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Alexander Alekhine vs Jose Raul Capablanca
Savorin Cup (1913), St Petersburg RUE, rd 2, Dec-23
Spanish Game: Closed. Balla Variation (C88)  ·  0-1

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-07-07  M. Shaune: I do not know if Alekhine avoided Capablanca after their championship match or not, but if you look at the fact that Alekhine never played anybody remotely 'worthy' for the championship again, one could conclude that he was definately not eager to play anyone challenging. [Ofcourse Capablanca was the only serious challenger.]
Mar-07-07  shalgo: <Alekhine never played anybody remotely 'worthy' for the championship again>

I don't know--Euwe seemed pretty "worthy" in 1935!

Mar-09-07  M. Shaune: Alekhine was a known alchoholic. During his 1st match with Euwe he lost because of his excessive drinking. Many grandmasters could have beaten Alekhine in that match. In the return match Alekhine cleaned [sobered] his act up and crushed Euwe. Ofcourse, it would have been interesting to see Alekhine's response if Max Euwe would have avoided him, the way some say he [Alekhine} avoided Capablanca.
Mar-09-07  RookFile: It does look like a crush, doesn't it?
10 wins to 4, if I remember right. But it was only 6 wins to 4, and anybody's ballgame, 80 percent of the way through the match. Euwe was really playing Alekhine tough, even with Alekhine at his full powers.

Then Euwe collapsed and lost 4 games in short order.

Mar-09-07  shalgo: <During his 1st match with Euwe he lost because of his excessive drinking.>

I am not a historian, but I know that many chess historians consider this to be at least an exagerration.

Besides, it is irrelevant to the question whether Euwe was a worthy challenger. Look at Euwe's other results in 1932-38: he was clearly one of the top 3-5 in the world at the time and, thus, at the very least, a worthy challenger. (Sonas has Euwe in the top 5 from December 1932 to June 1938 and in the top 3 for most of 1934 and 1935, leading up to the first match with Alekhine.)

Zurich 1934: Euwe =2nd (behind Alekhine, with Flohr, ahead of Bogoljubow and Lasker, among others)

Hastings 1934/35: Euwe =1st (ahead of Capablanca and Botvinnik).

Nottingham 1936: Euwe =3rd (behind Botvinnik and Capablanca, equal with Fine and Reshevsky, ahead of Alekhine, Lasker, adn Flohr, among others). If not for his blunder against Lasker, Euwe would have tied for first.

Bad Nauheim-Stuttgart-Garmisch 1937: Euwe 1st (ahead of Bogoljubow, Alekhine, and Saemisch)

Mar-09-07  Calli: Great! I haven't added anything to my Game Collection: Alekhine was drunk! lately. :-)
Mar-09-07  shalgo: <Calli> I love the collection!
Mar-10-07  M. Shaune: When Max Euwe was world champion he played Alekhine. He should have. When Alekhine was world champion he played Max Euwe, when he should have played Capablanca. Euwe was undoubtedly one of the strongest challengers out there, but 'thee' challeger needs to be the strongest one or the championship match to me seems second rate. Ofcourse, not getting the 2 best players together has happened all too many times in the past. I always thought that Akiba Rubinstein deserved a shot in his day.
Mar-10-07  CapablancaFan: <M. Shaune> <<<<<When Max Euwe was world champion he played Alekhine. He should have. When Alekhine was world champion he played Max Euwe, when he should have played Capablanca. Euwe was undoubtedly one of the strongest challengers out there, but 'thee' challeger needs to be the strongest one or the championship match to me seems second rate. Ofcourse, not getting the 2 best players together has happened all too many times in the past. I always thought that Akiba Rubinstein deserved a shot in his day.>>>>>

Exactly correct. Alekhine would'nt give Capa a rematch, but Euwe gave Alekhine a chance. Rubinstein was probably one of the strongest players ever never to be world champion. I read somewhere once he came close to playing for the world championship but had trouble raising the funds.

Mar-10-07  shalgo: For the record, I'm not saying that Alekhine shouldn't have given Capablanca a rematch. Clearly he should have. It's just that Euwe always seems to get less respect than he should.
Mar-10-07  CapablancaFan: <shalgo> Probably because most people feel Euwe's title win was more a fluke than anything. Generally Euwe is not considered a better player than Alekhine, but it is widely known Alekhine had a problem with the bottle during this period. In the rematch Alekhine "sobered up" and played with renewed energy and vigor. Euwe was a great player, but the best? Hmmm...
Mar-10-07  drukenknight: This drunk stories about Alekhine I find ridiculous. If you play through the Alek/Euwe games I think you feel find they played one of the greatest matches ever. Go ahead and stick it on the computer and see for yourself. I certainly think for the overall two matche, the games are more consistently better that the Fischer/Spassky match which has some dreadful Spassky games in the middle.
Mar-11-07  M. Shaune: I do not believe that Alekhine was drunk when he played the first match with Euwe. It would have been the hangovers and the lack of mental sharpness that is associated with it that lead to his defeat most probably. Being an alchoholic, it is suprizing that Alekhine was as great as he was. Also, what explains Euwe's 6 point defeat in the 2nd match when Alekhine made an effort to lay off the 'sauce'.
Mar-11-07  paladin at large: Alekhine's drinking during the 1935 match was obvious enough that it came to public light. Fine reported that before one game in that match Alekhine was found lying in a field drunk. Whether he was still drunk at the board for that particular game or just hungover - who knows. I agree that it is remarkable how great he was as an alcoholic.

Why he drank so much is probably due to compound reasons, e.g. (1) his apparent sexual inadequacy and (2) deep insecurity vis a vis Capablanca. Alekhine could not tolerate the mention of his name, apart from his avoidance of tournament play with him. I suspect that gaining the world championship did not bring the satisfaction that Alekhine expected it would, in part because of his refusal to play Capablanca, and the constant expectation and hope of the chess world to the mid-1930s that they would have a rematch, plus the high profile that Capablanca enjoyed as an active and very successful (through 1936) ex-champion. Capablanca's native-English language and social skills also helped him maintain a popularity in the English speaking world that Alekhine could not match.

Mar-11-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Fine reported that before one game in that match Alekhine was found lying in a field drunk.>

Source? Fine doesn't count. He is about as reliable as Sam Sloan in these matters.

Mar-11-07  setebos: Alekhine drank because he was Russian. (Occam`s razor) Now you can make up all the other reasons :-)>
Mar-12-07  paladin at large: Yes, you can add the Russian reason for drinking. But how many top Russian masters are alcoholics?

I agree that Fine is a shaky source when he does not provide specifics (sometimes he does) and he did not in the quote I cited. However, Alekhine's behavior during the 1935 match achieved notoriety, quite apart from Fine, whatever the real details were.

Since you all liked the last quote, here is another one from Fine: "In one case he (Alekhine) appeared at an exhibition so drunk that he began to urinate on the floor, and the exhibition had to be stopped." I have no idea when or where that was; maybe Calli knows.

This is from Fine's terrible book "The Psychology of the Chess Player".

Mar-12-07  laskereshevsky: <...."In one case he (Alekhine) appeared at an exhibition so drunk that he began to urinate on the floor, and the exhibition had to be stopped."....>

Maybe in the same ALKHINE-EUWE 1935 match?!

Mar-12-07  laskereshevsky: <...."In one case he (Alekhine)....began to urinate on the floor."....>

or maybe was the ALEKHINE'S manager message in code for suggest him a move....

..........:-)

Mar-12-07  drukenknight: The sexual inadequancy part is quite true and well documented. Many of the best chess players of the day (Capa. Euwe, Alekhine) preferred to open from the q-side: 1 d4. This leads to many non confrontational and positional type of games that are considered femine strategies in nature as opposed to the masculine attack based: SPanish and Italian systems based on 1 e4. Whether these players were actually homosexual or were merely transgendered has never been fully explained as such things were not openly talked discussed owing to the mores of the times.
Mar-12-07  Tomlinsky: <drukenknight> I'll never be able to look at Reti's Opening again without blushing.
Mar-12-07  setebos: That is just what we needed,Freudian psychobabble,mixed with gender politics. I suggest you add a dash of Marxism to the brew :-)
Mar-12-07  outplayer: <paladin at large><Capablanca's native-English language and social skills also helped him maintain a popularity in the English speaking world that Alekhine could not match.> Cubans speak spanish.
Mar-12-07  Calli: "This is from Fine's terrible book"

Exactly. Almost nothing in the book is true. Why would you believe this story? Fine gives no sources, dates or places. According to Moran, AA was in bad shape for several simuls in the forties, but I don't think there is any truth at all to the repeated "wisdom" about '35 match. Kmoch (director), Euwe and the seconds reported nothing in the way drunkeness. The press also appeared to silent up to a certain point. Yes, there were actually hundreds of people and reporters who attended the match. Would you have me believe that no one saw or reported a falling down drunk urinating on the floor? Or Alyehkin being dragged out of field into the playing hall? The rumors seem to start with the 21st game, sometimes called the "Incident at Ermelo" because AA arrived late for the game. I think that game, a turning point in the match, was really about something else and as DrunkenKnight says, something Euwe odesn't get credit for.

Mar-12-07  CapablancaFan: <paladin at large> Capa's native language was Spanish, although he did eventually learn to speak English and French. <Calli> Are you suggesting Alekhine didn't have a drinking problem or do you feel it didn't play a role in his match with Euwe? Euwe deserved his win , but Alekhine wasn't on his game. Many chess historians suggest alcohol maybe played a role. Do you believe this assesment to be unfair?
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