black pieces, Part 2 of 2

Post Philidor
The Evolution of Style #10 - Post Philidor
The Evolution of Chess Style #11 (ego, motivation, personality clash)
The Evolution of Chess Style #12 - The notion of 'independence'
The Evolution of Chess Style #13 - The notion of 'independence'

The Rise of Staunton!
As well as putting his name to the aesthetic Staunton piece design, we see in Stauntons games some early experimentation with hyper-modern ideas such as fianchettoing the bishops and controlling the center from afar. There are also many examples of Nimzovich's 'overprotection' to be found in the early Staunton games.
The Evolution of Chess Style #15 - The Rise of Staunton
The Evolution of Chess Style #16 - Staunton gets knocked out
Anderssen is associated by Hans Kmoch as 'the start of the Sacrificial Style'
Morphy and Gruenfeld are associated by Hans Kmoch as 'Pure attacking style'
Morphy emphasised the power of a direct attack on the opponent's king. Factors such as fast piece development, provided a strong contrast to Philidor's slower pawn marches and phalanxes. This followed by a wide range of new gambits in order to achieve faster piece development and opening up lines for attack. These players were described as being part of the 'Romantic School of Chess'.
The Evolution of Chess Style #17 - The rise of Paul Morphy
The Evolution of Chess Style #18 - Morphy's game vs Paulsen

 
The first 'official' World Champion - Steinitz and the theory of Accumulation of Advantages
Steinitz realised that an effective way of justifying direct attacks in the post-Morphy era was to try and accumulate small and often quite subtle small advantages. E.g. having the two bishops, or a powerful knight outpost, or more space. He created new terms like 'holes'. He revisited and arguably repackaged some of Philidor's early characterisations of pawn weaknesses, such as doubled pawns.
Steinitz is associated by Hans Kmoch as the 'Positional Style'
The Evolution of Chess Style #19 - Steinitz and the 'Modern' Theory
The Evolution of Chess Style #20 - Steinitz and the 'Modern' Theory Part 20
The Evolution of Chess Style: #21 Impact of The Steinitz Accumulation Model
#22 : The Positional Sacrifice within the Accumulation of Advantages
#23 : Accumulation Theory at work - Game 16
#24: Accumulation Theory at work - Game 18
#25: Accumulation Theory at work - Game 19
#26: Accumulation Theory at work - Game 20
#27: The Evolution of Chess Style: The Steinitz vs Chigorin 2nd World cc match
#28: The Steinitz vs Chigorin 2nd World cc match
#30: The Chigorin system in Later Years
#31: The Chigorin system in Later Years - vs Pillsbury
#33: The Evolution of Chess Style - The rise of Tarrasch Pt 33
#34: The Evolution of Chess Style - The rise of Tarrasch Part 34
Evolution of Style - Roadmap so far

Tarrasch is associated by Hans Kmoch as the 'Scientific Style'
Tarrach took some of the Steinitzian principles in a different direction - for example emphasising the importance of piece mobility and control of space as being more important quite often than structural weaknesses. A concrete opening example of this is the Tarrasch defence in the Queens Gambit where black often accepts an Isolated Queens pawn. Tarrasch noted that an IQP can often provide knight outpost support on advanced squares which often outweighed the apparent structural weakness. He preferred not to have cramped positions, and enjoyed using central superiority to attack on both sides of the board. He popularised Steinitz's findings and reduced them to easy to use rules and formulations such as 'Develop knights before bishops' and 'Dont move a piece too many times in the opening'.
The revolt against Tarrasch and pushing the boundaries of 'rule-based chess' - The Hypermodern Revolution. The emphasis was now to find and emphasise useful exceptions - not rules.
The impact of Nimozvich and 'My System'
Nimzovich is associated by Hans Kmoch with the hillarious annotation in the overprotection Immortal (see #35 video): 'But it is a generally known fact that originality and modernism were introduced by me as my own personal inventions and enthusiastically immitated (without being fully understood) by the whole world of chess!'
Key Nimzovich terminology introduced into the game included: Blockade, Undermining, Overprotection, Restrain-Blockade-Destroy, Rook on the 7th, Prophylaxis. It should be noted that some of these ideas seem to be reflections of an ancient chinese book called 'The Art of War'. Also some ideas seem to echo previous generations such as Staunton's experimental use of overprotection, and fianchettoing bishops.
Nimzovich's works influenced numerous other players, including Savielly Tartakower, Milan Vidmar, Richard Reti, Akiba Rubinstein, Bent Larsen, and Tigran Petrosian, and his influence is still felt today.
Saemich vs Nimzovich
Mattison vs Nimzovich
Johner vs Nimzovich - restrain, blockade, attack!
Evolution of Style #35 Overprotection Immortal!
Evolution of Style #36 Overprotection revisited - and a view of generalisations as a prelude to exception finding
Evolution of Style #37 - Pieces instead of Pawns
Evolution of Style #38 - Nimzovich vs Euwe, Karlsbad 1929
Evolution of Style #39 - Nimzo's game vs Mattison
Evolution of Style #40 - Nimzo's draw vs Capablanca
Evolution of Style #41 - Nimzo's win vs Menchik
Evolution of Style #42 - Nimzo's win vs Bogo
Evolution of Style #43 - Nimzo's win vs Saemich
Evolution of Style #44 - Game vs Yates, Carlsbad 1929
Evolution of Style #45: A note about Indian systems
Evolution of Style #46: Nimzo's game vs Tartakower
Evolution of Style #47: Nimzo's win against Vidmar
Evolution of Style #48: Nimzo's win against Gilg
Evolution of Style #49: Nimzo's win against Johner
Evolution of Style #50: Impact of Nimzo's 'My System'
Evolution of Style #51: Nimzo's win vs Spielmann
Evolution of Style #52: Nimzo's win vs Alekhine Part 1 of 2
Evolution of Style #53: Nimzo's win vs Alekhine Part 2 of 2

Emanuel Lasker - 2nd official world champion
Lasker is associated by Hans Kmoch as the 'Style of Styles'
Lasker was one of the first major players to appreciate the psychological nature of the game, and found ways of creating uncomfortable positions for the opponent, or even seemingly playing into their style of play to encourage over-optimism. Max Euwe said of him 'It is not possible to learn much from him; one can only stand and wonder.'
Lasker Biography - 2nd official world champion
Evolution of Style #54: Einsteins intro to Lasker!
Evolution of Style #55: Lasker defeats Capablanca part 1 of 2
Evolution of Style #56: Lasker defeats Capablanca part 2 of 2
Evolution of Style #57: Lasker defeats Pillsbury at St Petersburg 1895
Evolution of Style #58: Lasker defeats Bauer brilliantly!

Pillsbury contributed the Pillsbury bind and popularised the Minority attack.

 
Capablanca - 3rd official world champion
Capablanca is associated by Hans Kmoch as the 'The Mechanical Style'
Capablanca took the teachings of Steinitz and Tarrasch and used them with such great effect that he became seemingly invincible. He perfected the skill known as 'technique' and was able to accumulate the tiniest of advantages until they became decisive. This style of play was a great way of minimising risk and this was proven by his track record of very few losses between 1916 and 1924.
Capablanca Biography - 3rd official world champion
Evolution of Style #59 - The rise of Capablanca - game vs Bernstein
Evolution of Style #60 - Capablanca vs Kupchik 1915
Evolution of Style #61 - Capablanca vs Marshall 1918
Evolution of Style #62 - Janowsky vs Capablanca 1916
Evolution of Style #63 - Marshall's brilliant move !
Evolution of Style #64 - Capa vs Treybal
Evolution of Style #65 - Lasker vs Capa - IQP demo
Evolution of Style #66 - Pawn majority demo - Marshall vs Capablanca
Evolution of Style #67 - Reti vs Capablanca
Evolution of Style #68 - Capablanca vs Spielmann
Evolution of Style #69 - Capablanca vs Professor Marc Fonaroff

Alekhine is associated by Hans Kmoch as the 'Style as brilliant as sunlight'
Alekhine - 4th official world champion
Alekhine Biography - 4th official world champion
Evolution of Style #70 - The rise of Alexander Alekhine - Reti vs Alekhine
Evolution of Style #71 - Alekhine vs Nimzo 1930
Evolution of Style #72 - Alekhine vs Yates 1922
Evolution of Style #73 - Bogo. vs Alekhine 1922
Evolution of Style #74 - Alekhine's 5 Queen Game
Evolution of Style #75 - The impact of Krylenko
Evolution of Style #76 - Alekhine's only win vs Lasker
Evolution of Style #77 - Decisive Alekhine vs. Capablanca Games
Evolution of Style #78 - Alekhine vs Bogo. 1929 match
Evolution of Style #79 - Alekhine's Quadrupled Pawn Game
Evolution of Style #80 - Alekhine vs Bogo, 1st World Champ. match, Game 13
Evolution of Style #81 - Alekhine vs Bogo Game 14
Evolution of Style #83 - Alekhine vs Bogo. Game 17, 1st Match
Evolution of Style #84- Alekhine vs Bogo 1st Match - Game 18
Evolution of Style #85- Alekhine vs Bogo, 1st match, Game 19
Evolution of Style #86- Game 21
Evolution of Style #87- Alekhine vs Book
Evolution of Style #88- Bogo vs Alekhine, Game 22
Evolution of Style #89- One of Alekhine's earliest games
Evolution of Style #90- Alekhine wins correspondence tournament
Evolution of Style #91- An unusual 2nd move by Alekhine
Evolution of Style #92 : A note by Alexander about Style Evolution!
Evolution of Style #93: Alekhine vs Bogo Rematch, Game 2
Evolution of Style #94: Alekhine vs Bogo Rematch, Game 4
Evolution of Style #95: Alekhine vs Bogo Rematch, Game 9
Evolution of Style #96: Alekhine vs Bogo Rematch, Game 10
Evolution of Style #97: Efim Bogoljubov vs Alexander Alekhine - Dutch Defense (A92)
Evolution of Style #98: Alekhine vs Efim Bogoljubov - Game 16 1934
Evolution of Style #99: Efim Bogoljubov vs Alexander Alekhine - Game 17 1934
Evolution of Style #100: Efim Bogoljubov vs Alexander Alekhine - Part 1
Evolution of Style #101: Efim Bogoljubov vs Alexander Alekhine - Part 2

Euwe - 5th official world champion
Euwe massively popularised chess in the Netherlands. He was noted for his logical approach and for his knowledge of the openings, in which he made major contributions to chess theory. Euwe had a very strong and objective influence when assigned as FIDE president from 1970. Even when such objectivity brought him into conflict with the Soviet Chess Federation.
Evolution of Style #102:The rise of Max Euwe - Zurich 1934 vs Alekhine
Evolution of Style #103:How Emanuel Lasker avoided calcification of his own style
Evolution of Style #104:Max Euwe games - 1928 Olympiad Amateur World Ch.
Evolution of Style #104.2:Max Euwe's style with the black pieces in 1928
Evolution of Style #105:Albert Becker vs Max Euwe - e-file counterattack!
Evolution of Style #106:Albert Becker vs Max Euwe - Karlsbad 1929 - Hack attack!
Evolution of Style #107:Alexander Alekhine vs Max Euwe - Slav Defence (D17)
Evolution of Style #108:Alexander Alekhine vs Max Euwe 1935 - Games 2,3,4
Evolution of Style #109:Alekhine vs Euwe World Ch. 1935 - Games 7,8,9,10
Evolution of Style #110:Alekhine vs Euwe 1935 - Games 12,14,16,19
Sultan Khan- one of the most naturally talented players ever!

Evolution of Style #111:Sulthan Khan vs Frederic Yates - British ch 1932
Evolution of Style #112:Mir Sulthan Khan vs Akiba Rubinstein
Evolution of Style #113:Sulthan Khan vs Solomon Flohr - 1931 - Kings Indian
Evolution of Style #114:Alekhine vs Sulthan Khan - Olympiad 1931
Evolution of Style #115:Sulthan Khan vs Matisons - Prague Olympiad 1931
Evolution of Style #116:Mir Sulthan Khan vs Frank Marshall - 1930
Evolution of Style #117:Mir Sulthan Khan vs Capablanca
Evolution of Style #118:Carl Ahues vs Mir Sultan Khan - Nimzo-Indian
Evolution of Style #119:Mir Sulthan Khan vs Nimzovich - Queens Indian
Evolution of Style #120:Statistical Assessments of Players
Evolution of Style #121:Appreciating the style and wit of Tartakower!
Evolution of Style #122:More Tartakower notable games
Evolution of Style #123:Alekhine vs Euwe Rematch 1937 Games 1,2,5,6,7,8
Evolution of Style #124:Alekhine vs Euwe Rematch 1937 - Games 10,13,14
Evolution of Style #125:Alekhine vs Euwe Rematch 1937
Evolution of Style #126:Alexander Alekhine at 1938 Buenos Aires Olympiad
Evolution of Style #127:Nottingham 1936 - Round 1 key games
Evolution of Style #128:Nottingham 1936 - Round 2 key games
Evolution of Style #129:Nottingham 1936 Round 3 key games
Evolution of Style #130:Nottingham 1936 - Round 4 key games
Evolution of Style #131: Nottingham 1936 - Round 5 key games
Evolution of Style #132: Nottingham 1936 Round 6 key games

The Soviet domination of the Game!
The Soviet machine had churned out many World Champions. In the top row of the above picture, Petrosian sits with his hands clasped, followed by Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Botvinnik, and Vassily Smyslov.
The Soviets placed a high priority on gaining the initiative, a willingness to accept dynamic pawn structures, and an emphasis on counter-attack rather than defense alone. The Soviets arguably modified the Hypermodern ideas by analysing concrete openings to find dynamic tactical play independent of pawn formations and central control. Very creative dynamic Russian players included Bronstein and Boleslavsky. They sought unbalanced positions where the plusses and minnusses of both sides were complex. For example Bovinnik used dynamic unbalanced variations in the french defence and Slav. They frequently used positional sacrifices echoing early Philidor ideas. Botvinnik led the way for a new detailed way for preparing against opponents.
  


Botvinnik's chess school, 1987: Mikhail Botvinnik, Ilya Botvinnik, Vladimir Markzitser, Vladimir Kramnik (at back), Ketino Kachiani-Gersinska, Sergei Tiviakov, Mikhail Oratovsky, Garry Kasparov (foreground), Alexei Shirov.
Mikhail Botvinnik in particular was highly influencial in starting a coaching school known as the 'Botvinnik School of Chess' . Students of this School included Kasparov, Karpov, Kramnik and Shirov. One of the ideas of this school of chess was to eradicate weaknesses and build on the individual strengths of the students. Students were allowed to express their own personality, as can be evidenced by the dramatic difference in playing styles between Karpov and Kasparov. Karpov taking a more positional route, and Kasparov a more dynamic style.
 Mikhail Moiseevich Botvinnik 1911 - 1995 USSR 1948 - 1957
1958 - 1960
1961 - 1963
Evolution of Style #133: The rise of Mikhail Botvinnik - Capablanca Simul
Evolution of Style #134: The only game Botvinnik lost to Capablanca
Evolution of Style #135: The curious case of Sir George Alan Thomas
Evolution of Style #136:Mikhail Botvinnik shows how IQP blockade can backfire
Evolution of Style #137:One of Mikhail Botvinnik's quickest ever tournament wins
Evolution of Style #138: Botvinnik plays in the attacking style of Alekhine! vs Chekhov
Evolution of Style #139: Alekhine brilliancy game at Nottingham 1936
Evolution of Style #140: Amazing Botvinnik brilliancy game vs Capablanca - AVRO 1938
Evolution of Style #141: Mikhail Botvinnik vs Alexander Alekhine - Opening disadvantage
Evolution of Style #142: Mikhail Botvinnik vs Samuel Reshevsky - AVRO 1938
Evolution of Style #143: FIDE - WC 1948 - Botvinnik vs Keres - Nimzo Indian
Evolution of Style #144: Mikhail Botvinnik faces a dangerous gambit - Moscow 1935
Evolution of Style #145: Botvinnik plays Kotov in dramatic USSR ch. last round 1939
Evolution of Style #146: Botvinnik plays Vera Menchik - the Wormen's World Chess Champion
Evolution of Style #147: Mir Sulthan Khan vs Vera Menchik - Women World Champion
Evolution of Style #148: Vera Menchik vs Max Euwe - Hastings 1931/32
Evolution of Style #149: Alexander Alekhines Last ever game

World War II- 1939 to 1945: International chess activity understandably ground to a hault


 Vasily Vasilievich Smyslov 1921 - USSR 1957 - 1958
 Mikhail Nekhemievich Tal 1936 - 1993 USSR 1960 - 1961
 Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian 1929 - 1984 USSR 1963 - 1969
 Boris Vasilievich Spassky 1937 - USSR 1969 - 1972

Fischer - 11th official world champion
Fischer is widely regarded as having a 'universal style'. An awareness of all styles before him. Combined with this was a great determination and will to win - even to grind out wins in very long endgames, where a lot of Grandmasters would have just agreed draws.
Fischer - 11th official world champion. Karpov therefore inherited much of Botvinnik's emphasis on preparation, research and innovation.

Karpov - 12th official world champion
A former student of Mikhail Botvinnik's coaching School.

Kasparov - 13th official world champion
A former student of Mikhail Botvinnik's coaching School. Kasparov therefore inherited Botvinnik's emphasis on preparation, research and innovation.
Kasparov - 13th official world champion

The Internet, Computer and Entertainment age of style!
The Internet has spawned a new way of playing chess with thousands of enthusiasts playing online. Excellent sites like www.chessworld.net have emerged. Innovations spread very quickly due to the game scores each week being collated by news sites like TWIC.
For OTB chess research, Computers have enable players to find amazing new resources and ideas in the openings, and make game preparation much more detailed than before. Post-mortem analysis with engines can help find the slightest tactical inaccuracies.
Chess is more about finding the truth in positions - and an 'It all depends' attitude to positions - where anything goes if it works. But the Schools of chess lay a positional and intuitive foundation for the game. We stand on the heads and shoulders of previous generations of ideologies. The evolution of style is a path of generalisation and later finding useful exceptions. And with computers, the truth and greater resources of the game are only just starting to be revealed.
And let's not forget who's really important - Kingscrusher - pioneering with Chessworld and the youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/kingscrusher with lots of entertaining live commentary games, opening videos, news report videos, etc. A new style of chess - for entertainment is a throwback to the Romantic era of chess, when combinations and speculative sacrifices pleased the crowd. But now, it is just online, so it's a bigger crowd than the old cafes of the past such as 'the Cafe de La Reagance' :)

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