Hypermodern school

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The Hypermodern School is a term coined by Savielly Tartakower for a style of chess that was gradually developed after 1920.

The exponents of this game system, especially Richard Réti and Gyula Breyer, partly built on the theses of Aaron Nimzowitsch and fundamentally broke with the dogmatic rules of Siegbert Tarrasch. They reformulated the rule of occupying the centre of the chessboard by talking about mastering the centre. For this purpose, temporary control of the centre by piece action was sufficient, and at the right moment an advance of the centre pawns could then be undertaken. With the successes of this game system they proved that some laws in chess can only be maxims, not rigid rules. In his book “The New Ideas in Chess” Réti remarked that by occupying the centre with pawns, attack markers were created in the same way as, for example, when a castling position was weakened by a move of the knight-pawn. He justified this revolutionary thesis with the fact that, for example, after the moves 1. d4 d5, the point d5 becomes an attack marker and White can initiate an attacking game on this point with 2. c4. If you occupy the centre with pawns only later, you prevent your opponent from being able to devise an attacking plan early on.
Examples of openings that follow this style of play, called “hypermodern” in the 1920s and 1930s, are various Indian openings and the Réti system.

Lot example

A well-known example of the hypermodern style is Richard Réti’s victory over the then world champion José Raúl Capablanca in the 1924 tournament in New York.

a b c d e f g h
8 Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess rdt45.svg Chess ndt45.svg Chess kdt45.svg Chess --t45.svg 8
7 Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess rdt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess pdt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 7
6 Chess --t45.svg Chess pdt45.svg Chess nlt45.svg Chess rlt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess pdt45.svg Chess pdt45.svg 6
5 Chess pdt45.svg Chess plt45.svg Chess qdt45.svg Chess rlt45.svg Chess ndt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 5
4 Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 4
3 Chess plt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess nlt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess plt45.svg Chess --t45.svg 3
2 Chess --t45.svg Chess qlt45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess plt45.svg Chess klt45.svg Chess plt45.svg 2
1 Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg Chess --t45.svg 1
a b c d e f g h
Final position after 31. T1d5
Réti-Capablanca 1:0
New York, March 22, 1924
English opening, A15
1. Sf3 Sf6 2. c4 g6 3. b4 Lg7 4. Lb2 0-0 5. g3 b6 6. Lg2 Lb7 7. 0-0 d6 8. d3 Sbd7 9. Sbd2 e5 10. Dc2 Te8 11. Tfd1 a5 12. a3 h6 13. Sf1 c5 14. b5 Sf8 15. e3 Dc7 16. d4 Le4 17. Dc3 exd4 18. exd4 S6d7 19. Dd2 cxd4 20. Lxd4 Dxc4 21. Lxg7 Kxg7 22. Db2+ Kg8 23. Txd6 Dc5 24. Tad1 Ta7 25. Se3 Dh5 26. Sd4 Lxg2 27. Kxg2 De5 28. Sc4 Dc5 29. Sc6 Tc7 30. Se3 Se5 31. T1d5 1:0[1]


  • Entry “Hypermodern Chess School”, in: Klaus Lindörfer: Das große Schachlexikon. Orbis Verlag, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-572-02734-9, p. 126f.
  • Savielly G. Tartakower: Die hypermoderne Schachpartie. Edition Olms, Zurich 1981, ISBN 3-283-00094-8. (Reprint of the Vienna 1925 edition)

Individual references

  1. Richard Réti vs. Jose Raul Capablanca, New York (1924), the game to replay, (Java applet, English)