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Alexander Alekhine (Part 7): The Dark Years

  • IM Silman
  • | Mar 30, 2014
  • | 16580 views
  • | 65 comments

In Part Six of this seven-part series, we saw Alekhine lose the World Championship to Max Euwe in 1935, only to win it back in 1937.  After shocking the world (and Euwe, who was sure he would finish Alekhine off once and for all) with that epic performance, Alekhine continued to show that, at 46 years of age, he was still a force to be reckoned with! There were, of course, occasional failures, but for the most part he did extremely well.

Montevideo 1938

Alekhine – 1st ahead of a weak field.

Puzzle 1:

White’s winning, but it’s up to you to demonstrate your endgame technique.

Puzzle 2:

Margate 1938

Alekhine – 1st

Spielmann – 2nd

Petrovs – 3rd

Puzzle 3:

Puzzle 4:

Plymouth 1938

Alekhine and George Thomas 1st and 2nd ahead of a weak field.

Puzzle 5:

Alekhine - Rowena Bruce
Plymouth 1938

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 is known to be inferior for Black, and the reply 5...Bg6 (5...Bg4 should be tried) 6.h4 h6 falls head first into a famous trap. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to snap that trap shut in the puzzle.

AVRO 1938

Keres and Fine – 1st and 2nd

Botvinnik – 3rd

Alekhine, Euwe, Reshevsky – 4th through 6th 

Capablanca – 7th

Flohr – 8th

Keres was undefeated while Fine lost three games. However, Fine’s two-zero score vs. Alekhine propelled him into a tie for first place (though Keres won on tiebreaks). Alekhine had an even score (three wins and three losses) but his victory over Capablanca was a nice consolation prize. Though Alekhine showed that he was still an elite player, the younger generation was clearly on his heels. It should be mentioned that the AVRO venue changed every few days (it was moved to one Dutch city after another), and the constant traveling exhausted the older players (the young bucks took the first three spots).

Puzzle 6:

Puzzle 7:

Caracas 1939

Alekhine had a perfect ten - zero score, but the field was very weak.  

Montevideo 1939

Alekhine – 1st (seven out of seven)

Golombek – 2nd

Vero Menchik – 3rd (the rest of the field was weak)

Puzzle 8:


Though Alekhine was one of the greatest attacking players of all time (and perhaps the greatest tactician ever), you need positional skills, too, if you hope to be a top player. Here we see those skills on display.

Alekhine visited Lisbon in 1940. Here’s a description of that visit (by Francisco Lupi) from the magnificent book: A. Alekhine: Agony of a Chess Genius, by Pablo Moran. If you are interested in Alekhine’s final days, then this book is a must buy!

“In January of 1940, when the tiny Portuguese chess circle had never yet in its history had a visit from a World Champion, we were told that Alexander Alekhine and his wife Grace were on their way to Lisbon. We were tremendously excited. A reception program was outlined such as a Crown Prince on a pleasure-trip would not have disdained. The best suite of rooms was immediately reserved in Estoril’s luxury hotel, and a magnificent eight-cylinder car was produced for our guest’s exclusive use.

“On a misty February morning, if my recollections are accurate, we all went to the dock to meet the ship in which he came from Buenos Aires, where he had led the French team during the ‘Match of the Nations.’ Even before the ship was moored, we had spotted on the upper deck a very blond, smiling man, carrying two kittens in his arms.

“Later we grew used to seeing him, at his evening simultaneous matches, always wearing his dinner jacket of good English cloth, always using slightly theatrical gestures. He was perhaps a little too fat, his complexion was florid, and after three or four hours’ concentration at the boards he would show evident signs of exhaustion.

“After about every other passage round the ‘ring’ he would drink a cup of coffee. Once he drank more than twenty cups in seven hours. Meanwhile his wife would be sitting in one corner of the room, imperturbably knitting, while the kittens played with the wool. ‘Be careful,’ she would murmur every time he passed. ‘You are drinking too much coffee.’

“Alekhine delighted the Portuguese chess enthusiasts with his brilliance, his kindliness, his constant readiness to help young players, and his work for charity. But there was a war on, and the Russian-born was by adoption and inclination a Frenchman. In a fortnight, he was gone. Some weeks later I received a letter from him saying he was a Lieutenant-Interpreter in the French Army.”

51xufGRipaL._SY300_.jpg
A. Alekhine: Agony of a Chess Genius, by Pablo Moran | Image Amazon

I gave this account of his first visit to Lisbon to show Alekhine in a light that many readers might not be aware of. Yes, he had his enemies (all famous people do), but he was also extremely kind to many people and had close friendships and a vast numbers of fans all over the world.

It’s also important to know that Mr. and Mrs. Alekhine didn’t need to return to war-torn Europe. They were in South America and could have stayed there or made their way to the United States. However, Alekhine wanted to help France, and he returned so he could fight the Nazis side by side with his fellow Frenchmen.

After his return, things went badly, and France fell to the Nazis who arrived in the now helpless city of Paris on June 14, 1940. Seeing that things were grim, Alekhine returned to Portugal so he could arrange a rematch with Capablanca in America (his wife, a wealthy American citizen and famous artist, insisted on staying in France to defend their home and belongings. Eventually, the Nazis took over the chateau and looted it). His plan was to arrange the match, have his wife join him, and then book double passage for Rio de Janeiro or New York. Unfortunately, his plans failed due to Capablanca’s lack of interest and in his inability to get the necessary visas.

Here’s more from Francisco Lupi:

“On the afternoon in which we reached the conclusion that the negotiations for this match were stillborn, Alekhine and I wandered disconsolately down the busy Rua Aurea. I should emphasize that ever since his 1935 match with Euwe, Alekhine had stopped drinking. The first time he arrived in Lisbon, he did not even smoke. On this second trip to Portugal, I immediately noticed he was smoking again. That afternoon, as we passed a café, he told me, without looking me straight in the eyes: ‘I must buy some cigarettes. I see I have no more left.’ And he asked me to wait for him while he went into the café to buy them. I waited; but as he took much time, I decided to go in after him. And then I saw that he had asked for a bottle of wine, and, glass by glass, was emptying it.”

Alekhine was ill for several months but somehow recovered. Returning to his wife in 1941, Alekhine was approached by the Nazis who "asked" him to write some anti-Semitic material (to be used, obviously, as propaganda). This takes us to an interesting place. What if that was you? Keep in mind that this was WWII, death and despair was everywhere, and life had very little value. You can say "No!" and watch your wife take a headshot before you also get blown away, or you can write some gibberish and live to fight another day.

It’s not clear what Alekhine actually wrote. A series of articles, supposedly penned by the World Champion, appeared in a German newspaper in March, 1941. If he did indeed write the articles, they were most likely “fixed” by the editor. Edward Winter pointed out that the articles misspelled the names of many famous players. Also, various “facts” were way off the mark. Moreover, the articles in general were over-the-top nonsense, and any unbiased person would recognize it as such. It seems clear to me that whatever he wrote was indeed changed, and/or Alekhine purposely made these mistakes and wrote one absurdity after another so that the world would understand that he (quite literally!) had a gun to his head while doing so!

Sadly, after the war and its horrors ended, it was almost impossible to find an unbiased person. Thus Alekhine was vilified and, ultimately, destroyed. Those who were out to ruin him pointed to the articles and two other things: 1) He made random anti-Semitic comments at various times throughout his life. 2) After the papers appeared, he was allowed to play in several German tournaments.

I’m Jewish, but to me a few random comments that were allegedly made by someone from a different time (keep in mind that anti-Semitism was extremely common in 19th and 20th century Europe and America) aren’t important. What is important is how that someone treated/interacted with Jews. Alekhine treated Arnold Denker (a Jew) like royalty and with great kindness. Alekhine thought highly of the skills of the American (Jewish) grandmaster Isaac Kashdan and was more than happy to share his respect for Kashdan to anyone that would listen. His second in his 1935 World Championship match against Euwe was a Dutch Jew (Salo Landau). Also, allow me to give two quotes by Alekhine about Emanuel Lasker (who was, of course, a Jew):

“Lasker was my teacher, and without him I could not have become whom I became. The idea of chess art is unthinkable without Emanuel Lasker.”

“Lasker’s mastery precisely in the endgame – especially in a complex, rather than a purely technical endgame – stood for at least two decades at an unreachable height.”

Lasker.jpg
Emanuel Lasker | Image Wikipedia 

And finally, Alekhine’s wife Grace was Jewish! He doesn’t sound very anti-Semitic to me!

Yet, such was the hate towards Alekhine that some people (Ossip Bernstein in particular) claimed he refused to intervene when the very strong Jewish chess master Dawid Przepiórka was executed by the Nazis in early 1940. The facts paint a very different story: Alekhine and Przepiórka were close friends, and Alekhine wasn’t in Germany and knew nothing about his friend’s predicament at that time (his German/Nazi situation didn’t exist until 1941). Unfortunately, hate often trumps truth.

Addressing the fact that Alekhine played in Germany during the war is easier to explain: The Nazis wanted him to play, and he didn’t want to find out if he’d be killed if he refused to participate. Most interesting, though, is the fact that other well-known players also participated in those events: Keres, Bogoljubov, Samisch, Stoltz, Lundin, Opocensky, and Pachman. None of these players were accused of Nazi behavior, only Alekhine was singled out.

Mr. Moran put it best: “The Nazism of Alekhine existed only in the minds of those who felt victimized by Third Reich realpolitik. And in the days which followed the fall of Germany, gaping wounds hampered sound judgment.” 

Krakow – Warsaw 1941

Alekhine and Paul Schmidt – 1st and 2nd

Bogoljubow – 3rd

Klaus Junge – 4th

Puzzle 9:

White has sacrificed a piece for a big attack. However, Black’s knight on e5 is threatening White’s queen. How should White play this position?

Madrid 1941

Alekhine 1st with five - zero, ahead of a weak field.

 

Munich 1941

Gosta Stoltz – 1st

Alekhine and Lundin – 2nd and 3rd

Bogoljubow – 4th

  

Krakow – Warsaw 1942

Alekhine – 1st

Klaus Junge – 2nd

Bogoljubow – 3rd

Keller and Sämisch – 4th and 5th

Puzzle 10:

Munich 1942

Alekhine – 1st (he beat Keres in their individual game)

Keres – 2nd

Bogoljubow, Richter, and Foltys – 3rd though 5th

Gedeon Barcza – 6th

 

Here’s Alekhine’s win over Keres, which features a mix of positional domination and tactical acumen:

Puzzle 11:

Puzzle 12:

Prague 1942

Alekhine and Junge – 1st and 2nd

Foltys – 3rd

Opocensky and Zita – 4th and 5th

Salzburg 1942

Alekhine – 1st

Keres – 2nd

Junge and Schmidt – 3rd and 4th

Bogoljubow – 5th

Stoltz – 6th

This was a six-player double round robin event. The highlight was Alekhine’s two - zero score over Keres, but the World Champion also lost two games (splitting with Junge and Bogoljubow). In fact, out of the ten games played, Alekhine only drew one! 

Puzzle 13:

Puzzle 14:

For a 50 year-old-man, Alekhine’s results were extremely impressive. But he outdid himself in his next event, at the age of 51!

Prague 1943

Alekhine – 1st with an incredible undefeated score of 15 wins and only 4 draws!

Keres – 2nd (Two and a half points behind Alekhine)

Puzzle 15:

Not done solving puzzles? Tactics Trainer is waiting!

Salzburg 1943

Alekhine and Keres – 1st and 2nd

In 1943 the Spanish Chess Federation organized a strong tournament in Madrid, and Alekhine and Keres were supposed to be the two biggest names. The Nazis sent him there as their chess representative, but didn’t allow his wife to go with him (the Gestapo wouldn’t give her an exit visa, thus using her to keep Alekhine on a “chain”). Alekhine arrived at the tournament late (there were various reasons for this, but we’ll avoid them in this article) and it was held without him (Keres won). Though Alekhine had promised to return to Germany after the event, he refused to do so, remaining in Spain.

When asked by a Spanish journalist about his future plans, Alekhine said: “Plans? What plans can I have? The best part of my life has passed away between two world wars that have led Europe to waste. Both wars ruined me, with this difference: at the end of the first war I was 26 years of age, with an unbounded enthusiasm I no longer have.”

Once the war ended, Alekhine was banned from playing in tournaments outside of the Iberian Peninsula due to his supposed Nazi affiliation. He found himself stuck in Spain and Portugal, while his wife decided to remain in Paris (she was much older than Alekhine, 67 years old and in poor health, and had decided that enough was enough – she died there in 1956).

Forced to play in silly little events against weak players, and also forced to give endless exhibitions, Alekhine became more and more depressed. He drank incessantly. The “Alekhine hatred,” which he knew wasn’t warranted, dragged him deeper and deeper into a dark psychological pit. Not surprisingly, he got sicker and sicker (mentally and physically), and his chess became weaker and weaker.

Gijon 1944

Alekhine – 1st (winning seven and drawing one) 

Zaragoza 1944

A four-game match vs. Rey Ardid, Alekhine won one game and drew three.

At this point in his life Alekhine’s chess skills were almost completely gone, he lived in abject poverty, and he was a physical wreck. He visited Dr. Casimiro Rugarcia in July, 1945, and after being examined was told that he had a fatal cirrhosis of the liver, but if he quit drinking and lived a pure life, he might last a few more years.

From Pablo Moran’s book, A. Alekhine: Agony of a Chess Genius: Alekhine looked at the physician with obvious compassion, put on his jacket, turned away - and as he left, said, “Then it is not worthwhile to quit drinking.” 

Almeria 1945 

Alekhine and Nunez Lopez tied for 1st  

Caceres 1945

Lupi – 1st

Alekhine 2nd (followed by a weak field) 

Gijon 1945

Rico Gonzalez – 1st

Garcia Medina and Alekhine – 2nd and 3rd

Pomar – 4th 

Madrid 1945

Alekhine – 1st

  

Melilla 1945

Alekhine – 1st

  

Sabadell 1945

Alekhine – 1st  

Estorial 1946

A four-game match that Alekhine lost two to one with one draw.

Alekhine’s final months were, without any doubt, agony. One of the biggest blows came after his invitation to London 1946. While Alekhine was excited at the prospect of once again playing topflight chess, a group of players demanded that his invitation be revoked due to his Nazi affiliations. The witch-hunt succeeded and Alekhine was once again denied access to a proper tournament and also vilified by post WWII hysteria.

Realizing that Alekhine was ripe to be beaten (by just about anyone!), the Soviet powers that be contacted Alekhine and offered him a sizable sum to play a match for the World Championship against Botvinnik. Delighted at this new chance in life, Alekhine was in the midst of preparing for the match when he was found dead in his hotel room in Estoril, Portugal on March 24, 1946 (he’s the only World Chess Champion to die with the title). The autopsy ruled out heart failure, and the cause of death was given as asphyxia due to a piece of meat (three inches long and unchewed) lodged in the larynx. However, many believe he was murdered (cramming an unchewed three inch long piece of meat down one’s throat would indeed do the job!).

Alexander Alekhine survived imprisonment by the Germans (in Mannheim) in 1914, he survived imprisonment (and a death sentence) in 1918 Russia, he survived two world wars, and he survived the Nazis. Oddly, he was destroyed by his fellow chess players (many of whom were friends) based on post-WWII hysteria, false information, and sheer hate.

Originally buried in the Estoril cemetery, in 1956 his remains were moved (by the French and Russian chess federations) to Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. Alekhine’s wife, Grace, who died in 1956, was buried next to him. Forced apart by the Nazis, they were finally able to be together in the city they loved.

Alekhine_tombe.jpg
Here lies Alexander Alekhine | Image Wikipedia


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Comments


  • 5 months ago

    Mosca_Perruna

    Creolemaster, I understand your point but I do find biographies interesting. In fact this series by Silman would lose most of its value if it only included the games. It, of course, contains topics that will inevitably lead to passionate debates. But, may I say, that makes it even better.

  • 5 months ago

    Stefan_B

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 5 months ago

    Stefan_B

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 5 months ago

    NM Creolemaster

    Rehashing what is "known" about the lives of great (historical) chess players does not accomplish much more than to establish that they are/were human beings. We already know that, don't we? It rarely provides great or substantial insights into their mastery. It is about as interesting as the private lives of artists or entertainers but hardly of much importance for the unfolding of World History. Maybe, one could now give it a rest? The arrival of Fritz, Rybka, Houdini and their friends would seem to solve that aspect of things as well ;-)

  • 5 months ago

    Spektrowski

    Between St Petersburg 1914 and London 1922, Capablanca played in only one European tournament - in 1919. So while Alekhine did say he wanted to avoid Capablanca, he wasn't exactly in position to play him anyway: in 1914-1917, Alekhine was imprisoned in Germany and then fighting for Russia in WWI (obviously unable to go to the U.S.), then, after the October revolution, he'd lost much of his livelihood (which prevented him to go anywhere, let alone the U.S.), and in 1919, he was imprisoned by Bolsheviks and barely avoided execution (much more pressing concern than avoiding Capablanca at Hastings).

    And in the after-match years, I think, the main reason to avoid playing Capa in tournaments for Alekhine was their mutual personal dislike for each other. To cite a more recent similar example - Viktor Korchnoi for a while refused to play in tournaments with Soviet grandmasters and arbiters. He surely wasn't afraid to lose to them, but his dislike towards USSR was strong and for the most part justified.

  • 5 months ago

    equihopper

    Hey Spektrowski,

    I didn't get my facts wrong. You obviously didn't read Mr. Silman's 7 part series on Alekhine. It indicates that Alekhine avoided Capablanca for a period prior to the dates you quoted because he wanted to wait until he was stronger. It is well known that he would refuse to play in any event that Capablanca played in after he won the title (until eventually organizers began ignoring this condition for his participation).It's hard to say who would have won a rematch at any given time but it is obvious that Alekhine was afraid to play one for many years after their match.

     

    Please be relevant, helpful & nice!

  • 5 months ago

    Spektrowski

    According to other Russian online sources, Alekhine thought that Euwe was behind his ostracizing after the war. He reportedly said, "I'm not surprized that Euwe protested against me playing in London. I'd be more surprised if he did not".

    Not everyone believed the antisemitic accusation, though. Savielly Tartakower, a Russian Jew, campaigned for including Alekhine into the London tournament and even tried to raise funds for him.

  • 5 months ago

    Mosca_Perruna

    Yes, corruption was rampant in 1940's Cuba (and later, of course). Actually Capablanca benefitted from it for a while since he was given some ghost position as embassy attaché that was designed only to make his traveling easy and that required nothing from him. I'm not surprised to hear speculation that the promise to help was a ruse of officials to steal money.

  • 5 months ago

    Spektrowski

    @Mosca_Perruna

    In 1941, Capablanca was desperately trying to secure fare for Alekhine (which was, I assume, significantly lower than $15,000) and still failed. Seems that the Cuban government has either lost its confidence in Capablanca or really had no spare money. Or... in that same 64 article, it's speculated that some Cuban government official just pocketed the money that were promised as a credit to Capablanca for the match.

    And considering Bogo and Euwe matches - Alekhine's conditions were different from the London Rules anyway, because of the game limit. As far as the finances go, Alekhine demanded $6000 for himself, and Bogo/Euwe got whatever funds remaining after paying Alekhine.

  • 5 months ago

    Mosca_Perruna

    Very nice quote Spectrowsky! That has been my point all along. To recognize the value and genius of Alekhine there is no need to deny or hide his flaws. Same with Capablanca, Fischer and anyone else. I also like what you posted earlier about Capablanca desperately trying to reach $15k in the 40s. I'm surprised it could be found in '64' because, with all due respect, many Russian sources fall into the simplistic and hard to swallow scenario that Capablanca didn't want a rematch.

     

    About what equilhopper legitimately wonders, did Bogo or Ewe have to come up with $10k? According to Winter again:

     

    "Alekhine, the reigning world champion, attended part of the 1928 Congress and, as recorded in the minutes, agreed to place future matches for the world title under the auspices of FIDE, although any match with Capablanca should be under the same conditions as in Buenos Aires, 1927." (http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter17.html - you have to scroll down a lot)

     

    So yes, he made it harder for Capablanca. But was this out of fear? He had just beat Capablanca in a no game limit match. True, he must have been aware of the impression that he was creating by playing Bogo, a player that he had ridiculed himself. A motivated Capablanca would have been a serious challenge. But it's understandable to want your opponent to go through the same that you had to go to secure a match. Unfortunately, the economy was now not the same, there was the topic of the gold dollars, etc...But I don't think he feared Capablanca or that he had reasons to.

  • 5 months ago

    Spektrowski

    @kosiu_drumev

    This is a direct quote from an obviously propagandistic article by Ilyin-Zhenevsky, written in 1928. I've tried to translate it as close as possible to the original. This does not imply that I support the views of that article (though there is a small amount of truth in it - Alekhine indeed worked for the Soviet government for a while, but that's about all).

    Still, I only wanted to further reiterate the point that no matter what you think of any player as a human being ('sunk as low as scum', 'antisemitic monster' etc.), this does not mean that you should not respect their accomplishments over the board.

  • 5 months ago

    kosiu_drumev

    Dear Mr/Mrs Spektrowski,

    I'm realy impresed by your last post. Especyaly about Alekhin as " an honest Soviet citizen, communist and Comintern worker " that " finally sunk as low as the Paris White Guardist scum".

    Are you sure there are no soviet red flag to chose here on chess.com? Or maybe there is no difference realy between USSR and Russia?! So sad!!!

  • 5 months ago

    Spektrowski

    And yet another quote about Alekhine, calling for separation of chess and politics. This is a foreword to the 1928 Soviet book about Alekhine/Capablanca match by Levenfish and Romanovsky, written by Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky.

    "During the printing of this book, we got new information about Alekhine that we just cannot close our eyes on. After the match with Capablanca, Alekhine returned to Paris, where he took part in a banquet held by the Russian White Guardist emigrees. Furthermore, he made a 'political' speech on that banquet, taking a number of swipes against the Soviet Russia and hoping that it would soon be 'free' from the Bolshevik 'yoke'.

    Those Alekhine's actions are a final chord of his political 'career', that he once started as an honest Soviet citizen, communist and Comintern worker. After the Soviet authorities allowed him to move abroad in 1921, he severed all ties with the Soviet chess life and finally sunk as low as the Paris White Guardist scum.

    This speech cuts Alekhine from the Soviet chess society once and for all, and makes him our political enemy.

    Many would ask, why then would we make a book with Alekhine's games? If we indeed cut all ties with him, we don't need his games, too! But such questions are a mistake. No matter who is Alekhine from the political point of view, he's still the greatest chess player of our time. Our view of chess will not be full if we remove Alekhine from our studies. Our young chess players will learn much and improve their playing by studying Alekhine's games.

    So, while we don't hide our hostility towards Alekhine as a political figure, we still publish his games against Capablanca, being totally sure that studying them will stimulate the growth of our country's chess culture".

    Basically, the legacy of Alekhine the player cannot be tarnished by anything Alekhine the human did off the board.

  • 5 months ago

    savantz

    well mystoffelees & Spektrowski...

    Game! - Set! - Match!

    The haters are seeking their final burial place, having completely failed to comprehend the essence of this magnificent 7-part series; a tribute to perhaps the greatest world chess champion of all time.

  • 5 months ago

    Spektrowski

    By the way, about the possible Alekhine - Capablanca rematch in the 40's. In a relatively old article (2000) of the 64 magazine, there are some additional details.

    Immediately after the Buenos Aires Olympics, the president of Argentinian Chess Federation offered to organize the return match between Alekhine and Capablanca. Capablanca agreed, Alekhine declined, citing his obligations to the French army, and departed to France.

    In mid-1940, Alekhine suddenly applied for a Cuban visa 'to play a match against Capablanca'. Capablanca said that he was ready to play at any moment, and wrote a detailed letter about organizing the match. He proposed to start the match on January 1st, 1942, and provide $15,000 as the prize. But the Cuban officials didn't support him.

    In March 1941, Alekhine said in Lisbon that he was ready to play Capablanca and he spent 9 months trying to leave France. Cuban officials soon told Capablanca that they could issue a visa for Alekhine, but they couldn't pay for Alekhine's travel. Capablanca did everything he could, but couldn't raise the necessary money by himself, and the Cuban government again offered no support. That's how the last attempt to organize the second match between Alekhine and Capablanca ended.

    Another thing is, Capablanca most likely wouldn't have survived the match if it indeed began in 1942. He was already quite ill at that point and died in March.

    And, @equihopper, you got your facts wrong. In 1920's, Alekhine played with Capablanca in London 1922 and New York 1924 and 1927, missing only Moscow 1925 and a minor tournament in the USA in 1926.

     

    Finally, there's a quote from Alekhine. That's what he said to a very young Miguel Najdorf: 'You may speak ill of Capablanca as a human being, but not of his playing. Capablanca is a genius of chess.' The same thing can be said about Alekhine himself. Even if he indeed was indoctrinated by Nazis and wrote outrageous articles, he still remains a genius of chess.

  • 5 months ago

    equihopper

    Great articles on Alekhine. One thing I admire about him is that he gained top honors by dint of personal drive, hard work and passion - he made himself the best. However, his personal character was anything but admirable. He not only avoided playing in tournaments with Capablanca before the 1927 match, he also ducked him afterward and for a long while (until he lost status due to his decline) wouldn't play in any tournaments where Capa was invited, let alone allow him a rematch (did the second rate masters Bogo or Euwe raise the $10K required for their matches?). He obviously feared Capablanca. He never played anyone in a world championship match who he believed might have a chance to beat him. The comment after the 1935 match about Euwe being an honorable man who he hoped would grant him a rematch was obviously made in a self serving manner in order to put pressure on Euwe to give him a rematch, something he didn't afford his opponent when he won the title. After WWII he lied about his involvement in writing the racist articles, contradicting himself in different interviews. If he wrote them out of fear for his life then why didn't he simply admit that instead of conjuring up lies? No integrity but a brilliant player at his peak.

  • 5 months ago

    mystoffelees

    I wish to add my agreement to the post by savantz- well done!  (although I suggest the 4th word be "unfortunate").

    Bravo, Mr. Silman!  You have given me some wonderful evenings of reading and study, with the 7th the best of all.  Thank you, thank you.

    As to Mr. Alekhine, who of us are in a position to judge the man?  What he lived through would test anyone to the most difficult degree.  How would anyone be the same person they could have been had not the vagaries of existance and happenstance intervened?

    I am quite saddened by how this great man was effectively shunned by society and his peers.   Poetic INjustice...

  • 5 months ago

    savantz

    @Fischermylife / @Stephan_B

    rarely is one fortunate enough to be witness to such rank hatred and ignorance as has been displayed, unashamedly, by the two of you. one can only conclude your lives are fraught with misery and unhappiness.

    Mr. Sillman has produced a wonderful 7-part series on one of the greatest chess world champions in the history of the game, maybe the greatest. alekhine certainly exhibits a skill set I personally have never seen replicated in any since or before. Sillman has attempted to provide the readers with an in-depth examination of the man and his career, and has done a fine job of it indeed! in doing so, he has tried to present all sides and YES... given his assessment on the entire affair.

    dudes, GROW UP!!!!!

    Thanks immensely jeremy, I see alekhine as I've never seen him before and for this I am very appreciative.

  • 5 months ago

    Fischermylife

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 5 months ago

    Stefan_B

    [COMMENT DELETED]
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