Click  HERE  to go to a page with a java-script re-play board with movable pieces.
(Open up two windows and follow this great game, move-by-move!)


Alexander A. Alekhine (2815) - Aaron Nimzowitsch (2775) 
[C15]
Bled, (Lake Bled)(Round #6)    August 30th, 1931 

***

 [A.J. Goldsby I] 

***
(The ratings have been 'transposed' into 2001 standards.)

***

(Hopefully you can follow this game fairly easily. I have diagrams every few moves. 
I have tried to color code the variations and sub-variations. While this method is not perfect, 
 I do think it is better than the nauseating, nearly endless (!) use of parenthesis that ChessBase 
employs and looks absolutely awful when translated to an HTML document. 
If you know of a better way ... or enjoy this game - please!  contact me.

***

I have also used standard symbols to annotate this game. 
{ But they are sort of turned on their side, like the smiley face. :) }


Chernev  writes:
<< It was Nimzovich who said, "A pinned piece's defensive power is only imaginary. He only makes a gesture as if he would defend; in reality - he is crippled and immobile." To show that he appreciates the importance of  this statement, Alekhine immobilizes Nimzovich's pieces by pinning them all over the place. >> 
[The] "1000 Best Short Games of Chess," By Irving Chernev. (Page # 306, Game # 607.). 

Nimzovich complained after this game that Alekhine did not respect him and treated him, "like a child." 
***
"He is treating us like patzers!" complained Nimzovich to another competitor. 

For my part, I will only say - that according to Keene's book on Nimzo - that in the late 20's and early 30's, Nimzovich was probably "The Crown Prince of Chess," second only to the King. (Alekhine.) For the mighty Alekhine  to vanquish the # 2 player in the world  in this manner is simply a testament to The World Champion's genius and his great chess strength. - LIFE Master A.J. Goldsby I. 

This game also comes from the tournament, Bled; 1931. (At one time, many chess historians rated this as one of the strongest tournaments ever held.) This is the tournament ... (14 players) a DOUBLE - Round-Robin ... which features - maybe - one of the most impressive tournament performances of all time. Alekhine did not lose a game and finished 5.5 points ahead of the second place finisher!!  (E. Bogoyubov, 15 points. This player played two World Championships with Alekhine.) This tournament is certainly on MY "Top Ten" list of, "The Most Dominating Tournament Performances by one individual, ever." (Alekhine's victory at San Remo was also an extremely amazing and dominating performance.) 

The rest of the players in this tournament were: 3rd, Nimzovich (14 points); 4th-7th Vidmar, Kashdan, Flohr, Stoltz, (13.5 points); 8th, Tartakower (13); 9th & 10th, Kostich and Spielmann (12.5); 11th, Maroczy (12); 12th, Edgar Colle (10.5); 13th, Aztalos (9.5); and last (14th) was Pirc with 8.5 points.  

 Every one of these players would be a GM by  today's  standards!!    

Many of these players belong in, "The Chess Hall of Fame." 

 

**********

 

1. e4 e6;  2. d4 d5;

  Nimzovich essays the French Defense against the World Champion, A. Alekhine.
The game position after 2...e6.

 

Nimzovich was one of the great adherents to the French Defense and played many great and beautiful games with this system. He was one the greatest of the all-time proponents of this system, and did much to popularize this Opening. In his hands, it could be a very potent weapon, and he did much to disprove the French Defense was/is, "Just a dull draw." (This is the opinion many players had of this system, maybe going back to the days of Morphy.)

I should also add that Nimzovich liked the French because he understood the basics of pawn play 
like few players before him. (Or since!!) 

3. Nc3 Bb4; 
The Winawer Variation, named after one of the greater and more unappreciated players of the past. 
[3...Nf6; is the "Classical French." This is fun, playable and good; although {perhaps unfairly} frowned upon 
by modern theoreticians. ] 

 

4. Nge2!?,
(See the diagram directly below.)

 Alekhine plays a variation he knows to be harmless, but Nimzo has a history with this variation!
The game position after  4. Nge2.

 

(For the psychology behind this move, Alekhine deserves an exclam.) 
This line is really just speculative.
 (And innocuous.) Today this variation is considered relatively harmless. 
There is actually nothing wrong with this move, it will lead to equality with best play. 

Alekhine decides to steer the game away from the closed types of positions which Nimzovich 
obviously understood and played better than anyone else. A very smart move by the Champ
!

This move, (4. Nge2!?) was probably first played in Master Praxis in the game, Maroczy - Seitz;
Raab, 1924. (According to Jimmy Adams.)

The great A. Alekhine himself writes: 
"This move, which is quite satisfactory in the Macutcheon Variation;
 
 (1. e4, e5; 2. d4, d5; 3. Nc3, Nf6; 4. Bg5, Bb4!?; 5. Nge2,);  
 is perfectly harmless at this moment."
 

He goes on to say: "I selected it however, in the present game, because I knew that already on one occasion, (against Sir G.A. Thomas at Mariendbad, 1925.); Nimzowitsch had shown an exaggerated voracity 
(6...P-KB4) without having been duly punished for it." 
 - GM A. Alekhine in his book, "My Best Games of Chess, 1924-1937." 
(Game # 43, page # 94. Reprinted in the U.S. by D. McKay in June, 1976.) 

I was right! I suspected that the great Alekhine would not have chosen such a silly looking line without good reason. - A.J. Goldsby I  (I annotated this game first. Only AFTER I had annotated it thoroughly {on my computer}; did I begin to look this game up in various books to supplement and add to what I had already created. This is my standard method for annotating games, by the way. FYI.) 

[The main line of the Winawer  is: 4.e5 c5; 5.a3 Bxc3+; 6.bxc3, ("=")  which is very complex and is interesting. It also contains some of the most interesting and complicated lines in the whole of the French Defense. It is also a "Pawn Chain," and therefore a semi-closed position. Nimzovich excelled in these types of positions, and may have been the reason (a very good reason!) Alekhine chose to avoid them entirely! ]

 

4...dxe4!?; 
Grabbing material. Perhaps it is better to develop, than to snatch pawns and give up the center. 

Jimmy Adams writes: "It is necessary to take the pawn, otherwise White obtains a comfortable game 
by 5. a3." This reflects the current state of theory at the time the game was played. This notion 
persisted in many books up until the present day. 

[ Maybe better is: 4...Nf6; 5. e5 Ne4!;  (Not 5...Nfd7!?; 6.a3, "+/=")  
After 5...Ne4; Black is fighting for his fair share of the board, and is probably 
close to being a relatively equal position. ("=").

 

5. a3 Bxc3+!?;
(See the diagram directly below.)

  Black surrenders his dark-squared Bishop. Will he miss this piece later in the game?
The actual game position after 5...Bxc3+!?

( 5...Bxc3+!? Maybe, but only maybe - '?!')  Black may miss his dark-squared Bishop later in the game. 
(As the game actually progresses, Black is very weak on the dark-square complex.)
[ A good way to equalize may be: 5...Be7!?; ('!') 6.Nxe4 Nf6; ("=")  I believe this is the method 
recommended by many books. ]. 

6. Nxc3 f5!?;
(See the diagram directly below.)

  Black tries to hang onto his pawn ... but maybe he should not have.
The actual game position - after Black pushes
his King's Bishop Pawn forward two squares.

(Maybe - '?!/?')  Black risks defacing his pawn structure, losing control of the e5-square, and severely weakening many squares on the King-side to keep a single pawn. Today we know this is probably an unwise thing to do. (But at the time it was probably considered OK, even good by theory.) 

 (Many programs chose this move as well.) 

[The continuation 6...Nf6!? 7.Bg5, gives White some definite compensation for the material [temporarily a pawn] that he has invested. I like: 6...Nd7!? ('!');  7.Nxe4 Ngf6;  8.Bd3 Nxe4;  9.Bxe4 Nf6; 10.Bf3 h6!;  11.0-0 0-0; 12.Qd3 Qd6!?; with the idea of ...c5. 
But best is probably the line recommended by the World Champ himself: 6...Nc6!; 7.Bb5 Nge7;  8.0-0,  
(8. Bg5!? f6; 9. Be3 0-0, Unclear? Maybe better for Black?  ("=/+")  
This is one of the lines recommended by MCO-14!
)
    
8...0-0;  "and Black is OK."  (Maybe - "=/+" ?) - Alekhine. ]  

 

7. f3!?,
 
{Given an exclam by Jimmy Adams and many other authors.} 
(See the diagram directly below.)

  Alekhine demonstrates he is not bound by convention - the overwhelming over-respect of material.
The game position after 7. f3.
***
Alekhine plays to tear down the 
strong point at e4.

 

(7. f3,  Probably - '!',  maybe even - '!!')   White plays [energetically] to break down Black's 
pawn structure. In an era where perhaps too high an emphasis was placed on material, Alekhine 
gleefully gives away pawns for increased piece play. 

[ White can also play: 
Var. # 1.)
7.Bc4 Nf6; 8.Bg5 0-0 ; 9.Qd2 Nc6 ; 10.0-0-0 Kh8 ; 11.f3,  {White has a tremendous initiative} 1...exf3 ; 12.gxf3, "+/"  (Schwarz 67)  Maroczy-Seitz; Gyor. 1924.
Or Var. # 2.) 7. Bf4!? Nf6; 8. f3 0-0; Probably the best try here. 
(Or 8...exf3; 9. Qxf3 Qxd4?; -
Or 9...0-0; 10. 0-0-0 c6; 11. h3 Nd512. Nxd5 Qxd5
13. Qc3!,
"+/" (ECO 81, Minev) Matochin-Birnov; USSR 1949.

 - 10. Nb5, "+/-" - Alekhine.)

9. fxe4 Nxe4; 10. Nxe4 fxe4; 11. Qd2 Nd7; 12. Be2 c5!; ("=")  Thomas-Nimzovich;  Marienbad, 1925. ] 

 

7...exf3; 

 (White's next move is a big improvement on theory up to that point.) 
8. Qxf3! Qxd4!?;  

(The computers give the evaluation that Black is MUCH better - nearly winning. 
This is known - in chess parlance - as a "Plus-under-a-line," or "/+.")

(See the diagram just below.)

  Black has just played the very controversial Queen captures Pawn/d4. This move has been both praised and roundly condemed by various different annotators.
This is the actual game position after 8...Qxd4!?

Black takes a pawn, rather than develop. The computers consider Black  MUCH  better here. 

[ Several annotators have given the line: 8...Qh4+; 9. g3 Qxd4; 10. Bf4!,  
Or - 10.Nb5!? (Alekhine)  10...Qd8; 

{
If 10...Qc5; 11. Be3 Qe7; 12.Bg5! ("With good counterplay." - Kmoch)}  
11. Bf4 Na6; 12. Rd1 Qe7; 13. Nd6+! cxd6; 14.Bxd6 Qf7 ; 15.Bxa6, "+/" (Kmoch)
  
10...c6;  11. Qh5+ g6;  12. Qe2 Qg7;  13.0-0-0!,  Now "White is much better," or "+/."  - GM B. Larsen. (13.h4!?~)  13...Nf6; 14.Qd2 Kf7;  15. Bh6 Qg8;  16. Bc4 Qe8; 17.g4!, (Maybe - '!!') A great line!
Now "White has a winning attack," or "+/-."  - Schwarz, '67. 

The funny thing is that few annotators - if anyone! - have looked at the possibility of  8...Nc6!?; 
 As a teen-ager, I analyzed this game by hand. The analysis of this line ran several pages. Back in those days, we did not have computers to check and verify our work. And since I was not yet a Master, all my evaluations were constantly challenged by the players at chess club. Suffice it to say that 8...Nc6; 
 is a very reasonable move, developing a piece. It also complies with the principles of the opening. 

I offer the line: 8...Nc6; 9. Bb5! Bd7;  (10...Nge7!?~)  10. Be3, a6!;  11. Bc4, Qf6; 
12. 0-0-0, 0-0-0. A very safe evaluation would be unclear.  ("~")  I think the position is very close to 
being equal. ("=") - LIFE Master A.J. Goldsby I. (The computers agree with this assessment.) ]

 

9. Qg3!,
-->  Maybe - '!!'  <--
(See the diagram directly below.)

  Alekhine plays the move that Thomas and Nimzovich may have missed. (Or vastly under-estimated!)
The actual game position after White's 9th move.
(White just played 9. Q/f3 - g3!)

 

Alekhine immediately begins probing the weakened dark squares. For whatever reason, this is the 
only move given an exclam by Chernev. (I think this is sad, considering this is one of the most 
brilliant miniature games of all time!) 

Jimmy Adams writes:  "A very unpleasant double attack which confirms the threat of 10. Nb5." 

[ White could also play: 9. Be3!? Qg4;  10. Qf2 Nf6;  11. h3 Qg6;  12. 0-0-0 0-0; 13. Bc4 Nc6; 14.g4, Now "Black is {maybe} just slightly better," or "=/+." Chelebi-Messiaen;  Munich, 1958. 
Or White could play: 9. Nb5!? Qh4+;  10. g3 Qe7;  11. Qc3! Na6;  (Or 11...c6!?; 12. Bf4! --->)  
12. Bf4 Nf6;  13. Bg2 0-0;  14. 0-0-0 Ne8;  15. Rhe1, "White has good play and definite compensation for the material invested."  Tilevic-Rabinovich; Sverdlovsk, 1957. ] 

 

9...Nf6!?;

(See the diagram just below.) 

  Now Nimzovich employs a gambit - which many of the computers pick. But Nimzo's gambit is probably unsound and is decisively refuted.
 The actual game position after 9...Nf6; ("!?) 

 

('?')  A counter-gambit which really does NOT work out well for Black. 
(In fact the entire concept is soundly refuted by World Champion Alekhine.) 

[ Black probably should have played the line recommended by Alekhine, i.e. 9...Ne7!; 10. Be3!, 

***

Or White could {also} play: 
a). 10.Nb5!? Qe4+ ; 11.Be2 Nbc6!;  12.Nxc7+ Kf7 ; 13.Nxa8!?,  
Or  maybe better is: 13. Be3!, Nd5; 14. Nxd5 exd5; 15. Bd3 Qe7; 16. 0-0,  
Probably White is slightly better. ("+/=")  - This line by Kmoch.
 
13...Nd4!; - and "Black has good counter-play." - Le Lionnais  (A difficult position to correctly assess. 
White may still be marginally better, ("+/=") but that is far from clear. - LM A.J. Goldsby I.) 
b)
. Definitely NOT - 10. Qxg7?? Qxg7; Black is winning. ("-/+") 
c)
. 10. Qxc7?!, Probably - '?'  10...Nbc6; 11. Bd2 0-0; 12. 0-0-0 Rd8; 
 Black is clearly just a bit better here.  ("=/+") 

***

(Returning to the analysis of the line 9...Ne7!; 10. Be3!,)  10...Qf6; 11. 0-0-0!,  "+/" - A. Alekhine.
(Alekhine considers White to be nearly winning here.) 

(See the diagram just below for this position.) 

 The analysis position after Alekhine's "Castles Queen-side."
Analysis Position.
White just played 11. 0-0-0. 

Actually, a more accurate evaluation might be, "Good compensation for the material sacrificed." 
(Excellent piece play.)
   The computers appraise this position as, "slightly better for Black." ("=/+")
But this assessment is questionable, as it does not properly consider the all the dynamics of the position.  {A.J.G.}

Becker, in "Wiener Schachzeitung," gives the variations: 

a.) 9...e5?; 10. Qxg7, Qh4+; 11. g3, Qf6; 12. Bh6! Nd7; 13. Nd5, and wins. ("+/-")
b.) 9...Qd7; 10. Bf4, Nf6; 11. Rd1, Qf7; 12. Nb5! Na6; 13. Bxc7, with the much better
     game ("+/=") for White. 
c.) 9...Nc6; 10. Nb5, Qe4+; 11. Be3!, f4; 12. Qxf4, Qxf4; 13. Bxf4, e5; 14. Bg5! ("+/")

 

10. Qxg7 Qe5+!?;  (Maybe - '?!')

Alekhine criticized this move, and perhaps unjustly so. 
(This move is the first choice of all the better computer programs.) 

Nimzovich was obviously concerned with the long-term weakness of the c7-square. 

Jimmy Adams writes:  " This was considered the decisive mistake by MOST annotators, but the move suggested (10...Rg8;) is hardly any better." 

[ Alekhine preferred: 10...Rg8!?; (Maybe - '!') But now best play is: 11. Qxc7 Nc6;  12.Bd2,  
(Not 12. Nb5?!, (Strangely, Jimmy Adams gives this move an exclam.) 12...Qh4+!; 
Jimmy Adams gives the line:  12...Qd7!; 13. Bc4, --->  "with a strong attack."
13. g3 Qe4+
; 14. Kf2 Qxc2+;  15. Be2 Ne4+; Black is OK. ("=/+") - GM A. Alekhine.)
  
12...Ne4!; 13.Nxe4 Qxe4+; (Unclear?) {A.J.G.}]. 

 

11. Be2 Rg8; 12. Qh6 Rg6!?
This seems very logical. But could black have grabbed the KNP? 

[ 12...Rxg2!?; "~" ].

13. Qh4 Bd7!?;  (The computers still (initially) give the evaluation of: "=/+".) 

 (See the diagram just below for the current position.) 

  Black has just played the move 13...Bd7;  White's attack is reaching alarming proportions.
The actual game position after 13...Bd7!?

The computers consider Black has a slight edge here, but appearances can be deceiving. 

[ Black may also play: 13...Rg4!? ; ('!') 14.Qf2,  
(Or 14. Qh3 Nc6; 15. 0-0 Rg7; ~ - Kmoch Or 14. Qh6!? Rg6; ~)
14...Nc6; 15.0-0 Rg7; - Kmoch;  Now 15. Bh6! yields White a clear advantage. ("+/=" or "+/")
Or Black could try: 13...Rxg2!?;  14.Bg5!, (Unclear?) White has good play. ]. 

 

(White's next move could be given an exclam.)
14. Bg5 Bc6!?;  (Maybe - '?!/?') 
This move, which looks very reasonable, may be at the heart of all of Black's troubles. 
(Even though it seems a very sound move.) 

Hans Kmoch, A. Alekhine, Jimmy Adams and others have also criticized this move.
(But Black already has serious difficulties.) {A.J.G.} 

[ Good or bad, I think Black had to try: 14...Nc6!?; (Maybe - '!') This seems like the most logical. Black must complete his development or perish. 15. 0-0-0 0-0-0;  16.Bh5, Winning material, and an interesting move, but not the only one. (In most interesting positions, there are always alternatives!) 
  
(Or 16. Rhe1 h6; 17. Bxh6 Ng4!; 18. Bxg4 Rxg4; - Kmoch. 
     I guess you could evaluate this position as "unclear." {A.J.G.}) 
16...Rxg5!  17. Qxg5 Rg8; ("<=>") Black has great counterplay. - GM Hans Kmoch. 
(The computers give an evaluation of: "+/-" or "White is clearly better.")

Another line ... that is not so good for Black is: 14...h6?;
(See the diagram just below for this position.)

  Black pushes a pawn, trying to kick the Bishop on g5. This is the move many of my students wanted to play, although the move is an error.
Analysis Position
Black has just played 14...h6; (?)

(Maybe only '?!/!?') 15. Bf4!, A very good and accurate move for White. 
Or 15. Bxh6? Rg4!; 
(15...Ng4!?~)    16. Qf2 Bc6!; ("<=>" Black has good counterplay.) - (Kmoch)
15...Qc5!?;  Maybe this move is the bad one.  Maybe {instead} Black should play: 15...Qd4!?; ('?!') 

16.Rd1, "+/=" 
(See the diagram just below for this position.) 

  Analysis Position.  White just played 16. Rd1. White is much better.
Analysis Position
The game {analysis} after the move, 16. Rd1.
White is clearly better, but the win is nowhere in sight.

 White is {at least!} clearly a little better. ("+/=" Maybe - "+/") - A.J. Goldsby I 
16. Bh5 Nxh5; 17. Qxh5 Kf7; 18.0-0-0 Nc6; 19. g4!, (White is winning. "+/-") - GM H. Kmoch. 

But not 14...Nd5?!; ('?') 15. Nxd5 Qxd5; 16. Bh5, ("+/-") {A.J.G.} ].  

 

15. 0-0-0 Bxg2!?; 
Black is now  two  pawns up, but White has an incredible amount of piece play - 
and of course plenty of compensation for the material he has invested. 

[ White also does well after: 15...Nbd7; 16. Rhe1, ("+/") 16...Be4; 
(Or 16...0-0-0
; 17. Bh5 Rxg5; 18. Qxg5! Qxh2; 19. Bf7, "+/=" or "+/"
17. Bh5 Nxh5; (Or 17...0-0-0; 18. Bxg6 hxg6; 19. Nxe4 fxe4; 20.Rxd7! , - Jimmy Adams.)  
18. Qxh5 Nf6;  (Or if Black played: 18...Nf8; 19. Bh6!, "+/" or "+/-" White is better or winning.)   
19. Bxf6 Qxf6;  20. Nxe4 fxe4;  21. Qb5+!, ("+/-") - GM H. Kmoch. ] 

 

With his next move, White will have his entire army developed, 
where Black has men asleep in the barracks on the Queen-side.

16. Rhe1,
(See the diagram just below.)

  White just played 16. Rhe1. Who is better? And why?
The actual game position after 16. Rhe1.
White's lead in development is decisive.

 

White has completed his development and deployed all his pieces to key squares. This, coupled with 
all the open lines, and the insecure position of the Black King; spells disaster for the second player.

White could have also won with 16. Rhg1, Bc6; {What else?} 17. Bf4!, Qa5;  18. Rxg6, hxg6; 
19. Qxf6, winning a piece and an easily won game. ("+/-") 

16...Be4; 17. Bh5(!) Nxh5; 18. Rd8+(!) Kf7; 19. Qxh5, "+/-"  

Black RESIGNS.  1-0.

 

"Such a dashing attack is seldom seen in tournament games." - Jimmy Adams. 
 (From the red book, "Bled, 1931; International Tournament."  
  (c) 1987, Caissa Editions; hard-back.) 

Alekhine writes: (barely hiding his pride) 
"This was, I believe, the shortest defeat in his [Nimzovich's] career." 
("My Best Games of Chess, 1924-1937.")

***

 A great game, and one that is difficult - even in the year 2001 - to pinpoint exactly where Black 
 went wrong. (Even with the aid of the very best computer programs!!!) Nimzo played well, 
 but Alekhine played better! 
 

***

And I must emphasize just how reasonable many [most] of Black's moves were. I have analyzed this game literally over 200 times. (Maybe a whole lot more.)  There is not a single move that you can safely attach a question mark to. This game very clearly demonstrates that chess can often be a game of inches and one where a superior plan defeats a plan that is inferior. A game that can leave you scratching your head. (As to exactly where Black went wrong.) But I have endeavored to thoroughly annotate this game, perhaps better than anyone has ever annotated it before. 

 I personally believe this is a game of great energy and brilliance by Alekhine.  
 Easily FIVE STARS!!!  (Out of a possible five!)  

I think it certainly deserves strong consideration to be on the list of: 
"The Ten Greatest Short (Miniature) Games of Chess Ever Played."
- LIFE Master A.J. Goldsby I. 

[ The proof that White wins? It is: 19. Qxh5 Kg7;  (Not 19...Nc6??;  20. Qxh7+; "+/-" 
Or 19...h6;  20. Nxe4!, "+/-"
)
  20. Nxe4 fxe4;  21. Bh6+!, {"And White wins." - A. Alekhine.} 
21...Kf6; Forced. Everything else clearly loses. (21...Rxh6??;  22. Qxe5+, wins for White.) 
22. Qh4+!, with a winning ("+/-") attack for White. 
{The computers say White is mating Black in like six (6) moves!} 
Chernev gives the line: 22. Rf1+ , which is also more than adequate to win. ("+/-")

***

(I consulted the following sources in annotating this game.)

Bibliography:

  1. Many different opening books, but most importantly MCO-14 and ECO. 
    (& also Nunn's Chess Openings.)

  2. My database, most notably the annotated version of this game from "ChessBase."

  3. Irving Chernev's book, "[The] 1000 Best Short Games of Chess."

  4. The great Alexander A. Alekhine's book, "My Best Games of Chess, 1923-1937." 

  5. The book, "Bled, 1931; International Chess Tournament."  by Jimmy Adams. 

***

If you would like to get a copy of this game, the way it exists in my database, 
- deeply annotated - please contact me. 


 Click  HERE  to return to my domain. 

Click HERE to return to my Yahoo/GeoCities chess web site.

Click  HERE  to return to my  (GeoCities)   "Best Short Games Page." 


Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I, 
  A.J. Goldsby 1995-2006,  A.J. Goldsby, 2007.  All rights reserved.  

  Page last updated: February 05, 2004.


Counter