21 June 2006

Alekhine - Sterk, Triberg 1921

Continuing with Alekhine's annotated brilliancies , the following position contrasts with the other games I've looked for several reasons. First, Alekhine rescued his game from a difficult position. Second, there appear to be several holes in Alekhine's analysis.

Black played 15...Bb4! (all notation given here is Alekhine's), where the future World Champion commented,

This move marks the critical phase. White, whose game is compromised, will make a serious effort to maintain equality. What has he to do? Neither 16.e5 Ng4, nor 16.Rac1 Bxc3 17.Bd3 Nc5 18.Rxc3 Bxe4 19.Bxf6 Bxd3, threatening ...Bxf1 would be sufficient.

Triberg 1921
Sterk, Karoly

Alekhine, Alexander
(After 15.Qc2-e2)
[FEN "r1q2rk1/pb1n1ppp/1p2pn2/2b3B1/2B1P3/2N2N2/PP2QPPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 15"]

Alekhine continued 16.Bd3 Bxc3 17.Rfc1!, and wrote,

If Black now plays 17...Nc5, which is his best, the continuation would be 18.Rxc3 Bxe4 19.Bxf6 Bxd3 20.Qe3 gxf6 21.b4 Bg6 22.bxc5 bxc5 23.Rxc5 Queen moves anywhere, 24.h4 and White will find his attacking possibilities adequate compensation for the Pawn thus sacrificed.

Now here I have a question. After 23...Qa6 24.h4 Rfc8 25.h5 Rxc5 26.Qxc5 Rc8 27.Qe7 Bxh5 28.Qxf6, where is the attack? White's problem is that all of the squares on the fifth rank are covered by Black's pieces. Both the Rook and the Queen can't stay on the rank to protect the Pawn on h5. Sterk continued 17...Nxe4. Alekhine:

Black attempts to win a Pawn without compromising the position of his King, but does not sufficiently count the danger to which he exposes his Knight on c5.

18.Bxe4 Bxe4 19.Qxe4 Nc5 20.Qe2!. Here again, Alekhine makes a dubious comment:

More energetic than 20.Qb1, suggested by some annotators, which would have yielded the win of only two minor pieces for a Rook, after 20...Bb4 21.a3 Qb7 while allowing Black numerous defensive possibilities.

Alekhine appears to have considered only 22.axb4 Nb3, but 22.b3 is stronger, when White wins a piece for two Pawns, e.g. 22...Nxb3 23.Qxb3 or 22...Bxa3 23.Rxa3.

Now Black counted on tactics to counter the threat of b2-b4, but Alekhine had seen further: 20...Ba5 21.Rab1 Qa6 22.Rc4 Na4 23.Bf6!. (Not 23.b4 Nc3.) Of his 23rd move, Alekhine said,

The initial move of a mating attack as elegant as it is unexpected, which leads to this end in a few moves. Black is threatened with 24.Rg4.

Now after 23...Rfc8 24.Qe5!, White wins in all variations. To play through the complete game see...

Alexander Alekhine vs Karoly Sterk, Budapest 1921

...on Chessgames.com.

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