Alekhine' s present to Capablanca for his 50th birthday... their last game in AVRO 1938

Alekhine' s present to Capablanca for his 50th birthday... their last game in AVRO 1938


After their big championship match in 1927 Alekhine and Capablanca hadn't met each other over the chess board for many years, almost a decade. There were always news or rumors about an upcoming championship rematch, Capablanca' s right, that never took place. The reason was probably the money, as Alekhine had declared after his 1927 win that didn't want to change anything of the London rules. Something that Tartakower also mentions in an article he published in De Telegraaf of 12-07-1933, criticizing in a way these high financial demands [but they were the same rules that were applied to Alekhine when he challenged Capablanca!].

Instead Alekhine played two championship matches against Bogoljubov. The fact is that Alekhine and Capablanca didn't play against each other until Nottingham 1936. I don't know why... checking the tournaments of this decade, it seemed like they were avoiding each other.

In AVRO 1938

Looking at their games back in 1927, one can see that their preference was indisputably Queen's Gambit Declined. I think that this was somehow imposed by Capablanca who was almost exclusively an 1. d4 player in big games. In Nottingham 1936 Alekhine tried unsuccessfully a Dutch defense. In AVRO 1938 tried a Queen's Indian as black and a french defense was played by Capablanca in their second game.

2nd round [08.11.1938 - Hague NED]

A draw, and an attacking queen's Indian by Alekhine.

One notable thing about this game is that they both exceeded somehow the time limit custom, playing over 40 moves before the game was adjourned. The Capablanca's last one [44th], that should be sealed for the next day, was played openly by mistake [?], but the arbiter considered it as a "sealed" move, giving Alekhine seemingly some advantage [check eg De Gooi- en Eemlander of 09-11-1938], but wasn't that much of advantage. This reminded me of something, but after the game...

Capablanca has stated about AVRO 1938 in an interview to El Gráfico, 1939: "against Alekhine I should have won one game". Probably this one and maybe meant at 40th move [?!].

This "non sealed move" reminded me a similar incident that took place in the 29th game of the Alekhine - Euwe 1935 championship match, on 12 Dec 1935.

Briefly, there Alekhine on his [white] 41st move, instead of sealing it and giving it to the chief arbiter [Kmoch], he played it. Α confrontation began, and Kmoch demanded from Alekhine to seal his move, saying it was against the rules. The latter refused saying that this was not in the contract and insisted to continue the game until 5 hours of gameplay were completed. The adjournment on the 40 moves wasn't signed, but it was a game custom and common practice, and in the event coverage it's said that there was a "gentlemen's agreement" on this.

In the end, Euwe [as black] sealed his 41st move and the game was adjourned [check eg Nieuwe Tilburgsche Courant of 13-12-1935].


Alekhine and Capablanca in Arnhem

9th round [19.11.1938 - Arnhem NED]

This game was played on Capablanca' s 50th birthday. [Mr De Clercq, AVRO's president, had given his congratulations to Capablanca, that in the end proved little, as the Cuban lost on this one ~ Capablanca's comment mentioned in Dutch press // a narrative of the day in Arnhemsche courant of 21-11-1938].

A really beautiful game! A fighting King!! I think that this was won on the opening.

A quick video of the game...

This was their last found game!

They' ll meet again, but not over the same chessboard, within the 8th Chess Olympiad of 1939 in Buenos Aires. After the event was ended, negotiations again started for a championship rematch [?]. A picturesque narrative in Bredasche courant of 24-10-1939 says that Alekhine claimed that "France is at war" and so couldn't agree on any rematch. A calmer one in De Maasbode of 29-10-1939 informs us that he was called in the French army as an interpreter.

In the French press the only publication I've found on the topic is one in Paris-soir of 29-11-1939, complaining in a way that their compatriot Alekhine is still in Buenos Aires while a war has been declared! Specifically was reported the end of the chess Olympiad cause of the war and that some of the chess players were called back in their countries. But not Alekhine, as was over the army service age!

The truth is, however, that he joined indeed the French army as an interpreter!


...within AVRO 1938, watching a Keres - Reshevsky game