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The Young Alekhine

  • GM BryanSmith
  • | Jan 5, 2012
  • | 15376 views
  • | 47 comments

Every once in a while, someone asks me the question “who is your favorite player?” That’s always a difficult question to answer, because I don’t really have a single favorite player. If I have to name one, though, I would probably say Alexander Alekhine, the fourth world champion. Alekhine can be credited as the founder of the dynamic school of chess.

Particularly interesting for me are his games from before he became world champion. During the times before World War I, he was more of a pure tactician. In addition, living in Russia before chess was so hugely popular, many of his opponents were much weaker, and this resulted in some pretty and crushing games. Games such as the following:

 

The main game for this article was actually a consultation game, played during the Moscow 1910 tournament. Alekhine’s partner was another famous player of the day, Ossip Bernstein. His opponent was the famous player Akiba Rubinstein, then at the height of his strength, partnered with the lesser-known player, Alexei Goncharov.

The “consultation game” is a phenomenon which seems to have been fairly popular in the past, although it is practically non-existent nowadays. I am not quite sure if it was an organized exhibition, or perhaps even an off-hand game, casually organized on a rest day. Such things did actually take place in the past – nowadays it would be hard to imagine.

I also am not quite sure how these consultation games were held. Since the “teams” discussed their moves with each other, did they sit in different rooms? I once attended an exhibition of this type, held in a tournament in Virginia Beach. It was a game between Nick DeFirmian and John Fedorowicz, and I even covered it for Chess Life. The players played in different rooms, each before an audience; they discussed their moves and the reasoning behind them with the audience. Something similar was also done in an exhibition tournament held in England, about which a book was written, The Master Game. I am not quite sure why this kind of exhibition is not more popular.

In any case, in this consultation game the players discussed their moves not with an audience, but with each other. The black team, with Rubinstein and Goncharov, was undoubtedly dominated by Rubinstein, since he was one of the top players in the world, while Goncharov was a comparative unknown. But in the case of the white team, Alekhine and Bernstein, it is hard to say. Although historically Alekhine is a much larger figure, Bernstein was more internationally famous at the time, while Alekhine was essentially a local youth (he was eighteen at the time). Nevertheless, I am sure Bernstein could sense Alekhine’s latent talent. In any case, the game was a tactical slugfest and you could clearly see the influence of Alekhine’s wild style.

Early in the game, the Rubinstein team conceded a positional advantage to the Alekhine team, when they refused to call Alekhine’s bluff. Seeking counterplay, Rubinstein invaded deep into Alekhine’s camp, first with his queen, and then with his knights. Soon, like Napoleon’s armies fighting in Russia, they found their escape routes cut off. A fierce tactical fight commenced, with the outnumbered black queen and knights desperately trying to create threats. Alekhine expertly dodged multiple pretty tactics, finally picking up a pinned bishop, and emerged the victor. Now let’s see the game.

 

Quite an unusual sort of game, where Black was compelled, by his positional disadvantage, to attack. White meanwhile welcomed the invasion, eventually pinning and winning one of the pieces. The desperate attack by the black knights, hopping around and creating chaos, was beaten back with accuracy by the Alekhine side. This was particularly unusual, since in some ways chess is a game alot like soccer (football) - the initiative is very valuable, and fighting the battle near the opponent's goal is a huge advantage. Not this time though.

Comments


  • 11 months ago

    yureesystem

    Alekhine is one of the true great genius in chess, his dynamic style gives us way to press for win even great defensive player like Capablanca.

  • 3 years ago

    bran_inchess

    I am an admirer of Alexander Alkhin.I have his"Best Games' testifying to his genious.

    However his life story was very tragic. What a shame;If he were alive now things would have been different for him and the world of chess.

  • 3 years ago

    kortsnoi2

    I was thinking about chess in those day's and today. Computer analysis have done something to this game. In Alechines day's situation was totally different. I can't imagine ,how different and difficult was produce such ideas and theories like Nimzowitch did and how Alechine was able to play blindfold simultan chess, creating records, which are remaining unbreakable still today. I had also that Alechines book of all his games. Notation was to me not familiar. I hope translators to do new edition and put notation as we today know it. I tried to make those moves and I did mistakes from annotation. It was difficult to adapt those brilliant games. One author later did in Finland book about Cabaplanca and Alechine. There I had some great masterpieces to follow and learn.

    I still miss that thick red book of Alechine. All his games. 

  • 3 years ago

    arjikaisa

    For decades I had the impression Aliojin was a nazi-supporter. Maybe it is a wrong idea that I have probably due to a bad-publicity that affected him and other chessplayers of his lifetime. However, truth is, he was an alcoholic person with sadistic tendencies (subliminated in his chessgames). Not a hero neither an inspiration for me!

  • 3 years ago

    rexsolus

    Thanks for these little known masterpieces. I was very disappointed to learn recently that the double queen game against wajkirev is actually  a fake. Anyway Alekhine is really sunshinechess as Reti said once.

  • 3 years ago

    bran_inchess

    I am an admirer of Alexander Alkhin.I have his"Best Games' testifying to his genious.

    However his life story was very tragic. What a shame;If he were alive now things would have been different for him and the world of chess.

  • 3 years ago

    bran_inchess

    Alkhin is my inspirer.Unfortunately he was caught in  times of  most turbulant part

    of European/world conflict, and was drawn into it.Put yourself in his shoes and realize that he was forced to flee Russia(communists would have executed him)

    and settle in France that later on was occupied by Germany during Second World War Two. He had to sympetize with Germans and after Germans defeat in France had to leave again for Spain destitude and with no hope and backing.He was 

    dispised by both  The West and The East.He died as World Champion lonely

    and druken.Sad story of a genious.

  • 3 years ago

    vas93

    A Alekhine my favorite chess player)

  • 3 years ago

    240324931

    a geart master

  • 3 years ago

    MetatronsDi5cipl3

    My favourite opponent, no matter how many times I play against his computer simulation, I always enjoy that so much life is put into the game.

  • 3 years ago

    grandestmonster

    Many thanks for an informative article with some fun and usefully annotated games to play over. Alekhine has been my fave player since I was a young chessmonster and I like to think my own style was influenced by him,though perhaps I just naturally favour that style...I have always been astonished at Alekhine's ability to re-invent his gameplay and try new tactics....not to mention his sheer attacking brilliance. Thanks again...it was both illuminating and refreshing.

  • 3 years ago

    bambam101

    ilove these games keepem coming

  • 3 years ago

    bolshevikhellraiser

    alekhine died an alcoholic and in destitute. in other words he was a drunk bum

  • 3 years ago

    boxd4

    This is a great article. Please, share some more!

  • 3 years ago

    fischer70

    alekhine hasnt been one of my favorite players, im more partial to capablanca but i thoroughly enjoyed playing over these games. great article keep em coming

  • 3 years ago

    arjikaisa

    Aliojin no me simpatiza. La partida contra Akiva, sin embargo, es muy divertida.

  • 3 years ago

    Rafiulla

    i like it..

  • 3 years ago

    yuvaDluffy

    This a very content rich article.
    Learning about Alekhine was fascinating.
    i wish i could play like him.

  • 3 years ago

    tadartabo

    great alexander !

  • 3 years ago

    leonelcm

    Very interesting article, thanx for sharing...

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