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Alexander Alekhine vs Boris Verlinsky
Odessa (1918)
Horwitz Defense: General (A40)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-17-14  TheFocus: An off-hand game played in Odessa, Ukraine on October 26, 1918.
Dec-10-17  visayanbraindoctor: Another game that highlights Alekine's superb tactical vision and abilities.

After 17. Nf1 g5

Verlinsky has attained a nearly ideal Stonewall-type attack. If he can get the in g4 (typical in Stonewall type of attacks) White would be busted.

I do not think he expected AAA to sac a piece.

18. cxd5 exd5 19. Bxe4 fxe4

Verlinsky had probably already calculated this position, and in his mind's eye was probably expecting AAA to move his attacked Knight on f3. Then he could follow up with moves such as Ne5 and g4, busting open White's King.

But AAA shocks him with

20. Rxd5!

Suddenly it's Black's King that's about to be busted open.

exf3 21. Qc4 Kf8 22. Rf5+ Ke8

and instead of the White King, it's the Black King that is clearly in trouble.

I do not know if a computer would prefer Black here, but as a human, I would prefer playing White. After developing out the White Knight and centralizing the White QR Black optically would have a very difficult time defending his King. The following moves see AAA doing so.

23. Nd2 Nd8 24. Nxf3 Bxf3 25. Rxf3 Rg6 26. Rd1

AAA eventually cashes on his attack in by capturing the Black Queen.

Rc7 27. e4 g4 28. hxg4 Rxg4 29. Bf6 Qd7 30. Bxd8 Kxd8 31. Rxd6 Qxd6 and a winning endgame.

BTW, despite being classified as an <off-hand game>, I believe this was played during an Alekhine vs Verlinsky match in Odessa 1918. CG data shows they played 6 games in 1918.

<4. B Verlinsky vs Alekhine 0-1 23 1918 Odessa B12 Caro-Kann Defense 5. Alekhine vs B Verlinsky 1-0 26 1918 Odessa C21 Center Game 6. B Verlinsky vs Alekhine 0-1 49 1918 Odessa C38 King's Gambit Accepted 7. Alekhine vs B Verlinsky 1-0 24 1918 Odessa B45 Sicilian, Taimanov 8. Alekhine vs B Verlinsky 1-0 42 1918 Odessa A40 Queen's Pawn Game 9. Alekhine vs B Verlinsky 1-0 41 1918 Odessa C68 Ruy Lopez, Exchange>

I assume that conditions were more or less the same as with other exhibition games such as Capablanca vs C Jaffe, 1909 where the time control was <20 moves an hour>

Verlinsky was the Soviet Champion in 1929 and awarded the title of first Soviet Grandmaster. Quite a strong player. I wonder if anyone has more details of this match, which would have been between two of the strongest Russian/Ukrainian players of that era.

The way Alekhine smashed Verlinsky in this match (6-0! according to recorded games, but there may have been more I assume; or this match would have been close to the 6-0 Fischer scored against Taimanov) is evidence of AAA's growing strength. Capablanca should have studied these early matches of Alekhine, wherein he showed his class, and not underestimated him in THEIR 1927 match.

Dec-12-17  visayanbraindoctor: This could well be one of the most underrated and undervalued matches in chess history. A match between two future Soviet Champions, one also a future World Champion. (IMO the winner in this underrated and undervalued matches category is the Euwe - Keres (1939/40))

At this time, Alekhine and Verlinsky could well have been the strongest chess masters still residing regularly in post revolutionary 1917 USSR. I would speculate that a local club or patron noticed this fact, and arranged for a match between them. (Two strong masters as a rule just don't sit down and play at least 6 games for nothing. Monetary stakes are usually involved.)

(Bogo AFAIK was already residing more or less permanently in Germany. Other strong Russian Empire masters were moving out at around this time, while the Baltics masters and Poles like Rubinstein broke away with Baltic and Polish independence. AAA continued to reside in the USSR and even participated in the first officially recognized USSR Championship USSR Championship (1920), and was to emigrate only later, while Verlinsky never did.)

I believe that the games recorded in CG may be incomplete. There could have been draws or even Verlinsky wins in this match. The CG record shows AAA playing 4 Whites, Verlinsky only 2. Where are the other two Verlinsky White games?

Hopefully more info would turn up about this Alekhine vs Verlinsky match. It was quite an impressive feat by Alekhine. No one just crushes a (future) USSR Champion and Soviet Grand Master like this.

There is no doubt in my mind that Alekhine played scores of classical but 'lost' games in the era when he had not yet transferred permanently to France, and was playing as Russian Empire/ Soviet citizen. Again, hopefully more info would turn up about these games.

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