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Fred Dewhirst Yates vs Alexander Alekhine
New York (1924), New York, NY USA, rd 1, Mar-16
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Modern Steinitz Defense (C72)  ·  0-1

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Kibitzer's Corner
May-12-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: This game was played in the first round at New York, 1924. In the summary for the first round, it was stated that Yates was outplayed, but missed a continuation which might have made it exceedingly difficult for Alekhine to realize his material advantage. A review of the game shows that several opportunities were missed by both Yates and Alekhine.

In the opening Yates obtained the advantage, and at move 9 Fritz preferred: (.74) (20 ply) 9.d5 Nb8 10.Bc2 0-0 11.Na3 a5 12.Qe2 Na6 13.Nc4. Yates's move: (.54) (20 ply) 9.dxe5, also favored White.

On his 10th move, Yates again missed the best continuation: (.57) (20 ply) 10.Nbd2 h6 11.Be3 Nc8 12.Qe2 Nd6 13.Rfd1, and after: (.24) (20 ply) 10.Qd3 Na5 11.Bxd7+ Qxd7 12.Qxd7+ Kxd7 13.Nbd2, or 10.Qd3 h6 11.Be3 Na5 12.Bxd7+ Qxd7 13.Qxd7+ Kxd7 14.Nbd2, White would have had only a minimal advantage.

Instead of 11...Na5, Alekhine played 11...Bg4, which, according to Fritz, gave a small advantage to White 12.Qe2 0-0 13.Nbd2.

Alekhine stated that 13.Bc5 was best for White and that Yates's 13.Nbd2 was a <...harmless developing move, on the contrary, leads him strangely enough to a serious disadvantage>. Fritz does not agree with Alekhine's evaluation.

Better at move 13 was: (.55) (22 ply) 13...Nc8 14.h3 Bd7 15.Rad1 Qe7. Instead, Alekhine played 13...f5.

Fritz indicates that after 13...f5 14.Bc5 Bf6 15.Bb3+, or as in the game 13...f5 14 h3 Bh5, White still has some advantage: (.63) (20 ply) 15.Bb3+ Kh8 16.Bc5 b6.

After 13...f5 14.h3 Bh5, White also could play with advantage 15.Bc5 or 15.Rad1.

Alekhine stated that after 13...f5 14.h3 Bh5 15.Bc5, then 15...fxe4 16.Qxe4 Rf4 17.Qc2 e4. However, White can improve in this line by, 16.Nxe4 Bxf3 17.gxf3 Qd7 18.Kh2 (1.28) (20 ply) 18...Rf4 19.Rad1.

Yates then erred with 16.exf5? gxf5 17.g4. Alekhine stated 16.exf5 gxf5 17.g4 was the most effective method for White to eliminate the annoying pin. It eliminated the pin, but it also gave the advantage to Black.

As noted by Alekhine, 18.Nh2 was a better choice:, (-.54) (20 ply) 18.Nh2 Bg6 (better than Alekhine's 18...Nd5) 19.Qxg4 Na5, than 18.Ne1 (-.74) (20 ply) 18.Ne1 Qc8 19.Ne4 Bg6 20.Nc5 gxh3.

The players then exchanged several good moves. At move 25, Alekhine stated that Black would be able to realize without difficulty his superiority in material after: <25.Qxg5 hxg5 26.Rxg5 Rf6 27.Bd5 Rd8>. Fritz indicates there would be considerable difficulties after: (-.42) (20 ply) 28.Rh5+ Rh6 29.Rxh6+ Bxh6 30.Be4 Rd2 31.Nd3 Bf8 32.Rg1 (-.33) (20 ply) 32...Bd6 33.Rg5.

Instead of playing 25.Qxg5!, Yates's 25.Qh3? was a serious error. After 25...Qf6, he should have tried (-1.02) (20 ply) 26.Nd3 Rad8 27.Nc5. Black's winning chances are increased after (-1.33) (20 ply) 26.Bd5? Rad8 27.Be4 Qf4.

At his 26th move Alekhine missed 26...Rad8!, and gave up most of his advantage with 26...Ne7?. Yates's 27.Be4 then set the stage for what could have been one of the most dramatic endings in chess history.

May-12-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: On his 27th move Alekhine noted that 27...Qf4 would be futile for winning on account of 28.Bxb7, followed by Nd3. Fritz gives the following line: (-.61) (20 ply) 27...Qf4 28.Bxb7 Rad8 (if 28...Rb8 29.Nd3) 29.Rg4 Qd2 30.Nf3 Qxb2 31.Rxg7 Nf5 32.Be4 Qxa1+ 33.Rg1 Rd1, (-.50) (20 ply) 34.Bxf5 Rxg1+ 35.Nxg1 Qc1 36.Be4.

However, after 27...Qf4, Black would still have had some advantage. By playing 27...Nf5?, the position was almost equal.

Alekhine correctly noted that 28.Nf3?? was an error, <After this mistake, the struggle comes to an early end.>.

Instead of the losing 28.Nf3??, Alekhine recommended 28.Nd3!, indicating it would set Black a difficult problem, but that after 28...Rad1 29.Rad1 b6 30.b4 Rd6 31.Rg4 h5 32.Qxh5+ Qh6, he would have had a winning position.

Alekhine made several errors in this variation. Fritz indicates the position is nearly equal after 27...Nf5 28.Nd3 Rad8 29.Raf1 Qh4 30.Qxh4 Nxh4 31.Rxf8+ Rxf8 32.Bxb7, or 29.Rg4 Nd6 30.Rg6 Nxe4 31.Rxf6 Rxf6 32.Qg2 Rxd3 33.Qxe4.

In Alekhine's variation, 29...b6?, allows 30.Rgf1! with advantage for White. After 30.b4?, Black should play 30...Nh4! with advantage. After 30...Rd6?, White should play 31.Rgf1! with advantage. After 31.Rg4?, Black can play 31...Ne7! with advantage. after 31...h5?, White can win with 32.Rdg1!.

After 28.Nf3?? Nd6, the position was winning for Black. Yates then played 29.Bd5. Alekhine noted, <Losing a piece. What follows is sheer desperation.> Alekhine then played what he expected was the winning move, 29...c6??. Actually, 29...c6??, could have been the losing move, for Alekhine!!

Necessary instead was: 29...Qf5!, (-1.51) (22 ply) 30.Qg2 Bf6 31.Qh2 Qf4 32.Qxf4 exf4, (-1.49) (21 ply) 33.Rg6 Kh7 34.Rag1 Rae8 35.Bb3 Re2 36.R6g2 Rxg2 37.Kxg2, (-1.63) (18 ply) 37...Re8 38.Bc2+ Kh8 39.Kf2 Ne4+ 40.Bxe4 Rxe4, and Black is winning.

Alekhine's evaluation of the position after 29...c6?? was incorrect.


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White has available the stunning move 30.Nh4!!.

What a sensational move! I wonder what the expression would have been on Alekhine's face had Yates played 30.Nh4!!. The tables are turned. It is now White who has the winning chances!

Here are some possible variations after 30.Nh4!!: (1.40) (27 ply) 30...cxd5 31.Raf1 Qxf1 32.Rxf1, (1.52) (26 ply) 32...Rf1+ 33.Qxf1, (1.23) (25 ply) 33...Rd8 34.Qf3 e4 35.Qh3 Nf7 36.Qe6 Ng5 37.Qe7 Rg8, (2.03) (26 ply) 38.Qxb7 e3 39.Qe7 Ne4 40.Ng6+ Kh7 41.Nf4 e2 42.Nxe2.

Another variation is: 30.Nh4!! (1.45) (27 ply) 30...Rad8 31.Raf1 Qxf1 32.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 33.Qxf1 cxd5, (1.53) (25 ply) 34.Qf3 e4 35.Qh3, (1.91) (27 ply) 35...Nc4 36.Qe6 Rd6 37.Qe8+ Kh7 38.Nf5 Rf6 39.Qd7 Kg6 40.Ne7+ Kh7 41.Nxd5, (2.62) (23 ply) 41...Rf8 42.Qg4 Nd6 43.Qe6 Nf5 44.Qxe4 Kg8 45.Qe6+ Rf7 46.Kg2 Bf8 47.Kh3 Kg7 48.Nf4.

A third variation: 30.Nh4!! (1.54) (27 ply) 30...Rae8 31.Raf1 Qxf1 32.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 33.Qxf1 cxd5 34.Qg2, (1.81) (26 ply) 34...Bf6 35.Qg6 Bxh4 36.Qxh6+ Kg8, (1.99) (25 ply) 37.Qxd6 Re7 38.Qxd5+ Kg7 39.Qe4 Bg5 40.c4 Kf6 41.c5, (2.24) (26 ply) 41...Kg7 42.Kg2 Bf4 43.Kf3 Kf6 44.Qd5 Kf5 45.b4 Bg5 (3.47) (22 ply) 46.a4 Kg6 47.c6 bxc6 48.Qxc6+ Kf5 49.Qxa6.

A fourth variation: 30.Nh4!! (1.53) (27 ply) 30...Nf7 31.Ng6+ Kh7 32.Nxf8+ Rxf8 33.Raf1 Ng5 34.Qd3+ Qg6 35.Qxg6+ Kxg6 36.Be4+ Kh5 37.Bf5, (1.95) (25 ply) 37...a5 38.Rf2 Rxf5 39.Rxf5 a4 40.Rd1 a3, (2.48) (22 ply) Rd7 axb2 42.Rxb7 e4 43.Rxb2 Bxc3 44.Rc2 Be1 45.Rxc6.

White is winning in all of the above variations after 30.Nh4!!. Some improvements may be found, but I think it will be very difficult to find a saving line for Black after the move 30.Nh4!!.

May-12-09  CharlesSullivan: Hi <Pawn and Two>:
You might want to compare your analysis with mine:
http://www.truechess.com/web/blinda...

(Yates-Alekhine is near the top of the little menu on the left) We seem to agree pretty much, as usual!
Charles Sullivan

May-13-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <CharlesSullivan> Thanks for the link to your analysis site. I will enjoy reviewing your analysis for these interesting games. I note that you have reviewed a lot of games that Alekhine orginally reviewed. For an upcoming project, I suggest that you review his analysis for the games from the 1927 New York tournament.
May-13-09  CharlesSullivan: <Pawn and Two: For an upcoming project, I suggest that you review his analysis for the games from the 1927 New York tournament.>

That is on my (very) long list of things to do. I only have a copy of the German version of that book. I wish I could read German so I could see if he slanted his commentary against Capablanca (which has been alleged).

Aug-05-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Turns out that 30.Nh4! is not a new suggestion. C.N. 7746 points out that the move was attributed to Frank Marshall in Chess Review in Dec 1938. I wonder if AA ever saw the analysis.
Oct-13-16  RookFile: The game had some similarities to the King's Indian Defense. The center was more open than the locked King's Indian structure. I think this gave white more opportunities.
Nov-08-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  kbob: According to Serper (Chess.com Nov 4, 2019) this game precipitated an incredible cascade of chess blindness. In his book "International Chess Tournaments in New York 1924 and 1927" Alekhine annotated 5.d4 b5 6.Bb3 Nxd4 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Qxd4 c5 9.Qd5 Be6 10.Qc6+ Bd7 11.Qd5 Be6(??) as a draw for black. Two years later Steiner, quite possibly relying on Alekhine's authority played the variation with white and was promptly smashed by Capablanca. In deference to Serper I also will not give away the blunder outright, but in case someone needs a collossal hint it's literally the oldest trick in the book! There is also a story that a young Anand blindly followed a game from the Informant only to be crushed in the opening. It turned out the game had been a prearranged draw between grandmasters. One blundered, but the other made a draw just to honor their agreement.
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