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The Deadly Alekhine's Squeeze

The Deadly Alekhine's Squeeze

Gserper
| 105 | Strategy

Most chess players know World Champion Alexander Alekhine as a master of attack and combinations. They might be surprised to learn that some great players considered Alekhine's strategic talent as the main reason for his success. I don't have the exact quote handy, but the way I remember, GM Savielly Tartakower once said, "If I get a position where Alekhine executed one of his famous combinations, then chances are that I would be able to find such a combination myself. It's pity that I don't get such positions in my games!"  

Let me show you a very good example where a typical Alekhine attack was prepared by a deep strategical plan. This game also introduces what I like to call "Alekhine's squeeze."

At first glance, the move 19.c5 looks like a typical strategical mistake made by an inexperienced player: Indeed, White has just created himself a backward d4-pawn and a huge hole on d5. But in reality, this move starts a squeeze that will leave Black paralyzed very soon. Besides gaining space, the move c4-c5 also locks Black's light-squared bishop, which will sit in its prison until the end of the game. White also threatens to bring his knight to b6, which Black prevents by pushing his b7 pawn to b5. As a result, the c6 pawn will need constant protection.

Throughout my chess career, I had many opportunities to witness the power of "Alekhine's squeeze."

Three years after this game, I played another Soviet Young Masters championship and saw a truly unique situation. It was Alekhine's squeeze vs. Alekhine's gun. What would prevail in the battle of Alekhine's deadly strategical weapons?

The squeeze won!

Another time I found myself on the receiving end of Alekhine's Squeeze in the following game. I badly misplayed the opening, allowed c4-c5, and was slowly getting boxed in. In this desperate situation, I decided to use my own know-how that I developed one day earlier in my game vs. GM Hikaru Nakamura. I started doing nothing by moving my knight from f6 to d5 and back and moving my king from g8 to h8 and back. I described this technique in my old article, but for God's sake, don't try this at home!

These old memories came back to me last week when I watched the 2023 American Cup. Judge for yourself:

As you can see, Alekhine's Squeeze is as powerful today as it was a century ago, when Alexander Alekhine introduced it. I hope you won't miss a chance to employ it in your games!

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