Aron Nimzowitsch was one of the greatest chess players of the 1920s and 1930s, ranked just behind the famous World Champions Alekhine and Capablanca. His reputation as an author is higher still.
My System is at the top of a very short list of chess classics. Nimzowitsch's ideas have had a profound influence on modern chess thinking. Most chess masters will at some point have studied Nimzowitsch's work, and not to have read My System is by many regarded as a shocking gap in a chess player's education.
The problem for an English-speaking audience has been that My System was written in German more than eighty years ago. The commonly-used contemporary translations have sounded dated for some time, and were always questionable: the translators frequently toned down many passages, fearing Nimzowitsch's biting wit would be too controversial.
This edition uses a brand-new translation that recreates the author's original intentions. For the first time an English-speaking audience can appreciate the true nature of a famous chess book.
- A modern uncensored translation of a chess classic.
- A famous chess book with a superb reputation.
- The first new English translation in decades.
Previous translations have censored and diluted the author's writing.
It would be interesting to choose the best chess book from the 20 th century. My System by Aaron Nimzowitsch would certainly be my favourite, and I think this would be a common choice. According to Mikhail Tal, this book is "full of the elixir of chess youth". What are the secrets behind the powerful effect My System has on its readers?
I think that the magical power of this book can be found in the fact that the author managed to be ahead of his time. Already in 1925 he expressed still relevant modern ideas like prophylaxis, pawn activity, and the blockade. The impulse that originated from Nimzowitsch was so immense that the thinking of chess developed in his direction. If you look at the games of Petrosian and Karpov you immediately find the traces of Nimzowitsch's "system". These outstanding chess players developed to perfection the prophylactic style of preventing the opponent's possibilities.
Nimzowitsch's mark is recognisable to some extent in every top player. When I contemplate the later games of Kasparov, I am convinced that many of his decisions are based on purely prophylactic grounds.
Nimzowitsch did not write a simple handbook of opening lines, but a manual of chess. The opinions, ideas, and generalisations that he describes gave rise to a true revolution, whose consequences we can correctly evaluate today.
From the publishers
When we decided to publish a new edition of My System our primary intention was to produce an updated translation. The second issue was which source we should use for this translation. We decided on the 2005 Rattman German edition, which contains a number of improvements from previous editions. We also decided to computer-check, within reason, the games in the book. The Rattman edition already had some interesting observations on the original text, which we decided to retain with their corrections in the text or as footnotes on the page (pages 15, 64, 74,76, 84,106, 126, 156) and their references to the editor.
We have also added two small essays at the end of the book. The first is a general discussion about the current relevance of My System; the second contains just over a dozen positions from the book where we think a new opinion might interest the reader. These positions have also been marked with superscript throughout the book.
We would like to thank Yuri Garrett of Caissa Italia for his superb efforts in researching Nimzowitsch's tournament and match results, which are included towards the end of this book as the article "The Chess Career of Aaron Nimzowitsch".
We hope that our new edition of My System will reveal this classic to a new generation of young chess players.