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Alexander Alekhine vs Nicolai Eugen Schwartz
"Pawn of the Devil" (game of the day Jul-09-2011)
Simul, 28b (1926) (blindfold), Gambit Cafe, London ENG, Jan-15
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto. Karlsbad Variation (E62)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Sep-19-07  Mortadulo: This game cements my beliefs that Alekhine is one of the greatest chess heros of all time.

I also stumbled across this post by Hidden Skillz which gives interesting insight to his incredible memory...

~~Aug-03-07 Hidden Skillz: found this quite interesting info on chessbase

In C.N. 3369 Yasser Seirawan (Amsterdam) reported that Najdorf had told him a similar story about playing Alekhine, but with some different details:

‘The Polish club, he claimed, deliberately annoyed Alekhine by announcing that only 20 players had paid for the privilege to participate, and Alekhine insisted on being paid the agreed fee despite having only half the field. Reluctantly, the club directors agreed and proposed that Alekhine play ten games by sight and ten blindfold. Alekhine agreed. The club then snuck all the best players into the blindfold room and put ten patzers on the games that Alekhine could view. Just as the club directors had contrived, Alekhine had a terrible time. He wiped out the players he could see and sat racking his brains on the blindfold games, where the masters were in ambush.

Concerning his own game, Najdorf told me he was on the black side of a Sicilian in which the players had castled on opposite wings. Alekhine was breaking through when Najdorf uncorked the standard …Rc8xc3 exchange sacrifice. Alekhine had seen that shot and did not bother to recapture the rook, pursuing his own attack instead. The move he had missed was the follow-up …Rc3xa3, and Najdorf’s attack was first and decisive.

Najdorf added that many years later he had hosted Alekhine in a drinking bout in Buenos Aires. They both got thoroughly drunk. In a toast Najdorf declared Alekhine the greatest chess player ever but added, “Just remember: our score is one draw and one win in my favor”. Alekhine maintained that even if drunk he knew that their score was one draw. Najdorf then reminded Alekhine of the Polish display, and Alekhine said, “Are you the one who gave me …Rxa3?” Najdorf was astounded at Alekhine’s memory, even when he was intoxicated.’

Jul-18-08  notyetagm: Position after 41 b6xc7

click for larger view

Did anyone in the history of chess use this <PASSED PAWN VERSUS KNIGHT TRICK> more than Alekhine?

Jul-25-08  mmmsplay10: If i had ever gotten to the ending position in alekhines spot, I probably would have messed it up by playing Kf6 stalemate instead Kf4.

Jan-27-10  ChessApplet: Wow 30.Kg2!,34.c5!,36.Qc3!
May-27-10  Oliphaunt: His blindfold simultaneous displays are even more admirable when you consider that

"In 1916, Alekhine served on the Austrian front as head of a mobile dressing station. Alekhine suffered twice from shell shock while on the front line, and, for a time, was hospitalized in Tarnopol." -CG bio

Jul-09-11  Oceanlake: Th Black b8 knight makes five moves to stalemate itself.
Jul-09-11  apexin: wow.. im speechless
Jul-09-11  Garech: Whilst playing out this game I thought it was a superb strategical display; great middlegame play and a nice and accurate endgame - then I saw that it was blindfold!

I agree with the comments above; Alekhine is truly one of the greats.


Jul-09-11  JamesT Kirk: 1st: 15.../Bc6?!
2nd: 18.../Na6??!
Jul-09-11  sfm: Stunning. The 38.Qxe5!! combi wins on a single tempo, because of the fact that 44.c7 threatens the rook. Had the rook been on, say, f8, Black wins.
Jul-09-11  howlwolf: This is the kind of game that keeps me coming back to CG everyday for my fix and those days were the pun overrides the chess sometimes annoys a little. Game is unbelievably brilliant and the Najdorf story fantastic as well.(Thanks CG correspondants, some of them.)But Pawn of the Devil is up there with puns of the year as well. Good work, CG, you hit it out of the park, to use the one major sport's metaphor, that still looks like it will be in play during the others traditional opening day. If I offended any hockey fans, we don't do that in Louisiana.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: white queens twice...will do so again!
Jul-09-11  BobCrisp: Sorry, <Najdorf>, I don't believe a word of that story but it does raise a point I read about the other day - <Larsen>'s claim that the <standard Rc8xc3 exchange sacrifice> in the Sicilian was unknown in <Alekhine's> day. Can anyone point out examples of this sac in high level games from the 1920s/30s?
Jul-09-11  drnooo: all in all , however very likely that Alekhine had no better memory than Pillsbury. Memory serves, of course.Could be wrong.
Jul-09-11  drnooo: also I have posted this before, never got any confirmation: memory serves again, but seems to me Alex one said that he did not crisply visualize all the board but only got it in sections: rather like Koltonowski if that is so then his blindfold play was pure memory, shifting this and that section about for one game, ok, but a trainload of them all over the sectionyard now THAT's incredible I have yet to see anyone post anything here about any survey even among current masters how they see things in sections, whole, hazily very clearly my hunch is it varies my other hunch is what Seirawan told about Naidorf was right: no lie, that Alekhine did recall the game any defeat of his was burned into him in searing detail no matter from whom
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <BobCrisp: Sorry, <Najdorf>, I don't believe a word of that story but it does raise a point I read about the other day - <Larsen>'s claim that the <standard Rc8xc3 exchange sacrifice> in the Sicilian was unknown in <Alekhine's> day. Can anyone point out examples of this sac in high level games from the 1920s/30s?>

Taken literally, Larsen's statement seems odd in the light of games like E Schultz vs Alekhine, 1914.

But I think the emphasis should be on the word <standard>. The ...Rxc3 sacrifice to win the e-pawn and shatter White's queenside was old hat in Alekhine's day. But it was afterward that the strategy became part of Black's standard counterplay in the Sicilian, particularly the Dragon, and received more of a theoretical underpinning instead of being something that just happened to pop up in the course of a game.

And, with all due respect the Najorf, the classic ...Rxc3-...Ra3 game of all time has to be Pillsbury vs Lasker, 1895

Jul-09-11  BobCrisp: Hmm, I see this discussion has form.
Jul-09-11  SirChrislov: Just another "Alekhine dropping his big cojones on another NN" game.

No seriously, this game is overwhelming.

Jul-09-11  Yodaman: If black plays 43...c4 what does white do?

I think if white continues as in the game then black's pawn will be just one move fast enough to beat the bishop to the back row for a queen.

Oh wait, never mind, 43.Be6! threatens Bxf5, which can defend the c2 square in time before the black pawn gets there. That's why black played 43...Kg6, not 43...c4, and this one extra tempo allows white to get his bishop to d3 literally just in time before black's pawn gets to c2.

<That Alekhine could see the incredible 10-move combination from 34 c5! through 43 Be6!, including 38 Qxe5!!, in a <blindfold simultaneous display> is nothing short of astonishing. It must be one of the all-time greatest chess feats.>

I agree, although actually his feat is probably even greater than that as he had to be sure that he could get his bishop back in time to defend the pawn. So he must have seen all the way up to 48.Bd3 preventing 48...c2 all before playing 34.c5!

While the last few moves aren't difficult to calculate, he still did have to calculate the full 15 moves ahead before proceeding. Quite impressive indeed.

Jul-09-11  Yodaman: White could have won with 37.Qd3 as well.

Play as black from 33..gxf5 onwards and watch how Crafty beats you differently than Alekhine beat Schwartz:

While I'm not sure what black's best moves are after Crafty's line, I think I like Alekhine's sacrifice better.

Jul-09-11  Yodaman: <White could have won with 37.Qd3 as well.

Play as black from 33..gxf5 onwards and watch how Crafty beats you differently than Alekhine beat Schwartz:

While I'm not sure what black's best moves are after Crafty's line, I think I like Alekhine's sacrifice better.>

Black's best move according to Crafty is to play 37...Rf8 followed by 38.Qc3 Re8 39. Qd3 Rf8 40.Qc3 drawn by repetition!

I take back what I said, 37.Qd3 does not win also. The Crafty chess program on couldn't find the win that Alekhine found blindfolded, but instead settles for the draw! Wow, go Alekhine!

Jul-09-11  Yodaman: Have Crafty play against itself and draw starting with 33.exf5. Here are both sides of the board:

Jul-09-11  WhiteRook48: those are AMAZING passed pawn tactics. Bravo to Alekhine!
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: Blindfold Simul brilliancy played in the <Gambit Chess Rooms> club in London.

<Alekhine> played 28 boards, with two blindfolded.

He won both blindfold games, and his overall score +22 =4 -2.

He lost to C. Damant and E. Bazell

May-30-12  ForeverYoung: the combination starting with 34 c5! and culminating with 43 Be6! is amazing! Now take into account it was done blindfold ...!
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