Bulletin No.76 – Combo Corner: Alekhine

This week we have a new type of bulletin: Combo Corner!  In these we will feature three fantastic combinations from some of the all time greats, whilst trying to avoid the very best known examples in the interests of bringing you something fresh.  On occasion we may stretch the definition of a combination but will always include something very spectacular!

Peter Anderson, August 2021


Our first Combo Corner showcases Alexander Alekhine who left more than his fair share of spectacular games.

Fischer said. “Alekhine has never been a hero of mine and I never cared for his style play. There’s nothing light or breezy about it; it worked for him but could scarcely work for anyone else. He played gigantic conceptions, full of outrageous and unprecedented ideas.” Whilst Capablanca, Fischer and Carlsen have all been likened to Mozart in the purity and apparent simplicity of their play, Alekhine could be liked to Shostakovich, working on a grand scale, full of complexity but at the same time never crude. Fischer may not have liked his style, but some of us love it, including Garry Kasparov who has said that Alekhine was his inspiration.

The three examples below all feature Alekhine’s queen under attack and his imaginative way of dealing with that.   They are of increasing complexity and give just a flavour of his genius.

Timing is Everything

Alekhine’s queen is attacked but he sees no need to move it just yet.  Instead he sacs a couple of pieces, moves the queen when it can give check and then picks up his opponent’s queen for a rook.  Of course that alone would have left him material down, but he had seen a little further and could pick up an additional piece, leaving him in a winning position.

Just 3 More Moves

In this example below White’s position looks nice but it is hard to believe the game will be over in just three more moves.  After a queen move Black will play Nf6 and is looking quite solid.  Alekhine ignores the attack on his queen and exposes the weaknesses in Black’s position.

Unbounded Imagination

With perfect play, Black is winning in the position below.  He is threatening Nf5 (or Ne4) and Bc7+ with the idea of mating on h2.   Alekhine’s first move prevents that idea and gives Black a difficult choice: one move in fact still wins, two draw and everything else loses.  Black picked a very reasonable looking reply but it lost to a stunning queen sacrifice that gave Alekhine a most unusual mating attack.

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