Alexander Alekhine: Wikis


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Alexander Alekhine
Full name Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine
Country Russia, France
Born October 31, 1892(1892-10-31)
Moscow, Russia
Died March 24, 1946 (aged 53)
Estoril, Portugal
World Champion 1927–1935 & 1937–1946

Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine (Russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Але́хин, pronounced [alʲɛkˈsandr̠ alʲɛkˈsandr̠ovʲitɕ aˈlʲɛxin])[1] (October 31, 1892 – March 24, 1946) was the fourth World Chess Champion. He is often considered as one of the greatest chess players ever.

By the age of twenty-two, he was already among the strongest chess players in the world. During the 1920s, he won most of the tournaments in which he played. In 1927, he became the fourth World Chess Champion by defeating Capablanca, widely considered invincible, in what would stand as the longest chess championship match held until 1985.

In the early 1930s, Alekhine dominated tournament play and won two top-class tournaments by large margins. He also played first board for France in four Chess Olympiads, winning individual prizes in each. His tournament record became more erratic from the mid-1930s onwards, and alcoholism is often blamed for his decline. Alekhine offered Capablanca a rematch on the same demanding terms that Capablanca had set for him, and negotiations dragged on for years without making much progress. Meanwhile, Alekhine defended his title with ease against Bogoljubov in 1929 and 1934. He was defeated by Euwe in 1935, but regained his crown in the 1937 rematch. His tournament record, however, remained uneven, and rising young stars like Keres, Fine, and Botvinnik threatened his title. Negotiations for a title match with Keres or Botvinnik were halted by the outbreak of World War II in Europe in 1939.

Alekhine stayed in Nazi-occupied Europe during the war, where he played in tournaments which were organised by the Nazis. Anti-Semitic articles appeared under his name, although he later claimed they were forged by the Nazis. Alekhine had good relationships with several Jewish chess players, and his fourth wife was Jewish. After the war, Alekhine was ostracized by players and tournament organizers because of the anti-Semitic articles. Negotiations with Mikhail Botvinnik for a world title match were proceeding in 1946 when Alekhine died in Portugal, in unclear circumstances.

Alekhine is known for his fierce and imaginative attacking style, combined with great positional and endgame skill. He produced innovations in a wide range of chess openings. Statistical rating systems differ about his strength relative to other players, giving him rankings between fourth and eighteenth in their "all-time" lists. Although Alekhine was declared an "enemy of the Soviet Union" after making anti-Bolshevik statements in 1927, in the 1950s he was posthumously rehabilitated and acclaimed as one of the founders of the "Soviet School of Chess", which dominated the game after World War II. He is highly regarded as a chess writer and theoretician, giving his name to Alekhine's Defence and several other opening variations, and also composed a few endgame studies. There is strong evidence that Alekhine "improved" the published scores of some of his games, although in one case he may not have been responsible for the misrepresentation.



Early life

Alekhine was born into a wealthy family in Moscow, Russia on October 31, 1892.[2][3][4][5] His father Alexander Ivanovich Alekhine was a landowner and Privy Councilor to the conservative legislative Fourth Duma.[6] His mother, Anisya Ivanovna Alekhina (born Prokhorova), was the daughter of a rich industrialist. Alekhine was first introduced to chess by his mother, an older brother, Alexei, and an older sister, Varvara (Barbara).[7][8]

Early chess career (1902–1914)

The tables at the end of this article give details of Alekhine's results.
Alekhine in 1909

Alekhine's first known game was from a correspondence chess tournament that began on December 3, 1902, when he was ten years old. He participated in several correspondence tournaments, sponsored by the chess magazine Shakhmatnoe Obozrenie, in 1902–1911. In 1907, Alexander played his first over-the-board tournament, the Moscow chess club's Spring Tournament. Later that year, Alexander tied for 11th–13th in the club's Autumn Tournament; his older brother, Alexei, tied for 4th–6th place. In 1908, Alexander won the club's Spring Tournament, at the age of fifteen.[9] In 1909, he won All-Russian Amateur Tournament in Saint Petersburg. For the next few years, he played in increasingly stronger tournaments, some of them outside Russia. At first he had mixed results, but by the age of sixteen he had established himself as one of Russia's top players.[10] He played first board in two friendly team matches: St. Petersburg Chess Club vs. Moscow Chess Club in 1911 and Moscow vs. St. Petersburg in 1912 (both drew with Eugene Znosko-Borovsky).[11] By the end of 1911, Alekhine moved to St. Petersburg, where he entered the Imperial Law School for Nobles. By 1912, he was the strongest chess player in the St. Petersburg Chess Society. In March 1912, he won the St. Petersburg Chess Club Winter Tournament. In April 1912, he won the 1st Category Tournament of the St. Petersburg Chess Club.[12] In January 1914, Alekhine won his first major Russian tournament, when he tied for first place with Aron Nimzowitsch in the All-Russian Masters Tournament at St. Petersburg. Afterwards, they drew in a mini-match for first prize (they both won a game).[13] Alekhine also played several matches in this period, and his results showed the same pattern: mixed at first but later consistently good.

Top-level grandmaster (1914–1927)

In April–May 1914, another major St. Petersburg 1914 chess tournament was held in the capital of the Russian Empire, in which Alekhine took third place behind Emanuel Lasker and Jose Raul Capablanca. By some accounts, Tsar Nicholas II conferred the title of "Grandmaster of Chess" on each of the five finalists (Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch, and Marshall). Chess historian Edward Winter has questioned this, stating that the earliest known sources that support this story are an article by Robert Lewis Taylor in the June 15, 1940 issue of The New Yorker and Marshall's autobiography My 50 Years of Chess (1942).[14][15][16] Alekhine's surprising success made him a serious contender for the World Chess Championship.[10] Whether or not the title was formally awarded to him, "Thanks to this performance, Alekhine became a grandmaster in his own right and in the eyes of the audience."[17] In July 1914, Alekhine tied for first with Marshall in Paris.[18]

World War I and post-revolutionary Russia

In July–August 1914, Alekhine was leading an international Mannheim tournament, the 19th DSB Congress (German Chess Federation Congress) in Mannheim, Germany, with nine wins, one draw and one loss, when World War I broke out. Alekhine's prize was 1,100 marks (worth about 11,000 euros in terms of purchasing power today).[19] After the declaration of war against Russia, eleven "Russian" players (Alekhine, Bogoljubov, Bogatyrchuk, Flamberg, Koppelman, Maliutin, Rabinovich, Romanovsky, Saburov, Selezniev, Weinstein) were interned in Rastatt, Germany. In September 14, 17, and 29, 1914, four of them (Alekhine, Bogatyrchuk, Saburov, and Koppelman) were freed and allowed to return home.[20] Alekhine made his way back to Russia (via Switzerland, Italy, London, Stockholm, and Finland) by the end of October 1914. A fifth player, Peter Romanovsky, was released in 1915,[21] and a sixth, Flamberg, was allowed to return to Warsaw in 1916.[22]

When Alekhine returned to Russia, he helped raise money to aid the Russian chess players who remained interned in Germany by giving simultaneous exhibitions. In December 1915, he won the Moscow Chess Club Championship. In April 1916 Alekhine won a mini-match against Alexander Evensohn with two wins and one loss at Kiev, and in summer he served in the Union of Cities (Red Cross) on the Austrian front. In September, he played five people in a blindfold display at a Russian military hospital at Tarnopol. In 1918, Alekhine won a "Triangular tournament" in Moscow. In June of the following year, Alekhine was briefly imprisoned in Odessa's death cell by the Odessa Cheka, suspected of being a spy. He was charged with links with White counter-intelligence, after the Russians liberated the Ukraine from German occupation. Rumors appeared in the West that Alekhine had been killed by the Bolsheviks.[9]


The table at the foot of this article gives details of Alekhine's results.

When conditions in Russia became more settled, Alekhine proved he was among Russia's strongest players. For example, in January 1920, he swept the Moscow City Chess Championship (11/11), but was not declared Moscow Champion because he was not a resident of the city. Also in October 1920, he won the All-Russian Championship in Moscow (+9 –0 =6); this tournament was retroactively defined as the first USSR Championship. His brother Alexei took third place in the tournament for amateurs.[9]

In March 1920, Alekhine married Alexandra Batayeva. They divorced the next year.[23] For a short time in 1920–1921, he worked as an interpreter for the Communist International (Comintern) and was appointed secretary to the Education Department. In this capacity, he met a Swiss journalist and Comintern delegate, Anneliese Rüegg (Annalisa Ruegg), who was thirteen years older than he, and they married on March 15, 1921. Shortly after, Alekhine was given permission to leave Russia for a visit to the West with his wife, from which he never returned. In June 1921, Alekhine abandoned his second wife in Paris and went to Berlin.[9]

In 1921–1923 Alekhine played seven mini-matches. In 1921, he won against Nikolay Grigoriev (+2 –0 =5) in Moscow, drew with Richard Teichmann (+2 –2 =2) and won against Friedrich Sämisch (+2 –0 =0), both in Berlin. In 1922, he won against Ossip Bernstein (+1 –0 =1) and Arnold Aurbach (+1 –0 =1), both in Paris, and Manuel Golmayo (+1 –0 =1) in Madrid.[24] In 1923, he won against André Muffang (+2 –0 =0) in Paris.[25]

From 1921 to 1927, Alekhine won or shared first prize in about two-thirds of the many tournaments in which he played. His least successful efforts were: a tie for third place at Vienna 1922 behind Akiba Rubinstein and Richard Réti; and third place at the New York 1924 chess tournament behind ex-champion Emanuel Lasker and world champion José Raúl Capablanca (but ahead of Frank James Marshall, Richard Réti, Géza Maróczy, Efim Bogoljubov, Savielly Tartakower, Frederick Yates, Edward Lasker and David Janowski).[13][13] Technically, Alekhine's play was mostly better than his competitors', even Capablanca's, but he lacked confidence when playing his major rivals.[10]

Alekhine's major goal throughout this period was to arrange a match with Capablanca.[10] He thought the greatest obstacle was not Capablanca's play, but the requirement under the 1922 "London rules" (at Capablanca's insistence) that the challenger raise a purse of US $10,000, of which the defending champion would receive over half even if defeated (US $10,000 in 1927 would be worth about $391,000 in 2006[26]).[27] Alekhine in November 1921 and Rubinstein and Aaron Nimzowitsch in 1923 challenged Capablanca, but were unable to raise the $10,000.[28][29] Raising the money was Alekhine's preliminary objective; he even went on tour, playing simultaneous exhibitions for modest fees day after day.[30] In New York on April 27, 1924, Alekhine broke the world record for blindfold play when he played twenty-six opponents (the previous record was twenty-five, set by Gyula Breyer), winning sixteen games, losing five, and drawing five after twelve hours of play. He broke his own world record on February 1, 1925 by playing twenty-eight games blindfold simultaneously in Paris, winning twenty-two, drawing three, and losing three.[9][31]

In 1925, he became a French citizen and entered the Sorbonne Faculty of law. Although sources differ about whether he completed his studies there, he was known as "Dr. Alekhine" in the 1930s.[9][10][32] His thesis was on the Chinese prison system. "He received a degree in law in Saint Petersburg in 1914 but never practiced."[33]

In October 1926, he won in Buenos Aires. From December 1926 to January 1927, Alekhine beat Max Euwe 5½–4½ in a match. In 1927, he married his third wife, Nadiezda Vasiliev (née Fabritzky) (Nadejda Fabritzky, Nadezhda Vasilieff), another older woman, the widow of the Russian general V. Vasiliev (Vassilieff).[34]

World Chess Champion, first reign (1927–35)

1927 title match

Capablanca, from whom Alekhine won the World Chess Championship in 1927. Prolonged negotiations for a return match came to nothing.

In 1927, Alekhine's challenge to Capablanca was backed by a group of Argentinian businessmen and the president of Argentina, who guaranteed the funds,[35] and organized by the Club Argentino de Ajedrez (Argentine Chess Club) in Buenos Aires.[27] In the World Chess Championship match played from September to November 1927 at Buenos Aires, Alekhine won the title, scoring +6 -3 =25.[36] This was the longest formal World Championship match until the contest in 1984 between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov.[37] Alekhine's victory surprised almost the entire chess world, since he had never previously won a single game from Capablanca.[36] After Capablanca's death Alekhine expressed surprise at his own victory, since in 1927 he did not think he was superior to Capablanca, and he suggested that Capablanca had been over-confident.[38] Capablanca entered the match with no technical or physical preparation,[39][40] while Alekhine got himself into good physical condition,[10] and had thoroughly studied Capablanca's play.[41] According to Kasparov, Alekhine's research uncovered many small inaccuracies, which occurred because Capablanca was unwilling to concentrate intensely.[42] Vladimir Kramnik commented that this was the first contest in which Capablanca had no easy wins.[43]

Rematch offered, never finalized

Immediately after winning the match, Alekhine announced that he was willing to give Capablanca a return match, on the same terms that Capablanca had required as champion — the challenger must provide a stake of US $10,000, of which more than half would go to the defending champion even if he was defeated.[27] After Capablanca's death, Alekhine wrote that Capablanca's demand for a $10,000 stake was an attempt to avoid challenges.[38] Negotiations dragged on for several years, often breaking down when agreement seemed in sight. Their relationship became bitter, and Alekhine demanded much higher appearance fees for tournaments in which Capablanca also played.[10]

Grandmaster Robert Byrne wrote that Alekhine consciously sought lesser opponents for his subsequent championship matches, rather than giving Capablanca another chance.[44]

Defeats Bogolyubov twice in title matches

Alekhine (left) vs. Bogoljubow (right); Emanuel Lasker (seated, center) and others look on.

Although he never agreed terms for a rematch against Capablanca, Alekhine played two world title matches with Bogoljubow, an official "Challenger of FIDE", in 1929 and 1934, winning handily both times.[45][46] The first was held at Wiesbaden, Heidelberg, Berlin, The Hague, and Amsterdam from September through November 1929. Alekhine retained his title, scoring +11 -5 =9.[25] From April to June 1934, Alekhine faced Bogoljubow again in a title match held in twelve German cities, defeating him by five games (+8 -3 =15).[25] In 1929, Bogoljubow was forty years old and perhaps already past his peak.[47]

Anti-Bolshevik statements, controversy

After the world championship match, Alekhine returned to Paris and spoke against Bolshevism. Afterwards, Nikolai Krylenko, president of the Soviet Chess Federation, published an official memorandum stating that Alekhine should be regarded as an enemy of the Soviets. The Soviet Chess Federation broke all contact with Alexander Alekhine until the end of the 1930s. His older brother Alexei, with whom Alexander Alekhine had had a very close relationship, publicly repudiated him and his anti-Soviet utterances shortly after, but Alexei may have had little choice about this decision.[48] In August 1939, Alexei Alekhine was murdered in Russia.[49]

Dominates rivals

Alexander Alekhine dominated chess into the mid-1930s.[10] His most famous tournament victories were at the San Remo 1930 chess tournament (+13 =2, 3½ points ahead of Nimzowitsch) and the Bled 1931 chess tournament (+15 =11, 5½ points ahead of Bogoljubov). He won most of his other tournaments outright, shared first place in two, and the first tournament in which he placed lower was Hastings 1933–34 (shared second place, ½ point behind Salo Flohr). In 1933, Alekhine also swept an exhibition match against Rafael Cintron in San Juan (+4 –0 =0), but only managed to draw another match with Ossip Bernstein in Paris (+1 –1 =2).[50]

From 1930 to 1935, Alekhine played on board one for France at four Chess Olympiads, winning: the first brilliancy prize at Hamburg in 1930;[51] gold medals for board one at Prague in 1931 and Folkestone in 1933;[52][53] and the silver medal for board one at Warsaw in 1935.[54] His loss to Latvian master Hermanis Matisons at Prague in 1931 was his first loss in a serious chess event since winning the world championship.[9]

In the early 1930s, Alekhine travelled the world giving simultaneous exhibitions, including Hawaii, Tokyo, Manila, Singapore,[55] Shanghai, Hong Kong, and the Dutch East Indies. In July 1933, Alekhine played thirty-two people blindfold simultaneously (a new world record) in Chicago, winning nineteen, drawing nine and losing four games.[56]

In 1934 Alekhine married his fourth wife, Grace Freeman (née Wishard), sixteen years his senior. She was the American-born widow of a British tea-planter in Ceylon, who retained her British citizenship to the end of her life and remained Alekhine's wife until his death.[9][57]

Loss of the World title (1935–1937)

Max Euwe took Alekhine's world title in 1935 but lost it in their 1937 return match.

In 1933, Alekhine challenged Max Euwe to a championship match. Euwe, in the early 1930s, was regarded as one of three credible challengers (the others were Capablanca and Salo Flohr).[10] On October 3, 1935 the world championship match began in Zandvoort, the Netherlands. Although Alekhine took an early lead, from game thirteen onwards Euwe won twice as many games as Alekhine. The challenger became the new champion on December 15, 1935 with nine wins, thirteen draws, and eight losses.[58] This was the first world championship match that officially had seconds: Alekhine had the services of Salo Landau, and Euwe had Geza Maroczy.[59] Euwe's win was a major upset and is sometimes attributed to Alekhine's alcoholism.[57] Flohr, who also assisted Euwe during the match, thought overconfidence caused more problems than alcohol for Alekhine in this match, and Alekhine himself had previously said he would win easily.[60][61] Later World Champions Vassily Smyslov, Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov analyzed the match for their own benefit and concluded that Euwe deserved to win and that the standard of play was worthy of a world championship.[60]

In the eighteen months after losing the title, Alekhine played in ten tournaments, with uneven results: tied for first with Paul Keres at Bad Nauheim in May 1936; first place at Dresden in June 1936; second to Flohr at Poděbrady in July 1936; sixth, behind Capablanca, Mikhail Botvinnik, Reuben Fine, Samuel Reshevsky, and Euwe at Nottingham in August 1936; third, behind Euwe and Fine, at Amsterdam in October 1936; tied for first with Salo Landau at Amsterdam (Quadrangular), also in October 1936; in 1936/37 he won at the Hastings New Year tournament, ahead of Fine and Erich Eliskases; first place at Nice (Quadrangular) in March 1937; third, behind Keres and Fine, at Margate in April 1937; tied for fourth with Keres, behind Flohr, Reshevsky and Vladimirs Petrovs, at Kemeri in June–July 1937; tied for second with Bogoljubow, behind Euwe, at Bad Nauheim (Quadrangular) in July 1937.[9]

World Chess Champion, second reign (1937–46)

Alekhine around 1945


Max Euwe was quick to arrange a return match with Alekhine, something José Raúl Capablanca had been unable to obtain after Alekhine won the world title in 1927. Alekhine regained the title from Euwe in December 1937 by a large margin (+10 –4 =11). In this match, held in the Netherlands, Euwe was seconded by Reuben Fine, and Alekhine by Erich Eliskases. The match was a real contest initially, but Euwe collapsed near the end, losing four of the last five games.[43][62] Fine attributed the collapse to nervous tension, possibly aggravated by Euwe's attempts to maintain a calm appearance. Alekhine played no more title matches, and thus held the title until his death.[10]

1938 began well for Alekhine, who won the Montevideo 1938 chess tournament at Carrasco (in March) and at Margate (in April), and tied for first with Sir George Alan Thomas at Plymouth (in September). In November, however, he only tied for 4th-6th with Euwe and Samuel Reshevsky, behind Paul Keres, Reuben Fine, and Mikhail Botvinnik, ahead of Capablanca and Flohr, at the AVRO tournament in the Netherlands. This tournament was played in each of several Dutch cities for a few days at a time; it was therefore perhaps not surprising that rising stars took the first three places, as the older players found the travel very tiring.[10]

Immediately after the AVRO tournament, Botvinnik, who had finished in third place, challenged Alekhine to a match for the world championship. They agreed on a prize fund of US $10,000 with two-thirds going to the winner, and that if the match were to take place in Moscow, Alekhine would be invited at least three months in advance so that he could play in a tournament to get ready for the match. Other details had not been agreed when World War II interrupted negotiations, which the two players resumed after the war.[63]

Keres, who had won the AVRO tournament on tiebreak over Fine, also challenged Alekhine to a world championship match. Negotiations were proceeding in 1939 when they were disrupted by World War II. During the war Keres' home country, Estonia, was invaded first by the USSR, then by Germany, then again by the USSR. At the end of the war, the Soviet government prevented Keres from continuing the negotiations, on the grounds that he had collaborated with the Germans during their occupation of Estonia.[64]

Alekhine was representing France at first board in the 8th Chess Olympiad at Buenos Aires 1939 when World War II broke out in Europe. The assembly of all team captains, with leading roles played by Alekhine (France), Savielly Tartakower (Poland), and Albert Becker (Germany), plus the president of the Argentine Chess Federation, Augusto de Muro, decided to go on with the Olympiad.[65]

Alekhine won the individual silver medal (nine wins, no losses, seven draws), behind Capablanca (only results from finals A and B - separately for both sections - counted for best individual scores).[66] Shortly after the Olympiad, Alekhine swept tournaments in Montevideo (7/7) and Caracas (10/10).

At the end of August 1939, both Alekhine and Capablanca wrote to Augusto de Muro regarding a possible world championship rematch. Whereas the former spoke of a rematch as a virtual certainty, even stating that the Cuban was remaining in Buenos Aires until it came about, the latter referred at length to the financial burden in the aftermath of the Olympiad.[67] Supported by Latin-American financial pledges, José R. Capablanca challenged Alexander Alekhine to a world title match in November. Tentative plans not, however, actually backed by a deposit of the required purse ($10,000 in gold), led to a virtual agreement to play at Buenos Aires, Argentina beginning April 14, 1940.

World War II (1939–1945)

Unlike many participants in the 1939 Chess Olympiad,[66] Alekhine returned to Europe in January 1940. After a short stay in Portugal,[68] he enlisted in the French army as a sanitation officer.[57]

After the fall of France (June 1940), he fled to Marseille. Alekhine tried to go to America by traveling to Lisbon and applying for an American visa. In October 1940, he sought permission to enter Cuba, promising to play a match with Capablanca. This request was denied.[49] To protect his wife, Grace Alekhine, an American Jew, and her French assets (a castle at Saint Aubin-le-Cauf, near Dieppe, which the Nazis looted), he agreed to cooperate with the Nazis.[69] Alekhine took part in chess tournaments in Munich, Salzburg, Krakow/Warsaw, and Prague, organised by Ehrhardt Post, the Chief Executive of the Nazi-controlled Grossdeutscher Schachbund ("Greater Germany Chess Federation") - Keres, Bogoljubov, Gösta Stoltz, and several other strong masters in Nazi-occupied Europe also played in such events.[70] In 1941, he tied for second-third with Erik Lundin in the Munich 1941 chess tournament (Europaturnier in September, won by Stoltz), shared first with Paul Felix Schmidt at Krakow/Warsaw (the 2nd General Government-ch, in October)[71] and won in Madrid (in December). The following year he won in the Salzburg 1942 chess tournament (June 1942) and in Munich (September 1942; the Nazis named this the Europameisterschaft, which means "European Championship").[72][73] Later in 1942 he won at Warsaw/Lublin/Krakow (the 3rd GG-ch; October 1942) and tied for first with Klaus Junge in Prague (Duras Jubileé; December 1942). In 1943, he drew a mini-match (+1 –1) with Bogoljubov in Warsaw (March 1943), he won in Prague (April 1943) and tied for first with Keres in Salzburg (June 1943).

By late 1943, Alekhine was spending all his time in Spain and Portugal, as the German representative to chess events. This also allowed him to get away from the onrushing Soviet invasion into eastern Europe.[49][74] In 1944, he narrowly won a match against Ramón Rey Ardid in Zaragoza (+1 –0 =3; April 1944) and won in Gijon (July 1944). The following year, he won at Madrid (March 1945), tied for second place with Antonio Medina at Gijón (July 1945; the event was won by Antonio Rico), won at Sabadell (August 1945), he tied for first with F. López Núñez in Almeria (August 1945), won in Melilla (September 1945) and took second in Caceres, behind Francisco Lupi (Autumn 1945). Alekhine's last match was with Lupi at Estoril near Lisbon, Portugal, in January 1946. Alekhine won two games, lost one, and drew one.[13]

Alekhine took an interest in the development of the chess prodigy Arturo Pomar and devoted a section of his last book (¡Legado! 1946) to him. They played at Gijon 1944, when Pomar, aged twelve, achieved a creditable draw with the champion.[75]

His final year

Grave of Alexander Alekhine in Paris, France

After World War II, Alekhine was not invited to chess tournaments outside the Iberian Peninsula, because of his alleged Nazi affiliation. His original invitation to the London 1946 tournament was withdrawn when the other competitors protested.[6] While planning for a World championship match against Botvinnik,[63] he died in his hotel room in Estoril, Portugal on March 24, 1946. The circumstances of his death are still a matter of debate. It is usually attributed to a heart attack, but a letter in Chess Life magazine from a witness to the autopsy stated that choking on meat was the actual cause of death. Some have speculated that he was murdered by a French "Death Squad". A few years later, Alekhine's son, Alexander Alekhine Junior, said that "the hand of Moscow reached his father".[76] Canadian Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett, who has lived in Portugal since the late 1980s, and who has thoroughly investigated Alekhine's death, favors this possibility. Spraggett makes a case for the manipulation of the crime scene and the autopsy by the Portuguese secret police PIDE. He believes that Alekhine was murdered outside his hotel room, probably by the Soviets.[77]

Alekhine's burial was sponsored by FIDE, and the remains were transferred to the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris, France in 1956.[78][79]


Playing strength and style

Statistical ranking systems differ sharply in their views of Alekhine. "Warriors of the Mind" rates him only the 18th strongest player of all time and comments that victories over players such as Bogoljubov and Euwe are not a strong basis for an "all time" ranking.[80] But the website "Chessmetrics" ranks him between the fourth and eighth best of all time, depending on the lengths of the peak periods being compared, and concludes that at his absolute peak he was a little stronger than Emanuel Lasker and Capablanca, although a little weaker than Botvinnik.[81] Jeff Sonas, the author of the website "Chessmetrics", rates Alekhine as the sixth best player of all-time on the basis of comparable ratings.[82] He also assesses Alekhine's victory at the tournament of San Remo in 1930 as the sixth best performance ever in tournaments.[82] In his 1978 book The Rating of Chessplayers, Past and Present, Arpad Elo gave retrospective ratings to players based on their performance over the best five-year span of their career. He concluded that Alekhine was the joint fifth strongest player of those surveyed (tied with Paul Morphy and Vasily Smyslov), behind Capablanca, Botvinnik, Emanuel Lasker and Mikhail Tal.[83]

Alekhine's peak period was in the early 1930s, when he won almost every tournament he played, sometimes by huge margins. Afterward, his play declined, and he never won a top-class tournament after 1934. After Alekhine regained his world title in 1937, there were several new contenders, all of whom would have been serious challengers.[10]

Start of chess board.
a8 black rook g8 black king
b7 white knight f7 black pawn g7 black pawn
f6 black knight
g4 black bishop
e3 black rook f3 white knight g3 white pawn
d2 white rook e2 black knight f2 white pawn h2 white king
c1 white rook h1 white bishop
End of chess board.
Réti-Alekine, Baden-Baden 1925 is one of Alekhine's most famous and complicated wins - 31. ... Ne4 forces the win of White's Knight at b7 in 12 moves.[10]

Alekhine was one of the greatest attacking players and could apparently produce combinations at will. What set him apart from most other attacking players was his ability to see the potential for an attack and prepare for it in positions where others saw nothing. Rudolf Spielmann, a master tactician who produced many brilliancies, said, "I can see the combinations as well as Alekhine, but I cannot get to the same positions."[10] Dr. Max Euwe said, "Alekhine is a poet who creates a work of art out of something that would hardly inspire another man to send home a picture post-card."[84] An explanation offered by Réti was, "he beats his opponents by analysing simple and apparently harmless sequences of moves in order to see whether at some time or another at the end of it an original possibility, and therefore one difficult to see, might be hidden."[85] John Nunn commented that "Alekhine had a special ability to provoke complications without taking excessive risks",[86] and Edward Winter called him "the supreme genius of the complicated position."[87] Some of Alekhine's combinations are so complex that even modern champions and contenders disagree in their analyses of them.[88]

Nevertheless, Garry Kasparov said that Alekhine's attacking play was based on solid positional foundations,[88] and Harry Golombek went further, saying that "Alekhine was the most versatile of all chess geniuses, being equally at home in every style of play and in all phases of the game."[89] Fine, a serious contender for the world championship in the late 1930s, wrote in the 1950s that Alekhine's collection of best games was one of the three most beautiful that he knew,[10] and Golombek was equally impressed.[89]

Alekhine's games have a higher percentage of wins than those of any other World Champion, and his drawn games are on average among the longest of all champions'.[90] His desire to win extended beyond formal chess competition. When Fine beat him in some casual games in 1933, Alekhine demanded a match for a small stake. And in table tennis, which Alekhine played enthusiastically but badly, he would often crush the ball when he lost.[10]

Bobby Fischer, in a 1964 article, ranked Alekhine as one of the ten greatest players in history.[91] Fischer, who was famous for the clarity of his play, wrote of Alekhine, "Alekhine has never been a hero of mine, and I've never cared for his style of play. There's nothing light or breezy about it; it worked for him, but it could scarcely work for anyone else. He played gigantic conceptions, full of outrageous and unprecedented ideas. ... [H]e had great imagination; he could see more deeply into a situation than any other player in chess history. ... It was in the most complicated positions that Alekhine found his grandest concepts."[91]

Alekhine's style had a profound influence on Kasparov, who said: "Alexander Alekhine is the first luminary among the others who are still having the greatest influence on me. I like his universality, his approach to the game, his chess ideas. I am sure that the future belongs to Alekhine chess."[92]

Influence on the game

Several openings and opening variations are named after Alekhine. In addition to the well-known Alekhine's Defence (1.e4 Nf6) and the Albin-Chatard-Alekhine Attack in the "orthodox" Paulsen variation of the French Defense,[93] there are Alekhine Variations in: the Budapest Gambit,[94][95] the Vienna Game, the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, the Winawer Variation of the French Defense; the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian Defense, the Queen's Gambit Accepted, the Slav Defense, the Queen's Pawn Game, the Catalan Opening and the Dutch Defense (where three different lines bear his name).[96] Irving Chernev commented, "The openings consist of Alekhine's games, with a few variations."[97]

Composition by Alekhine
Start of chess board.
b7 black king f7 black pawn h7 black pawn
d6 white pawn g6 black pawn
d4 white king g4 white pawn
End of chess board.

Alekhine also composed a few endgame studies, one of which is shown on the right, a miniature (a study with a maximum of seven pieces).[98]

Alekhine wrote over twenty books on chess, mostly annotated editions of the games in a major match or tournament, plus collections of his best games between 1908 and 1937.[99] Unlike Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, Capablanca and Euwe, he wrote no books that explained his ideas about the game or showed beginners how to improve their play.[87] His books appeal to expert players rather than beginners:[10] they contain many long analyses of variations in critical positions, and "singularities and exceptions were his forte, not rules and simplifications".[87]

Although Alekhine was declared an enemy of the Soviet Union after his anti-Bolshevik statement in 1928,[48] he was gradually rehabilitated by the Soviet chess elite following his death in 1946. Alexander Kotov's research on Alekhine's games and career, culminating in a biography,[100] led to a Soviet series of Alekhine Memorial tournaments. The first of these, at Moscow 1956, was won jointly by Botvinnik and Vasily Smyslov.[101] In their book The Soviet School of Chess Kotov and Yudovich devoted a chapter to Alekhine, called him "Russia's greatest player" and praised his capacity for seizing the initiative by concrete tactical play in the opening.[102] Botvinnik wrote that the Soviet School of chess learned from Alekhine's fighting qualities, capacity for self-criticism and combinative vision.[103] Alekhine had written that success in chess required "Firstly, self-knowledge; secondly, a firm comprehension of my opponent’s strength and weakness; thirdly, a higher aim – ... artistic and scientific accomplishments which accord our chess equal rank with other arts."[104]

Accusations of "improving" games

Start of chess board.
a8 black rook c8 black bishop g8 white queen
a7 black pawn b7 black pawn
b6 black king c6 black knight
c5 black bishop d5 black pawn
f4 white queen
e3 white queen f3 white king
c2 black queen f2 white pawn
b1 black queen f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook
End of chess board.
Famous and much-analyzed position from the "5 Queens" game

Samuel Reshevsky wrote that Alekhine "allegedly made up games against fictitious opponents in which he came out the victor and had these games published in various chess magazines."[105] In a recent book Andy Soltis lists "Alekhine’s 15 Improvements".[106] The most famous example is his game with five queens in Moscow in 1915. In the actual game, Alekhine, playing as Black, beat Grigoriev in the Moscow 1915 tournament; but in one of his books he presented the "five Queens" variation (starting with a move he rejected as Black in the original game) as an actual game won by the White player in Moscow in 1915 (he did not say in who was who in this version, nor that it was in the tournament).[107]

In the position of the diagram at right, which never arose in real play, Alekhine claimed that White wins by 24.Rh6, as after some complicated play Black is mated or goes into an endgame a Queen down. Some recent analyses suggest that this is not the case: if White plays 24.Rh6, black can play 24...Bg4+! and White has no mating attack.[108] A later computer-assisted analysis concludes that White can force a win, but only by diverging from Alekhine's move sequence at move 20, while there are only three Queens.[109]

Chess historian Edward Winter investigated a game Alekhine allegedly won in fifteen moves via a Queen sacrifice at Sabadell in 1945.[110] Some photos of the game in progress were discovered that showed the players during the game and their chessboard. Based on the position that the chess pieces had taken on the chessboard in this photo, the game could never have taken the course that was stated in the published version. This raised suspicions that the published version was made up. Even if the published version is a fake, however, there is no doubt that Alekhine did defeat his opponent in the actual game, and there is no evidence that Alekhine was the source of the spectacular fifteen-move win whose authenticity is doubted.[111]

Accusations of anti-Semitism

During World War II, Alekhine played in several tournaments held in Germany or German-occupied territory, as did many strong players in occupied and neutral countries.[70][112] In March 1941, a series of articles appeared under Alekhine's name in the Pariser Zeitung, a German-language newspaper published in Paris by the occupying German forces. Among other things, these articles said that Jews had a great talent for exploiting chess but showed no signs of chess artistry; described the hypermodern theories of Nimzowitsch and Réti as "this cheap bluff, this shameless self-publicity", hyped by "the majority of Anglo-Jewish pseudo-intellectuals"; and described his 1937 match with Euwe as "a triumph against the Jewish conspiracy".[113] Alekhine was reported as making further anti-Semitic statements in interviews for two Spanish newspapers in September 1941; in one of these it was said that "Aryan chess was aggressive chess ... on the other hand, the Semitic concept admitted the idea of pure defence."[113]

Almost immediately after the liberation of Paris, Alekhine publicly stated that "he had to write two chess articles for the Pariser Zeitung before the Germans granted him his exit visa ... Articles which Alekhine claims were purely scientific were rewritten by the Germans, published and made to treat chess from a racial viewpoint." He wrote at least two further disavowals, in an open letter to the organizer of the 1946 London tournament (W. Hatton-Ward) and in his posthumous book ¡Legado!. These three denials are phrased differently.[113]

Extensive investigations by Ken Whyld have not yielded conclusive evidence of the authenticity of the articles. Chess writer Jacques Le Monnier claimed in a 1986 issue of Europe Échecs that in 1958 he saw some of Alekhine's notebooks and found, in Alekhine’s own handwriting, the exact text of the first anti-Semitic article, which appeared in Pariser Zeitung on March 18, 1941. In his 1973 book 75 parties d’Alekhine ("75 of Alekhine's games"), however, Le Monnier had written "It will never be known whether Alekhine was behind these articles or whether they were manipulated by the editor of the Pariser Zeitung."[113]

British chess historian Edward G. Winter notes that the articles in the Pariser Zeitung mis-spelled the names of several famous chess masters, which could be interpreted as evidence of forgery or as attempts by Alekhine to signal that he was being forced to write things that he did not believe; but these could simply have been typesetting errors, as Alekhine's handwriting was not easy to read. The articles contained (probably) incorrect claims that Lionel Kieseritzky (Kieseritsky in English, Kizierycki in Polish) was a Polish Jew, although (probably) Kieseritzky was neither Polish nor Jewish.[114] Winter concludes: "Although, as things stand, it is difficult to construct much of a defence for Alekhine, only the discovery of the articles in his own handwriting will settle the matter beyond all doubt." Under current French copyright law, Alekhine's notebooks will not enter the public domain until January 1, 2017.[113]

There is evidence that Alekhine was not anti-Semitic in his personal or chess relationships with Jews. In June 1919, he was arrested by the Cheka, imprisoned in Odessa and sentenced to death. Yakov Vilner, a Jewish master, saved him by sending a telegram to the chairman of the Ukrainian Council of People's Commissars, who knew of Alekhine and ordered his release.[115] Alekhine accepted and apparently used chess analysis from Charles Jaffe in his World Championship match against Capablanca. Jaffe was a Jewish master who lived in New York, where Alekhine often visited, and upon his return to New York after defeating Capablanca, Alekhine played a short match as a favour to Jaffe, without financial remuneration.[116] Alekhine's second for the 1935 match with Max Euwe was the master Salo Landau, a Dutch Jew. The American Jewish grandmaster Arnold Denker wrote that he found Alekhine very friendly in chess settings, taking part in consultation games and productive analysis sessions. Denker also wrote that Alekhine treated the younger and (at that time) virtually unproven Denker to dinner on many occasions in New York during the 1930s, when the economy was very weak because of the Great Depression. Denker added that Alekhine, during the early 1930s, opined that the American Jewish grandmaster Isaac Kashdan might be his next challenger (this did not in fact occur).[6] He gave chess lessons to 14-year-old prodigy Gerardo Budowski, a German Jew, in Paris in Spring 1940.[117] Alekhine also married an American Jewess, Grace Wishard, as his fourth wife. Mrs. Grace Alekhine was the women’s champion of Paris in 1944.[118]

Notable chess games

Start of chess board.
a8 black rook f8 black rook h8 black king
c7 white rook f7 white rook g7 black pawn
a6 black bishop e6 black pawn f6 white knight h6 black pawn
d5 black pawn f5 black pawn h5 white pawn
a4 black pawn d4 white pawn f4 white king
a3 white pawn b3 black pawn e3 white pawn f3 white pawn g3 white pawn
b2 white pawn
End of chess board.


Alekine wrote over twenty books on chess.[99] Some of the best-known are:

  • Alekhine, Alexander (1985). My Best Games of Chess 1908-1937. Dover. ISBN 0-486-24941-7.  Originally published in two volumes as My Best Games of Chess 1908-1923 and My Best Games of Chess 1924-1937
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1992). 107 Great Chess Battles 1939-1945. Dover. ISBN 0-486-27104-8. 
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1968). The Book of the Hastings International Masters' Chess Tournament 1922. Dover. ISBN 0-486-21960-7. 
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1961). The Book of the New York International Chess Tournament 1924. Dover. ISBN 0-486-20752-8. 
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1962). The Book of the Nottingham International Chess Tournament. Dover. ISBN 0-486-20189-9. 
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1973). The World's Chess Championship, 1937. Dover. ISBN 0-486-20455-3. 

Summary of results in competitions

Tournament results

Here are Alekhine's placings and scores in tournaments:[9][13][25][119][120][121][122][123]

  • Under Score, + games won, = games drawn, − games lost
Date Location Place Score Notes
1907 Moscow 11–13 5½/15 +5=1−9 his brother Alexei Alekhine tied for 4-6th
1908 Moscow 1st  ?  ? Moscow Chess Club Spring Tournament.[124]
1908 Düsseldorf 3–4 9/13 +8=2−3 16th DSB Congress, A Tournament
1908/09 Moscow 1st 6½/9 +5=3−1 Moscow Chess Club Autumn Tournament
1909 Saint Petersburg 1st 13/16 +12=2−2 All-Russian Amateur Tournament
1910 Hamburg 7–8 8½/16 +5=7−4 17th DSB Congress, Schlechter won
1911 Cologne 1st 3/3 +3=0−0 Quadrangular
1911 Carlsbad 8–9 13½/25 +11=5−9 Teichmann won
1912 Saint Petersburg 1–2 8/9 +8=0-1 First Winter Tournament, lost a game to Vasily Osipovich Smyslov
1912 Saint Petersburg 1st 7/9 +6=2−1 ? Second Winter Tournament, lost a game to Boris Koyalovich
1912 Stockholm 1st 8½/10 +8=1−1 8th Nordic Championship, ahead of Spielmann
1912 Vilnius 6–7 8½/18 +7=3−8 7th Russian Championship (All-Russian Masters' Tournament), Rubinstein won
1913 Saint Petersburg 1–2 2/3 +2=0−1 Quadrangular, tied with Levenfish
1913 Scheveningen 1st 11½/13 +11=1−1 ahead of Janowski
1913/14 Saint Petersburg 1–2 13½/17 +13=1−3 8th Russian Championship (All-Russian Masters' Tournament), tied with Nimzowitsch
1914 Saint Petersburg 3rd 10/18 +6=8−4 Lasker 13½, Capablanca 13, Alekhine 10, Tarrasch 8½, Marshall 8
1914 Paris 1–2 2½/3 +2=1−0 Cafe Continental Quadrangular, tied with Marshall, third Muffang, fourth Hallegua
1914 Mannheim leading 9½/11 +9=1−1 19th DSB Congress, interrupted by the start of World War I
1915 Moscow 1st 10½/11 +10=1−0 Moscow Chess Club Championship
1919/20 Moscow 1st 11/11 +11=0−0 Moscow City Championship, not declared Moscow Champion because he was not a resident of Moscow
1920 Moscow 1st 12/15 +9=6−0 later recognised as the 1st USSR Championship
1921 Triberg 1st 7/8 +6=2−0 ahead of Bogoljubov
1921 Budapest 1st 8½/11 +6=5−0 ahead of Grünfeld
1921 The Hague 1st 8/9 +7=2−0 ahead of Tartakower
1922 Pistyan 2–3 14½/18 +12=5−1 tied with Spielmann, behind Bogoljubov
1922 London 2nd 11½/15 +8=7−0 Capablanca 13, Alekhine 11½, Vidmar 11, Rubinstein 10½
1922 Hastings 1st 7½/10 +6=3−1 Rubinstein 7, Bogoljubov and Thomas 4½, Tarrasch 4, Yates
1922 Vienna 3–6 9/14 +7=4−3 Rubinstein won
1923 Margate 2–5 4½/7 +3=3−1 Grünfeld won
1923 Carlsbad 1–3 11½/17 +9=5−3 tied with Bogoljubov and Maróczy
1923 Portsmouth 1st 11½/12 +11=1−0 ahead of Vajda
1924 New York 3rd 12/20 +6=12−2 Lasker 16, Capablanca 14½, Alekhine 12, Marshall 11, Réti 10½. Maróczy 10, Bogoljubov
1925 Paris 1st 6½/8 +5=3−0 ahead of Tartakower
1925 Berne 1st 4/6 +3=2−1 Quadrangular
1925 Baden-Baden 1st 16/20 +12=8−0 ahead of Rubinstein
1925/26 Hastings 1–2 8½/9 +8=1−0 tied with Vidmar
1926 Semmering 2nd 12½/17 +11=3−3 Spielmann won
1926 Dresden 2nd 7/9 +5=4−0 Nimzowitsch won
1926 Scarborough 1st 5½/6 +5=1−0 Alekhine won a play-off match against Colle 2-0
1926 Birmingham 1st 5/5 +5=0−0 ahead of Znosko-Borovsky
1926 Buenos Aires 1st 10/10 +10=0−0 ahead of Villegas and Illa
1927 New York 2nd 11½/20 +5=13−2 Capablanca 14, Alekhine 11½, Nimzowitsch 10½, Vidmar 10, Spielmann 8, Marshall 6
1927 Kecskemet 1st 12/16 +8=8−0 ahead of Nimzowitsch and Steiner
1929 Bradley Beach 1st 8½/9 +8=1−0 ahead of Lajos Steiner
1930 San Remo 1st 14/15 +13=2−0 Nimzowitsch 10½; Rubinstein 10; Bogoljubov 9½; Yates 9
1931 Nice 1st 6/8 +4=4−0 consultation tournament
1931 Bled 1st 20½/26 +15=11−0 Bogoljubov 15; Nimzowitsch 14; Flohr, Kashdan, Stoltz and Vidmar 13½
1932 Berne 1–3 2/3 +2=0−1 Quadrangular, tied with Voellmy and Naegeli
1932 Berne 1st 12½/15 +11=3−1 Swiss Championship (title awarded to Hans Johner and Paul Johner)
1932 London 1st 9/11 +7=4−0 ahead of Flohr
1932 Pasadena 1st 8½/11 +7=3−1 ahead of Kashdan
1932 Mexico City 1–2 8½/9 +8=1−0 tied with Kashdan
1933 Paris 1st 8/9 +7=2−0 ahead of Tartakower
1933/34 Hastings 2nd 6½/9 +4=5−0 Flohr 7, Alekhine and Andor Lilienthal 6½, C.H.O'D. Alexander and Eliskases 5
1934 Rotterdam 1st 3/3 +3=0−0 Quadrangular
1934 Zürich 1st 13/15 +12=2−1 Swiss Championship (title awarded to Hans Johner)
1935 Örebro 1st 8½/9 +8=1−0 ahead of Lundin
1936 Bad Nauheim 1–2 6½/9 +4=5−0 tied with Keres
1936 Dresden 1st 6½/9 +5=3−1 ahead of Engels
1936 Poděbrady 2nd 12½/17 +8=9−0 Flohr won
1936 Nottingham 6th 9/14 +6=6−2 Botvinnik and Capablanca 10; Euwe, Fine and Reshevsky
1936 Amsterdam 3rd 4½/7 +3=3−1 Euwe and Fine won
1936 Amsterdam 1–2 2½/3 +2=1−0 Quadrangular, tied with Landau
1936/37 Hastings 1st 8/9 +7=2−0 Fine 7½, Eliskases 5½, Vidmar and Feigins
1937 Margate 3rd 6/9 +6=0−3 tied for 1–2 were Keres and Fine
1937 Kemeri 4–5 11½/17 +7=9−1 tied for 1–3 were Flohr, Petrovs and Reshevsky
1937 Bad Nauheim 2–3 3½/6 +3=1−2 Quadrangular, Euwe won, the other players were Bogoljubov and Sämisch
1937 Nice 1st 2½/3 +2=1−0 Quadrangular
1938 Montevideo 1st 13/15 +11=4−0 ahead of Guimard
1938 Margate 1st 7/9 +6=2−1 ahead of Spielmann
1938 Netherlands
(ten cities)
4–6 7/14 +3=8−3 AVRO tournament, Keres and Fine 8½; Botvinnik 7½; Alekhine, Euwe and Reshevsky 7; Capablanca 6
1939 Montevideo 1st 7/7 +7=0−0 ahead of Golombek
1939 Caracas 1st 10/10 +10=0−0
1941 Munich 2–3 10½/15 +8=5−2 tied with Lundin, behind Stoltz
1941 Kraków, Warsaw 1–2 8½/11 +6=5−0 tied with Schmidt
1941 Madrid 1st 5/5 +5=0−0
1942 Salzburg 1st 7½/10 +7=1−2 ahead of Keres
1942 Munich 1st 8½/11 +7=3−1 1st European Championship, ahead of Keres
1942 Warsaw,Lublin,Kraków 1st 7½/11 +6=3−1 ahead of Junge
1942 Prague 1–2 8½/11 +6=5−0 tied with Junge
1943 Prague 1st 17/19 +15=4−0 ahead of Keres
1943 Salzburg 1–2 7½/10 +5=5−0 tied with Keres
1944 Gijón 1st 7½/8 +7=1−0
1945 Madrid 1st 8½/9 +8=1−0
1945 Gijón 2–3 6½/9 +6=1−2 tied with Medina, behind Rico
1945 Sabadell 1st 7½/9 +6=3−0
1945 Almeria 1–2 5½/8 +4=3−1 tied with Lopez Nunez
1945 Melilla 1st 6½/7 +6=1−0
1945 Caceres 2nd 3.5/5 +3=1−1 Lupi won

Match results

Here are Alekhine's results in matches:[9][25][120][125]

  • Under Score, + games won, = games drawn, − games lost
Date Opponent Result Location Score Notes
1908 Curt von Bardeleben Won Düsseldorf 4½/5 +4=1−0  
1908 Hans Fahrni Drew Munich 1½/3 +1=1−1  
1908 Benjamin Blumenfeld Won Moscow 4½/5 +4=1−0  
1908 Vladimir Nenarokov Lost Moscow 0/3 +0=0−3  
1913 Stepan Levitsky Won Saint Petersburg 7/10 +7=0−3  
1913 Edward Lasker Won Paris, London 3/3 +3=0−0  
1913 José Raúl Capablanca Lost Saint Petersburg 0/2 +0=0−2 exhibition match
1914 Aron Nimzowitsch Drew Saint Petersburg 1/2 +1=1−0 play-off match
1916 Alexander Evensohn Won Kiev 2/3 +2=0−1  
1918 Abram Rabinovich Won Moscow 3½/4 +3=1−0  
1918 Boris Verlinsky Won Odessa 6/6 +6=0−0  
1920 Nikolay Pavlov-Pianov Drew Moscow 1/2 +1=0−1  
1921 Nikolay Grigoriev Won Moscow 4½/7 +2=5−0  
1921 Efim Bogoljubow Drew Triberg 2/4 +1=2−1 "secret match"
1921 Richard Teichmann Drew Berlin 3/6 +2=2−2  
1921 Friedrich Sämisch Won Berlin 2/2 +2=0−0  
1922 Ossip Bernstein Won Paris 1½/2 +1=1−0  
1922 Arnold Aurbach Won Paris 1½/2 +1=1−0  
1922 Manuel Golmayo Won Madrid 1½/2 +1=1−0  
1923 André Muffang Won Paris 2/2 +2=0−0  
1926 Edgar Colle Won Scarborough 2/2 +2=0−0 play-off match
1926/7 Max Euwe Won Amsterdam 5½/10 +3=5−2  
1927 José Raúl Capablanca Won Buenos Aires 18½/34 +6=25−3 Alekhine became world champion
1927 Charles Jaffe Won New York 2/2 +2=0−0 exhibition match
1929 Efim Bogoljubow Won Wiesbaden, Berlin, Amsterdam 15½/25 +11=9−5 retained world championship
1933 Rafael Cintron Won San Juan 4/4 +4=0−0 exhibition match
1933 Ossip Bernstein Drew Paris 2/4 +1=2−1
1934 Efim Bogoljubow Won Baden-Baden, Villingen, Pforzheim, Bayreuth, Kissingen, Berlin 15½/25 +8=15−3 retained world championship
1935 Max Euwe Lost Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht 14½/30 +8=13−9 lost world championship
1937 Max Euwe Won Rotterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, Zwolle, Amsterdam, Delft, The Hague 15½/25 +10=11−4 regained world championship
1937 Max Euwe Lost The Hague 2/5 +1=2−2 exhibition match
1941 Lopez Esnaola Won Vitoria 2/2 +2=0−0
1943 Efim Bogoljubow Drew Warsaw 1/2 +1=0−1
1944 Ramón Rey Ardid Won Zaragoza 2½/4 +1=3−0
1946 Francisco Lupi Won Estoril 2½/4 +2=1−1

Chess Olympiad results

Here are Alekhine's results in Chess Olympiads. He played top board for France in all these events.

  • Under Score, + games won, = games drawn, − games lost
Date Location Number Score Notes
1930 Hamburg 3 9/9 +9=0−0 Alekhine won the brilliancy prize for his game against Gideon Ståhlberg (Sweden). He did not win a medal because the medallists played 17 games each.[51]
1931 Prague 4 13½/18 +10=7−1 Alekhine won the gold medal for 1st board. His loss to Hermanis Matisons (Latvia) was his first loss in a serious chess event since winning the world championship.[52]
1933 Folkestone 5 9½/12 +8=3−1 Alekhine won the gold medal for 1st board. His loss to Savielly Tartakower (Poland) was his second and last loss in chess olympiads.[53]
1935 Warsaw 6 12/17 +7=10−0 Alekhine won the silver medal for 1st board (Salo Flohr of Czechoslovakia took the gold by scoring 13/17).[54]
1939 Buenos Aires 8 7½/10 (12½/16) +9=7−0 Alekhine won the silver medal for 1st board (José Raúl Capablanca of Cuba took the gold by scoring 8½/11). Only games in the final stage were counted for awarding the medals. The first score is for the final stage, the one in parentheses is Alekhine's total score.[66]

See also


  1. ^ Other members of his family pronounce the family name as [aˈlʲɔxin]. Alekhine is the most common transcription of his name in English-language writings, also in French, Catalan, Portuguese, Gaulish, Turkish. There are several other transcriptions for other languages: Aljechin in German, Danish, Dutch, Czech; Aljehin in Hungarian, Croatian, Slovenian; Alejin in Spanish; Alechin in Italian, Polish, Slovak, Swedish; Alekhin in Norwegian; Alehhin in Estonian; Alehin in Romanian, Finnish; Aļehins in Latvian; Alechinas or Aliochinas in Lithuanian.
  2. ^ "ALEXANDER ALEKHINE (1892-1946) by Bill Wall". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  3. ^ Litmanowicz, Władysław & Giżycki, Jerzy (1986). Szachy od A do Z. Wydawnictwo Sport i Turystyka, Warszawa. pp. 16 (Polish edition). 
  4. ^ "Chess Notes Archive 28 - "When was Alekhine born?"". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  5. ^ Kotov Alexander Alexandrovich (1973). Alexander Alekhine. Fizkultura i sport. pp. 8 (Russian edition). 
  6. ^ a b c Denker 1995
  7. ^ "Biography of Alexander Alekhinen on". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  8. ^ "Biography of Alexander Alekhine on". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Wall, W.. "Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946)". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Fine 1952
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Title Unknown". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Khalifman 2002
  14. ^ Winter 1999, p.315-316
  15. ^ Winter 2003, p.177-178
  16. ^ "Chess Note 5144". Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  17. ^ Kalendovský 1992, p.122
  18. ^ Soltis 1994
  19. ^ "Das unvollendete Turnier: Mannheim 1914". Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  20. ^ "Manheim 1914 The Legend". Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  21. ^ Romanov, Isaak Zalmanovich (1984). Petr Romanovsky. Fizkultura i sport. pp. 20 (Russian edition). 
  22. ^ "3540. The internees". Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  23. ^ Shaburov, Yuri (1992). Alexander Alekhine. Nepobezhdyonny chempion [Alexander Alekhine. Unbeaten champion.]. Golos. p. 104. ISBN 5-7055-0852-2. 
  24. ^ "Short Matches of the 20th Century". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  25. ^ a b c d e Alekhine 1985
  26. ^ Using earnings for the conversion. If consumer prices are used, the result is about $257,000. "Six Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to Present". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  27. ^ a b c Winter, E.. "Capablanca v Alekhine, 1927". Retrieved 2008-05-23.  Original sources include:
    • "(unknown title)". Ajedrez American: 66. December 1927. ;
    • Sergeant, P.W. (October 1926). "(unknown title)". British Chess Magazine: 454. ;
    • "(unknown title)". La Prensa. September 14, 1927. ;
    Immediately after his victory, Alekhine announced his terms for a rematch, reported in: "(unknown title)". La Prensa. November 30, 1927. 
  28. ^ "Jose Raul Capablanca: Online Chess Tribute". 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  29. ^ "New York 1924". chessgames. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  30. ^ Linklater, J. (March 1989). "Alekhine and Love: Greenock, 1923". Scottish Chess Magazine (189). Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  31. ^ "Alekhine at". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  32. ^ "Chess Champion". Time Magazine. December 30, 1935.,9171,848404,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  33. ^ Reshevsky 1976, p.77
  34. ^ "Biography of Alekhine on". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  35. ^ "Jose Raul Capablanca". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  36. ^ a b Cree, G.. "1927 World Chess Championship". Archived from the original on 2005-01-25. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  37. ^ Byrne, R. (December 21, 1984). "Chess title match to become longest one in modern era". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  38. ^ a b Alekhine, A., tribute to Capablanca, pp. 157–158, in: Alekhine, A., 107 Great Chess Battles, tr. E.G. Winter, Oxford University Press, 1980.
  39. ^ Du Mont, J. (1959). "Memoir of Capablanca". in Golombek, H.. Capablanca's Hundred Best Games of Chess. G. Bell & Sons. pp. 1–18. 
  40. ^ Reinfeld, F. (1942; reprinted 1990). "Biography". The Immortal Games of Capablanca. Courier Dover Publications. pp. 1–13. ISBN 0486263339.,M1. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  41. ^ Pachman, L.; Russell, A.S. (1971). "Individual Style: Psychological Play". Modern chess strategy. Courier Dover. pp. 306. ISBN 0486202909.,M1. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  42. ^ Kasparov, G.; Russell, H.W. (July 28, 2003). "Interview with Garry Kasparov: Part 2". Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  43. ^ a b Kramnik, V.. "Kramnik Interview: From Steinitz to Kasparov". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  44. ^ The Immortal Games of Capablanca, by Fred Reinfeld, Dover Publishers, introduction
  45. ^ Winter, E.. "Chess Notes Archive [17"]. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  46. ^ "Alekhine vs Bogoljubov 1934". Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  47. ^ Soloviov 2004, p.280
  48. ^ a b Lissowski, T.. "Alexey, Brother of Alekhine". Retrieved 2008-05-20.  The main source is Kotov 1975, p.140
  49. ^ a b c Wall, W.. "Alekhine and the Nazis". Archived from the original on 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  50. ^ "Alekhine's Results at". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  51. ^ a b "3rd Chess Olympiad: Hamburg 1930". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  52. ^ a b "4th Chess Olympiad: Prague 1931". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  53. ^ a b "5th Chess Olympiad: Folkestone 1933". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  54. ^ a b "6th Chess Olympiad: Warsaw 1935". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  55. ^ "Alekhine's Chess Exhibitions in Singapore in 1933" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  56. ^ Donaldson 1992, p.35
  57. ^ a b c Kmoch, H.. "Grandmasters I Have Known: Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  58. ^ "Alekhine vs Euwe 1935". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  59. ^ Winter, E.. "Chess Notes (5202)". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  60. ^ a b Gennadi Sosonko (2001). "Remembering Max Euwe Part 1" (PDF). The Chess Cafe. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  61. ^ Münninghoff 2001
  62. ^ "Alekhine vs Euwe 1937". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  63. ^ a b Khariton, L. (2004-12-29). "Lev Khariton:The Battle That Never Was". Retrieved 2008-05-23.  Based on Botvinnik's memoirs.
  64. ^ Kingston, T.. "The Keres-Botvinnik Case: A Survey of the Evidence". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  65. ^ Gawlikowski, Stanisław (1978). Olimpiady szachowe 1924 - 1974. Wyd. Sport i Turystyka. Warszawa. pp. 102 (Polish edition). 
  66. ^ a b c "8th Chess Olympiad: Buenos Aires 1939". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  67. ^
  68. ^ Gawlikowski S. (1976). Walka o tron szachowy. Wyd. Sport i Turystyka. Warszawa. 
  69. ^ Kasparov 2003
  70. ^ a b "The Salzburg Tournament 0f 1942". Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  71. ^ "CHESS IN FORMER GERMAN, NOW POLISH TERRITORIES". Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  72. ^ Gillam 2001
  73. ^ Barcza, G. (1942). A müncheni sakkmesterverseny Európa bajnokságáért 1942. Kecskemét. 
  74. ^ "Birth of the FIDE World Championship". Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  75. ^ "Linares 2002 - round 6". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  76. ^ Kasparov Garri (2003). "Alexander the Fourth, Invincible". My Great Predecessors. Part 1. Everyman Chess. pp. 454 (Polish edition). ISBN 1-85744-330-6. 
  77. ^ Kevin Spraggett. "Part 1: Alekhine's death". 
    Kevin Spraggett. "Part 2: Alekhine's death". 
  78. ^ "Alekhine's death – an unresolved mystery?". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  79. ^ Moran 1989
  80. ^ Keene 1989
  81. ^ Sonas, J.. "Chessmetrics Player Profile: Alexander Alekhine". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  82. ^ a b "The Greatest Chess Player of All Time – Part II". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  83. ^ Elo 1978
    "Arpad Emre Elo – 100th anniversary". Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  84. ^ "Max Euwe quotes, biographies & pictures". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  85. ^ Réti 1923, p.129
  86. ^ Goldsby, A.J. (2007). "Reti - Alekhine, Baden-Baden 1925". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  87. ^ a b c Kane, P.. "A review of 107 Great Chess Battles 1939-1945 by Alexander Alekhine". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  88. ^ a b Müller, K. (2003-11-15). "Alexander Aljechin vs Garry Kasparov". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  89. ^ a b Golombek 1955
  90. ^ Fischer, J. (2004-12-23). "World Champions and Draws". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  91. ^ a b Fischer, B. (January-February 1964). "The Ten Greatest Masters in History". Chessworld: pp. 56–61. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  92. ^ "Garry Kasparov's Best Games". Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  93. ^ Fine 1943
  94. ^ Adam Bozon. "Budapest Gambit". 
  95. ^ Mark Lowery. "ECO Information and Index: A00-A99". 
  96. ^ "ChessOps - Full Group-List of Openings, Defences, Gambits and Variations". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  97. ^ Chernev, I. (1995). "Alekhine". Twelve Great Chess Players and Their Best Games. Dover Publications. pp. 163–164. ISBN 9780486286747. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  98. ^ a b Harold van der Heijden endgame study database (2005).
  99. ^ a b Wall, W.. "Alekhine's Writings". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  100. ^ Kotov 1975
  101. ^ "Mosca 1956 Aljechin Memorial". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  102. ^ Kotov 1958
  103. ^ Botvinnik 1951
  104. ^ Alekhine, A. (September 8, 1929). "New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  105. ^ Reshevsky 1976, p.78
  106. ^ Soltis 2002
  107. ^ The original game, without the 5 Queens, was Grigoriev vs Alekhine, Moscow 1915, which Alekhine annotated for Alekhine, A. (February 1916). Shakhmatny Vyestnik.  But he presented the "5 Queens" version in a note to Tarrasch vs Alekhine, St. Petersburg 1914, which is game 26 in Alekhine 1985. In the same book, Alekhine presented as a note to game 90 (Alekhine vs Teichmann, Berlin 1921) a 15-move win against O. Tenner, which Tenner claimed was actually a variation that arose in their post-game analysis of their 23-move draw.
  108. ^ Konsala, Kimmo (1991). Kaksi shakkineroa. Karisto. pp. 378. ISBN 951-23-2938-7. 
  109. ^ Krabbé, T. (1985). "Alekhine's 5 Queen game". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  110. ^ "Alekhine - Munoz, Sabadell 1945". Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  111. ^ Winter, E. (2006). "Mysteries at Sabadell, 1945". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  112. ^ These players included, among others, Keres, Bogoljubov, Stoltz, Erik Lundin, Bjørn Nielsen, Nicolaas Cortlever, Karel Opočenský, Jan Foltys, Luděk Pachman, Gedeon Barcza, Mario Napolitano, Braslav Rabar and Teodor Regedziński.
  113. ^ a b c d e "Was Alekhine a Nazi?". Retrieved 2008-05-20.  Winter cites many original documents including:
    • Alekhine Nazi Articles, a privately printed booklet edited by Ken Whyld, that contains an English translation of the Pariser Zeitung articles;
    • Alekhine's disavowal of these articles in News Review, November 23, 1944, also reported in British Chess Magazine December 1944 and Chess January 1945;
    • Alekhine's posthumous book ¡Legado!;
    • interviews in the September 3, 1941 editions of El Alcázar and Informaciones, which report Alekhine as making anti-Semitic statements about chess.
  114. ^
  115. ^ Wall, W.. "Russian Chess History". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  116. ^ Saidy 1974, p.190-191
  117. ^ "Gerardo Budowski en Torneo de Ajedrez por Equipos 2005 (in Spanish)". Retrieved 2009-01-29. 
  118. ^ "Chess Notes Archive [18"]. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  119. ^ "Frank James Marshall: Tournament and Match Record". The Frank James Marshall Electronic Archive and Museum. 2002. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  120. ^ a b "Alekhine's Results at". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  121. ^ "Alekhine's results at". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  122. ^ "La grande storia degli scacchi". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  123. ^ RUSBASE. Archived 2009-10-24.
  124. ^ Alexander Alekhine chess games gives four games won by Alekhine and published in 1938, the authors write:
    Alekhine won this event, but neither the detailed results or the complete list of participants is known.
  125. ^ "Short matches of 20th century". Retrieved 2008-05-20. 


  • Alekhine, Alexander (1980). 107 Great Chess Battles. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0192175908.  This is a collection of games annotated by Alekhine, published long after his death.
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1985). My Best Games of Chess 1908-1937. Dover. ISBN 0-486-24941-7.  This 1985 reprint is a merge from two separate volumes published originally in 1929 and 1937.
  • Botvinnik, Mikhail M. (1951). One hundred selected games. Bell. ASIN B000PZU8S4. 
  • Donaldson, John W.; Minev, Nikolay (1992). Alekhine in the Americas. Seattle, WA: International Chess Enterprises. ISBN 978-1879479067. 
  • Denker, Arnold; Parr, Larry (1995). The Bobby Fischer I Knew And Other Stories. Hypermodern Press. ISBN 978-1886040182. 
  • Elo, Arpad E. (1978). The Rating of Chessplayers, Past and Present. Batsford. ISBN 978-0713418606. 
  • Fine, Reuben (1952). The World's Great Chess Games. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-24512-8. 
  • Gillam, Anthony J.; Swift, A.J. (2001). 1st European championship Munich 1942. The Chess Player. ISBN 1-901034-46-1. 
  • Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1984). The Oxford Companion to Chess. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192175408. 
  • Kalendovský, Jan; Fiala, Vlastimil (1992). Complete Games of Alekhine: Volume I, 1892-1921. Moravian Chess. ISBN 80-85476-10-X. 
  • Kasparov, Garry (2003). Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors: Part 1. Everyman Chess. ISBN 1-85744-330-6. 
  • Keene, Raymond; Divinsky, Nathan (1989). Warriors of the Mind. Batsford. ISBN 978-0951375709. 
  • Khalifman, Alexander (2002). Alexander Alekhine: Games 1902-1922. Chess Direct. ISBN 978-9548782210. 
  • Khalifman, Alexander (2002). Alexander Alekhine: Games 1923-1934. Chess Direct. ISBN 9548782235. 
  • Khalifman, Alexander (2002). Alexander Alekhine: Games 1935-1946. Chess Stars. ISBN 978-9548782258. 
  • Kotov, Alexander; Yudovich, Y. (1958). The Soviet School of Chess. Hardinge Simpole (2002 edition). ISBN 978-1843820079 (2002 edition). 
  • Kotov, Alexander (1975). Alexander Alekhine. R.H.M. Press. ISBN 0-89058-007-3. 
  • Münninghoff, Alexander (2001). Max Euwe: The Biography. New in Chess. ISBN 978-1588630025. 
  • Réti, Richard (1923). Modern Ideas in Chess. Hardinge Simpole. ISBN 1-84382-015-3. 
  • Reinfeld, Fred, 1942, "The Immortal Games of Capablanca", Dover Publishers.
  • Reshevsky, Samuel (1976). Great Chess Upsets. Arco. ISBN 978-0668034937. 
  • Soloviov, Sergei (2004). Bogoljubow, the Fate of a Chess Player. Chess Stars. ISBN 978-9548782388. 
  • Saidy, Anthony; Lessing, Norman (1974). The World of Chess. Random House. ISBN 0-394-48777-X. 
  • Soltis, Andrew (1994). Frank Marshall, United States Chess Champion. McFarland. ISBN 978-0899508870. 
  • Soltis, Andrew (2002). Chess Lists. McFarland. ISBN 978-0786412969. 
  • Winter, Edward (1981). World Chess Champions. Pergamon. ISBN 0-08-024094-1. 
  • Winter, Edward (1999). Kings, Commoners and Knaves: Further Chess Explorations. Russell Enterprises. ISBN 1-888690-04-6. 
  • Winter, Edward (2003). A Chess Omnibus. Russell Enterprises. ISBN 1-888690-17-8. 

External links

Preceded by
José Raúl Capablanca
World Chess Champion
Succeeded by
Max Euwe
Preceded by
Max Euwe
World Chess Champion
Title next held by
Mikhail Botvinnik


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine (October 31 or November 1, 1892March 24, 1946) was a Russian-born naturalized French chess grandmaster (officially naturalized in 1927 only three days before the World Champion title), and the fourth World Chess Champion.


  • Chess for me is not a game, but an art. Yes, and I take upon myself all those responsibilities which an art imposes on its adherents.
  • Chess first of all teaches you to be objective.
  • I study chess eight hours a day, on principle.
  • I'm very glad you asked me that, because, as it happens, there is a very simple answer. I think up my own moves, and I make my opponent think up his. (on being asked how it was that he picked better moves than his opponents)
  • The fact that a player is very short of time is, to my mind, as little to be considered an excuse as, for instance, the statement of the law-breaker that he was drunk at the time he committed the crime.
  • To win against me, you must beat me three times: in the opening, the middlegame and the endgame.
  • With his death, we have lost a very great chess genius whose like we'll never see again.

About Alexander Alekhine

  • It was impossible to win against Capablanca; against Alekhine it was impossible to play.
  • Capablanca was the greatest talent, but Alekhine was the greatest in his achievements.
  • He lived in and for chess like no one before him, nor any since until Fischer.
    • Taylor Kingston
  • Alekhine's attacks came suddenly, like destructive thunderstorms that erupted from a clear sky.
  • I can comprehend Alekhine's combinations well enough; but where he gets his attacking chances from and how he infuses such life into the very opening - that is beyond me.
  • Alekhine is a poet who creates a work of art out of something that would hardly inspire another man to send home a picture post card.
  • Fortune favors the bold, especially when they are Alekhine.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Alexander Alekhine
Full name Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine
Country Russia, France
October 31, 1892(1892-10-31)
Moscow, Russia
March 24, 1946 (aged 53)
Estoril, Portugal
World Champion 1927–1935 & 1937–1946

Alexander Alekhine [1] (31 October 1892 – 24 March 1946) was the fourth World Chess Champion, and the only one to die holding the title.[2]p7


Chess career

By the age of twenty-two, he was already one of the strongest grandmasters. During the 1920s, he was one of the hypermoderns, and won many tournaments. In 1927, he became World Champion by beating Capablanca. The match of 34 games was the longest world championship match held until 1985.

In the early 1930s Alekhine dominated tournament play, and won top-class tournaments by large margins. He also played first board for France in four Chess Olympiads, winning prizes in each. His tournament record became less good from the mid-1930s onwards; alcoholism is often blamed for this. Although Alekhine offered Capablanca a rematch on the same terms that Capablanca had set for him, negotiations dragged on for years. It became clear that Alekhine would never let the match take place. Meanwhile, he defended his title with ease against Bogolyubov in 1929 and 1934.

Alekhine was defeated by Euwe in 1935, but regained his crown in the 1937 rematch. His tournament record was now uneven, and rising stars (such as Keres and Botvinnik) threatened his title. Negotiations for a title match were halted by the start of World War II in 1939.

Alekhine was known for his attacking style: he was good at turning an initiative into a win. He was the first world champion to work hard on opening theory. Alekhine was the first to be a full-time dedicated professional of the modern type. He said he spent eight hours a day studying the game, and produced many innovations in chess openings.

Alekhine was declared an "Enemy of the Soviet Union" after making anti-Bolshevik statements in 1927. However, after his death, the Soviet chess leaders called him "one of the founders of the Soviet School of Chess". He is still highly regarded as a chess writer. His finest works were his collections of his own games, which influenced many players.


File:Alekhine Capablanca WCC
A press photo from the 1927 match. The man standing is the arbiter; Alekhine left, and Capablanca right. In an actual game there would be score sheets and a chess clock on the table.

Alekhine was a brilliant player with a poor character: "Not everyone liked his personal character, but all admired his chess genius".[2]p7 That he sometimes lied, and was often half-drunk is mentioned by all his biographers. He married a Russian baroness in 1920, which legitimised their seven-year-old daughter. The following year he married a Swiss woman, and obtained permission to leave Russia. This marriage, which was probably bigamous, broke up soon after. Later he married twice more. He settled in Paris, becoming a naturalised French citizen. He studied law at the Sorbonne, and claimed to have got a doctorate there in 1925: he was known widely as 'Dr. Alekhine'. Researchers have failed to find any trace of this in the records of the Sorbonne.[3]p69 Having at last won the world title, Alekhine used every device to avoid giving Capablanca a return match. He remarked to a friend "Somehow the match will never take place".[2]p8

Alekhine stayed in Nazi-occupied Europe during the war, where he played in tournaments organised by the Nazis. Anti-Semitic articles appeared under his name. Although he later claimed they were forged by the Nazis, the original manuscripts in his hand were found amongst his last wife's effects when she died.[2][4]p309–313 Whether Alekhine was personally anti-semitic is not so clear. He had good relationships with some Jewish chess players, and his fourth wife was Jewish. Negotiations with Mikhail Botvinnik for a world title match were proceeding in 1946 when Alekhine died in Portugal. "It is not too callous to say that he was fortunate to have died at that time. Feeling was very strong in France against those who came under suspicion of collaboration with the enemy".[3]p75


Alekine wrote over twenty books on chess.[5] Some of the best-known are:

  • Alekhine, Alexander (1985). My best games of chess 1908-1937. Dover. ISBN 0-486-24941-7.  Originally published in two volumes as My best games of chess 1908-1923 and My best games of chess 1924-1937
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1992). 107 great chess battles 1939-1945. Dover. ISBN 0-486-27104-8. 
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1961). The book of the New York international chess tournament 1924. Dover. ISBN 0-486-20752-8. 
  • Alekhine, Alexander 1972. International chess tournament. New York 1927. Chess Digest, Dallas.
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1962). The book of the Nottingham international chess tournament. Dover. ISBN 0-486-20189-9. 
  • Alekhine, Alexander 1932. Auf dem Wege zur Weltmeisterschaft. Berlin, De Gruyter. Translated as On the road to the world championship (transl. C.J. Feather & K.P.Neat) Pergamon, Oxford.
  • Alekhine, Alexander (1973). The World's Chess Championship 1937. Dover. ISBN 0-486-20455-3. 
  • Alekhine, Alexander 1947. Gran ajadrez: mis mejores analisis. Madrid.
  • Skinner L.M. and Verhoeven R.G.P. 1998. Alexander Alekhine's chess games 1902–1946. McFarland, Jefferson NC.


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  1. Russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Але́хин: Alekhine is the most common transcription of his name in English-language writings, also in French, Catalan, Portuguese, Turkish. There are other transcriptions in other languages. Aljechin in German, Danish, Dutch, Czech. Aljehin in Hungarian, Croatian, Slovenian; Alejin in Spanish. Alechin in Italian, Polish, Slovak, Swedish. Alekhin in Norwegian; Alehhin in Estonian; Alehin in Romanian, Finnish. Aļehins in Latvian; Alechinas or Aliochinas in Lithuanian.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Hooper, David and Whyld, Kenneth 1992. The Oxford companion to chess 2nd ed, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866164-9
  3. 3.0 3.1 Cafferty, Bernard 1981. In Winter, Edward G. (ed) World chess champions. Pergamon. ISBN 0-08-024094-1.
  4. The evidence is discussed in detail by Edward Winter, 1999. Kings, commoners and knaves: further chess explorations. Russell, Milford CT.
  5. Bill Wall: Alekhine's writings. [1]

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