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Eugene Znosko-Borovsky vs Alexander Alekhine
Paris (1933), Paris FRA, rd 4, Oct-22
Spanish Game: Closed. Kecskemet Variation (C79)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-30-05  acirce: Selected comments from Shereshevsky's "Endgame Strategy", starting at the position after 15..fxe5:

<This ending is highly instructive. The position appears to be a 'dead' draw. It is hard to imagine that, without the opponent blundering, one of the sides can hope for success. But that is exactly what happened. Let us hand the word over to Alekhine himself:

"The play in this ending is by no means so simple as it appears - especially for White. Black's plan, which will prove completely successful, consists of the following parts: (1) exchange one pair of rooks; (2) transfer the king to e6 where, being defended by the e-pawn, it can prevent the invasion at d7 by the remaining White rook; (3) operating with the rook on the open g-file and advancing the h-pawn, force the opening of the h-file; (4) after this White's king, and possibly his bishop, will be tied to the defence of h1 and h2 against invasion by the rook; (5) Black meanwhile, by advancing his a- and b-pawns, will sooner or later also open one of the files on the Q-side; (6) since at this point his king will still be on the opposite wing, White will be unable to prevent the invasion of the first or second rank by the black rook. It must be admitted that, had White from the very beginning realized that there was a real danger of him losing this ending, by careful defence he might have been able to save the game. But what happened was that Black played according to a definite plan, whereas White played only with the conviction that the game was bound to end in a draw. The result was an instructive series of typical patterns and stratagems, much more useful to students of the game than the so-called 'brilliances' of short one-sided games."

To Alekhine's words we can add that this deeply conceived active plan is based on the principle of two weaknesses. The first weakness of White's position will be the occupation by the black rook of the h-file, the invasion squares along which White succeeds in covering with his king. The second and decisive weakness becomes the open file on the Q-side, where the invasion cannot be prevented. It should also be mentioned that a part of any plan is the centralization of the king.>

17.Kf1? <After the correct 17.f4! White's chances would have been in no way worse.>

22..Rg8! <Black confidently carries out his plan. Three stages are already complete. It is unfavourable for White to prevent the advance of the rook's pawn by h2-h4, due to ..Rg4.>

27.Kf1 <The first weakness has been created, and White's king and bishop are tied to defending against the threats of the black rook. Now the decisive stage of the game commences. Black embarks on his Q-side pawn offensive.>

28..b5! <Starting the attack. If White plays passively there will follow ..c5, ..c4, ..a5, ..b4 etc. But this would have been a lesser evil than that which occurs in the game.>

32..Ra8 <The triumph of Black's strategy! His plan has been carried out. White has acquired a second weakness: the a-file occupied by the black rook. But the game is not yet over.>

33..Ra3! <Very strong.>

46..e4! <This energetic realization of his advantage is typical of Alekhine.>

Oct-30-05  Hesam7: "Endgame Strategy" defenitely one of my favorite books.
Nov-01-05  acirce: Yeah, by focusing so much on techniques it complements other types of endgame books like Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual very well.
Nov-02-05  Hesam7: <acirce> nice point, I agree. I have both and they are very interesting books but to be honest I prefer Shereshevsky.

A question, I do not have "School of Chess Excellence: Endgame Analysis" do you have it? If yes do you have any comments on it? What are its differences with "Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual"?

Nov-02-05  acirce: No, I don't have it, although I've been considering buying it.
Dec-18-06  micartouse: 14 ... gxf6! is a courageous move in the sense that Alekhine ignores the concept of "pawn island theory". He's only interested in the superior activity of his rook.

By the time White gets his 22. Rd1 in, Alekhine has already killed its play, so he doesn't bother contesting its control of the d-file. A very beautiful endgame.

Jul-09-07  sanyas: "It must be admitted that, had White from the very beginning realized that there was a real danger of him losing this ending, by careful defence he might have been able to save the game. But what happened was that Black played according to a definite plan, whereas White played only with the conviction that the game was bound to end in a draw. The result was an instructive series of typical patterns and stratagems, much more useful to students of the game than the so-called 'brilliances' of short one-sided games."

Indeed. And this is coming from Alekhine himself, mark you.

Jun-19-08  ToTheDeath: A few thoughts on this interesting game-

1) 10.d5 Nb8 11.Bxe8 Qxe8 12.Nf1 followed by c4 and Ng3 seems like a safe way to play for an edge.

2) In his notes Alekhine doesn't mention the strong possibility 13.Qb3! avoiding the queen trade and eyeing the b7 pawn. After 13...Bc6 14.Nxc6 White has ruined Black's pawn structure.

3) The rest of the game shows the difference in class between the two opponents, a modern top player would have little difficulty holding the draw.

Jan-17-09  Morphischer: This endgame analyzed here
Apr-10-09  whiteshark: Owning the central d-file from move 22 onwards was without any results for White.

By contrast Black opened h-file and a-file for his rook to get access to White's camp.

Apr-16-15  Mating Net: Alekhine played this ending so well that I thought Magnus had the Black pieces. As mentioned previously, 14...gxf6 was a nice departure from dogma regarding pawn islands.
Apr-16-15  perfessor: This game made a great impression on me when I first studied it 40 years ago. I admit that it took me a long time to grasp the significance of the "exchange one pair of rooks" comment.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <Let us think about how modern chess goes.

Assume we have two players of similar strength.

Say, Leko versus Topalov.

One thinks up a plan, the other sees this plan and thinks up a counter plan.

One player gets a small advantage, then comes up with a new plan and the opponent, in turn, comes up with a new counter plan.

Eventually, time trouble sets in, and the logical course of the game is broken.

It is not easy for an inexperienced player to come to grips with such a game, indeed, even for a near master to do so.

But with the old classics it was different.

If we have, say, Alekhine playing Tartakower, then the difference in class makes itself felt.

Alekhine's plan goes smoothly like a knife through butter, because Tartakower does not understand what is going on and does not prevent the plan from being affected.

In this way, the whole plan lies before one's eyes in a pure form.

Against contemporary top GM's, one never sees such a clear picture, because their strength and defensive capabilities are so much greater.

So one's first lessons in strategy and planning need to come from the classics.

~ Mikhail Shereshevsky>

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