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  WCC Overview
Capablanca vs Alekhine 1927
Buenos Aires

 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

click on a game number to replay game 2122232425262728293031323334

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


  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 YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-1431927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchC01 French, Exchange
2. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½191927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD65 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack, Main line
3. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-0421927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchA47 Queen's Indian
4. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½491927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
5. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½421927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½401927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
7. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-0361927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½421927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
9. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½341927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½201927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
11. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-1661927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Alekhine vs Capablanca 1-0411927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
13. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½271927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
14. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½251927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
15. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½301927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
16. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½241927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
17. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½591927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
18. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½281927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
19. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½211927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
20. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½431927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
21. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-1321927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
22. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½861927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
23. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½481927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
24. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½411927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
25. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½401927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 34  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 37 OF 37 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-29-17  offramp: One good thing that the London Rules did was to reduce the required prize fund from $25,000* in 1921 to just $10,000. It's a pretty dramatic drop.

The guys who drew up the rules, apart from Capablanca, must've looked like paupers from the dust bowl... Chess players never have any money and $10,000 would have been like asking for some unicorn giblets. But Alekhine managed it on his own, without diplomatic help as Capablanca had in 1921.

*$30,000 in all.

Apr-26-18  Big Pawn: Did Alekhine ever annotate these games? I searched on Amazon for a book, written by Alekhine, on his match with Capa, but found nothing.

Considering that Capa was considered the heavy favorite and virtually invincible, this would seem to be the crowning achievement for Alekhine, but to my surprise he apparently didn't write a book on this.

Am I wrong?

Please advise.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Big Pawn>
It's probably true he didn't write a book on the match. Annotating all the games would be lots of work, and most of the games were not the crowd-pleasing sort.

Alekhine's <Best Games (1924-1937)> has most of his wins.

I tried a search on and found several books on the match that list Alekhine as a co-author but the main annotations appear to be by others: one by Yates and Winter, one by Schroeder, a French-language one by Sultanbeev, a Russian-language one apparently by Levenfish and Romanovsky. I have not seen any of those books and have no idea whether they have any actual annotations by Alekhine.

Apr-26-18  Nerwal: <Did Alekhine ever annotate these games?>

No idea why this book doesn't have a english version or counterpart. It has all the games of the match. Alekhine annotates in a good amount of details games 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 17, 20, 21, 22, 24, 28, 31, 32 and 34, and gives comments on the critical moment (usually the opening) in other games.

Apr-26-18  Olavi: Auf dem Wege zur Weltmeisterschaft, On the Road to the World Championship in English, published by Pergamon Press, has all the games annotated by Alekhine.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Nerwal>, <Olavi> Thanks. I stand corrected.
Apr-26-18  Big Pawn: <Beatgiant>, <Nerwal> and <Olavi>, thank you for your input!
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: "Dr. Carlos A. Querencio served as referee, and Daniel Deletang was Alekhine's second."

Deletang was an amateur player who invented in 1923 the "triangle" method of mating with a B + N v lone King.

Jul-03-18  Caissa04: Funny how Kasparov and Capablanca dominated Alekhine and Kramnik outside of World Championship play...
Dec-25-18  The Boomerang: "Funny how Kasparov and Capablanca dominated Alekhine and Kramnik outside of World Championship play..."

I think Kramnik has a 5-4 winning record against Kasparov in classical.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: As a matter of fact....

The score was indeed 5-4 in Kramnik's favour, with 40 draws, in classical play:

Dec-25-18  cunctatorg: @ <Caissa04>: Alekhine was at his peak from 1925 to 1934 (namely from 33 years old until 42 years old) and at his very peak from 1927-1929 to 1932-1934. During this time no Alekhine-Capablanca game took place for reasons relevant to their after-match (newly born) animosity, an animosity which was partially Alekhine's responsibility and it was particularly harmful for both of them... and for world-class chess also.

You could also take into consideration that Alekhine's chess development had stopped (much more than Capablanca's one - though WW I was harmful for all chess activities...) from 1915 to 1920 and after 1921 he had to adjust himself to a new life, as an emigrant in France.

I wish all of you a merry Christmas!

Oct-11-19  ZonszeinP: Who'd have thought that after the 7th game Capablanca would win only once in the next 27...
Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: It’s been claimed that Capablanca struggled to raise the 10,000 US dollars (about 620,000 US dollars in 2021 equivalent) for a rematch, as required by the “London Rules”. But he started out with 20% of the 1927 purse as the “champion’s fee”, plus 40% of the residual, ie 5,200 US. So his actual task was to raise an additional 4,800 US dollars. Not an impossible task given that he was certain to retain a minimum of 3,200 US dollars from the rematch purse.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: So if he lost the rematch, he'd effectively have played two matches for nothing. You can see how he must have been tempted.

Also worth considering is that $10,000 was only the prize fund. The players' travel and hotel expenses, as well as the costs of running the match itself, renting the venue, etc. all have to be reckoned with.

Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: Possibly Capablanca lost some of his capital in the 1929 crash, I guess.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <It’s been claimed that Capablanca struggled to raise the 10,000 US dollars (about 620,000 US dollars in 2021 equivalent)>

Which inflation calculator did you use? I don't think it's quite that dramatic.

Just been reading the terms of the challenge that New Orleans offered to Staunton to play Morphy in America - stakes of $5000 a side. <woldsmandriffield> will be relieved to hear that Staunton, were he to lose, would be recompensed for his time and trouble to the value of $1,000.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: So, if Capablanca had agreed to his London Rules proposed in 1922 with regards to the minimum prize fund, and also agreed after his loss to Alekhine in 1927 that he was against any changes in the London Rules, does anyone think it was unfair of Alekhine to insist that all his challengers, including Capablanca, adhere to those same rules?

So perhaps the reason that Alekhine "ducked" Capablanca in agreeing to a return WCC match was that Capablanca was not able to raise the $ 10,000 as stipulated by the same London rules that Capablanca was responsible for instigating and nothing to do with Alekhine's fear of Capablanca?

The inability of Capablanca to raise the required $ 10,000, if that's indeed what happened, could have been due to the Great Depression starting in 1929. It could also have been due to the collapse of sugar prices, Cuba's main source of income, from about 5 cents/lb in 1927 to about 2.5 cents/lb in about 1932. In either or both cases the failure of the return match to take place would have been Capablanca's, not Alekine's.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <So, What's The Big Deal With Starting A Sentence With 'So'? >

Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: Staunton was offered the chance to play for 5,000 dollars and guaranteed 1,000 dollars even if he lost, to cover his expenses and as an appearance fee. In 1858 this was an enormous sum.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: That $1000 in 1858 would be worth $31735 today.
Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: Anand :

<Capablanca was a particularly difficult opponent and Alekhine hadn’t come close to beating him until their World Championship match in 1927. While preparing for the match, Alekhine decided he needed to pay close and meticulous attention to Capablanca’s games. He knew that without that kind of study, he would be blown to pieces. From the games he pored over he distilled two learnings. First, that he could not afford to be afraid of Capablanca’s strongest suit, which was playing clear, simple positions. He decided to train harder and better, so he was equipped to confront Capablanca in his areas of strength and was not always forced to duck or hide when the latter made his moves. He also delved into the kind of positions Capablanca didn’t particularly excel at and probed them. The match, which Alekhine went on to win, became one of the most famous chess games in history and it’s hard to ignore how unlikely the final outcome had seemed earlier, given his former dismal record against Capablanca.>

Jan-10-22  CapablancaDisciple: A hard-fought match through and through. Impressive how Alekhine managed to prepare himself in all aspects, on and off the board, to beat Capablanca.

Still, it would have been nice to see a match with Capablanca at his usual height. Alekhine would undoubtedly have been crushed. That's why he never gave Capablanca the rematch and why he is generally considered inferior to Capablanca even if he managed to beat him in a match. Aside from this, Capa has a plus two score against Alekhine.

Mar-14-22  saturn2: Yesterday I watched some rare youtube videos of them fascinating personalities. From pictures I imagined Alekhine taller, severer and more out of the world, also Capablanca a bit more serious and silent, more shy. In the videos both appear friendly, and jovial. Capablanca made a sidehint concearning Alekhine calling his play 20 percent bluff. The fact he never was condeded a revenge must have bothered Capablanca a lot. The videos are only short, who knows how they really were?
Jul-19-22  Ninas Husband: This match should have been called Snoozapalooza '27!
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