greatest attacking players who ever lived

Feb 18, 2009, 9:47 PM |

  Alexander Alekhine, 1892-1946 was one of the greatest attacking players who ever lived. Born to a wealthy aristocratic family in Moscow, he became a strong master by his late teens.

  In 1914, young Alekhine captured first place in a strong international tournament in Moscow and then played in the famous St Petersburg 1914 "Grandmasters of Chess" tournament and finished 3rd, behind World Champion Emmanuel Lasker and Cuban genius and Jose Raoul Capablanca.

  Alekhine was interned briefly by the Germans while playing in a tournament in Mannheim, Germany just as World War 1 started. He managed to return to Russia and served in the ambulance corp on the Russian-Austrian front.

  Wounded, he developed his skills as a simultaneous blindfold chess expert while recovering in the hospital. He later accomplished the incredible feat of playing 32 opponents blindfolded, winning 19, losing 4 and drawing 9.

  In 1927, Alekhine, now a French citizen, defeated Jose Capablanca in an epic match played in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He held his title until defeated by the Dutch Math Professor Max Euwe in 1935. He won back his crown in 1937 and held the title of World Champion until his death in 1946.

  As a youngster, I was fascinated by the brilliance and deep conceptions of Alekhine. His ideas almost seemed too big for the chessboard. Attack was his forte and he was a very dedicated student of the game, working harder than most of his peers.

  Alekhine’s opponent in the game we are about to analyze, Emmanuel Lasker, (1868-1941) holds the record for the longest reign as World Champion. Lasker held the title from 1894, when he defeated Wilhelm Steinitz until 1921, when he lost to Capablanca.

  Where Alekhine was a chess artist, Lasker was the practical businessman. He cared about results not beauty. Extremely tenacious and resourceful, Lasker was the master of refuting unsound attacks. Brilliant attackers like Marshall, Janowsky, Speelman and others wore themselves out trying to overwhelm the sensible Lasker. Not surprisingly, Lasker wrote a book called "Common Sense in Chess".

  In the game we are about to examine, we see Alekhine at the top of his game. Lasker was getting on in years but was still a very tough customer. It is striking how Alekhine powerfully builds up his attack until a final combinative finale settles matters.