31 July 2006

Alekhine - Steiner, Bradley Beach 1929

Having looked at so many of Alekhine's annotated brilliancies, I am starting to see a pattern. Inaccurate opening play by Alekhine's opponent followed by a less than obvious move or two by Alekhine to hinder development, and suddenly the opponent is in real trouble.

The current game follows the pattern. Black's problem has been that, when the Knight was on f6, he was unable to play ...Nxd5 because White would recapture with gain of a tempo.

Bradley Beach 1929
Steiner, Herman

Alekhine, Alexander
(After 13...Ng4-e5)
[FEN "r1b2rk1/1pqn1ppp/p2b4/2pBn1B1/4P3/2N2N1P/PP2QPP1/R4RK1 w - - 0 14"]

Alekhine played 14.Nh4! and commented,

In view of Black's cramped position the right policy is to avoid exchanges. Besides, Black is now forced to prevent the move 15.Nf5 and consequently has even less choice than before.

The game continued 14...Nb6 15.f4 Nc6. Now Alekhine played the surprising 16.f5!. Alekhine:

A paradoxical, but most effective, continuation of the attack, by which White "sacrifices" the central square e5. The "natural" advance 16.e5 instead would have left White -- strange as it may seem -- after 16...Be7 with but an insignificant positional advantage.

16...Ne5 17.Qh5 Re8.

Parrying the threat 18.f6 which now would be met by 18...g6 19.Qh6 Bf8.

18.Rf4 Be7. Alekhine:

This will be refuted by a pretty combination, but, as Black still could not take the powerful Bishop -- after 18...Nxd5? follows 19.Nxd5 Qc6 20.Nf6+ gxf6 21.Bxf6 etc. -- there was no longer a sufficient defense.

19.f6! Alekhine:

Because of Black's last move White is enabled to effect this advance in spite of the possible defence 19...g6 20.Qh6 Bf8 -- and this because of the following combination: 19...g6 20.Nxg6!.

He then gave a series of variations showing that White wins the Queen or checkmates Black.

After the following retreat which permits the opening of the f-file, the game is also practically over.

19...Bf8 20.fxg7 Bxg7 21.Raf1 Be6 22.Nf5 Bxd5 23.Nxg7! and Black resigned a few moves later. To play through the complete game see...

Alexander Alekhine vs Herman Steiner, Bradley Beach 1929

...on Chessgames.com.

29 July 2006

Alekhine - Asztalos, Kecskemet 1927

Continuing with Alekhine's annotated brilliancies, the present game is one of the most interesting yet. Alekhine achieved a small edge in the opening, which he used to keep Black's Queenside bottled up. His opponent managed to free his pieces through a few clever moves, but Alekhine built on his advantage to improve his position each time.

In the diagram Black has the Bishop pair, but the Be8 is out of play. White dominates the center.

Kecskemet 1927
Asztalos, Lajos

Alekhine, Alexander
(After 36...Rab8)
[FEN "1r1rb1k1/2q2pb1/2p1p1p1/2P1N3/p1BP1Q1P/P7/5P2/3RR1K1 w - - 0 37"]

Alekhine played 37.h5!, sacrificing a Pawn to open the g-file. The White King will take shelter on the h-file. Other than the notational '!', Alekhine made no comment on this move. The game continued 37...gxh5 38.Kh1 Rb7 39.Rg1 Qe7 40.Rxg7+!. Here Alekhine commented,

Black hoped that he had defended himself against this possibility by his last move. Yet the combination still works because of the unexpected point at the 42nd move.

40...Kxg7 41.Rg1+ Kh7 42.Nxf7!! Alekhine:

Only so! If now 42...Qxf7 43.Bd3+ Qg6 44.Bxg6+ Bxg6 45.Rxg6 Kxg6 46.Qe4+ Kg7 47.Qe5+ and Black, after a few further checks, would inevitably lose one of his Rooks.

Black resigned. In fact, Black can keep both Rooks by playing 47...Kg6 48.Qxe6+ Kg7, but after 49.f4 (49.Qxc6 Rb1+ 50.Kg2 Rxd4) 49...Rbd7 50.Qe5+, the game is still lost. The game featured very impressive play by the great master of attack.

To play through the complete game see...

Alexander Alekhine vs Lajos Asztalos, pre-A 1927

...on Chessgames.com.

27 July 2006

Fortress? • Korchnoi - Spassky, Belgrade 1977

I like fortress positions. They make nonsense of the relative value of the pieces (P=1, B/N=3 etc.) and they are almost impossible for computers to foresee. Here's one that I had seen before, but forgot until I reviewed the games of the 1977 Korchnoi - Spassky match.

Black's position looks desperate and indeed it is, or was. White's last move let Black escape with a draw, although only a very good player would see the resource involved.

Belgrade 1977
Candidates Final, Game 1
Spassky, Boris

Korchnoi, Viktor
(After 41.Nb4-c6)
[FEN "7r/2Pbkpp1/1N2p3/2R4p/8/6P1/5PKP/8 b - - 0 41"]

Black played 41...Kd6!. Now White wins a piece with 42.c8=Q Bxc8 43.Rxc8 Rxc8 44.Nxc8+. Here's the surprise. After 44...Kc7, the Knight can't escape. Since the sequence 45.Na7 Kb6 46. Nc8+ Kc7 leads nowhere, White tried 45.Ne7. Black chased the Knight down the Black Kingside with 45...Kd7. After 46.Ng8 h4 47.g4 Ke8 48.Kh3 Kf8 49.Nh6 gxh6 50.Kxh4 Kg7 51.Kg3 Kg6 52.Kf4 f6 53.h3 the game was agreed drawn.

While this isn't a typical fortress, I think it qualifies. Instead of an impenetrable position keeping the opponent's pieces out, Black has an airtight position keeping White's piece bottled up. What do you think? To play through the complete game see...

Viktor Korchnoi vs Boris Spassky, Belgrade 1977

...on Chessgames.com.

25 July 2006

June Chess Life

Received the June issue of Chess Life (CL) today. This is the first issue with the redesigned look. I have seen the articles and the new design so many times on the USCF's site www.uschess.org, that there wasn't much new. The design is a welcome change, although I miss the columns by Evans and Byrne.

Of the features specific to the CL print version, the diagrams of chess positions have suffered. The standard size diagrams need a border, while the puzzles have insufficient contrast between the light and dark squares. The magazine desperately needs color. Only the four cover pages use full color, while the blue used throughout the articles quickly becomes monotonous.

I counted four full page ads for the USCF. Why weren't these used for the Evans and Byrne columns? I understand that they had already been paid before the magazine went to press. Included with the 80-page magazine was a 48-page catalog which I quickly detached and tossed aside.

Overall grade: B+.


A full page ad for...


...caught my eye, as it was certainly intended to do. On the site's news page I found: '05/18/2006 "DOCUMENTIA" PRINT AD! Don't ask how this came to happen, but national chess magazine Chess Life is running a full-page advertisement for "Documentia" in their upcoming May / June 2006 issue.'

Since I've never looked at the sites mentioned in the classified ads, I decided to look at the June issue's ads. Here are the sites in order of appearance...

Tri-State Chess

Castle Long Publications (chess960)

Chess on DVD (formerly ChessVideo.com)

The URL www.store.ebay.com/toby-chess returned an error message: 'Sorry, no information is available for the URL'. Not very clever, is it? After a few minutes work, I discovered out that the address should be:-

eBay Stores > Toby Chess

House of Staunton

Italian Gambit System by Jude Acers

Chess Thinker


A.G. Pader

23 July 2006

Tarrasch's attack on the hypermodern school

From The Game of Chess by Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch (p.237):

In the last few years there has arisen a School that preaches the holding back of the center Pawns. It is very significant that the strongest players -- the present World's Champion, Dr. Alekhine, the former champions, Capablanca and Dr. Lasker, and also Bogoljubow -- do not belong to this school.

Quite a century ago, this idea, now proclaimed as new, was tried in the "Fianchetto", as it is called, but was soon dropped because the opponent's Pawns were too harassing. Supposing that the opponent also adopts the same petty and cowardly strategy and holds back the center Pawns, what then? Then there can be no question of a struggle at all, since the two armies do not meet.

Let the following absolutely horrible game, played in the Maehrisch-Ostrau tournament of 1923, serve as an example. The names of the players I will keep secret. [Tarrasch gave 15 moves and continued:] After 16 more moves this caricature of a game was abandoned as a draw.

In our age of chess databases, it is impossible to keep the names of players secret. Here is the game...

[Event "?"]
[Site "Maehrisch-Ostrau"]
[Date "1923.??.??"]
[Round "13"]
[White "Reti,Richard"]
[Black "Gruenfeld,Ernst"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A05"]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.d3 O-O 7.Be3 d6 8.Qc1 Re8 9.h3 Bd7 10.O-O Rc8 11.a3 a6 12.Rb1 Rb8 13.b4 cxb4 14.axb4 b5 15.cxb5 axb5 16.Nd4 Nd5 17.Nxc6 Nxc3 18.Qxc3 Bxc3 19.Nxd8 Rbxd8 20.Rfc1 Rc8 21.Bb7 Rb8 22.Bg2 Rbc8 23.Bb7 Rb8 24.Bg2 Rbc8 25.g4 e6 26.Bb7 Rb8 27.Rxc3 Rxb7 28.Rbc1 Kf8 29.Rc7 Reb8 30.Ba7 Rxc7 31.Rxc7 Rd8 1/2-1/2

...Nowadays no one would find the opening the least bit unusual.

21 July 2006

Alekhine - Marshall, New York 1927

After a few posts looking at other topics, I'm returning to Alekhine's annotated brilliancies. This game is from the great New York 1927 tournament, won by Capablanca. Each of the six participants played four games against the others. Alekhine beat Marshall twice with the White pieces and drew twice with the Black pieces.

The first moves were 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Ne4. On Black's third move, Alekhine commented,

This unnatural and time-wasting move can be succesfully answered in different ways. One of the simplest is 4.Qc2.

He played instead 4.Nfd2. The players eventually reached the following position, where White's advantage in development is obvious. Watch how Alekhine converts this to an irresistible Kingside attack.

New York 1927
Marshall, Frank

Alekhine, Alexander
(After 16...e6-e5)
[FEN "r1bq2k1/pp1n2pp/2p5/3pp3/2PPP3/P1N5/1PQ1B1PP/5RK1 w - - 0 17"]

Here Alekhine played 17.Qd2! (the '!'s are all from Alekhine's notes), and wrote, 'The initial move of the decisive maneuver'. After 17...c5, he commented, 'Trying to increase the tension at any cost, as the Pawn exchanges would have proved rapidly disastrous.' 18.dxe5!. Alekhine: 'Erroneous would have been instead 18.Nxd5 cxd4 19.Qb4 because of 19...Nf6.' 18...d4 19.Qf4!. Alekhine:

This sacrifice in connection with the "quiet" 21st move is doubtless the safest and quickest method to force a victory. Not 19.Nd5 because of 19...Nxe5 followed by 20....Qd6. 19...dxc3 20.Qf7+ Kh8.

21.bxc3! Alekhine:

This alone proves the correctness of the sacrifice. Tempting, but premature, would have been instead 21.e6 because of 21...Nf6 22.e7 Qg8 23.Rxf6 Bg4! 24.Qxg8+ Kxg8 25.Rd6 Re8, etc., with advantage to Black.

After 21...Qg8 22.Qe7 h6 23.Bh5! a5 (23...Qxc4 24.Bf7) 24.e6 g6 25.exd7 Bxd7 26.Rf7, Black resigned. To play through the complete game see...

Alexander Alekhine vs Frank James Marshall, New York 1927

...on Chessgames.com.

19 July 2006

A new/old system of game classification

Along with the usual indices of games by opening and by player, the tournament book of the London 1883 event classified games by 'summary descriptive':

  • Exceptionally fine
  • Masterly play throughout
  • Masterly play in parts and endings
  • Original or enterprising, very good
  • Original or enterprising, fairly good
  • Very lively and brilliant
  • Lively
  • Remarkably well contested and excellent play
  • Interesting but faulty in parts
  • Of average interest
  • Dull
  • Exceedingly dull, nearly devoid of interest
  • Indifferent
  • Drawn game which admitted of further play
  • False move
The 'Exceptionally fine' games were Zukertort - Blackburne and Steinitz - Rosenthal.

17 July 2006

'Chess for Peace' Youth Festival

Received my May issue of Chess Life (CL) a few days after the April issue, mentioned in my post on The Szen position. The May issue is the last before the redesign published in the June issue, which I'll probably receive a month from now.

The redesigned CL can be seen under the USCF's site USchess.org, which is also undergoing a redesign. That URL redirects to a beta.uschess.org subdomain which has 'Chess Life Magazine' and 'Chess Life Online' among the links on the left sidebar.

The 'Chess Life Magazine' page, showing the June issue, starts off with an entry titled 'Update on Updates' that has a broken image and which mentions 'unforeseen technical problems'. That entry is followed by 22 other entries, where the first five appear to be features. Many of the entries are marked 'Members Only', but the corresponding articles are presently open access via member login.

The 'Chess Life Online' page has eight entries, several marked 'Members Only'. Although the top of the page indicates that I'm logged in ('Renew/Gift; My Profile; Logout'), I can't access the articles without going through member login again.

Except for the minor technical issues, the two Web sections -- CL magazine and CL online -- make a good impression. It was time for a redesign. The look of the May 2006 issue of CL has not evolved much since the January 1992 issue, the oldest copy of CL I have at hand.

I read too much about chess to have an objective opinion, but I found most of the May 2006 articles uninteresting, even by CL's standards. The bright spot was a feature by Australian GM Ian Rogers on Linares/Morelia 2006.

My favorite piece was a full page ad for the the Anatoly Karpov International School of Chess announcing an 'International Chess for Peace Youth Festival', 6-11 June, Lindsborg, Kansas, with a link to ChessForPeace.org. I hadn't run across this event before, and was surprised because the Karpov school went belly up early in 2006, bankrupted by a high profile 'Chess for Peace' promotional stunt last autumn. I assume the June event was cancelled and that the ad was paid long before the May CL went to press.

June was a bad month for one-shot events by ex-Soviet World Chess Champions. The Kasparov NYC simul, scheduled for 12 June, also appears to have been cancelled after most of its $2000 seats failed to sell on eBay. I haven't seen any news about it.

15 July 2006


A search on 'armoostia' came up empty handed...

Your search - armoostia - did not match any documents.

...Now I'll fix that...

'To the extent to which the stratoi accomplish effects on parts of the machic field or destroy or absorb effects of the enemy, or reduce the hostile armoostia by threats, or promote the common aim of their army in any way, they execute "machic work".' - Dr. Emanuel Lasker, 'Struggle' (1907), p.20

...More to follow, maybe.

13 July 2006

Rubinstein - Alekhine, Dresden 1926

Continuing with Alekhine's annotated brilliancies, this is the third brilliancy against Rubinstein, and the second played in 1926. Alekhine took advantage of an unusual move in the opening. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 b6 4.h3, he noted,

It was certainly not necessary to prevent 4...Nh5 at this moment. The weakening of the square g3 gave me the idea of a quite unusual but, as the following proves, very effective system of development.

The game continued 4...Bb7 5.Nbd2 Bd6. Alekhine:

After this, White has the unpleasant choice between (1) the exchange, which strengthens Black's position in the middle; (2) 6.e3 which would spoil, after 6...Bxf4 his Pawn position; and; (3) 6.Bg5 after which Black would secure the advantage of the pair of Bishops by 6...h6.

Rubinstein chose the 6.Bxd6 exchange. Alekhine continued to outplay Rubinstein at critical points. In the following position, Black's advantage is obvious.

Dresden 1926
Alekhine, Alexander

Rubinstein, Akiba
(After 28.Rf1-f4)
[FEN "6rk/p5rp/1p2p3/3pPp2/P2QpR2/1PP1P1qP/4R1P1/7K b - - 0 28"]

Now Alekhine continued 28...Rg6!. His remarks are instructive:

After this move a highly original position is obtained, the outstanding particulars of which are the following: Black's immediate threat of 29...Rh6 30.Qd1 Qg7, winning the e-Pawn, as 31.Qd4 would be answered by 31...Rxh3+. If White tries to parry this by playing 29.Qd1, Black still answers with 29...Rh6, thus putting the opponent in a position of complete Zugzwang. As a matter of fact
(1) Rook at f4 could not move because of 30...Qxe5

(2) Rook at e2 is tied by the defence of the squares e3 and g2.

(3) The King could not move because of 30...Rxh3 or 30...Qxh3

(4) The Queen could not move either on the first rank because of 30...Qg7, nor on the d-file because of 30...Rxh3+ etc.

(5) Finally in the event of 30.c4, Black would win by 30...d4 etc., and in the event of 30.b4 by 30...Qg7 31.Qd4 Rc8 followed by 32...Rc4. [In this last line, Alekhine has forgotten that 31...Rxh3+ wins faster.]
Therefore White offers a Pawn in the hope of exchanging a pair of Rooks and thus weakening the enemy's attack.

The game continued 29.Qb4 Rh6 30.h4 Qg7 31.c4 Rg6 32.Qd2 Rg3 33.Qe1 Rxg2 and Rubinstein resigned. To play through the complete game see...

Akiba Rubinstein vs Alexander Alekhine, Dresden 1926

...on Chessgames.com. The comments there are also interesting. It appears that Alekhine removed a sequence of repeated moves from his brilliancy and ignored a better defense for White on the last move played.

11 July 2006

The Szen position

Received my April(!) Chess Life today. The first question in 'Evans on Chess' was about a position I had never seen before.

Szen position

[FEN "4k3/5ppp/8/8/8/8/PPP5/3K4 w - - 0 1"]

Evans called it an 'incredibly difficult ending', and referenced both Fine's Basic Chess Endings (no.68) and Staunton's Handbook. It is diagram 128 in Staunton.

Some Web references:-

EG issues 1-152
EG73 July 1983 has 5+ pages of analysis by GM Jon Speelman

Multilinear Algebra and Chess Endgames by Lewis Stiller
'Abstract. This article has three chief aims: (1) To show the wide utility of multilinear algebraic formalism for high-performance computing. (2) To describe an application of this formalism in the analysis of chess endgames, and results obtained thereby that would have been impossible to compute using earlier techniques, including a win requiring a record 243 moves. (3) To contribute to the study of the history of chess endgames, by focusing on the work of Friedrich Amelung (in particular his apparently lost analysis of certain six-piece endgames) and that of Theodor Molien, one of the founders of modern group representation theory and the first person to have systematically numerically analyzed a pawnless endgame.'

09 July 2006

Rubinstein - Alekhine, Semmering 1926

Continuing with Alekhine's annotated brilliancies, this is the second such game against the great Akiba Rubinstein. He was the leading challenger for Lasker's World Champion title before Capablanca appeared.

In the following position, Alekhine played 14...Ng4!, and wrote,

This diversion is by no means as harmless as it looks. White loses the game chiefly because he underestimates its importance.

Semmering 1926
Alekhine, Alexander

Rubinstein, Akiba
(After 14.Bb2-e5(xN))
[FEN "r2q1rk1/pb3ppp/4pn2/2bpB3/2P5/P5P1/3NPPBP/R2Q1RK1 b - - 0 14"]

The game continued 15.Bc3, (and not 15.Bb2 Qb6). 15...Rb8 Alekhine

At this moment 15...Qb6 would have been answered by 16.e3. The text move prepares the eventual advance of the d-Pawn.

16.Rb1 Alekhine

Although this move cannot be considered a decisive mistake, it certainly facilitates the opponent's plans. Unsatisfactory would be also 16.h3 Nxf2 17.Rxf2 Qg5 18.Nf1 Bxf2+ 19.Kxf2 dxc4 etc. to Black's advantage. But by continuing 16.cxd5 Bxd5 17.Ne4 (and not 17.e4 17...Nxf2 18.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 19.Kxf2 Qb6+ 20.Kf1 Bb7) with the subsequent dislodging of the threatening Black Knight, White could still obtain an even game.

16...d4! 17.Rxb7? Alekhine:

Rubinstein does not foresee the surprising 18th move of Black and consequently will find himself at a material disadvantage. The only possibility here was 17.Bb4 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 Qc7, reaching a position which would be in Black's favor, too, but hardly in a decisive way.

17...Rxb7 18.Bxb7 Nxf2! Alekhine:

By this pseudo sacrifice Black forces the win of at least a Pawn with an overwhelming position.

After 19.Kxf2 dxc3+ 20.e3 cxd2, White resigned in a few moves. To play through the complete game see...

Akiba Rubinstein vs Alexander Alekhine, Semmering 1926

...on Chessgames.com.

07 July 2006

Le Greenwich

Pics of...

Le Greenwich, le Temple des échecs Bruxellois

...'The Greenwich, the Temple of Brussels Chess'.

'Cette taverne est située 7, rue des Chartreux, tout près de la Bourse et à 300 mètres de la Grand Place.' The tavern is located at 7 rue des Chartreux, near the Bourse and 300 meters from the Grand Place.

05 July 2006

Davidson - Alekhine, Semmering 1926

Of all the games in this series on Alekhine's annotated brilliancies, this is the game I've least understood. White plays a small inaccuracy in the opening, which Alekhine exploits to force a slight weakening of the Kingside. Then he forces White's Bishops onto awkward squares. This allows him to threaten exchanges, including a Queen exchange, which White must decline to avoid a severe positional advantage. Instead of losing slowly in a positional game, White goes down in a vicious Kingside attack.

My first problem was what position to use as a starting point. The opening inaccuracy doesn't explain the later difficulties. The little tactical tricks that force the Kingside weakening are interesting, but they also don't explain the loss. Finally I decided to use the exchange offers that seek a positional concession. Note that Black's last move appears to undevelop his game and to block the Bc8.

Semmering 1926
Alekhine, Alexander

Davidson, Jacques
(After 18...Nb6-d7)
[FEN "r1b1r1k1/ppbnqp1p/2p3p1/7n/3NP3/3BB2P/PPQ1NPP1/R3R1K1 w - - 0 19"]

White continued 19.Nf3, and Alekhine noted,

After this retreat Black gets a definite pull. I expected here 19.f4 Ndf6 20.e5 Nd5 21.Bd2 Bb6 after which, although Black's game would still remain preferable, White would not be without some fighting chances.

19...Bb6! Alekhine:

Expecting to increase the positional advantage already obtained -- after 20.Bxb6 axb6 -- on account of the open a-file. In order to avoid this unpleasant variation White tries with his next two moves to complicate matters, but only succeeds in accelerating the catastrophe.

20.Bg5 Qc5! 21.Nc3 Alekhine:

If now 21.Qxc5 Nxc5 22.Nc1 (forced) 22...f6 23.Bd2 Nxd3 24.Nxd3 Ng3 25.e5 Bf5 with a winning positional advantage.

21...Ne5! Alekhine:

Forcing the following exchange and thus renewing the attack on the b8-h2 diagonal, which will prove decisive.

22.Nxe5 Qxe5 23.Be3 Bc7 24.Ne2 (24.g3 Bxh3) 24...Qh2+ 25.Kf1 Bxh3!. Now Black won by sacrificing the minor pieces to strip the White King of Pawn cover, and the major pieces delivered the knockout.

This is all excellent play, but it raises some questions. Is the diagrammed position lost? If so, how could White have improved previous play? If not, how could White have saved the game. There are at least three possibilities: (1) Alekhine's suggestion of 19.f4; (2) 20.Bxb6; (3) The variation that starts 21.Qxc5 and leads to a 'winning positional advantage'. Can White save his game tactically with 26.Bf4 Ne4 or 26...Nh5?

To play through the complete game see...

Jacques Davidson vs Alexander Alekhine, Semmering 1926

...on Chessgames.com.

03 July 2006

Alekhine - Wolf, Pistyan 1922

Continuing with Alekhine's annotated brilliancies, I looked at the opening of this game in A lesson in chess logic. After the 11th move, Black's King was caught in the center.

Black then struggled to develop his Queenside, while White occupied the center. In the following position, note that the b-Pawn attacking the Knight on c5 is pinned by the Rook on a4.

Pistyan 1922
Wolf, Heinrich

Alekhine, Alexander
(After 19...Nb8-d7)
[FEN "3qk1r1/3npp1p/1p4p1/1pnP4/rP1Q4/P4N2/3N1PPP/R4RK1 w - - 0 20"]

Alekhine continued 20.Rfe1 Kf8 21.d6! and commented, 'A preparation for the following sacrifice.' Black was forced to play 21...Ne6. If 21...exd6?, the Knight is lost after 22.Qxd6+ Kg7 23.bxc5. Alekhine also noted, 'If Black replies with 21...e6 the continuation would be 22.Qe3 Nb7 23.Qd3 Ra8 24.Ne4'. In this last line if 23...Nf6, then 24.Qxb5 Ra8 25.d7.

Now Alekhine played the sequence for which he probably earned the brilliancy prize: 22.Rxe6! fxe6 23.Ng5 Qb8 Alekhine: 23...e5 24.Qd5 Qe8 25.Ne6+ Kf7 26.Nc7+ e6 27.Qf3+. 24.Nxe6+ Kf7. Alekhine: 24...Ke8 25.Ne4. Now after 25.Ng5+ Kf8 26.Qd5! Rg7 27.Ne6+ Kg8 28.Nxg7+ Kxg7 29.dxe7, White regained the exchange and the 2-3 extra Pawns guaranteed the win. A few moves later there was a cute tactic in 32.e8=N+, underpromoting to a Knight which forked King, Queen, and Knight!

To play through the complete game see...

Alexander Alekhine vs Heinrich Wolf, Bad Pistyan 1922

...on Chessgames.com.

01 July 2006

Alekhine - Rubinstein, The Hague 1921

I'll take a break from Alekhine's annotated brilliancies to pursue an idea from the previous post A lesson in chess logic (Alekhine - Wolf, Pistyan 1922), where Alekhine wrote,

The opening of this game offers some analogies with that of the game played at The Hague against Rubinstein. In the one, as in the other, the advantage won results from the repeated movements of the same pieces.

The diagram shows the position after the moves 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 a6 were played.

The Hague 1921
Rubinstein, Akiba

Alekhine, Alexander
(After 3...a7-a6)
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/1pp2ppp/p3p3/3p4/2PP4/5N2/PP2PPPP/RNBQKB1R w KQkq - 0 4"]

Alekhine played 4.c5, noted that '4.cxd5 is quite sufficient to secure a slight superiority of position', and gave two examples from Rubinstein's games where White played 4.cxd5.

In the present game, the first which I played against Rubinstein after a seven-year interval, I voluntarily adopted a new line of play in order to avoid the variations resulting from 4.cxd5 (because I rightly thought them very familiar to Rubinstein), resolved that I would do or die!

4...Nc6. Alekhine:

Wishing to play 5...e5, which White must oppose by every means at his disposal.

It's worth noting that he natural reaction to c4-c5 in analogous positions is ...b6, and if cxb6 then ...axb6, opening the a-file for the Ra8. White's last move is justified because ...axb6 is no longer possible. 5.Bf4 Nge7 6.Nc3 Ng6 7.Be3! Alekhine:

A move rather out of the common! White, while preventing 7...e5, avoids the exchange of his QB. I learnt, some time after the game ended, that Rubinstein in Collijn's Laerobok only examined 7.e3, a variation leading to equality.

7...b6 Alekhine:

Black, giving up hope of breaking through in the center, at least eliminates the cramping adverse c-Pawn, and reckons to secure an advantage in development, by reason of the unusual position of White's Be3.

8.cxb6 cxb6 9.h4! Alekhine:

The only means of weakening the black squares of the enemy's position, and thus obtaining a future for his QB.

9...Bd6 (9...h5 10.Bg5 f6 11.Qc2) 10.h5 Nge7 (10...Nf4? 11.g3). 11.h6! Alekhine:

The point! If Black captures the h-Pawn, he weakens his own h-Pawn without the slightest compensation. In the other case White's QB will occupy the diagonal d8-h4, where it exercises a very embarrassing pressure.

11...g6 12.Bg5 O-O Alekhine:

More prudent was 12...f5 first, after which Black would not have had to fear the threat of mate at g7, although in any case White's game would have already been preferable.

13.Bf6! Alekhine:

An extraordinary position after the 13th move a Queen's Gambit! During the first 13 moves White has played his c-Pawn thrice, his h-Pawn thrice, and his QB four times, after which he has obtained a position in sight of a win, if not actually a winning one.

Alekhine went on to checkmate Black on the 51st move. In his note to White's 13th move, Alekhine continued,

Black has given himself over to several eccentricities in the opening (3...a6; 5...Nge7; 6...Ng6) which, without the reaction of his opponent (for example, 7.e3 instead of 7.Be3 or 9.g3 instead of 9.h4) would in the end have given him a good game.

In The Soviet School of Chess by Kotov and Yudovich, the authors used the Alekhine - Rubinstein game as an example, quoted many of the same remarks by Alekhine that I've given here, and added,

Alekhine appraised Black's third move as loss of a tempo. In reply he made several moves in succession with the same piece, not considering them loss of tempi. As he saw it, it was not a matter of mechanically counting the pieces moved out of their original place, but of making moves according to a specific plan to gain an advantage in the given position.

To play through the complete game see...

Alexander Alekhine vs Akiba Rubinstein, The Hague 1921

...on Chessgames.com.


Note: This is the second reference I've seen from Alekhine to Collijn's Laerobok. I'm not familiar with the book and will investigate in another post.