Nichevo means nothing in Russian. As a youth Petrosian played a very aggressive and complicated style, very much like the style for which Mikhail Tal is well known. But Petrosian's nerves could not keep up with that style, so he deliberately changed his approach to the game. He adopted a style that relied on the art of maneuver, a slow positional style. But his deep tactical insight allowed him to anticipate the tactical possibilities in his opponent's position, and put a stop to them, often before his opponents themselves were aware of their own potential! The result was that Petrosian's opponents would lose without being attacked in the usual sense; Petrosian simply took ruthless advantage of every small weakness presented until he won. So his opponents dubbed his style the nothing attack, since they would lose without seeing it!
Back to Tim Thompson's Petrosian Page