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Alexander Alekhine vs Reuben Fine
Hastings (1936/37), Hastings ENG, rd 8, Jan-05
Spanish Game: Closed Defense. Alekhine Gambit (C90)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-03-04  kostich in time: the basic theme for white of the main lines in the Ruy is pressure against f7. Here we see Alekhine carrying out this theme to its logical conclusion.
Dec-03-04  PivotalAnorak: 34. Qa2 ! is lovely, when f7 is doomed. This could be a "puzzle of the day" ? Of course 34... Ne6 is met by 35. Bxe6 Qxe6 36. Qxe6 fxe6 37. Rf8#
May-28-05  Catfriend: Fine considered this game his best loss!
May-28-05  ughaibu: Any suggestions for a better one?
May-28-05  maoam: <ughaibu>

I prefer Boleslavsky vs Fine, 1945.

May-28-05  ughaibu: How about Fine vs Euwe, 1938
May-28-05  ughaibu: Fine vs Keres, 1938 is another candidate.
May-28-05  ughaibu: Not to mention Fine vs Najdorf, 1949
May-28-05  Boomie: According to Chessmetrics, AA's peak rating for 1936 was 2758 (#2) and RF was 2711 (#7). At 22, Fine was the youngest in the top ten list and about halp AA's age.

There were a number of small inaccuracies by Fine that sealed his fate in this game. He missed a nice maneuver which I find instructive on move 18. Instead of 18...♘c6 (the knight fares better on c5), he could have moved his queen to d7 and e6.

18... ♕d7 19. ♗g5 ♕e6 20. ♖ac1 ♔h8

Notice how the queen supports a d5 push from here and attacks the a-pawn.

Still there isn't a winning advantage for white. On move 23, ♘g7 seems to equalize. ♘d4 is optically good but the knight isn't really doing anything there except looking pretty.

Fine missed a chance to take the initiative on move 25. He should have played 25...bxa3 26. bxa3 ♖c3 immediately as the rook now pins the bishop. 25...exf4? draws the white queen away from the pin. White could also play 26. ♗xf4 to put pressure on the d6 weakie. Notice that after 26...♖c3 27. fxe5 doesn't help much as black can respond ♕b3 and if white continues pawn grubbing with 28. exd6, black has the killing shot ♘e2+!

After 28. ♕f2, ♘c6 is the obvious play as e5 is such a juicy post for the knight. It even defends f7 from there.

30...♖3c7? seems too passive. In an open position, the first player to blink usually loses. Much better is the 30...♖8c7} 31. ♖b1 ♕a8.

32...♘c5? was the final mistake. Black can play on with 32...♖e7 33. ♖b6 ♕c5 34. ♗xa6 ♕xf2+ 35. ♖xf2 ♖a8 36. ♖a2 ♖ea7 37. ♗b5 ♘6c7 38. ♗xe8 ♘xe8 39. ♗d2. It's not a pleasant position for black but maybe he can hold.

May-28-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: "30...R3c7? seems too passive. In an open position, the first player to blink usually loses."

Yeah, thats definitely a bad one. Why not 30..Nc5 hitting the B and a4? Maybe Fine just messed up the move order.

May-28-05  Boomie: Thanks to <Calli> for reminding me to always double check my work.

30...♘c5 31. ♗b1 ♖c4, black's most aggressive line, was the first one I checked, and my personal favorite, but it runs into a problem with the white e-pawn of all things. There isn't much difference in evaluation at 13 ply, so I would choose the ♘c5 line anyway because it shows good fighting spirit.

30... ♘c5 31. ♗b1 ♖c4 32. ♖de1 ♖c7
33. e5 d5 34. e6 (0.45)

30... ♖8c7 31. ♖b1 ♕a8 32. ♕d2 ♖a3 (0.34)

Jul-27-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Another example in the endless story of the wrong rook: <30...R8c7> and black should have had no problems.
Jan-02-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: This game was played in the penultimate 8th round at Hastings. Alekhine had started well with 6.5/7, but Fine had started better with 7/7.

A win was absolutely necessary for Alekhine, and he got it. Fine did not always do well in these decisive games; Fine vs Keres, 1938 at AVRO comes to mind.

Jan-02-10  ughaibu: Maybe this illustrates poor psychology on Fine's part. In other words, maybe Fine was a poor psychologist.
Dec-15-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: <Catfriend: Fine considered this game his best loss!>

in fact, Fine annotated the game in detail in his Alekhine memorial article in 1946 Chess Review, calling it "the greatest game I have ever lost".

Mar-05-15  Peachcroft: 34.Qa7 is good enough, but isn't 34.BxPch quicker? (34 . . . QxB, 35.Qa7)
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