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Alexander Alekhine vs Vladas Mikenas
Folkestone Olympiad (1933), Folkestone ENG, rd 10, Jun-19
Formation: Hippopotamus (A00)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-02-07  Dr. Siggy: Reuben Fine, "The Ideas Behind The Chess Openings", 2nd edition, New York 1948, pp. 228-9:

"There are many players who feel that they can beat a 'bookish' opponent by adopting some bizarre opening never before seen on land or sea. On occasion they are successful, chiefly because the flustered 'bookworm' feels that anything unorthodox should be defeated in at most ten moves.

"The reason why such upsets occur is not that the 'books' are wrong, but that they must confine themselves to the refutation of plausibles replies. For really bad moves can always be refuted by general principles.

"The most fundamental general principles are those which teach us to develop and control the center. Where one side is allowed to get all his pieces out while the other moves about aimlessly, or where a crushing pawn center is permitted, an overwhelming superiority is created. That is the case in this irregular openings.

"In a sense irregular openings belong to the middle game rather than to the openings. For once one side sets up pawns at d4 and e4, or gets an appreciable lead in development he has a clear advantage and the opening problem is solved. There are however two mistakes frequently seen in such cases: the superior side exposes his pawns too much, or he attacks prematurely. But with normal care there should be no difficulties. Of course, once a plus in development or center is set up, a well-conducted attack will decide.

"A model example of the treatment of a fairly reasonable irregular opening runs as follows [...]. Note how White keeps Black cramped, prepares an attack slowly but surely. In the future he can proceed on either side."

Jul-17-08  Amarande: 12 ... a6??

Why this move? This pawn eventually becomes weak, and it's what allows White to completely tamp down on Black with 17 a5! (Also in this light, why did Black play 16 ... Nf8? instead of 16 ... c5! which was his last chance to do so?)

25 ... Nc8 seems like a lemon too, allowing White to trade off Black's only real defender of the black squares. Why not 25 ... Rc8 to contest the file as it opens? The Knight only becomes a problem later when it moves on to a7, and is the reason Black can no longer maintain material equality after 34 Qb6 (intending Nc5, and if Qxb6 35 axb6 and the Knight is trapped!).

Jul-26-08  Hector Maluy: Black's pieces were in the wrong squares. Maybe 1)..g6 was not his best opening defense. People should not be afraid of 1)..e5 in response to 1)e4.
Jul-27-08  Amarande: To be certain, Black's pieces were indeed badly placed; however, 1 ... g6 itself is hardly to blame; the Robatsch has a tendency in many cases to lead to pawn structures similar to the King's Indian, and the KID is considered one of Black's strongest defenses against 1 d4.

A common error, which I did not touch on here and which becomes apparent in relation to Black's strength in the KID versus his weakness in this and similar games (e.g. the gruesome fate suffered by J. von Patay as Black against Przepiorka in 1926; I can't seem to find this game in the DB) would perhaps be Black's eventual decision to play ... d5.

Counter to apparent principle (which tells us not to block the fianchettoed Bishop) the proper course of action is actually to maintain the d6-e5 vs. d5-e4 pawn chain! This is the structure seen in the KID, and tends to be quite strong for Black - it ensures he has kingside counterplay via ... f5.

Meanwhile in the case as here and in Przepiorka-Patay (as well as other games that do not involve a fianchetto - L Forgacs vs Tartakower, 1909 comes to mind), a stable d4-e5 vs. d5-e6 pawn chain for White is bad news for Black. His only counterplay is via ...c5, which can sometimes (as in this game) be prevented, and even when successful (e.g., in the Forgacs-Tartakower game) is frequently inadequate against the White King's side storm to which Black has very limited defense much of the time.

An indication of how the e5 thrust might have helped Black: 13 ... e5 (instead of 13 ... d5 simply allowing the Bishop into d6 and beginning the ruin of the black squares) 14 dxe5 Nxe5 15 Nxe5 dxe5 16 Qxd8 Rxd8 17 Bg3 Kg8, and while White has a slight advantage in development (Black's light squared bishop has not been deployed yet) it appears that any real advantage he has is slight at best.

Aug-29-08  Dr. Siggy: <Amarande>: "Also unsatisfactory was 11. ... e5 12. dxe5 dxe5 (in case of retaking with pieces on e5, Black would, after the exchange of Queens, finally lose his f-pawn) 13. ♗e3 . ♗ut by playing 11. ... ♘b6 12. ♗d3 a5, ♗lack could obtain a comparatively steadier position than after the compromising pawn move that he actually chose." (Alekhine).
Aug-23-09  BadKnight: doesn't 41...Nh4 just drop a piece?
Oct-05-09  Amarande: <BadKnight> That it does; it was pretty much a desperate spite check in view of the fact that Black's position is utterly shot by this point.

If nothing else, White will win the e-pawn (as he does a couple of moves later anyway), as it cannot be defended (if 41 ... Kf7 42 Rf1+ drives the King, and if 41 ... Nf8 42 Rh6 attacks it again, it can be covered again only by 42 ... Rg6 but then the exchange on g6 tears away a defender), after which soon the d-pawn will fall as well with the game being in the bag easily with the simple march of the resulting White passed pawns. Black's pieces can barely move at all without even worse loss, so there is no resistance to any of this.

Mikenas could probably have resigned at move 40 or 41, but I suppose a spirit of chessic inertia kept him going a few additional moves that did not change the result. This tendency to play a small number of extra moves in a hopelessly lost position seems to be common, even in master play.

Dec-11-10  sevenseaman: High quality, no-nonsense power play by the old master.
Premium Chessgames Member

For the second Chess Olympiad in a row, <Alekhine> garnered the Gold Medal playing first board for France, scoring +8 =3 -1.

He lost only to <Tartakower> in the following game:

Alekhine vs Tartakower, 1933

Feb-04-20  ndg2: Positional powerplant by AA. Instinctively he develops the right plan against an opening which ideas were fairly new still at that time.

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