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Capablanca vs Alekhine 1927
Buenos Aires

 Capablanca
 Argentinian newspaper photo. Click here for larger view.
Alexander Alekhine was born in Moscow, Russia in 1892.[1] He began to take chess seriously at the age of 12. During school classes he would analyze games in his head without looking at the chessboard.[2] At age 16, a victory in the Moscow Autumn Tournament (1908) led to his appearance in the strong All Russian Amateur (1909) tournament. He won, earning the Russian national master title.[3] A shared first with Aron Nimzowitsch at the All Russian Masters St Petersburg (1914)[4] qualified him for the great St Petersburg (1914) tournament, featuring most of the best players in the world. Alekhine finished third, behind world champion Emanuel Lasker and Jose Raul Capablanca, ahead of Siegbert Tarrasch, Frank James Marshall, and Akiba Rubinstein.[5]

Alekhine now conceived a long term plan to become world champion. His strategy was to finish first in every tournament he entered and so earn the right to challenge Capablanca, whom he predicted would soon be champion.[6] Capablanca indeed won the world title on April 20, 1921. His first challenge came from Akiba Rubinstein on September 7, 1921. Alekhine challenged two months later, after he won both Budapest (1921) and The Hague (1921).[7] After The Hague (1921), Dutch chess officials proposed a "Candidates Match" between Alekhine and Rubinstein, to be held in the Netherlands on or after March 1922. Both masters agreed to the idea.[8] In December 1921 the American Chess Bulletin reported that Capablanca would honor Rubinstein's challenge first, unless the proposed Dutch candidates match should produce a "decisive victory for one or the other."[7] When Alekhine arrived in the Netherlands in January 1922, he stated that a candidates match was no longer possible because Rubinstein had been admitted to a sanitarium after he played Triberg (1921), due to a mental disturbance. Shortly afterwards the Dutch press demonstrated that Alekhine's claim was false, but the match still didn't take place.[8]

After London (1922), where Alekhine placed second to the champion, the top eight finishers signed "the London Rules," Capablanca's proposal for all future title match conditions. The rules stipulated that the world champion "need not defend" his title "for a lower purse than $10,000 U.S. dollars."[9] Capablanca now gave Rubinstein until December 31, 1923 to meet the new financial demands, but Rubinstein couldn't meet the deadline.[8] Alekhine continued steady negotiations for a title match, but he was unable to raise the $10,000 purse.[10] A title challenge from Frank Marshall in 1923 also came to nothing.[10] In 1926 Nimzowitsch challenged for the title, followed by a renewed challenge from Alekhine in the same year.[11] Alekhine had secured a "firm commitment" from the Argentine Chess Federation to finance the match.[12] William Hartston suggests that the federation did so because "they simply felt it was time to give Capablanca, hero of Latin America, a chance to demonstrate his superiority again somewhere close to home soil."[13] Capablanca accepted Alekhine's challenge, but also told him that he had given Nimzowitsch until January 1, 1927 to meet the purse requirement.[11] Nimzowitsch failed to meet his deadline and Capablanca finally agreed to face Alekhine in a world championship match.[14]

Prior to the match, Capablanca dominated New York (1927), finishing 2½ points in front of Alekhine, who took second. Alekhine had never won a single game from Capablanca, so it was perhaps understandable that some doubted he could win six match games against him.[15] Geza Maroczy predicted victory was bound to go to Capablanca,[16] and Rudolf Spielmann said he would be surprised if Alekhine "were to win even a single game."[17] Richard Reti, on the other hand, concluded "that there are no fundamental reasons for affirming with such certainty that the Cuban grandmaster must necessarily defeat the talented Slav player."[16]

The match began in Buenos Aires on September 9, 1927. Conditions followed the London Rules: games to be played at 2½ hours per 40 moves, with the match awarded to the first to win 6 games, draws not counting. Capablanca would receive $2,000 of the purse as a fee, with the remainder split $4,800 to the victor and $3,200 to the loser.[18] The Argentine Chess Club provided the venue, except for two games played in the Jockey Club.[19] Dr. Carlos A. Querencio served as referee, and Daniel Deletang was Alekhine's second.[20]

Alekhine won the first game on the black side of a French Defence. Every subsequent game would be contested with a Queen's pawn opening. After ten games Capablanca led 2-1, but he dropped two in a row and a long series of draws followed. According to Garry Kasparov, Capablanca let slip "an enormous positional advantage" in Game 17.[21] After Alekhine notched his fourth win in Game 21, Capablanca opined that "there can hardly be a stronger player in the world than the Slav master."[22] Capablanca did well to save the draw in Game 22, and Kasparov maintains that the Cuban now played the match with increasing power until he missed the win in the "completely won" 27th game.[23] After winning Game 29, Capablanca trailed the match by just a point, and optimistically remarked that "the match takes on fresh interest..."[24] Kasparov believes that Capablanca missed a win in Game 31, and then, later in the game, settled for a draw when he was a pawn up, and could well have played on.[25] A win would have tied the match. Alekhine characterized his win in Game 32 as "well-contested" and "full of ideas" from both players.[26] Now Alekhine needed just one more win to take the title.

With adjournments, the 34th and final game took four days to complete, ending on November 29 when Capablanca did not show up to resume play. Instead, he sent a congratulatory resignation note.[27] Nor did the ex-champion show up for the closing ceremony on December 8. Alexander Alekhine, the fourth world chess champion, did attend. He thanked the Argentine Chess Club for its work and declared he was against any changes to the world title match rules, the London Rules.[27]

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314151617181920
Alekhine1½0½½½0½½½11½½½½½½½½
Capablanca0½1½½½1½½½00½½½½½½½½

click on a game number to replay game 2122232425262728293031323334
Alekhine1½½½½½½½0½½1½1
Capablanca0½½½½½½½1½½0½0

FINAL SCORE:  Alekhine 6;  Capablanca 3 (25 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Capablanca-Alekhine 1927]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #11     Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1927     0-1
    · Game #34     Alekhine vs Capablanca, 1927     1-0
    · Game #1     Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1927     0-1

FOOTNOTES

  1. Jan Kalendovsky and Vlastimil Fiala, Complete Games of Alekhine Vol 1, 1892-1921 (Olomouc 1992), pp.6-7
  2. Kalendovsky and Fiala, pp.24-25
  3. Leonard Skinner and Robert Verhoeven, Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games 1902-1946 (McFarland 1998), p.738; Kalendovsky and Fiala, Complete Games of Alekhine Vol 1, 1892-1921 p.48
  4. Rod Edwards, All-Russian Championship, St. Petersburg (1914)
  5. Skinner and Verhoeven, p.89
  6. Shakhmaty v SSSR No.3 (March 1956), pp.87-89. In Sarah Beth Cohen, "Encounters with Alekhine"
  7. Edward Winter, Capablanca: a compendium of games, notes, articles, correspondence, illustrations and other rare materials on the Cuban chess genius José Raúl Capablanca, 1888-1942 (McFarland 1989), pp.186-187
  8. Toni Preziuso, AMERIKA! AMERIKA! In "KARL" no.3 2013, pp.34-39
  9. American Chess Bulletin Sept-Oct 1922, p.150. In Winter, Capablanca p.188
  10. Edward Winter, Capablanca pp.191-197
  11. Edward Winter, Capablanca pp.193-194
  12. Alexander Alekhine, On the Road to the World Championship 1923-1927 G. Feather transl., (Pergamon 1984), p.117
  13. William Hartston, The Guinness Book Of Chess Grandmasters (Guinness World Records Limited 1996), p.82
  14. Alekhine, p.131
  15. Skinner and Verhoeven, pp.294-296
  16. La Nación (14 Sept. 1927), p.12. In Edward Winter, Chess Note 5665
  17. Sonntagsbeilage der Augsburger Postzeitung (25 June 1927), p.104. In Edward Winter, Chess Note 5338
  18. Edward Winter, "The London Rules" (2008); La Prensa 14 Sept 1927. In Edward Winter, "Capablanca v Alekhine, 1927" (2003)
  19. Yuri Shaburov, Alexander Alekhine- The Undefeated Champion (The Voice 1992), p.161
  20. Alekhine, p.151
  21. Garry Kasparov, On My Great Predecessors Part I (Everyman Chess 2003), p.316
  22. Edward Winter, Capablanca p.200
  23. Kasparov, pp.316-318
  24. Edward Winter, Capablanca p.201
  25. Kasparov, pp.323-328
  26. Alekhine, p.209
  27. Magazine Actual (May 1997), p. 25. In Edward Winter, Chess Note 3428

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 34  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-143 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchC01 French, Exchange
2. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½19 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD65 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack, Main line
3. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-042 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchA47 Queen's Indian
4. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½49 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
5. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½42 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½40 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
7. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-036 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½42 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
9. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½34 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½20 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
11. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-166 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Alekhine vs Capablanca 1-041 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
13. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½27 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
14. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½25 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
15. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½30 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
16. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½24 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
17. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½59 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
18. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½28 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
19. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½21 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
20. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½43 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
21. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-132 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
22. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½86 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
23. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½48 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
24. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½41 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
25. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½40 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 34  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 28 OF 28 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-04-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Can some human help?

I received New In Chess 1/2014 today. On page 9 there is a letter from Manuel Saborit (Castellon, ESP), which mentions this match.

He writes:
<"...The best book on the match is the French book by Alekhine himself - there is a German version, but the French is Alekhine's original..."> Does anyone have an ISBN for this book; or a full title?

Feb-05-14  aliejin: The book is "Deux cents parties d'echecs" ...... outstanding game collection
All games of the match, are discussed ......
Mar-30-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: The footnote link here is also stale.
Mar-30-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <zanzibar> a group is working on rewriting all the World Championship intros. You can see our work here:

WCC Editing Project chessforum

Apr-30-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Would it be correct to say that Capablanca used tension-release to obtain superior and simplified positions as a general strategy (to great effect), while Alekhine's style worked more to build tension, leading to more tactical melees? Thoughts appreciated.

And yes, that question sounds awkward to me too.

Apr-30-14  Petrosianic: <while Alekhine's style worked more to build tension, leading to more tactical melees?>

That's the way Alekhine normally played, but not the way he played in this match. This is about the only championship on record in which one of the players radically altered his playing style just for the match. Alekhine's normally enterprising style had failed miserably in previous encounters with Capablanca, so in this match, he plays more like Capablanca than like himself. In effect, he won by out-Capablancaing Capablanca.

Apr-30-14  Nerwal: <That's the way Alekhine normally played, but not the way he played in this match. This is about the only championship on record in which one of the players radically altered his playing style just for the match. Alekhine's normally enterprising style had failed miserably in previous encounters with Capablanca, so in this match, he plays more like Capablanca than like himself. In effect, he won by out-Capablancaing Capablanca.>

We can also see Capablanca deciding on some sharp continuations in this match, like 19. ♗d3 in game 7 (Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1927), when Alekhine considered the safe 19. e4 followed by f3 to be better. Or 15... e5 in game 20 (Alekhine vs Capablanca, 1927), leading to great complications.

Apr-30-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: <Petrosianic> <Nerwal> Very interesting, thank you.
May-07-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: One inexplicable aspect of this match is that while it was in progress Capablanca wrote to a friend about what might happen if the match ended in a draw.
May-07-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mating Net: The golden age of chess, I love the picture with Capa & Alekhine all dressed up, very inspiring to see.
Aug-10-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ke2: I've just never understood why the openings did not vary at all. Wouldn't it be greatly to one players advantage to throw in a surprise e4 or a Dutch defense or Slav?
Aug-10-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Ke2: I've just never understood why the openings did not vary at all. Wouldn't it be greatly to one players advantage to throw in a surprise e4 or a Dutch defense or Slav>

Over at Petrosian - Botvinnik World Championship Match (1963) I asked a similar question:

<Jun-12-14 offramp: <Vasily Panov> asked a good question. Why in the entire match did Botvinnik not try 1.e4 even once?>

This received a very good and erudite response, from <keypusher> viz:

<Doesn't seem like a good question to me.> Oh yeah? Come and meet me and say that. <Botvinnik didn't play 1.e4 in any of his over 80 games with white in world championship matches. He played it once in the 1948 Match-Tournament - after he had clinched the title...> [and he game that game].

It is not quite the same thing. But it shows how players can get stuck. Sometimes players arrive at the board determined to try a new opening but their nerves fail them (or intuition warns them) and at the last second they play their favourite old openings.

Sep-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

According to <Alekhine>, all of the games in this match were played in private, with no spectators. The games in <Alekhine's> next title match with <Bogoljubov> were played in public, before spectators.

From an interview with <Alekhine> after his 1929 match with <Bogoljubov>:

INTERVIEWER: ‘Are you satisfied overall with the course of the (1929 Bogoljubov) match?’

ALEKHINE: ‘Yes, the organization was quite good. There is just one thing that I should like to see changed. The games should not be played in public. Instead of a chessplayer, one becomes a performer. The impression given is that the public is more or less interested only in outward appearances, instead of focussing on the game. In this respect it was better in Buenos Aires, as we were not exposed to the eyes of spectators.'

-Edward Winter, Chess Note 7567: http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...

Sep-16-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: <Ke2> Of course. Capa kept playing the lines Alekhine had carefully prepared. The question is why he did so. In this match he was psyched out from the beginning.
Sep-16-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: I believe he simply was not used to be offered resistance and just couldn't handle this new situation. He had been "too good".
Nov-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Ke2: I've just never understood why the openings did not vary at all. Wouldn't it be greatly to one players advantage to throw in a surprise e4 or a Dutch defense or Slav?>

It depends on your preparation, I guess... there is a trade-off between trying to surprise your opponent and getting yourself in an unfamiliar position. So, if you have played it before, or at least prepared exhaustively, I'd say it could be a good strategy. I played less-than-ideal lines many times over because, even if I sometimes came out of the opening in an inferior position, it was a position I was familiar with, and I knew what to do. So, I think the answer is complex and depends on preparation and your own prospects playing out of your comfort zone, no?

Nov-22-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: During this match Alyekhin had six teeth extracted but when exactly was this?
Nov-22-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Alekhine's Teeth.

Some sources quote 7 teeth, this has been a clumsy reader seeing several and making it seven and people copying him.

The accepted figure is six.

I've no idea about the exact date but it was apparently the only time-out of the match (check the match game dates.)

Years later Alekhine died by chocking on a piece of meat. This was put down to his inabilty to chew correctly due to his lack of teeth.

Fischer's Teeth.

Fischer had all his fillings removed because he believed people (the Russians) were sending mind altering rays to his brain through the fillings in his teeth.

Morphy's Teeth

"When seated before the chessboard, his face betrays no agitation even in the most critical positions; in such cases he generally whistles an air through his teeth and patiently seeks for the combination to get him out of trouble." - Ernst Morphy

Botvinnik's Teeth.

Botvinnik's dad lost all his teeth due to a gum disease and decided to become a dental technician. (He would later work out a way you could send mind altering rays to people's brains through the fillings in their teeth.)

Carlsen's Teeth.

I'll write this on Tuesday,

"Carlsen retained his world title by the skin of his teeth."

Nov-22-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Paul> Kotov wrote on this; while I do not recall exactly how the passage went, believe it was during the phase of the match which saw Capablanca right the ship and actually take a 2-1 lead after his loss in the opening game, a seemingly oft-overlooked circumstance by kibitzers who would portray this epic battle as completely one-sided in nature.
Nov-22-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi perfidious,

No doubt some bright spark will unearth the exact date and even give us the name and address of the dentist.

Another brighter spark will even supply us with the teeth!

If we follow the fact that Alekhine lost 6 teeth and won 6 games. Maybe (and who really knows?) he pulled out one tooth everytime he won a game and dodged the re-match because he was running out teeth.

My theory is that Alekhine heard the Argentinian Tooth Fairy left gold coins under your pillow instead pennies and tried to cash in.

Nov-23-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Sally Simpson> <perfidious> So it was the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth. The Tooth Fairy gave Alyekhin one win for each tooth.

:)

Nov-23-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Geoff> In those days, there were gold coins. Today? Fuhgeddaboutit!
Nov-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Perfidious.

Did some reserach (clicked on google in my tea break.)

The Tooth Fairy in Argentina is called the 'El Ratón Pérez' The Tooth Mouse. No money is left but presents.

I once slept with my head under the pillow. When I awoke I discovered the Tooth Fairy had knocked all my teeth out with a hammer. (old joke)

Got a new joke.

I once slept with an MCO under my pillow when I awoke some pages were missing. The pages covering the Moller Attack!

Nov-27-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: If you check the photo closely you can see that AA was sporting a double chin by this time, and JRC was well on his way to doing the same!
Nov-27-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <Sally Simpson: ....

Got a new joke.

I once slept with an MCO under my pillow when I awoke some pages were missing. The pages covering the Moller Attack!>

LMAO!!!! Oh, that was hilarious!!!

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