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Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander vs Mikhail Botvinnik
"Solving an Enigma" (game of the day May-21-2018)
Radio Match (1946), rd 2, Jun-??
French Defense: Winawer. Poisoned Pawn Variation General (C18)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: after 21...Nc4 Alexander's best line may have been 22 Rd1

click for larger view

22..N6e5 23 Qf6 Rg8 24 h4 Nd3+ (up to here Shredder has reproduced Fritz 9 analysis verbatim, but it avoids ...b6) 25 cxd3 Nxd2 26 Rxd2 Qxg6 Kb8 28 Kb2 Ka8 29 Ka2 Rc8 which Shredder 8 evaluates as 2.49/19 ply

The win is still not clear, but Black cannot become too active, and must always protect against the h pawn getting too far.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Last post analysis left out move 27.

22..N6e5 23 Qf6 Rg8 24 h4 Nd3+ (up to here Shredder has reproduced Fritz 9 analysis verbatim, but it avoids ...b6) 25 cxd3 Nxd2 26 Rxd2 Qxg6 27 Qxd4 Kb8 28 Kb2 Ka8 29 Ka2 Rc8 which Shredder 8 evaluates as 2.49/19 ply

click for larger view

How to win this? Probably White needs to exchange queens and then provoke the advance of the pawns e5, e4 when his King can enter on the dark squares.

30 Rdb2 Bc6 31 Rg1 Qf5 32 Rg7 e5 33 Qg4 Qxg4 34 Rxg4 would be a forced sequence to get queens off.

Aug-12-07  wolfmaster: Botvinnik certainly could have played better, but the brave Alexander fended of f the complications to win the game.
Oct-14-09  SirChrislov: wow, thanks for the such-in-detail anaysis of this game <tamar> and <Pawn and Two>.
Apr-02-12  LoveThatJoker: Good Game!


Apr-02-12  SimonWebbsTiger: the book of the match by E.Klein and W. Winter (<the Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match>; Pitman and sons, 1947) is a terrific little book.

Interestingly 21...Nc4 22. Bxc4 dxc4 23. Qf1 was a suggestion of Alexander's at the time. "23...Qd5!" is given by Klein -- to add an historical note to the analysis given below.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 9..Qa5?! was new and has only rarely been repeated and seems inferior to the standard 9..Qc7. It was pointed out that 14..Nxe5 would not have been an improvement for Black due to 15 fxe..Qxe5+ 16 Be2..Rxg5 17 Bxg5..Qxg5 with either 18 Qh8+ or 18 0-0 being strong for White. 19..Qd6 was suggested as an alternative with unclear consequences. A typically tough Winawer game.
Sep-07-17  RookFile: Brave play by Alexander. Certainly there were plenty of chances for him to go wrong.
Jan-08-18  Whitehat1963: Excellent game!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: You need to know that Alexander was a member of the British Secret Service during World War II, working on breaking code devised by the German Enigma Machine.

Now enjoy the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: Yes, if I hadn't know that Alexander was working on Enigma, I wouldn't have understood why he seemed to be playing battleship instead of chess. He certainly sunk Botvinnik at any rate.

I read yesterday that there were lots of strong chess players at Bletchley Park, although the women were mostly chosen for the crossword puzzle skills (and who knows what other lewd criteria). One thing I didn't know was that the Poles supposedly cracked the code before Alan Turing and handed all their findings over to the Brits shortly before the start of the war.

May-21-18  not not: polish mathematicians broke enigma code in 1932 (decipheration rate was 75%) thanks to help of french secret services who stole two months worth coding sheets from Germans

however, in 1938 Germans improved Enigma to the point that polish secret services could not afford to decipher it money-wise: Germans added extra two turbines to exisiting three

only in 1939, with invasion looming, polish authorities share the knowledge with french and british; both were given copies of enigmas and the calculation sheets

the day enigma was given to british is celebrated in Poland with british ambassador usually present

thats his blog

Premium Chessgames Member
  piltdown man: Brilliant, esoteric pun!
May-21-18  SpiritedReposte: A possible <24.Rxe3!?> After bxe3 Bxb3 looks interesting.

click for larger view

Black to play. Maybe missing an obvious defense but whites pieces look menacing.

May-21-18  Ironmanth: Have always enjoyed C.H.O.D. Alexander's games, history, and especially name! Always saddened that he was never given the chance to get the GM title, and as well, not living longer. Thanks for this great game!
Premium Chessgames Member


Premium Chessgames Member
  takchess: A crossword enigma and WWII
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Botvinnik himself praised Alexander's abilities. This was according to Leonard Barden introducing one of his games.

The belief is, had he been allowed more freedom after WWII to travel he could have competed more say with the Soviets etc. Also that he may have become one of the World's great players of his time. The restriction was by the British authorities even some time after the war for security reasons. Although what they were at the end of the war I have no idea...

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: < takchess: A crossword enigma and WWII

The headline should be:
<Crossing Swords with Cross Words over Crosswords>

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: He should have been a Colonel: Colonel Conel O'Donel. A bit like Major Major Major.
May-21-18  Strelets: What a bloodcurdling game. Alexander takes on the French's strongest advocate at that time and wins!
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Very subtle pun!

One of the very first chess books I owned was Alexander's book about the '72 Fischer/Spassky match:


Terrific book cover, IMO. Good stuff too, background and analysis.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Same here. And at a time when there weren't many images of chess events readily available it was marvelous to have so many photos in the book.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <offramp: He should have been a Colonel: Colonel Conel O'Donel. A bit like Major Major Major.> ! Yes! As in 'Catch 22'...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Botters certainly played lively chess in that game...
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