Searching for Alekhine's Gun (CQL)

Apr 26, 2014, 6:29 PM |

 Alekhine's Gun is a tactical motif where a Queen and two Rooks are lined up along the same axis to put pressure on an opponent's weakness. The formation of Alekhine's Gun was first given its name after the game Alekhine - Nimzowitsch, San Remo 1930. If we wanted to find out whether there are earlier instances of Alekhine's Gun by Alekhine, we could search for his games showing this tactical motif with the following script:

Explanation of the tags used:

  • :pgn is the name of the pgn database I searched
  • :output is the name of the result pgn it will create
  • :player restricts matches to only games where one of the players is named Alekhine (case doesn't matter).
  • The (position) contains only two tags
  • :rayorthogonal looks for a pattern of a white Queen (Q) and two Rooks (R) attacking any Black piece (a). (White pieces are uppercase, and A/a stands for any piece, in this case any Black piece)
  • :flipcolor tells CQL to check for this position with reversed colors, thus letting us find Alekhine's Gun from either color.
I could have used the :year tag, which accepts a range, to exclude results after 1930, but I chose to manually sort them by date in my PGN viewer instead.

The Results

My search of Millonbase turned up five historical games in all by Alekhine that matched the formation of Queen Rook Rook attacking any opponent piece. However, only one game, Alekhine - Berstein, Vilnius 1912, came before the San Remo 1930 game where the motif was first named. 
Though the pattern with the Queen in the back of two Rooks did technically appear, it was arranged along the seventh rank and didn't last more than a move or two. Thus, Alekhine - Nimzowitsch, San Remo 1930 is the earliest and best illustration from Alekhine's games of the power of Alekhine's Gun.