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Alexander Alekhine vs Aron Nimzowitsch
Bled (1931)  ·  French Defense: Winawer Variation (C15)  ·  1-0
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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-25-07  Dr. Siggy: To grasp a little of Alekhine's feature at Bled, it may not be out of place to remind here that - according to W. Hartston, in: H. Golombek's "The Encyclopaedia of Chess" -, this was the longest (August-September 1931) and better organized tournament of the inter-war period. The Great Masters of renowned reputation had to face four of the most promising players born in the first decade of the XXth century. Of these, only Euwe was absent; of those, Capablanca and Rubinstein were missing. Unlike what happened not long before at San Remo, there were no displaced players at Bled, and even the last ones managed to reach the score which Tarrasch denominated the "Meisterdrittel" (33,3%). Alekhine obtained a very, very sound triumph: he didn't lose a single one of his twenty-six games (!!!) and only drew those he played against Kashdan, Spielmann and Asztalos (surprisingly in this case). Three of the "rising stars" were able to be finish between the fourth and seventh places (along with Vidmar). Alekhine' superiority was so overwhelming that Nimzowitsch couldn't help himself and said those famous words: "It treats us like patzers" (!!!). And this crushing game is a good proof of it!...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: After 13.Qh4, Alekhin says "White does not have to protect his g-pawn by 13.Qh3 as after 13...Rxg2 the answer 14.Bf4 would have been decisive."

However after 13.Qh4 Rxg2 14.Bf4 Rxe2!+ 15.Nxe2 Qxb2, Black would appear to be okay.

Jan-21-08  Dr. Siggy: <Calli>: I'm not sure of that. After Ra1-d1 and Rh1-g1, I can't see anything decent for Black: for instance, 16. Rd1 Nbd7 17. Rg1 e5 18. Rxd7! exf4 19. Rxh7 Qb1+ 20. Kf2! Qb6+ 21. Kf1 Qb1+ 22. Kg2 Qb6 23. Rg7 .

Of course, Black, instead of the imediate 16... Nbd7, can play some other moves, but none seems good enough to avoid defeat: for instance, 16... b6 17. Rg1 Nbd7 18. Rg7 ; or even 16... Kf7 17. Rg1 Nbd7 18. Qh6 .

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <De. Siggy> Yes, you are absolutely right. Black can't develop after my line and White will win one way or another.

Actually figured this out the day after I posted, but never got around to a correction. Its nice to know that people sometimes try out my suggestions!

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: After all these years I still don't know what's wrong with <9...c6> ?

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  keypusher: <Whiteshark> 9....c6 10. Bf4 Nd7 11. Rd1 Qf6 12. Rxd7 and 13. Be5 (Shredder).
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  whiteshark: Thanks, <keypusher> What a bummer! :D
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  Domdaniel: The only 'classical precept' that applies is "don't go grabbing pawns until you've developed some pieces".

The idea that Knights must always be developed before Bishops is simply nonsense, and irrelevant in this case. The Winawer French (3...Bb4) is sound, and better than sound.

Some other perfectly good openings include the Nimzo-Larsen (1.b3, 2.Bb2), and the Kangaroo (1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+). Or the English Defence, 1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.e4 Bb7 4.Nc3 Bb4 where Black develops both Bishops first (with ...Qh4 to follow).

Apr-14-11  LIFE Master AJ:

My annotations of this game.

Apr-23-11  LIFE Master AJ:

Also here as well ...

Jul-15-11  DrMAL: Interesting opening plan by Nimzowitch particularly viewed in modern day, there was certainly nothing wrong with it. After 13.Qh4 probably the best plan is 13...Rg4 14.Qf2 (14.Qh3 Nc6) Ne4 15.Nxe4 Rxe4 with a double-edged game.

13...Bd7 is developing but inaccurate, with 14.Bf4 Qd4 15.Rd1 Qc5 16.g4! (or 16.Bg5) as probably the best punishment. But Alekhine chose 14.Bg5 right away which basically keeps equality. Here, simply 14...Nc6 (likely followed by mutual castling long) was the one and only good move. This time the obvious response 15.O-O-O is played for a solid advantage.

15...Nb7 was a last chance to save the game and it should have been very clear to Nimzowitch this was the worst time to go pawn hunting, the punishment was very simple.

Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: Dr. Lasker would never lose a game like this. Why? Because in his openings, the two nights come out early, usually to c6 and f6, and there is a total emphasis on development, not snatching material.
Jan-29-12  ughaibu: Bird vs Lasker, 1892
Jan-29-12  kasparvez: Hahahaha, Ughaibu, you have some sense of humor!
Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: There's a slight difference between a tournament game and a blitz game where Lasker was just experimenting. Thanks for playing.
Jan-30-12  King Death: < RookFile: Dr. Lasker would never lose a game like this. Why? Because in his openings, the two nights come out early, usually to c6 and f6, and there is a total emphasis on development, not snatching material.>

Lasker rejected dogma and played a concrete game overall, not this mindless classical development that you're claiming. Of course he often played his knights to c6 and f6 as Black, in many of the open games that was no different than any other strong player would've done then.

Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: I agree with the rejected dogma part. However, Lasker himself wrote that in the opening, players should concern themselves with sensible development, and nothing else.

Consider this example:

Reti vs Lasker, 1924

Reti did everything except a belly dance in the opening, while Lasker was proceeding simply and classically. It's a strong way of playing, and Lasker so no reason to deviate from it that often.

Jan-30-12  ughaibu: Early queen, eccentricly placed knights: Lasker vs Von Bardeleben, 1890

Pawn hunting, eccentic development: Lasker vs H Mueller, 1934

In any case, it's not true that Lasker would never lose a game like this, is it? This has been established by exhibition of a counter example to your claim. In short, your Nimzowitsch bashing will need to proceed less by individual example and more by generality, if it is to succeed.

Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: Try to focus, uggie. In context, I was saying that Lasker would never lose a <tourament> game like this. Next, you'll be bringing me the game score of where he lost to the beginner who he let give him queen odds (as a joke). Blitz games like that were just for fun and were not to be taken as seriously as tournament games.

By the way, I said that usually the knights went to their preferred squares. Usually means sometimes they didn't.

In Nimzo's game, he wasted time that he could have been developing with. Lasker didn't do that in the opening, his play was very econonical.

One more detail is that he won the two games you cited. Winning is different than losing.

Jan-31-12  SimonWebbsTiger: Nimzo had played this before, only Sir George Thomas played 7. Bf4 (Marienbad 1925).

Ray Keene in his notes mentions the entire opening concept was based on Nimzo's concept of heroic defence but that here it is too perilous. He suggested 6...Nc6.

8...Qxd4 ("absolutely consistent with the heroic defence syndrome" - Keene).

10...Qe5? ("10...Rg8! 11. Qxc7 Nc6 - Alekine - and Black can fight on." - Keene.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: In other words, he put his head into the lion's mouth. He might have considered who he was playing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Bishoprick: Somewhere, I have no idea where, AA mentions that the gN-e2 was a little joke of his. Joke or not, while I'm not a master and never was or will be (just a reasonable club player), I've played that move for many years, and somehow it almost always seems to work.
Mar-19-12  King Death: <Bishoprick> It isn't a bad line at club level and there are some traps as this game shows, if Black gets greedy.
Jun-09-12  Cemoblanca: He deals with us like inexperienced fledglings. - (after a 19 move loss vs. Alekhine in Bled 1931) - Aaron Nimzowitsch ;0)
Dec-13-14  Rhialto: The story behind this weird opening is interesting; Alekhine sacrifices the second pawn with 7.f3, says it is "probably correct" but recommends 7.Bf4 and 8.f3 instead - which is exactly how Thomas lost to Nimzowitsch several years earlier. Granted he did not lose because of the opening, but in that game Nimzowitsch did not take on f3, a possibility Alekhine ignores.

Why, then, did he disparage his own, more effective approach? Well, I played this opening long ago against a c player. He thought for a bit, and met 7.f3 ef 8.Qf3 with 8...Qh4+!

Somehow Alekhine fails to mention this simple resource. Now unlike Nimzowitsch who must have just missed the idea, I suspect he saw it, but in his typically self-serving annotative style neglected to inform us of the possibility. Hence his recommendation of the seemingly-less-promising 7.Bf4.

The idea, of course, is that White must either exhange queens, or play the game continuation with an "extra move" by 9.g3 Qxd4, a tempo very poorly spent, as it prevents the double attack on c7 and g7. I was not at all happy with White's position in that game and could not avoid a slight disadvantage, though I ended up winning somehow.

An important nuance to the game that nobody seems to have mentioned, perhaps because of reliance on computers; if I recall they like White's game after 8...Qh4+ 9.Qf2 Qxf2+ 10.Kxf2, but this is a mirage; White has equality at best.

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