100 Years Ago


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This is my 100th Chessable blog post. The number set me thinking about what was happening in the world of chess 100 years ago.

The world was still trying to return to normal in 1920, following a time of unparalleled tragedy and catastrophe. The Roaring Twenties waited in the wings, ready to step in with prosperity, freedom and all that jazz.

Meanwhile, back on the chess board, new events were emerging. October 1920 brought the First USSR Chess Championship. Alexander Alekhine is the inaugural champion. Within a year he will leave Russia for good; in 1927 he will become World Champion, a title he will eventually take to the grave after a turbulent and controversial tenure.

100 Years Ago: Alekhine on the Attack

Alekhine’s terrific tactical skill allowed his opponents very little respite. Here are two snippets from the tournament, showing how he used tactics to finish off his games in style.

100 Years Ago
Nikolay Dmitrievich Grigoriev – Alexander Alekhine

Alekhine’s queen is under attack, as is the bishop on d4. It doesn’t matter; he is still in full control of the position.

He played 25 …Bxf3! and White resigned. The key line is 26 Rxe8 Rxe8 27 gxf3 Re1+ 28 Qxe1 Qf3 checkmate.

Alekhine's Checkmate Plan

The white king is in big trouble in the next example too.

100 Years Ago

Ilya Leontievic Rabinovich – Alexander Alekhine

Alekhine has just sacrificed the exchange and could now win back the material with interest by playing 37 …Qxa4, when 38 Qxd2? Qa7+ picks up the stray rook on b8. White could reduce the losses with 38 Rd8, but Alekhine’s extra knight should guarantee victory.

However, he preferred to attack kings as directly as possible and he played 37 …Qc1+! Play continued: 38 Kf2 (38 Kh2 Nf1+ will cost White the queen) Rf6+! 39 Ke3 Nb1+ and White resigned.

Final Position

40 Kd3 allows a forced checkmate in seven moves, starting with 40 …Rd6+

40 Ke4 lasts a shade longer; after 40 …Nxc3+ the white queen is lost and checkmate will still follow soon.

If you would like to improve your own tactical skill, you should consider purchasing The Complete Chess Workout 2 by International Master Richard Palliser. Perhaps we will be writing about your excellent games, 100 years from now…?

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