Raymond Keene

Alekhine’s anniversaries

Alexander Alekhine was one of the two world champions (the other being his fellow native Russian Mikhail Botvinnik) who won, lost and regained the supreme title.

In fact 2017 represents the 90th anniversary of Alekhine’s victory over the Cuban world champion José Raúl Capablanca at Buenos Aires 1927, and the 80th anniversary of his revenge match against Max Euwe, played on the Dutchman’s home turf, where Alekhine retrieved the title he had lost in 1935.

On re-examining Alekhine’s games recently, I was struck by the proliferation of queen sacrifices which characterise his vigorous creative approach, several against the leading exponents of the day.

Next week I shall continue with further examples of his fierce imagination and demonstrate Alekhine’s influence over his most illustrious student, one Garry Kasparov.

Alekhine-Maroczy, Bled 1931
(Diagram 1)

27 Qh8 Rxd3 This allows a mating finish. Black’s only chance was 27 … Rc6 but 28 Rxc6 bxc6 29 fxe6 fxe6 30 Nf6 gives White a very strong attack. 28 f6+ Black resigns Black resigned, foreseeing 28 … Kd8 29 Qxe8+ Kxe8 30 Rc8 mate.

Alekhine-Lasker, Zurich 1934
(Diagram 2)

26 Qxg6! Black resigns After 26 … hxg6 27 Rh3+ Nh6 28 Rxh6 is mate.

Alekhine-Reshevsky, Kemeri 1937
(Diagram 3)

He sets up the winning queen sacrifice by driving the black king to an unfortunate square.

35 Rxb8+! Kxb8 36 Qxe5+! Black resigns After 36 … fxe5 37 Rf8+ forces mate.

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