Steinitz' accumulation theory
Steinitz became World Champion (more or less) in 1866 by beating Adolf
Anderssen in a bloodthirsty match (+8 -6 =0). His style was very
much in the tradition of the Italian school, playing for attack from
the word go. He was awarded the brilliancy prize for this Rook
- Romantic Steinitz (up to and including 1872) (304)
His play in the of 1872 was still in this style, but his play in the
tournament of 1873 was in marked contrast, playing for small positional
advantages in the opening and early middlegame, and converting to a win
only later. Converting to a win might still be a brilliant
attack, but it was more likely to be scooping up a few pawns.
- Scientific Steinitz (after 1973)
Steinitz was World Champion for 20 years -- because, he said, he was 20
years ahead of his time! His theories diffused into the chess
world through lots of little pieces in newspapers and magazines, as
never produced a book or a summary of his theory during his life (he
died before he completed The Modern Chess Instructor). Lasker undertook
to explain Steinitz to the world after he died, and Tarrasch also wrote
a lot about Steinitz' theories.
- Scientific Steinitz didn't forget how to attack! (307)
elements (after Lasker)
1. Material advantage
2. Bad king position
3. Passed pawns in the middlegame
4. Weak pawns for the opponent
5. Strong and weak squares
6. Pawn islands
7. Strong pawn centre
8. Control of a diagonal
9. Control of a file
10. Bishop pair
11. Control of a rank
12. Bad piece position
13. Inharmoniously placed pieces
14. Advantage in development
15. Concentration of pieces in the centre (centralization)
16. Space advantage
From David HOOPER, Steinitz'
Theory, British Chess Magazine
Vol. 104, p.370, Sept
- At the beginning of the game the forces stand in
- Correct play on both sides maintains this equilibrium and
leads to a drawn game.
- Therefore a player can win only as a consequence of an
error made by the opponent. (There is no such thing as a winning move.)
- As long as the equilibrium is maintained, an attack,
however skilful, cannot succeed against correct defence. Such a defence
will eventually necessitate the withdrawal and regrouping of the
attacking pieces and the attacker will then inevitably suffer
- Therefore a player should not attack until he already has
an advantage, caused by the opponent's error, that justifies the
decision to attack.
- At the beginning of the game a player should not at once
seek to attack. Instead, a player should seek to disturb the
equilibrium in his favour by inducing the opponent to make an error - a
preliminary before attacking.
- When a sufficient advantage has been obtained, a player
must attack or the advantage will be dissipated."
Now, where to attack may be obvious, but just in case not: you attack
where you are strongest or where your opponent is weakest.
Here's a quick example:
weak pawns: creating holes
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. e3 O-O 7. Rc1 b6 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Qa4 Bb7 10. Ba6 Bxa6 11. Qxa6 c6 12. O-O Ne4 13. Bxe7 Qxe7
w - - 0 13
If we compare pieces and pawns, the inequalities are:
|White's plus points
- White's Queen's Rook on c1 is more active than Black's
Queen's Rook on a8.
- White's Queen on a6 is more active than Black's Queen on e7
- Black has a weak pawn on c6 -- in fact, Black has a few
weak light squares around on the Queen's-side.
- Black's Knight on e4 is more active than White's Knight on
This all suggests that White can, should and even must attack on the
The continuation is also a good example of Lasker's famous maxim:
without a considerable plus, no considerable plus without a combination
“In the beginning
of the game ignore the search for combinations, abstain from violent
moves, aim for small advantages, accumulate them, and only after having
attained these ends search for the combination - and then with all the
power and will of intellect, because the combination must exist,
however deeply hidden.”