Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grünfeld – Alekhine, Carlsbad 1923

Another superb Alekhine combination, as he outplays opening theoretician Grünfeld in the middlegame.

Grünfeld – Alekhine
Carlsbad, 1923


1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. e3 0-0 7. Rc1 c6 8. Qc2

Beginning the “battle for the tempo,” which was much the rage at the time. White wants to postpone Bf1-d3, in the hope that Black will run out of useful waiting moves and play ... d5xc4.

8. ... a6 9. a3 h6 10. Bh4 Re8 11. Bd3 dxc4

Who has gained more from the transaction? The Black Rook is at e8, where it may support ... e6-e5, while White has gained the move a2-a3. He tries to use the latter factor to mount a Kingside attack, transferring his Bishop to b1.

12. Bxc4 b5 13. Ba2 c5 14. Rd1 cxd4 15. Nxd4 Qb6 16. Bb1 Bb7

Black’s edge in development proves the critical factor. Alekhine had to foresee the defensive maneuver 17. Ndxb5 Qc6! (not 17. ... axb5 18. Rxd7, overloading the Nf6) 18. Nd4 Qxg2, and Black’s attack is faster.

17. 0-0 Rac8 18. Qd2 Ne5 19. Bxf6 Bxf6 20. Qc2 g6 21. Qe2 Nc4 22. Be4 Bg7 23. Bxb7 Qxb7 24. Rc1 e5 25. Nb3 e4 26. Nd4 Red8

Rudolph Spielmann once remarked that he could play combinations just as well as Alekhine. If only, he sighed wistfully, he could obtain the positions Alekhine did ...

27. Rfd1 Ne5 28. Na2 Nd3 29. Rxc8 Qxc8


30. f3 Rxd4 31. fxe4

Black wins after 31. exd4 Bd4+ 32. Kf1 Nf4 33. Qxe4 Qc4+ 34. Ke1 Nxg2+ 35. Kd2 Be3+. White hopes to escape with the text move, for now Black has two pieces en prise.

31. ... Nf4! 32. exf4 Qc4 33. Qxc4 Rxd1+ 34. Qf1 Bd4+, White resigns

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