09 September 2012

Rubinstein - Alekhine, Dresden 1926, Revisited

Over on my chess960 blog, I've been occupied with the notion of Disruption of Balance.

As I understand it, 'illegitimate disruption of balance' refers to a (usually subtle) violation by one side or the other of the positional principles underpinning chess. [...] Briefly summarized, it gives the opponent of the offending party a 'heads up' to look for an atypical response that also violates positional principles, fighting fire with fire, so to speak.

Since the two examples in that post were both by Alekhine, I started flipping through his classic 'My Best Games of Chess 1924-1937' (McKay 1972), looking for more examples. After a few minutes, I had ten candidates, because they were easy to spot : Alekhine criticizes an early move of his opponent, then comments favorably on his own response a few moves later. One of the first games I found was...

Akiba Rubinstein vs Alexander Alekhine; It Dresden 1926

...given here with a link to Chessgames.com. The position where 'disruption of balance' occurred is shown in the following diagram. It so happens that I discussed this game in my first series on this blog, Alekhine's Annotated Brilliancies

Dresden 1926
Alekhine, Alexander

Rubinstein, Akiba
After 3...b6

White played 4.h3. In Rubinstein - Alekhine, Dresden 1926, I've already incorporated Alekhine's analysis, so I'll copy it here.

It was certainly not necessary to prevent 4...Nh5 at this moment. The weakening of the square g3 gave me the idea of a quite unusual but, as the following proves, very effective system of development.
The game continued 4...Bb7 5.Nbd2 Bd6. Alekhine again:
After this, White has the unpleasant choice between (1) the exchange, which strengthens Black's position in the middle; (2) 6.e3 which would spoil, after 6...Bxf4 his Pawn position; and; (3) 6.Bg5 after which Black would secure the advantage of the pair of Bishops by 6...h6. Rubinstein chose the 6.Bxd6 exchange.

In my 'Disruption' post, I noted,

'Disruption of balance' means that one side purposely provokes the other by breaking the equilibrium. This is usually by some kind of a premature attack, although I imagine that premature defense can be just as unbalancing.

Rubinstein's 4.h3 is indeed an example of premature defense. The second of my two examples in the 'Disruption' post was also Alekhine vs. Rubinstein, that game from The Hague 1921, and also after an early passive move by Rubinstein. It's hard to believe that Rubinstein was not familiar with the notion of equilibrium in chess. Perhaps he was more cautious than I realized.

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