22 May 2006

Alekhine - Zubarev, Moscow 1916

Continuing with the list of Alekhine's annotated brilliancies, the following position is from the earliest game, a Moscow Championship. In a footnote to the game, Alekhine mentioned that he won first prize without losing a single game.

Brilliant games almost always finish with a surprising sacrifice, and this game is no exception. Finding the winning sacrifice in a winning position is the mark of a good player. Playing to get that winning position is the mark of a great player. I have often enjoyed watching how Alekhine constructed his overwhelming attacks move by move. This game is a good example.

In the following position, the result of an inaccuracy by Black in a Nimzo-Indian, White has built a strong center. Alekhine's next move was prophylactic.

Moscow 1916
Zubarev, Nikolay

Alekhine, Alexander
(After 11...Qd8-e7)
[FEN "r4rk1/pbpnqpp1/1p1ppn1p/8/2PPPP2/2PB2N1/P1Q3PP/R1B2RK1 w - - 0 12"]

12.Qe2! Alekhine:

Preparing 13.Ba3, which if played at once, would cause unnecessary complications after 12...Ng4, threatening 13...Nxh2!.

12...Rae8 Alekhine:

Black has completed his development very rapidly, but none of his pieces has any scope. It is easy to foresee that he will be unable to withstand the attack which his opponent is preparing in the center.

The game continued 13.Ba3 c5 14.Rae1 Kh8 (Preparing the next move.) 15.d5! Ng8 (If, on this move or the next, 15...exd5 then 16.Nf5) 16.e5 g6 (How should White continue after 16...dxe5?) 17.Qd2 exd5 Alekhine:

17...dxe5 18.fxe5 exd5 19.e6 fxe6 20.Bxg6 Rxf1+ 21.Nxf1 Rf8 22.cxd5 and 'White's advantage is sufficient to win.

18.cxd5 dxe5 19.c4! Alekhine:

The opening of the long diagonal for the QB decides the game in a few moves.

The two White Bishops aimed at Black's King on adjacent long diagonals played a key role in the final combination. To play through the complete game see...

Alexander Alekhine vs Nikolay Zubarev, Moscow 1915

...on Chessgames.com. (Note: 'My Best Games 1908-1923' gives the year as 1916.)

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