‘…Two or three months later I made great progress. Among the factors that made this headway easier for me, apart from my inherent combination play abilities, were my resentment at the failure in Barmen, my strong dislike for Tarrasch and my yearning to master the positional play elements.
Even the superficial analysis of the games I had played in Barmen showed that my chief weak point was poorly played openings (I did not know of a defence against l.d4). Later, more accurate and deep analysis convinced me that I lacked the skill of consolidating my position. My game with Forgacs may serve an example, there attacked on the wings quite regardless of the position.
By that time the Nuremberg tournament games collection had come out with Tarrasch’s notes. I took the book to the bookbinder’s asking him to bind in blank leaves between each two leaves of the text. Then I began to analyse some of the games, mostly the ones played by Salwe, Duras and Forgacs, and M.Chigorin’s ones as Black.
I entered the found results on the intervening leaves right away. I always “played” for one of the partners only – either as White, or as Black, trying first to find the best move on my own and then looking up the move made in the game. So, my “game” lasted at least about 6 hours.
I learnt consolidating my position like this. In one of Salwe’s games there arose a position characteristic of an isolated Q-pawn.
White – Nf3 , pawn on d4. Black -Nd7, pawn on е6 (besides, each player had quite a number of pieces). It tumed out that White did not need to hurry at all to occupy point e5 with the Knight. In a few moves the black Knight itself set out on its way to d5, so the e5-point appeared in the hands of White without the least effort on his part.
This state of things was immediately stated on a blank leaf, the mainthing being not the chess content of the manoeuvre proper but its psychological moments so to say: “Points are often made vacant automatically!” “Don’t hurry!” and so on. At the same time, feeling uneasy and interested, I kept my mind’s eye open for the slightest “rustle” along the open file, the seventh rank and for everything related to passed pawns. It was then that I discovered the notion of “an outpost on the open file”.
But what I enjoyed most was pointing out the errors and often shallowness in Tarrasch’s notes. I profited a lot b that.
My diligence resulted in the following:
1)1 thus got a thoroughly worked out plan of defence against 1 .d4,namely 1.. .Nf6 and 2.. .d6 (following in Chigorin’s footsteps).
2) I got the habit of playing in the wait-and-see manner (biding my time); now it seemed incomprehensible to me how I could earlier sacrifice without precise calculation.
3) It was an important accomplishment too, that due to thorough analysis of the games I began to understand the strategy of closed positions, particularly the principles of a pawn chain, and partly those of piece centralization.
The method applied by me in 1906, can be recommended today without any doubt. Let’s imagine a beginning combinative player who is playing Capablanca’s game, move by move. Suppose there is a certain position and the player is impatient to leam which of the possible attacking continuations was preferred.
He has a look and sees that Capablanca seems to have made an utterly passive move. Our player is astounded, he may even feel annoyed but after a thorough analysis he is convinced of the hidden strength of the move.
The same sensation is produced by the mere manoeuvre move (instead of the expected attacking one). I am inclined to consider this sensation (this “shock”) of paramount importance pedagogically. No matter how much you try to bring the idea of piece centralization home, a combination player will persist in getting to the wings while “the sensation method “shown here is likely to effectively influence the style of his play.
That’s why along with the study of My System we offer a combination player the above “sensation method ” as a reliable antidote against the supercilious character of his own combinational style of play.
The art of consolidation directly depends on the state of your nerves and on whether you are an even-tempered person. Capablanca should be acknowledged the best consolidator of all times ( he excelled in the skill of preventive manoeuvres as no one else did). But Capablanca is a sportsman, a person of iron nerves and psychically balanced.
That’s why we would like to offer a combination player advice: do a great deal of physical sport, walk in the open-air a lot, breathe deeply, try to keep calm, do gymnastics according to the Muller system….’