Alexander Alekhine

Alexander Alekhine was the fourth World Chess Champion. He is known for his unique genius and attacking style, and is one of the greatest players of all time. Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine was born in Moscow, Russia on October 31, 1892. His father was a land owner and grandfather was a rich industrialist, affording the young Alekhine a life of privilege. He was taught the game of chess at age seven by his mother and would play games against his older siblings. Alekhine entered his first correspondence tournament in 1902 at the age of ten and soon began playing tournaments at the Moscow Chess Club. While at first his results were inconsistent, it was obvious that Alekhine possessed a tremendous talent for the game. In 1911 Alekhine moved to St. Petersburg to study law. He began winning most of the tournaments at the St. Petersburg Chess Club and would achieve the rank of Master.

In 1914 the prestigious chess tournament of St. Petersburg took place. It featured arguably the strongest group of Masters ever assembled. Up until that point, the 22 year old Alekhine was not well known, and surprised many by scoring a draw against the world champion, Emanuel Lasker, and finishing in fourth place. Alekhine's only loss was against tournament winner, Jose Capablanca. This was the first ever meeting between the two great masters who would form a legendary rivalry. After the tournament Tsar Nicholas II bestowed the title of "Grandmaster" upon all of the finalists, making Alexander Alekhine one of chess' inaugural international grandmasters. In the summer of 1914 the Great War broke out, dividing Europe and putting a halt to all international chess tournaments. Alekhine remained in Russia where he continued to play in national tournaments.

In 1917, the Russian Revolution brought conflict, violent divisions, and regime change throughout the country. At one point Alekhine was accused of espionage and even imprisoned for a short time. In 1920 Alekhine won the first Soviet Championship. Later that year he left the USSR never to return. While Alekhine eventually made his residence in France, but would for the next few years play in tournaments throughout the world with impressive results. Alekhine finished in first or second in every tournament he played for a couple of years. This streak was broken in 1924 when he again finished behind Capablanca and Lasker in New York. Not only had he established himself as one of the world's premier Masters, but Alekhine was playing with incredible sophistication and depth. His uncanny genius to see deeply into positions and conjure attacks where they did not seem possible was astounding. He also had a special ability for blindfold chess and was able to play many blindfold games simultaneously!


Alexander Alekhine




October 31, 1892


March 24, 1946


Peak Rating


In 1927 Alexander Alekhine secured a match against champion Jose Capablanca for the world chess title. The match took place in Buenos Aires Argentina. Alekhine had never defeated Capablanca in any previous contest and Capablanca was heavily favored in the match. What ensued was an epic and legendary battle between two of chess' greatest geniuses. The grueling match was the longest world championship that had ever been played. Alekhine seemed to gain momentum as the match went on. In the end, Alekhine surprised the chess world by defeating Capablanca 6 wins 3 losses and 25 draws and became the fourth world chess champion. Many felt that Capablanca had greatly underestimated Alekhine. Alekhine had in fact diligently studied the games of Capablanca and thoroughly prepared for the match while Capablanca had not. Alekhine and Capablanca were poised for a rematch, but the two could never agree on terms and negotiations fell through. Capablanca became displeased by his inability to secure a rematch and the two became bitter enemies.

While Alekhine did not face Capablanca, he did successfully defend his title twice against Efim Bogolubow in 1929 and 1934. In 1935 Alekhine then faced Dutch master Dr. Max Euwe for the world championship. Although heavily favored, this time it was Alekhine who was underprepared and overconfident. Euwe narrowly won the match 15 ½ to 14 ½ .Many attributed Alekhine's alcoholism to him losing the match. Allegedly Alekhine abstained from Alcohol and trained for his rematch with Euwe in 1937. Alekhine won the match convincingly 15 ½ to 9 ½ to regain his title. Soon afterward World War II erupted in Europe and larger international tournaments stopped for several years.

During the war, Alekhine, who was now a French citizen, was forced to comply with Nazi demands that strictly limited his appearances. When the war ended in 1945 Alekhine was seen as a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semitic and was not invited to play in international tournaments. He died under mysterious circumstances on March 24, 1946 in Estoril Portugal. He remains the only world champion to ever die while holding the title. Alexander Alekhine remains a legendary player of the golden age of chess and one of the greatest world champions of all time. His genius for attack produced countless beautiful games that served as a model for many great future world champions.

Some Quotes on Alexander Alekhine:
"Play on both sides of the board is my favorite strategy."

"II consider chess an art, and accept all those responsibilities which art places upon its devotees."

"Chess will always be the master of us all"

On Alekhine:
"Who else in chess history has won so many serious games with the help of brilliant tactical strokes?" - Gary Kasparov

"He considered that chess was closest to art, and he was able to demonstrate this with his optimistic, eternally youthful play" – Boris Spassky

"Alekhine is the supreme genius of the complicated position" – Edward Winter

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    Alexander Alekhine
    Fourth World Chess Champion
    Catalog Code: B0084RE

    The fourth title in the popular World Chess Champion Series is about the enigmatic Alexander Alekhine. Tracing the Russian-born champion from his youth in Russia, through his assault on the chess Olympus and beyond, this books paints a fresh portrait of man who was one of the most spectacular tacticians ever to play the game.

    Alexander Alekhine


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