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Harry Borochow vs Reuben Fine
Pasadena (1932), Pasadena, CA USA, rd 9, Aug-25
Alekhine Defense: Two Pawn Attack (B02)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-08-02  pawntificator: Irving Chernev claims Fine resigned before making his 7th move. This game shows the importance of rapid development.
Dec-08-02  PVS: Does he give a hypothetical finish?
Dec-08-02  pawntificator: No, he just says white wins a piece.
Jun-11-03  Infohunter: Well, I see it's been a good six months since this discussion took place. Nevertheless, I'd like to put my two cents in here.

Not only Chernev, but a lot of other writers as well, have given only the first seven moves of this game, as though that had been all there was to it. One writer (just now it escapes me who it was) did say, after giving these seven moves only, that Black struggled on for a few moves but then resigned. That is borne out in the game score as given here.

I can understand these writers' thinking here: The idea is to show the essence of this game-become-opening-trap, and to omit the "mopping up" portion. Unfortunately, this thinking is erroneous here, since it suggests to the student that White will simply pick off one Black Knight or the other on move 8, regardless of what Black does, thus winning easily. This just isn't true.

Andy Soltis comes to our aid here, with his 1978 book <Chess to Enjoy>. Soltis tells us that Black should not resign at move 7, since he has a potentially strong counterattack with 7...e6. Note well that this is <exactly> the move Black makes in the game shown on this page. Further, we see that in response to this, White does not play 8.fxe5 right off, but rather Qd4. Suppose he takes the Knight immediately?

Soltis gives us the answer: If 8.fxe5 Qh4+! If now 9.g3, then 9...Qe4+ wins White's King Rook, leaving Black the Exchange to the good. So we continue 9.Ke2 Bxc5, and now Soltis gives two possibilities:

A)10.Qd3 Qf2+ 11.Kd1 Nxb2+ 12.Bxb2 Qxb2 13.Qc3 Bd4, and here the White Queen Rook falls.

B)10.Nc3 Qf2+ 11.Kd3 Nxe5+ 12.Ke4 Qf5#.

So we can reasonably conclude that those writers who end the game at move 7 unwittingly mislead the student by doing so, since we have seen that White would either lose material or be mated as a result of capturing the Knight at e5 immediately after Black's 7...e6.

It will be seen that White's 8.Qd4 is prudent, since he now threatens to play 9...fxe5 without having to face any penalty from 9...Qh4+. Black therefore has no choice but to go ahead and try his counterattack as planned: 8...Qh4+ 9.g3 Qh6 (still trying to save the Knight via a pin) 10.Nc3 (pin released!) 10...exd5 11.fxe5, and now Black sees that White has not been taken in by his trappy counterplay, and can resign in good conscience. But he did at least make an honest try to save his game.

Finally, I should note here that one additional motive for Chernev to end this game score after White's seventh move was quite possibly a Procrustean one, since this game is listed in his 1955 compilation <the 1000 Best Short Games of Chess> as one of a few "Games Won By Moving Pawns Only." Not only that, but he adds in an introductory note to this particular game the curious "fact" that "White moved only Pawns, and Black moved only Knights." Neither of these statements would hold good if the full score were given. Now I am not trying to suggest any disingenuousness on Chernev's part; his earlier work <Winning Chess Traps> (1946) showed exactly the same number of moves for this game, which was entry number 145 of the 300 traps in that book, and there was no "Believe it or Not" spin on that earlier book. Though we'll never know for certain, my guess is that Chernev was following practice that had already been established with regard to this game, and that it didn't occur to him or anyone else until 1978 to look into what might have happened if White had played 8.fxe5 in response to 7...e6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: Infohunter, that's excellent information. I believe that there is an excellent chance that this game really did end on move 7, and that the other moves are somebody's analysis. But we don't really know.
Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: I was intrigued by the discussion here, because I searched out this game for another reason; however, in Reinfeld's old book ( 1956 ) How to Play Chess Like a Champion he uses this game to illustrate amateur wins over masters. He ends at 7 P-B4 ( this book still uses descriptive notation ) but says " And Black loses a piece by force. After struggling for a few more moves, Black resigned." This language suggests that probably the actual game score is as contained above. Paul Albert
Jun-22-03  drukenknight: Info hunter certainly has many good pts to make. One thing I would disagree w/ is when he says that "Black therefore has no choice but to go ahead and try his counterattack as planned: 8...Qh4+"

I think it is that sort of thinking that led black astray. Simply because at some pt in the game a certain move or strategy is what is needed does not mean that it stays that way. In fact how many times have I made that mistake? By fixating on a certain move combination for a moment too long not realizing that reason it was viable no longer exists.

Is that what happened here? Black almost had to play 7...e6 in order to create the possibility of checks should the N be lost. He was not worried at that pt. because he knew he had an immediate counterattack.

But he did not lose the N on move 8, did he? THus, there was no reason to attack the K at that pt. since he was not at a material disadvantage.

THus it appears that he might have been fixated on attacking the K; when that strategy was not viable. At least not for that moment.

okay so on black's 8th he is still ahead in material, he should attempt to exchange. Is there anyway to do this? Well, exd5 would grab a pawn and double his own. Hmmm.

Maybe 8...exd5 9 fxe5

Now black is down in material. Can he attack?

Maybe 9...Qe7

Jun-30-03  Bears092: "7. f4 - after several more moves, black resigned" - Yasser Seirawan
Apr-15-05  knightspot: "black struggled on for a few more moves, then resigned" - fred reinfeld's book. I forget what it was called, it was grey and I had it when I was a kid. There was a chapter on amateurs defeating masters.
Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: Knightspot, The grey cover Reinfeld book is "How to Play Chess Like a Champion" published in 1956 which was among the earlier chess books I acquired. As all the chess books I ever acquired, I still have it. I never had a chance to meet Reinfeld, so this is not one of my autographed books. Paul Albert
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Alekhine Defense, Fine Variation
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: This is an old saw, and an even older "book" trap.

I wonder what poor Fine was thinking by falling into such a line? (HINT: This last sentence is a joke!)

Nov-18-05  Koster: Maybe Fine didn't understand the idea behind the opening. Attack the center (4...d6). Doesn't 7. Qd4 win the piece with fewer complications than the somewhat weakening f4?
Nov-18-05  Averageguy: <LMAJ> Fine was only 18 years of age at the time this game was played.
Nov-18-05  Koster: <Averageguy> The same year he drew with Alekhine. Same opening too. Alekhine should have played 4. d4! Alekhine vs Fine, 1932
Nov-12-06  sneaky pete: Edward Winter ( "Page 436 of the August 1978 <Chess Life & Review> published a letter from G.S.C.Patterson, the President of the Pasadena, 1932 International Chess Congress, reporting that the actual moves were: 1 e4 Nf6 2 e5 Nd5 3 d4 Nc6 4 c4 Nb6 5 d5 Nxe5 6 c5 Nbc4 7 f4 e6 8 Qd4 Qh4+ 9 g3 Qh6 10 Nc3 exd5 11 fxe5 resigns."
Apr-13-09  WhiteRook48: I always boot the knights around with pawns whenever someone plays Alekhine's Defense vs me when I'm white
Mar-05-11  chesschampion11: why the knight is not directly taken???
Mar-05-11  Phony Benoni: <chesschampion11> This is covered well in the earlier kibitzing, beginning with <Inforhunter>'s post on Jun-11-03. Essentially, if White takes the knight immediately with <8.fxe5>, then Black gets a very strong counter attack with <8...Qh4+>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Koster: ... Doesn't 7. Qd4 win the piece with fewer complications than the somewhat weakening f4?>


Jul-02-13  zanzibar: Not that it changes the main thrust of the the comment, but for the sake of accuracy I'll point out that Infohunter's analysis of 8fxe5(from Soltis) fails to account for 9.Ke2 Bxc5 10.Qe1! which, while complicated, holds according to Critter (-/=).

Instead, 9.Ke2 Qd4+! 10.Kf2 Bxc5+ is better - so much so that 9.g3 is preferred over 9.Ke2.

Koster/FSR give the best play for White (with 7.Qd4m which avoids allowing 8...Qh4+ etc.)

I'll note a certain delicious irony in pawntificator's statement about the importance of rapid development.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Houdini 3 finds that Black's game isn't quite as bad as it's made out to be. After 7.Qd4, Houdini gives as best play for both sides 7...b5! 8.cxb6 c5! 9.Qc3 Qxb6! Now, amazingly, the natural 10.Bxc4 isn't so hot after 10...Nxc4 11.Qxc4 Qg6! in light of White's weak light squares. Houdini then gives as best 12.Ne2! Ba6 13.Qa4! Bxe2 14.Nxe2 Qxg2 15.Rd1 Qxh2 16.Nd2 Qe5+ 17.Qe4 Qxe4+ 18.Nxe4 d6 (+0.82). Note that Black has three pawns for his knight in this line. Another possibility is 12.g4 (White's second-best move, according to Houdini) Ba6 13.Qf4 e6 14.dxe6 Qxe6+ 15.Qe3 d5 16.Qxe6+ fxe6 17.Bf4 h5 18.gxh5 Rxh5, when White's position is so compromised that Houdini considers him to have only a +0.70 advantage, despite Black having only a pawn for his lost piece!

But as I said, 10.Bxc4 is inferior. Best, says Houdini, is 10.f4! (10.b3 is an important alternative) Nxb2 11.fxe5 (the best of the captures) Na4 12.Qd2 Qb4 13.Nf3 g5 (what?!) 14.Qxb4 cxb4 15.Bxg5 Bb7 16.Bb5 Nb6 17.d6 Bxf3 18.gxf3 Bg7 19.f4 exd6 20.Nd2 dxe5 21.Rb1 h6 22.Bh4 Kf8 23.fxe5 Bxe5 24.Rxb4 Rg8 25.Re4 Re8 26.Kf1 and White has a winning advantage (+1.80). Easy as pie, right?

As for Borochow's 7.f4, Houdini gives 7...e6! 8.Qd4! d6! (rather than Fine's 8...Qh4+?) 8.fxe5 Nxe5 9.Bf4 f6 10.dxe6 Bxe6 11.Nc3 Be7 12.Nf3 0-0 13.0-0-0 Qc8 14.cxd6 cxd6 15.Kb1, again with a winning advantage (+1.67). So White actually ends up with slightly less of an advantage here than he does with the supposedly stronger 7.Qd4. Of course, there were various other possibilities for both sides along the way, which, had I followed them further, would have led to different results.

As for the greedy line 7.f4 e6 8.fxe5? Qh4+, as <zanzibar> says, 9.g3 is actually best there: 9...Qe4+ 10.Qe2 Qxh1 11.Nf3 Bc5 12.Qxc4 b6 13.Qe2 Ba6 14.Qxa6 Qxf3 15.Qe2 Qxe2+ 16.Kxe2 exd5 17.Nc3 c6 18.Kd3 0-0-0 19.Bf4 h6 20.Bh3 Rde8 leads to a large advantage for Black (-0.87). After the alternative 9.Ke2? Qe4+ 10.Kf2 Bc5+ 11.Kg3 g5 12.h4 Ne3 13.Bxe3 Qxe3+ 14.Qf3 Qxe5+ 15.Kh3 g4+ 16.Qxg4 (16.Kxg4 exd5 is even worse) Qxb2, White is dead lost (-5.33).

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Hmm, actually Houdini says that Fine's 8...Qh4+ wasn't so bad. But 9...Qh6? was a huge lemon. After 9...Qe7! (9...Qf6 is also possible), Black ends up with a disadvantage comparable to the 8...d6 line. Objectively he's lost, sure, but given the disparity in strength he might have had chances to save the game. Cf. A Elo vs Fine, 1935, where Fine was dead lost but eventually scammed a perpetual check. (There is a backstory to that game, as <Phony Benoni> explains in the comments.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: <FSR>
Houdini 3 finds that Black's game isn't quite as bad as it's made out to be. After 7.♕d4, Houdini gives as best play for both sides 7...b5! 8.cxb6 c5! 9.♕c3 ♕xb6! Now, amazingly, the natural 10.♗xc4 isn't so hot after 10...♘xc4 11.♕xc4 ♕g6! in light of White's weak light squares. Houdini then gives as best 12.♘e2! ♗a6 13.♕a4! ♗xe2 14.♔xe2 ♕xg2 15.♖d1 ♕xh2 16.♘d2 ♕e5+ 17.♕e4 ♕xe4+ 18.♘xe4 d6 (+0.82). Note that Black has three pawns for his knight in this line.

click for larger view

I'd prefer Black in this position, because his plan is pretty simple and straightforward - just push forward those K-side pawns!

May-23-22  sakredkow: <paulalbert...however, in Reinfeld's old book (1956) How to Play Chess Like a Champion he uses this game to illustrate amateur wins over masters.>

Reuben Fine: I thought we were friends.

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