Great Tournaments of the Past: New York 1927
Three years after the majestic tournament of 1924, New York hosted another great event. This time only six players competed in a quadruple round robin tournament from February to March. Naturally, the favourite was the reigning champion Capablanca, but two other remarkable players had an important fight of their own.
Both Alexander Alekhine and Aaron Nimzowitsch challenged the champion at the beginning of that year, but the Cuban had not yet answered those challenges definitively. Alekhine stated that “Nimzowitsch’s challenge was purely platonic” (i.e. he did not have the money to raise the prize fund in accordance with the recently established London rules for the World Championship). Nevertheless, in private correspondence, Capablanca strongly advised Alekhine that participation in the event was necessary in order for him to define his challenger. Thus, the tournament had the unofficial status of qualification for a World Championship match.
A curious fact is that one of the strongest players of the time Efim Bogoljubow refused to take part in this “mediocre tournament” and offered instead a direct match between himself and the champion. He was then replaced by Rudolph Spielman. The field was rounded out with the American Champion Frank Marshall and Milan Vidmar.
The event became an absolute triumph for Jose Raul Capablanca, who claimed the title undefeated, scoring 14/20. He also won the best game prize:
Second came Alekhine, 2.5 points behind the champion; and likewise took the second best game prize (although the jury considered this game most beautiful):
Third in overall results, and “surprisingly” in the best game contest was Nimzowitsch.
Milan Vidmar took the last best game prize for this effort:
The tournament did the World Champion a great disservice, as he then believed that he was untouchable, and did not prepare well for his WCC match in Buenos Aires the same year. Contrary to him, his rival Alekhine carefully studied and annotated the games from the event, which convinced him that Capablanca was a man--not an inhuman chess machine-- after all.