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Alexander Alekhine vs Oldrich Duras
Hamburg (1910), Hamburg GER, rd 8, Jul-26
Queen's Gambit Declined: Capablanca - General (D30)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <> Two moves are recorded incorectly: It should be 54...Ra7 and 62...Ra6. Can you please fix it?

The first move 54...Ra7 was a part of a key trap that Duras set for Alekhine.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: What happens when two great tacticians dispute a close endgame? If this game, you get an endgame rich in subtle tactical strikes and counter-strikes.

Here is a synopsis of the game taken partly from notes by Emil Richter (Czech 1940-50's master and endgame expert):

After <6...Bb4+!> White <7.Nfd2!> at least recovers the QG pawn. White ends with some dynamic problems though. Altough AAA position looks good after <13.Rxa7>, by the time he resolves the position of his king, Black has the upper hand. <18.Rxa8> The exchange is forced, of course; on c7 the rook would get trapped. <24.Kb1> Not 24.Bxd3 cxd3 25.Nb3 Kf7 and g5 gives Black a strategic win. Moreover, White has to watch for tactical tricks like 26.Ra1? Bxb3! As it is, it is not completely trivial for Black to mibilize his pawn advantage on the K-side <24...Kf8> transparent 24...Kf7 could have been better nonetheless. It seems that Duras is already thinking about seting some traps.

<29.Rg1? Kf7?> Offseting tactical oversights in time pressure (the time control was after 30 moves). Pretty <29...b4!<>> would have won the game. The key motive is <30.cxb4? c3+! 31.Kxc3 Ne2+<>>; the main line goes 30.Nxc4 bxc3+ 31.Kb1 Ba4 (threatens Rb8) 32.Bxa4 Rxa4 and the c-pawn can not be stopped (at reasonable costs); e.g., 33.Ne5 Ne2 34.Nxg6+ Ke8 35.Re1 Rb4+ 36.Kc2 Rb2+ 37.c2.

For some reason, Duras often played moves like <32...h5?!>, just to later push through g5 by tactical means. But I fail to see the wisdom of removing the thematic treat g5 from the table in this position. Perhaps Duras was angling for some trap? Alekhine defends cautiously and <38.Ng2 Nxg2> manages to exchange the troublesome Black knight.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: In order to make any progress, Duras sets a strategic trap <61...Ke7!>. And Alekhine takes the bate <62.d5?!>. The tactical point is that, with the open rook on a7, black can not take <62...exd6? 63.Bxf5! gxf5? 64.Rg7+<>>. Thus we get the position after <62...Ra6 63.d6 Kc6> where White has the far advanced protected central pawn on d6, but gave up the control of c5. (AAA probably not lost had he continued passive defense. But its so hard to refrain from the pretty push d4-d5-d6.)

White exchanges rooks <64.Ra1 Rxa1 65.Kxa1> to remove the sting from Kc5 and b4.

A "study-like part" of the endgame starts here: <65...Kd5!> ties up the White bishop to protection of e4 and then <66.Kb2 b4! 67.cxb4 Kd4! 68.Ka3>. Now came another pair of offseting errors <68...c3? 69.Ba4?>. Duras transposes the wining order of moves and gives Alekhine a chance to save the game by the less then obvious <69.Kb3! Bb5! 70.Bd1! Kd3 71.Bc2+ Kd4!<>>. In this variation 69...Ke3? looses for Black because of 70.Kxc3 Kxf4 71.Kd4 and Bd3 and b5. In contrast, 70.Bb1? (from the drawing line) looses for White because of 70...g5!! and the mating threats to White king decide, despite the fact that Black queens a tempo later. Finaly, 71...Kd2? is dangerous for Black because now, after 72.Bb1! g5 73.fxg5, the new White queen would have a check on g5.

Since Alekhine goes after a win, he corrects Duras' error, after <69...Ke3!> all is back on track. The main tactical motive is <70.Bxe8 c2 71.Kb2 Kd2<>>, where the Black queens with a check. In the rest, Alekhine keeps finding tactical excuses, <71.b5! Bxb5> and <73.Kc5! Ke3!> (in both cases, Black c2? would be bad) untill the logic of superior position proves too overwhelming.

It remains to note that, the corect move order was <68...Ke3!! 69.Ba4 c3!<>> which returns to the game. White couner-strike 69.b5 Bxb5 70.Kb4 Bd7! 71.Ba4 c3!! falls short.

Dec-19-06  ALEXIN: Great endgame from Duras.
Dec-10-14  drunknite: More from Whitesharks same color B endgame collection. Despite a lot of commentary from very well known expert (Richter) nothing is said about what happens at the end. First of all 79...g5 is a very fine move, other moves will not win. There is a recurring endgame tactic of Bishops stopping 2 or more pawns along the same diagonal. Also white can remove blacks B using the tactic he tried on move 70. Keep these in mind, with this example of a different 79th move and see what happens:

79. ... Kg3?! ( ...g5! was played in the game)
80. Kxc3 Kxh4
81 Kb4 g5
82. Ba4 Bc8
83. d7 Bxd7
84. Bxd7 g4
85. Bxe6 Kg5
86. Bd5 g3
87. Kc5 h4

produces the following which appears to be dead drawn:

click for larger view

note carefully, how in this situation the B stops pawns along the same diagonal, but at the end of this game, blacks K and f pawn will be able to shield the h pawn. Here the black k has to stop whites pawn from queening.

Dec-25-15  joddon: must have been nothing but a time pressured game......i would say a rapid game or maybe 30 minutes.....the oepning must have taken time to prepare with either side not sure how to start....resulting in fast queen trades......i think the ending must have been played fats where alex simply was rnning out of time big time
Jun-15-19  mifralu: Correction:

< 54. ... Ra8 > and < 62. ...Ra7 >

< Skinner&Verhoeven, Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games 1902-1946, p.50 >

Correction slip submitted.

Feb-05-20  seneca16: I think Alekhine just overlooked ...Ng4.
Feb-06-20  Retireborn: I think there are more secrets to be revealed about this endgame.

In <drunknite>'s line Black isn't obliged to play 80...Kxh4; 80...f4 seems to win handily.

<Gypsy> gives a fascinating analysis, but his conclusion that the counter-strike (after 68...Ke3) 69.b5 Bxb5 70.Kb4 Bd7 71.Ba4? c3!! falls short may not be true. Houdini gives 71.Kxc4 Kxf4 72.Kc5 Kxe5 73.Bd3!

Now 73..Kf6/f4 would actually lose to 74.Bb5! and 73...f4 74.Bxg6 & 75.Bxh5 appears not to win. If 73...Be8 just 74.Be2 and despite his two extra pawns there's no way for Black to win.

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