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A Masterpiece of Alexander Alekhine

Alexander Alekhine

Max Euwe

Notated by Alexander Alekhine2

October 7, 1937Rotterdam NED

1.d4Notes by Alekhine1…d52.c4c63.Nf3Nf64.Nc3dxc45.a4Bf56.Ne5I considered it vital to find out immediately what defence my opponent had in mind against the line he himself adopted in the first game.6…e6! Played twice by Bogoljuboff against me in the 1929 match. As the experiment did not succeed (he only managed to draw one game with great difficulty and he lost the other game), the move 6…e6 disappeared from master practice. But, as was proved especially by the eleventh game of this match, it is much safer than the fashionable Kmoch variation (6…Nbd7 in conjunction with Qc7 and e5.)7.Bg5As after 7 f3 Bb4, the move 8 e4? would provoke the absolutely sound sacrifice 8…Nxe4! (first played by Mikenas against Dr. Vidmar, Prague, 1931), White must not hurry to form a pawn centre. Still, after the following answer, he had no better move than 8 f3, which would lead to the position obtained in the fourth and eleventh games.7…Bb4Much more logical and better than 7…Be7 , as played by Bogoljuboff in our fifth match game in 1929.8.Nxc4Very harmless, inasmuch as Black, instead of the complicated variation actually selected, could simply play here 8…h6, and if 9 Bh4 then 9…g5 10 Bg3 Ne4 11 Rc1 (or 11 Qb3 Na6) c5,etc., with at least equal prospects.8…Qd5Also a good move which leads after a short, sharp intermezzo to an equally balanced position.9.Bxf6The alternative, 9 Ne3 Qa5 10 Nxf5 Qxf5 etc., was even less promising. And if 9 Qb3, then 9…Na6.9…Qxc4Better than 9…gxf6 10 Ne3 Qa5 11 Qb3 with slightly better prospects for White.10.Qd2The only move, as 10 Rc1? would have been refuted by 10…gxf6 11 e4 Qa2, etc.10…gxf611.e4Qb312.exf5Nd713.fxe6fxe614.Be2O-O-O15.O-OThese last few moves were practically forced and the position thus reached offers about equal attacking possibilities for both sides.15…e5This logical move-which brings the knight into a strong position and opens the queen’s file to Black’s advantage-has been, in my opinion, unduly criticized. In any event 15…Nb6, which was recommended instead, would expose Black to dangerous threats after 16 a5 Na4 17 Qe3 Nxb2 18 Rfc1-and this without offering him any real winning prospects.16.dxe5Nxe517.Qc1Bxc3As 18 Ne4 was not really a strong threat, this exchange should have been postponed till a more appropriate moment. Black should have played 17…Rhg8; for if 18 Ne4 (18 Qe3 Qxb2) then .. .Nf3+ 19 Bxf3 Qxf3 20 Ng3 Qg4, etc., with quite a satisfactory position. After the move in the text White obtains the better chances because his bishop will prove superior to the knight as soon as the Black piece is dislodged from e5.18.bxc3Rhg819.Qe3Kb8Not absolutely necessary, as he could indirectly protect his queen rook’s pawn by playing 19…Qd5 20 g3 Qd2; but then after 21 Qxd2 Rxd2 22 Rfe1 (here if …Nd3 23 Rad1!) White’s endgame chances would still be the better.20.g3Rd721.Rab1!21…Qc222.Rfe1! The most subtle move of the game, by which White prepares the important f4. The immediate advance of that pawn would be refuted by 22…Rd2 23 Rfe1 Nd3.22…Qd223.Qxd2Rxd224.f4Ng625.Bc4Rgd8Or 25…Rg7 26 Re8+ Kc7 27 Kh1! with advantage to White.26.Re6! In order to exchange one pair of rooks. It must be noted that Black cannot play 26…Rc2 on account of 27 Ba6 b6 28 Rxc6.26…R8d627.Rbe1Kc728.Rxd6Rxd6If 28…Kxd6, then 20 Bg8, threatening both 30 Bxh7 and 30 Re6+.29.h4In order to play the king to f2 without being disturbed by the rook check on the second rank.29…Kd730.Kf2Ne731.Kf3Nd5After this loss of time Black’s position becomes rapidly hopeless, as the White king will be able to attack and win the pawn on h7. But it is to be doubted if the game could be saved even by the best answer, 31 …f5 Then White would not play immediately 32 g4 because of 32…fxg4+ 33 Kxg4 Rg6+, followed by 34…Nf5 with counterattack; but he would play first 32 h5, after which g4 would free his king bishop’s pawn with disastrous effect for Black since the latter’s majority on the queen side has a nominal value only, owing to the passive position of his pieces.32.Bd3h633.Bf5+Kd834.Kg4Ne7Or 34…Nxc3 35 Kh5 Nxa4 36 Kxh5, followed by the victorious advance of the passed king rook’s pawn.35.Bb1Ke8If 35…Rd5 then 36 f5, etc.36.Kh5Kf737.Ba2+Kf838.Kxh6Rd2The main variation was 38…Nf5+ 39 Kg6 Nxg3 40 f5 followed by the advance of the rook’s pawn.39.Be6Rd340.g4Rxc341.g5Even simpler than 41 Rd1 Nd5. If 41…fxg5, then fxg5.1–0

60 thoughts on “A Masterpiece of Alexander Alekhine”

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