13 September 2012

Quote Alekhine Unquote

Looks like this week is turning into some kind of a blog maintenance week. First I had External Links (to the Supply Ship), with link maintenance on my About.com material. Then I had Quote Capablanca Unquote, with some formatting maintenance on an early analytical series based on Capablanca's annotations.

Today I subjected a similar series on Alekhine's annotations to the same treatment as Capablanca, where the posts are listed in Index to Alekhine's Annotated Brilliancies. While I was doing this I was reminded that Alekhine was not always as accurate an analyst as one might think, and added a correction for a key variation to Alekhine - Koltanowski, London 1932.

The time I spent working on the Alekhine material was not all routine maintenance. I also found a couple of posts that reinforced the 'disruption of balance' theme I discussed a few days ago in Rubinstein - Alekhine, Dresden 1926, Revisited. The first post was A Lesson in Chess Logic, where Alekhine himself explained his thinking on this important concept.

The advantage won [by Alekhine] results from the repeated movements of the same pieces. [...] But the possibility of like maneuvers in the opening phase is solely attributable, I must reiterate, to the fact that the opponent has adopted faulty tactics, which must from the first be refuted by an energetic demonstration. It is clear, on the contrary, that in face of correct development, similar anomalous treatment would be disastrous.

I must have been working on the idea subconsciously, because a month later, in Alekhine - Steiner, Bradley Beach 1929, I managed to formulate a personal undertanding.

Having looked at so many of Alekhine's annotated brilliancies, I am starting to see a pattern. Inaccurate opening play by Alekhine's opponent followed by a less than obvious move or two by Alekhine to hinder development, and suddenly the opponent is in real trouble.

Eighty years after Alekhine's heyday we seldom see this sort of opening inaccuracy with world class players, because modern masters understand equilibrium and initiative better than Alekhine's typical opponent and because opening theory is so much better developed. One further avenue for research occurred to me: how does the 'disruption' theme treat the marginal areas of theory, ala Secrets of Opening Surprises? The 'surprises' are often inconsequential moves like a2-a3 and ...h6 that preserve the status quo of the position as much as possible, strong on defense and weak on attack. What would Alekhine have said about these lines?

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