Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword!

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword!

Dec 2, 2016, 8:23 AM |

The Moscow 1925 Chess Tournament was a very strong competition:

Bogoljubow, Lasker, Capablanca, Marshall....

Among the participants was Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky, s atrong Soviet Master.

Alexander Ilyin Zhenevsky

(born Nov-28-1894, died Sep-03-1941, 46 years old) Russia

Alexander Fyodorovich Ilyin-Zhenevsky (Genevsky) was born in St Petersburg and was one of the founding fathers of Soviet Chess. While still a schoolboy he was expelled from school in 1912 for pro-Bolshevik political activity and had to complete his studies abroad in Geneva. He eventually became a chess champion of Geneva (1914). Suffering from shell-shock after the First World War he had to learn how to play chess for the second time. He organised the first Soviet Championship, won by Alexander Alekhine in 1920 and later was instrumental in arranging the 1933 match between Mikhail Botvinnik and Salomon Flohr. As well as organisational and editorial work his over the board achievements included winning the Leningrad Championships of 1925 (jointly), 1926 and 1929 and defeating Jose Raul Capablancain their game at the great Moscow 1925 International Tournament. He was also awarded the Master title in 1925.

Some sources say that he was the only one that died in a Nazi air raid on a barge on Lake Ladoga on the 3rd of September, 1941, during the siege of Leningrad. Other sources say that he was arrested by the Soviet secret police during the purges and died in prison in 1941.

Wikipedia article: Alexander Ilyin-Genevsky

Ilyin-Zhenevsky defeated Capablanca in their individual encounter, and sacrificed his Queen in the process! Here is the game!


So he is feeling great....and the next day he has to play the mighty Emmanuel Lasker! At this time the great Lasker was 56 years old!

The game started well enough. Ilyin-Zhenevsky was playing White, and gained a small advantage in a Sicilian Defense. Then he offered the exchange of Queens....let us see!

 Emmanuel Lasker


Now let's hear the story from Ilyin-Zhenevsky himself after Lasker played 13...Qxa2, which implies a Queen sacrifice for no apparent compensation!

" I stared at the board, eyes wide open; my time ticked by, but still I could not see the point of the combination. I could sense great excitement in the hall. After every move, the noise increased. Evidently, the public was also experiencing this critical moment of the game in its own way. No- there was no combination in Lasker's play: I could just quietly go ahead and win his Queen. I made two or three moves, and Lasker's Queen came off the board. The noise in the hall was now indescribable. The public was unable to contain its excitement. Around the demonstration boards, there was now such pressure that security had to intervene. Only Lasker remained sublimely above it all. He smoked his cigar, and considered his next move. His face was as though set in stone. Only his eyes showed flashes of wit and will.

"I rose to stretch my legs. My fellow Masters stopped me for a bit, asking in amazement: "What does all this mean? Has Lasker blundered?" I could only shrug my shoulders. Some of them, Bogoljubow included, were already congratulating me on my victory.

"Returning to the board, I saw that Lasker had made a quiet, peaceful move. It was completely obvious that there was no forcing combination that I had failed to see; instead, we were going to continue the game with the material advantage which I now possessed. I began to give thought to what plan I should choose, so as to bring home the victory as soon as possible. Advancing my kingside pawns looked attractive; but then I would be exposing my own King, and I had no wish to take risks.

"Perhaps I could create a weakness somewhere in his position, using nothing but piece play; I chose this later plan. However, I had very little time left. A difficult opening, followed by Lasker's astonishing sacrifice, had taken most of it; now, alas, I had not enough left. We played a few moves- Lasker quietly, attentively, considering each move, I- playing hastily, afraid I would not succeed in playing the requisite number of moves in the time remaining to me. Suddenly, I saw that I must lose the exchange. It is difficult to express the shame and disappointment I felt at that moment. To have such a game, and then to lose it so stupidly! After losing the exchange, my game of course became utterly hopeless. And indeed Lasker, by his incisive and brilliant play, very quickly forced my resignation."

Live by the sword, die by the sword!