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Max Euwe vs Alexander Alekhine
Zurich (1934)  ·  Queen's Gambit Declined: Janowski Variation (D31)  ·  1-0
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Given 17 times; par: 93 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-06-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <I just find it hard to explain his dismal performance in 1948.> He could be simply in bad form. It can happen to anybody. Only comps are playing all the time on a stable level. Euwe also was not chess professional and did not play regularly. I think that this fact influenced his result at AVRO tournament.
Aug-06-05  iron maiden: In lengthy, drawn-out events Euwe sometimes seemed to run out of stamina early on. It happened in the rematch with Alekhine, and at Zurich 1953. In individual games he was as dangerous as ever, but down the stretch he was incapable of coping with the physical and mental exhaustion of the long tournaments.
Aug-08-05  iron maiden: Those who knew Euwe also claimed that he played much better in a low-pressure situation. This may explain his victory against Alekhine in 1935, when everyone was expecting him to lose.
Aug-08-05  Hesam7: <iron maiden> That might be true for Zurich 1953 or the rematch with Alekhine. In the 1948 WC tournament he had a bad start and a bad finish: 0/4, 1.5/4, 1.5/4 and 1/4 seem to be his results in rounds 1 to 4. It is noteworthy that the Groningen field was not small if I am not mistaken it consisted from 20 players.
Aug-08-05  Hesam7: <iron maiden: Those who knew Euwe also claimed that he played much better in a low-pressure situation. This may explain his victory against Alekhine in 1935, when everyone was expecting him to lose.> That may be right in general. But did anyone expect the 47 year old Euwe to win the 1948 WC? I do not know who the favorites were before the tournament started.
Aug-08-05  iron maiden: Botvinnik, Keres and Reshevsky were considered the main contenders. Few expected much out of the newcomer Smyslov or the declining Euwe.
Aug-08-05  Hesam7: <iron maiden> Yes, you are right. Keres won the AVRO 1938 and Botvinnik was a major star in 30s (Joint first at Nottingham 1936 and Moscow 1935 and second behind Capablanca in Moscow 1936) He also won the first big tournament after WWII: Groningen 1946.

So IMO pressure was not the cause for Euwe's bad result.

Aug-08-05  RookFile: Anybody who could put 20 wins up
on the board against Alekhine, like Euwe did,
was a very strong player!
Aug-08-05  Hesam7: <RookFile: Anybody who could put 20 wins up on the board against Alekhine, like Euwe did, was a very strong player!> I do not deny that.
Aug-08-05  ughaibu: Somebody has to lose in a tournament and the stronger the tournament is the stronger the losers will be. 1948 was unremitingly strong so Euwe's performance isn't necessarily bad, it doesn't show him to be less than the world's 5th strongest player.
Aug-08-05  Hesam7: <ughaibu: 1948 was unremitingly strong so Euwe's performance isn't necessarily bad, it doesn't show him to be less than the world's 5th strongest player.> I shall disagree. IMO Najdorf or Fine for example would have had better results than Euwe's 20%. To finish 5th in that field is not that bad, but the way he did 6.5 pts behind the 4th player was no good.
Aug-08-05  RookFile: Euwe probably didn't slip too much,
but at the highest levels, one mistake pergame is all you need to lose.
Aug-08-05  ughaibu: Hesam7: it sounds to me as if you're saying that Euwe's 1948 performance wasn't particularly worse than you'd expect, if that's the case I agree.
Aug-08-05  Hesam7: @ ughaibu:

<Hesam7: To finish 5th in that field is not that bad, but the way he did 6.5 pts behind the 4th player was no good.>

Aug-08-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: < IMO Najdorf or Fine for example would have had better results than Euwe's 20%.> Also Bronstein, Boleslavski, possibly Eliskases... But the FIDE agreements to use Groningen and Prague as candidate qualifying tournaments was sabotaged at the end. Najdorf won the Treybal memorial in Prague, but that was to no avail. Bronstein was invited to Prague, but the entire 5-player deep soviet delegation first accepted but then rescinded their invitation. Also withdrawing were Reshewski, Fine and Euwe who did not need to qualify, but whose presence would have validated Najdorf's claim to a place in the 1948 WC tournament.
Aug-08-05  ughaibu: Hesam7: are you agreeing or disagreeing? Does "no good" mean, worse than you'd expect from Euwe? or does it mean, too bad for a player to be included in such a select tournament? or does it mean something different?
Aug-09-05  Hesam7: <ughaibu> I am sorry. What I meant was:

The result was too bad for a player to be included in such a select tournament AND it was worse than we expected from Euwe. While a 5th place with a decent score would have been OK from both aspects.

Aug-09-05  iron maiden: Exactly, fifth place with -4 is not quite the same as fifth place with -12.
Aug-09-05  ughaibu: Thanks for explaining. I reckon the tournament had too few players, considering that AVRO and the candidates had at least 8, but FIDE was in it's infancy and reality is often less than ideal.
Aug-09-05  Hesam7: <ughaibu> I think Fine was invited but declined to play. So they went on with the remaining five.
Aug-09-05  iron maiden: It was supposed to consist of the surviving AVRO players, but Fine declined, and Smyslov replaced Flohr for some reason.
Aug-09-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: As I ponder various solutions to the vacant WC slot after Alekhine's death, the less and less sense -- as regards fairness and upholding tradition -- the 'repeat of AVRO', Hague-Moscow 1948, tournament makes to me.

Tratition, codified by Steinitz, demands that (1) the WC title is decided by a match. If at all possible, (2) new WC should wrestle the title from the previous title holder. In addition, (3) some tournaments (NY'27, AVRO'38) have been put forth as means to earn the right to challenge for the WC title.

All in all, three players had strong claims to either the WC or top challenger positions after the War: (i) Euwe by defeating Alekhine in 1935; (ii) Keres by winnig AVRO; and (iii) Fine, by tying Keres in AVRO on points.

In addition, (iv), there were several new, non-AVRO players whose results since AVRO, have given them strong rights to enter the candidate mix: Smyslov, Bronstein, Boleslavski, Najdorf, Eliskases, Stahlberg, Szabo,...

Now, any way I look at it, I get this: Hague-Moscow'48 was a replay of AVRO, because (I) AVRO did not produce the right winner(s) on one hand, but (II) opening the candidacy process to all worthy parties was viewed dangerous to some vested interrest(s) on the other hand. The swith of Smyslov for Flohr (III) was then grafted on, after the principal agreements were all cemented in.

To me, reasons (I) and (II) -- to put it bluntly -- stink. Here are three simpler and much more preferable solutions:

1. Title reverts to Euwe and he plays Keres, the AVRO winner. (Euwe gets the usual draw odds. The defeated player immediately qualifies for the Candidate tournament of 1950.)

2. Keres plays Fine; in case of tie, Keres gets the title. (Defeated player immediately qualifies for the 1950 Candidates tournament.)

3. Title remains open and top two finishers of the next candidate cycle play a match for the vacant title. (All AVRO guys automatically qualify for the Candidate tournament. Draw adds go to the tounament winner.)

Sep-25-07  myteacher34: the end of the game another variant

52. ... Rxd5
53. axb7 Rd8
54. Nd6+ Ke6
55. Nc8 Kd7
56. b8=Q Rxc8
57. Qxb5+ Kd6
*

Mar-31-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Alekhine's only loss at the 1934 Zurich tournament.
Feb-23-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: game toppings..

<After Max Euwe sacrificed a knight to Alexander Alekhine at the Zurich tournament in 1934, the world champion took off his jacket. "If you had sacrificed a queen, he would probably have taken off his trousers, too.", Paul Keres remarked.>

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