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Esteban Canal vs Alexander Alekhine
Exhibition game (1923), Turin ITA, Mar-23
Italian Game: Classical. Closed Variation (C53)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-21-04  Orkney: 81. Kxd5
Nov-25-04  TheBestPatzer: 81.Ke5???? It's unbelievable how an easy win is thrown away by Canal. 81.Kxd5 was enough... and natural!
Nov-26-04  uglybird: I think 81.Kxd5 only draws: 81...c4 82.g6 Kb3 83.g7 c3 84.g8Q c2 and Black can draw because he has a bishop's pawn. Anyway, there might be something wrong with the scoresheet as 81.Ke5 makes no sense.
Mar-23-05  Runemaster: <uglybird> in your line, the white pawn queens with check (the Black king is on b3). Therefore, the black pawn only gets to c3 and white should win.

However, I agree that there is probably something wrong with the scoresheet.

Mar-23-05  uglybird: <Runemaster> In that case substitute 82...Kd3 for 82...Kb3 and Black draws.
Mar-23-05  Runemaster: <uglybird> After 81.Kxd5 c4 82.g6 Kd3 83.g7 c3 84.g8Q c2, White plays 85.Qg5 controlling the queening square and wins.

So, I think we can say that either there is something wrong with the score (although other databases I have checked give the same conclusion to the game) or Canal missed a simple win, which seems strange in a player of his strength.

Mar-23-05  uglybird: <Runemaster> Ok, I looked at this from the Sjkbase browser and my original line 82...Kb3 does draw as the White pawn does not queen with check as the white king is on d5.
Mar-23-05  Runemaster: <uglybird> Yes, an optical illusion with the white king on d5 - sorry about that. Still, I don't think it's a draw anyway - with the BK on b3 after 84...c2, white can win by the usual plan of gradually bringing the qieen closer and threatening the queening square. I don't think the presence of a bishop's pawn makes much difference in this exact situation.

eg 85.Qb8+ Ka2 86.Qf4 Kb1 87.Qb4+ Ka2 88.Qc3 Kb1 89.Qb3+ Kc1 90.Kd4 Kd1 91.Kd3 wins the pawn.

If 85.Qb8+ Kb2 86.Qf4 Kb2 instead, then 87.Qb4+ Kc1 88.Kc4 Kd1 89.Qb3 Kd2 90.Qd3_Kc1 91. Kb3 wins the pawn and mates. This line can transpose into the first one.

If instead 85.Qb8+ Kc3 instead, then 86.Qf4 Kb2 87.Qb4+ transposes again and wins the pawn as above.

I think the key here is that the white king is close enough and that the Qb8+/Qf4 manouvre enables the WQ to get close enough to force the BK to block its own pawn on c1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: The score is correct. Skinner and Verhoeven tell the story in their book.

March 23, 1923 "... he [Alekhine] started an exhibition game against the Peruvian master, Esteban Canal. The game began at 9PM and continued until 2am when it was adjourned for a short time. At 2:45am play was restarted [at AA's hotel] ... finally finished at 6 am after a bad blunder by Canal.."

In other words, Alekhine kept Canal up all night until he blundered!

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Alekhine kept Canal up all night until he blundered!>

That's a double-edged sword. Alekhine's 68...Qf3? also looks like a blunder. How about 68...Qd2 instead?

This would prevent 68...Qd2 69. Qxb5+?? Kf3+ followed by ...Qg2#, while the pawn ending turns out okay after 68...Qd2 69. Qg2+ Kd3 70. Qxd2+ Kxd2 71. c4 bxc4 72. a4 Kc2 73. a5 Kxb2 74. a6 c3, when both sides queen.

Mar-24-05  hkannan2000: 68..Qf3 is not a blunder. If 69 Q*p+, Kf2! mates. If Q is exchanged, still black wins with his QP.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <hkannan2000: 68..Qf3 is not a blunder. If 69 Q*p+, Kf2! mates. If Q is exchanged, still black wins with his QP.>

I'm missing how Black wins with his QP if queen is exchanged. If 71...d5 72. a5, White queens with check. Similarly if 72...d5 73. a5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Runemaster>
<Still, I don't think it's a draw> <I don't think the presence of a bishop's pawn makes much difference>

I checked Nalimov tablebase, and it claims a draw after 81. Kxd5 c4. Black's idea is to retreat the king to the corner and play for stalemate.

Following your line, <81.Kxd5 c4 82.g6 Kd3 83.g7 c3 84.g8Q c2 85. 85.Qb8+ Ka2 86.Qf4 Kb1 87.Qb4+ Ka2 88.Qc3 Kb1 89.Qb3+> and now 89...<Ka1!> so that 90. Qxc2 is stalemate. This is why the c-pawn makes a difference.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <BG> AA is up a pawn (doubled) and has a bishop vs knight, so being a chess maniac, he is surely the one insisting on playing this one out.

Actually, what we label "exhibition games" were very serious. Would not be surprised if some money changed hands on this one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Doesn't simply 77. g4 win for White? White's king can hold the queenside pawns at the moment, and Black doesn't have enough time to bring up his own king to support them before White queens the g-pawn.

77. g4 d5 78. g5 d4 79. g6 c3 80. bxc3 dxc3 81. Ke3 Kb4 82. g7, etc.

Apr-19-05  hkannan2000: <beatgiant><I'm missing how Black wins with his QP if queen is exchanged. If 71...d5 72. a5, White queens with check. Similarly if 72...d5 73. a5> What i meant was Black wins as in the game. I agree the game could have been drawn with best play by white.
Jul-14-06  Autoreparaturwerkbau: Whatever you say, it is impossible 81.Ke5(10 question marks) is a correct line.
Dec-25-10  WhiteRook48: 81 Kxd5 c4 82 g6 Kb3 83 g7 c3 84 g8=Q c2 85 Qb8+ Ka2 86 Qa7+ Kb2 87 Qb6+ Ka2 88 Qa5+ Kb2 89 Qb4+ Ka2 90 Qc3 Kb1 91 Qb3+ Ka1!! when taking the pawn is stalemate. so 81 Kxd5 is drawn. Did I miss something?
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Exhibition game played in Turin, Italy on March 23-24, 1923.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Alekhine offers a bishop sacrifice in the middlegame that White declined.

If instead 36.fxBg4 Qh6+ arranges a discovered attack w/check on the back rank 37.Nh2 Rf1+ or 37.Kg1 RxNf1+ followed by 38...QxQd2 (gaining the unprotected White queen at the cost of sacrificed bishop and rook). Furthermore, the Black queen would have achieved permanent penetration to collect additional material. So, White declines in actual play, allowing the bishop to have the pawn instead.

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