Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing
Semion Alapin vs Arturo Reggio
Monte Carlo (1901), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 8, Feb-15
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern. Knight Defense (D51)  ·  1-0



explore this opening
find similar games 342 more games of Alapin
PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

TIP: You can step through the moves by clicking the < and > buttons, but it's much easier to simply use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard.

PGN Viewer:  What is this?
For help with this chess viewer, please see the Olga Chess Viewer Quickstart Guide.

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: The score of this game as given here and in the Tournament Book seems flatly wrong to me. Specifically, and for reasons I will explain in my commentary on the game, I doubt that Alapin played 18. Rab1. If he did, the moves that follow are inexplicable. My analysis strongly suggests that Alapin in fact played 18. Rhb1. The moves that follow then make sense, and it becomes possible to identify were Reggio went wrong and lost the game, i.e., his 19th and 20th moves (though his play before and after certainly didn't help his cause).

The good news is that, whether 18. Rab1 or 18 Rhb1 was played, the score after 25. RxR converges. Thus, the only disputed positions are those that arise between White's 18th moves and his 25. RxR.

The game itself represents the high point of Monte Carlo 1901 for Alapin. Going into this round, Alapin was one of only two undefeated players (Tchigorin being the other). After defeating Reggio in this game, Alapin was in a close fight with Janowski (6-2), Tchigorin (5.75-1.25 with two draws to be replayed), von Scheve 5.5-2.5), and Schlechter (4.25-2.25 with one game to be replayed). Since Alapin had already played Janowski (who he defeated in Round 7), Schlechter (with whom he drew in Round 3 and in their replay), von Scheve (with whom he drew in Round 5 and in their replay), and Tchigorin (with whom he drew in Round 6--though the replay--also drawn--would not be played for another 11 days).

Given that the only top contenders had games to play against each other, Alapin seemingly had an excellent chance to win the tournament after defeating Reggio here. But from here Alapin's fortunes changed: He drew with Winawer (who was then at the bottom of the standings) in Round 9; drew with Gunsberg in Round 10; drew his replay with Gunsberg; lost to Marco in Round 11; drew with Mason in Round 12; won his replay with Winawer; drew his relay with Tchigorin; drew with Blackburne in Round 13; drew his replay with Mason, and won his replay against Blackburne.

When the dust settled, Alapin ended up in 5th place, a half point behind Tchigorin and the surprising von Scheve. All in all, a missed opportunity for Alapin.

But now let's turn to his game against Reggio in Round 8:

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5

The Pillsbury Attack, which had become increasingly popular after Pillsbury's triumph at Hastings 1895.

4... c6

4...Be7 is more usual, but there of course is nothing wrong with the text.

5. e3 Nbd7

6. a3

click for larger view

This move occurred at two key moments in the Alekhine--Capablanca 1927 World Championship match. Capablanca played it in Game #5 (a draw) at which time the score was even, and Alekhine played it in Game 34, the final game in which Alekhine won the title.

Alekhine's commentary on this move in the two games is interesting.

In commenting on Capablanca's use of the move in Game 5, Alekhine said:

"This method of avoiding the Cambridge Springs Defense seems very appropriate..."

In his original commentary on Game 34, Alehhine said:

"At an earlier stage in the match I should doubtless have repeated the move tried in Game 32 [6. cxd5, after which Alekhine eventually prevailed but hardly because of this move], so as to find out what defensive improvement had been discovered by my opponent. The way things stood, however, it was obviously a good idea for me to try some surprise tactics in the opening."

In "My Best Games of Chess, 1924-1937," however, Alekhine wrote:

"This quiet move, whose main object is to avoid the Cambridge Springs Defence, should hardly promise White more than a comfortable equality. I selected it here merely in order to come out of the book variations as rapidly as possible."

If 6. a3 was a surprise for Alekhine and Capablanca in 1927, imagine Reggio's reaction. This game, so far as I can find, was the first time 6. a3 was played here.

Theoretically, 6. cxd5 or 6. Nf3 may be somewhat better. But, on balance, 6. a3 (which serves a number of purposes) looks like an excellent over-the-board choice.

6... dxc4

Alekhine and Capablanca both played the slightly better 6...Be7 in Games 5 and 34 respectively in their 1927 match. The text, however, is certainly sound and a reasonable choice.

7. Bxc4 Qa5

7...b5 and 7...a6 were perhaps better. But the text is definitely playable.

8. Bh4 Ne4

click for larger view

Mar-15-20  Granny O Doul: Black seemed to lack a very deep understanding.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <Granny O Doul>Reggio's uncertainty in this opening is understandable. He was the first one to face 6. a3. He was, however, OK through at least move 13. But he was clearly uncomfortable, and slowly got outplayed beginning on about move 14.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

9. Qc2

9. Nge2 was probably more accurate, but the text was basically OK.

9... NxN
10. QxN

Alapin might have done better to keep the Queens on the board with 10. bxN, but he was probably confident that he would be able to outplay Reggio in an even ending.

10... QxQ+
11. bxQ

click for larger view

Chances were roughly even here.

11... Nb6

One of several reasonable moves and plans available to Black here. Other good choices were 11...c5; 11...Be7; and 11...b6.

12. Bb3

I prefer 12. Bd3. The Bishop isn't doing much here on b3.

12... c5
13. Nf3 c4

Releasing the tension in the center driving the White Bishop to a better diagonal.

14. Bc2

click for larger view

14... f6

Despite his questionable 13th move, Reggio would have been fine with 14...Nd5 (forcing White to defend the c3 pawn immediately). From here, Alapin seized the initiative.

15. e4!

click for larger view

15... Bd7
16. a4! a5
17. Ke2 Be7

click for larger view

Alapin was clearly better here, but Reggio was far from lost.

It is here that--in my judgment--the scores of the game appearing in the Tournament Book and on this site erred. It is clear that between here and move 25, Reggio fell into a lost position. Thus, understanding what happened over the course of the next 7-8 moves is critical to evaluating why Alapin won.

Both the Tournament Book and this site give Alapin's next move as 18. Rab1. This would have been a blunder, and the subsequent play makes no sense if we assume that 18. Rab1 was in fact played. Thus--and assuming this was indeed the move--what followed looks like a game between two beginners:

18. Rab1? Bd8?

Why not 18...Nxa4, after which Black is close to winning.

19. Bg3?

If this is what occurred, White should have played 19. Ra1 or 19. Nd2 or 19. Kd2.

19... 0-0?

19...Nxa4 or 19...Bax4 should be played.

20. Bd6?

White would be better after 20. Ra1

20... Re8?

20...Bxa4 was clearly correct.

21. Bc5?

This would be fatal against decent play by Black. 21. Ra1 was correct.

21... Ra6?

Turning a winning position into a bad one. Black should play 21...Nxa4 here.

22. Nd2?

Missing the obvious 22. BxN

22... Bc6?

Yet again missing 22...Bxa4 (or even 22...Nxa4) and yet again leaving himself in a likely lost position.

23. BxN RxB

23...BxB, though not saving the game, would probably be better.

24. Nxc4 RxR
25. RxR

Since the above is nonsense, I will look in my next post at what I think was actually played: 18...Rhb1

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I doubt a completely harmless move like 6.a3 had much impact.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Let's return to the position after Black's 17...Be7:

click for larger view

Instead of the cringeworthy 18. Rab1? leaving the a4 Pawn undefended, let's assume that Alapin in fact played 19. Rhb1. The position would then have been:

click for larger view

What followed, while hardly perfect play, makes a lot more sense than assuming 18. Rab1 was played:

18. Rhb1 Bd8

Leading to trouble. 18...Ra6 was indicated.

19. Bg3

Even better would have been 19. Ne5, but Alapin was still in the stronger position with the text.

19... 0-0?

Probably the losing move. 19...Ke7 or 19...Bc6 or perhaps 19...Ra6 should have been tried and would have given Reggio decent chances of surviving.

20. Bd6!

click for larger view

Reggio was plainly in big trouble. He only made matters worse with his next move:

20... Re8?

20...Rf7 was his best chance

21. Bc5!

Maintaining his grip on the position.

21... Ra6
22. Nd2!

Alapin did not let up for a minute and gave Reggio no chance.

22... Bc6

click for larger view

23. BxN RxB
24. Nxc4 RxR
25. RxR

click for larger view

Whatever assumptions one makes about White's 18th move, we can be confident that this position was reached after 25. RxR.

A pawn up and with his Rook nicely poised on b1, Alapin had a won game. But--and while he probably maintained his winning edge through to the end--there were some bumps along the way until the move 30 time control was reached.

25... Bc7
26. h3?

Not best. With 26. Nb6 followed by c4, White's pawns roll and Black appears helpless. Now, Reggio had a chance, the position after 26. h3 being:

click for larger view

26... f5?!

Desperately seeking counterplay when he should have sat tight with 26...b6 or maybe 26...Rb8 or 26...Rd8.

27. f3

27. Ke3 was more accurate.

27... g6
28. Ne3

Not awful, but 28. f4 or 28. e5 or 28. g3 were stronger.

28... Kg7

Reggio should have kept his options to move to the Queens wing open with 28...Kf7 or 28...Kf8. Perhaps 28...b6 was the best try.

29. c4

Alapin must have been in time trouble with the move 30 time control approaching. 29. Bd3 was better. After 29. c4, the position was:

click for larger view

The game was still probably a theoretical win for White, but in practice the win was far from certain and Black had chances to complicate, as will be seen.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <keypusher>I agree that 6. a3 is no great shakes as a theoretical matter. But in over-the-board play confronting a new move in the opening is always disconcerting.

For whatever reason, Reggio--who had been having the tournament of his life in the early rounds at Monte Carlo 1901--crumbled early in this game. Knowing from sad experience how easy it is to get flustered when confronting a new move in the opening (in a high school match ages ago I became more than a bit disconcerted when my opponent began our game with 1. b4--leading me to worry that he had something cooked up for which I was not prepared).

But maybe I am just projecting or (worse) playing Monday morning quarterback.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

29... f4!

This hardly saves the day for Black, but in a desperate situation I like Reggio's attempt to complicate, especially with the move 30 time control approaching.

30. Nd1

30. Ng4 seems more enterprising. But the text didn't really spoil anything for Alapin.

30... Re7

Instead of this useless maneuver, Reggio might have tried to halt the coming White pawn advance with 30...b6.

The move 30 time control had been reached and the position was now:

click for larger view

31. Nc3

31. Nb2 or 31. Nf2 (in order to be able to assist his coming pawn pushes with 32. Nd3) were stronger. But yet again, Alapin didn't really spoil anything with this move.

31... Bb8

Reggio should surely have played 31...b6 here. After this weak effort, Alapin ran Reggio off the board.

32. c5

32. e5 may have been even stronger, but the text also left Reggio's position in shambles:

click for larger view

32... g5?!

Misguided and hopeless, but it is easy to sympathize with Reggio's desperate attempt to try anything to create counterplay in his awful position.

33. Kd3! h5?!

More wild play by Reggio, who obviously did not want to go quietly.

click for larger view

34. Kc4

34. d5 seems quicker. But Alapin's method was slow but sure.

34... Kf8

Reggio suddenly seems resigned to his fate after two "shake-em-up" moves. 34...Kf6 might have allowed longer resistance.

35. d5!

click for larger view

Black is completely busted. Reggio might have spared himself the following massacre.

35... exd5+
36. exd5 Be8
37. d6!


click for larger view

37... Rg7
38. Be4

Another sledge-hammer blow.

38... Bf7+

Hopeless, but so was everything else.

39. Kd4 Be6
40. Rxb7 RxR
41. BxR

click for larger view

Believe it or not, Reggio chose to play on from here. I will cover the gruesome finale in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

41... g4

Unsound, but Reggio understandably decided it was time to go for broke.

42. hxg4 hxg4
43. Ke5!

Alapin did not give Reggio a moment's respite.

click for larger view

43... gxf3
44. gxf3

44. KxB also wins (e.g., 44...f2 45. d7 Bc7 46. Ba6. But the text was equally decisive.

44... Bh3

This only hastened the end, but I have no saving balm to suggest for Reggio here.

45. Nb5

White also wins with 45. c5 of 45. Nd5.

If Reggio was waiting to get to the move 45 time control, even that meager hope was gone now.

45... Bf1

45...Bd7 would only slightly have delayed the inevitable (e.g., 46. c6).

46. c6 BxN
47. axB

click for larger view


NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.
  8. Do not degrade Chessgames or any of it's staff/volunteers.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific game only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

This game is type: CLASSICAL. Please report incorrect or missing information by submitting a correction slip to help us improve the quality of our content.

Featured in the Following Game Collections[what is this?]
Round Eight
from Monte Carlo 1901 by suenteus po 147
QGD: Modern. Knight Def (D51) 1-0 KEG annotates
from Alapin - Bird - Colle // The Players by fredthebear
QGD: Modern. Knight Def (D51) 1-0 KEG annotates
from P-Q4 Attax by fredthebear
QGD: Modern. Knight Def (D51) 1-0 KEG annotates
from Annotations by Various Authorities & Fredthebear by blueChude
Round Eight
from Monte Carlo 1901 by Mal Un
QGD: Modern. Knight Def (D51) 1-0 KEG annotates
from Annotations by Various Authorities & Fredthebear by rpn4

Home | About | Login | Logout | F.A.Q. | Profile | Preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | New Kibitzing | Chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | Notable Games | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | Privacy Notice | Contact Us

Copyright 2001-2023, Chessgames Services LLC