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Alexander Alekhine vs Grigory Levenfish
"St. Petersburg Spilled Blood" (game of the day Sep-28-2011)
St. Petersburg (1912), St. Petersburg RUE, Mar-14
Benoni Defense: Benoni-Indian Defense (A43)  ·  1-0



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Given 79 times; par: 33 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: The event was a "1st Category" tournament in St. Petersburg, held in March-April 1912. Alekhine won with 7.0, ahead of Levenfish (6.5), Ilya Rabinovich and Peter Romanovsky (6.0).
Sep-28-11  KingV93: Wow! Talk about attacking chess! This is a 20 move demolition. The confidence displayed in the depth of his calculation and the bold sacrifices is truly amazing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A classic game with a two rook sacrifice.
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: Here's how I see the continuation after 10...Bg7: 11. h3 Nxf3+ (because the immediate retreat of the ♘ from g4 loses a piece) 12. Qxf3 Nf6 (12...Ne5 13. Bxe5 Bxe5? 14. Qxf7#) 13. exf7+ Kf8 (13...Kxf7 14. Bc4, and black is in big trouble, e.g., 14...b5 15. d5+ bxc4 16. Qxa8, or 14...Re8 15. d6+ e6/Kf8 16. O-O, with Bg5 and Ne4 in the offing) 14. O-O-O Bd7 15. g4.

Black is cramped but still alive, and the position looks defensible. I don't see any immediate prospect of a mating attack, though maybe Alekhine would have.

Sep-28-11  mike1: yes, geat finish... but 13th Qxd1+, 14, Rxd1 Bg7
should be the test for White's set up.EG 15. Nb5 o-o.
Sep-28-11  visayanbraindoctor: <Phony Benoni: The event was a "1st Category" tournament in St. Petersburg, held in March-April 1912. Alekhine won with 7.0, ahead of Levenfish (6.5), Ilya Rabinovich and Peter Romanovsky (6.0).>


It looked like pretty strong tournament. Levenfish later became a two time Soviet champion in the 1930s, and Botvinnik could not beat him in their 1937 match. Levenfish committed mistakes, but this game shows how fantastic Alekhine's combinative powers were.

Who are the 20the century chess masters that played successful double rook sacs? I know that Reti did two against Euwe.

Reti vs Euwe, 1920

Euwe vs Reti, 1920

Are there any others?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <visayanbraindoctor> Here's a good one:

N Gaprindashvili vs R Servaty, 1974

This is probably one of the more famous:

E Canal vs NN, 1934

I tried a search for double rook sacrifices in the Sacrifice Explorer, but most of them seem to be games where two rooks were given away, not necessarily by the traditional back rank looting.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: A few more:

Rodzynski vs Alekhine, 1913

J M Craddock vs Mieses, 1939

Colomer vs Vivas, 1947

Tartakower vs O Bernstein, 1937

And you just know that <Emil Joseph Diemer> and <Josef Emil Krejcik> would get in on the fun:

NN vs E J Diemer, 1978

Helmer vs J Krejcik, 1917

Sep-28-11  visayanbraindoctor: <Phony Benoni> Thanks for the info. I deleted my previous post in view of your latest post.

There must be others, but it seems that only this, the two Reti vs Euwe games, and the Tartakower vs Bernstein games were played in serious classical tournaments, and involved all-GM caliber players (both attacker and defender).

The two Reti vs Euwe games must be the weirdest most anomalous phenomenon in chess history. It seems that they involved not only GM caliber players, they were played in a match between these two players and were played back to back. What is the statistical probability of that to occur, one in a zillion?

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: What would Alekhine have in mind if Levenfish exchanged pawns with 9...fxe6?

I looked at 10.dxe6 ♘b6 11. ♕xd8+ ♔xd8, but I can't see how Alekhine can protect the pawn on e6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <GrahamClayton> 12.Ng5 might be troublesome for Black. One amusing, though unforced line is 12...Kc7 13.Bf4+ Kc6 14.Nf7, threatening the rook and 15.Nd8#.
May-07-13  JimNorCal: <visayanbraindoctor>: "It looked like pretty strong tournament. Levenfish later became a two time Soviet champion in the 1930s, and Botvinnik could not beat him in their 1937 match." Romanovsky was strong as well. I Rabinovich was the first (one of the first?) Soviet players allowed to go outside the country to play. Check out his results in Baden Baden 1925.
Feb-06-14  MarkFinan: This game is unbelievable! I remember another game played a long time ago where black takes the poisoned pawn on b2 then the rooks on a and h1 whilst white has a winning attack with pawns up on the 6th and 7th ranks, but I can't remember for the life of me who the players were, although im fairly sure that description will ring a bell with some of you guys here who seem to know who played what and when and where? Anyways here

click for larger view

I let my engine (which I'll be changing soon!) look at this position for maybe a minute, after flicking through this game pretty quickly to reach the above, and it didn't see Nb5! Once you play the move it saw it, but not until! Very strange. I'm beginning to think that because I always have it on something like 70% strength to play a game against that it must only analyze at that strength too? Either that or it's just rubbish for both playing and analysing! #droidfish

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <The next game was published widely in many European chess magazines shortly after it was played. It also reappeared in the following rather strange circumstances. During 1918-1919, rumours had appeared in the West that Alekhine had been killed by the Bolsheviks. Then in 1920, <Tijdschrift van den Nederlandschen Schaakbond>, p174 and the <British Chess Magazine> 1920, p390 both reported that Alekhine was still alive and published a brilliancy against Levenfish said to have been played in Petrograd in 1919. This game was picked up and published by many other European chess magazines. The so called new brilliancy was none other than the game played by Alekhine in 1912.> Skinner & Verhoeven
Sep-03-15  The Kings Domain: Shades of "The Immortal Game". Alekhine relegated his opponent to amateur status.
Dec-31-17  visayanbraindoctor: <al wazir: Levenfish played like a fish. Why was wrong with 10...Bg7 ?>

Because he thought he had a chance for a pawn grab and perhaps an initiative by moving

10.. Nxf3+

Consider it from Levenfish's view. He was one of the leading Russian Empire and later two time Soviet champion, and a master whom Botvinnik could not beat in their match Botvinnik - Levenfish (1937). Such a strong master would have seen that after

11. gxf3 Nf6

a player like Alekhine might well have played

12. Bc4

in order to maintain his pawn at e6.

Alekhine in fact does so, but Levenfish must have had already seen this and had prepared a 'refutation'.

12. Bc4 fxe6 13. dxe6 Qb6

Aha, Levenfish must have thought, I have just out-tacticked the great combinative Alekhine. I have forked his pawns on e6 and b2!

There is no doubt in my mind that Levenfish had already seen this position when he played

10.. Nxf3+

I think he was aiming right for this position, and anticipating that Alekhne would play

14. Qe2

in order to defend the e6 pawn, and thus leave the b2 pawn hanging.

Alekhine in fact did move 14. Qe2

and now Levenfish grabs the pawn.

14.. Qxb2

Again, this was no mere 'accident'. I think Levenfish had seen and was aiming precisely for this position; which is why he eschewed 10...Bg7 and moved 10.. Nxf3+ instead.

If you picture this in your mind's eye way back at move 10, White might look like to be superficially in trouble with a forked Knight on c3 and Rook on a1.

Then bang!

15. Nb5!!

Obviously this did not occur to Levenfish at all. According to the kibitz above <MarkFinan: I let my engine (which I'll be changing soon!) look at this position for maybe a minute, after flicking through this game pretty quickly to reach the above, and it didn't see Nb5! Once you play the move it saw it, but not until! Very strange.> it did not occur to a computer either.

But the genius Alekhine had obviously already seen it on move 10. 'Go ahead, take my Rook. No take both Rooks. I don't care; I'll mate you!'

15. Nb5!! Qxa1+ 16. Kf2 Qxh1 17. Nc7+ Kd8 18. Qd2+ Bd7 19. exd7 1 - 0

Easy to criticize Levenfish, but if I look at the position at move 10, I have absolutely no doubt that many a chess player would have moved exactly as he did.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <al wazir>,<visayanbraindoctor> It should be noted that 10...Bg7 is not simple for Black either. 10...Bg7 11. h3 looks strong at first, until you notice Black has <11...Qb6!> with unclear complications.

But simply 10...Bg7 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. Qe2 Qd6 13. g3. It's not a proven White win, but it's hard for Black to disentangle himself (Queen and Bishop on guard duty for pinned knight; other Bishop stuck behind the pawn chain) while White can continue with standard developing and attacking moves.

Jan-01-18  visayanbraindoctor: Below is anther brilliant Alekhine double rook sac. Or at least he offers the sac, but his opponent refused the second rook.

Alekhine vs V Rozanov, 1908

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Double rook sacrifice was a standard part of the chess culture by the early 20th century, having been made famous by the Immortal Game (Anderssen vs Kieseritzky, 1851). See Game Collection: Double Rook Sacrifices for other examples.

Other Alekhine example: Rodzynski vs Alekhine, 1913

Earliest proper, successful example of the theme in that collection: T Bowdler vs H Conway, 1788

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Somehow I have missed this game until now - mostly because Alekhine doesn't included it in his best games collection.
Jan-12-18  Sally Simpson: Hi Plang.

This is game 39 in his 'Best Games 1908-1923'

Mar-20-18  mifralu: According to

this game was played on 14 March 1912.

Jan-29-19  DonChalce: brilliant.
Apr-07-20  MordimerChess: 5...Bg7 6. Bb5+ Nfd7 this is modern theory... definitely it's not easy to play Benoni if you're not sure what you are doing.

9...fxe6 10. dxe6 Nb6 11. Qxd8+ Kxd8 12. Ng5 Ke8 13. Be2 Nf6 14. O-O h6 15. Nf7 Rh7 16. Bf3 Bxe6 17. Ne5 g5 18. Bxb7⩲ doesn't look like fun for black as well. If I need some masochistic service, I call for domina - playing this kind of Benoni seems to be too hardcore...

And Alekhine could dominate after: 10. h3 Nxf3+ 11. Qxf3 Ne5 12. Qg3 Bg7 13. Bf4 f6 14. O-O-O± isn't it just beautiful?

My video analysis to the game:


Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: I like 3.Nc3 instead of the more standard looking 3.c4
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