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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 1; 6 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-0421927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchA47 Queen's Indian
2. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-0361927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Alekhine vs Capablanca 1-0411927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
4. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-0701927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
5. Alekhine vs Capablanca 1-0631927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Alekhine vs Capablanca 1-0821927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <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.>

A thought occurred: why did Alekhine even issue a challenge when he must have known that Rubinstein's had been accepted? Simply to establish precedence if the Rubinstein bid failed to materialise? Then I read the above again and it started to compute - Alekhine's challenge and the Dutch proposal for a Candidates' match seem to have been practically coincidental in regards to timing, and therefore most likely more than coincidental. Did Alekhine and the organisers of The Hague (1921) conspire to try and bounce Rubsintein out of the way? Or if. as mentioned, Rubinstein (playing in the same event) agreed to the proposed match, was he party to this plan? But why would he have agreed? The source cited is <Toni Preziuso, AMERIKA! AMERIKA! In "KARL" no.3 2013, pp.34-39>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <MissScarlett> <"KARL" no.3 2013> Do you have the actual issue in your hands? We need the underlying 1920's source for the story you posted.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <Capablanca, September 7, 1921: Dear Sir, two days ago, I received your formal challenge to play a match for the world's championship. It will give me great pleasure to defend my title against you>.

If he received Rubinstein's challenge on Sept 5, 1921 <(two days ago, I received your formal challenge...)> how in the hell did it appear in the NY Times on August 27, 1921?

<New York Times
August 27, 1921>

<Rubinstein, Polish Chess star challenges Capablanca

Akiba Rubinstein, Polish chessmaster, <<<has challenged Jose R. Capablanca>>> of Cuba to a match for the world's chess championship. A copy of the challenge received here yesterday (August 26, 1921) showed that Rubinstein requested Capablanca to state his terms for the match. Capablanca came into the title last winter, when Dr. Emanuel Lasker, recognized holder of the championship at that time, resigned after a series of defeats in their championship match at Havana.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <chancho>
In 1921, mail from Europe to the Americas was carried by ship. Maybe the mail containing the press release about the challenge reached New York some days before the mail containing the actual challenge reached Havana.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <Beatgiant> That's a valid point.
Jul-10-17  Olavi: The trans-Atlantic cable had been there for decades.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: Yup. It's likely they used a telegraph for such communication. Anyway, the whole affair was not exactly good for the promotion of chess IMO.
Jul-10-17  Petrosianic: The first trans-Atlantic cable was laid in 1858. But I have no idea how expensive or widespread its use was. Sending messages by ship would have taken about 10 days, but that's best case scenario.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Capablanca wrote of a <formal challenge> and the NY Times of a <copy>. Those sound more like physical documents (formal challenge probably included a signature, copy might be a mimeograph), but again I'm just speculating.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: It doesn't matter what <Capa> "challenged" after he blew the 1927 match

Since he lost the match, he also lost leverage

Capa worshipers just don't get this

Capa blew it, due to his own lack of discipline

and thats that


Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: <Petrosianic>

If you have no idea about your insecurity, here's a hint:

Jul-11-17  Petrosianic: <WorstPlayerEver> It doesn't mention anything about how much more it cost to send a trans-Atlantic message, but thanks for trying.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.

Premium Chessgames Member
  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.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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!

Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: Who'd have thought that after the 7th game Capablanca would win only once in the next 27...
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