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Alexander Alekhine vs Karoly Sterk
"Sterk Raving Mad" (game of the day Oct-23-2014)
Budapest (1921), Budapest HUN, rd 4, Sep-09
Queen's Gambit Declined: Barmen Variation (D37)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-26-10  Calli: <M.D.Wilson> Its not all that complex. I repeat my post from 2006 without the typo.

"Alekhine gives the 20.Qb1 Bb4 21.a3 Qb7, saying it yields only 2 pieces for a rook and "numerous defensive possibilities for Black". However, he was wrong! Nunn pointed out that 20.Qb1 Bb4 21.a3 Qb7 22.b3! wins a piece no matter how Black plays it."

Mar-27-10  M.D. Wilson: I know it's not complex, but I don't use chess sofware, so I wanted to know what they suggested. I did not see your earlier posting of the continuation, but I'm glad to see that 20.Qb1 is confirmed as a strong move.
Mar-27-10  Calli: Alekhine missed it during the game, but did he purposefully omit the line in his annotations? Tend to think he would not have missed it when analyzing. I've come to mistrust his analysis after New York 1924 tournament book. Too many cases of self-serving variations.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <M.D. Wilson> Rybka 3 suggests as even stronger after 20 Qb1 Bb4

21 Rc4!

click for larger view

The point is, I think, that if 21...Ba5 22 b4 Qa6 23 Rh4 White has the Kside attack along with the extra piece.

Other interesting lines are 21...h6 22 Bxh6! gxh6 23 Rg4+ Kh8 24 Qc1 mating, which surely would have appealed to Alekhine,

or the fatalistic 21...e5 22 Rxb4 e4 23 Nd2 just giving up the piece.

<Calli> Given the sensational course of the game, I think Alekhine might have missed that he had an equally dynamic alternative to 20 Qe2, and thought he had a choice between dully winning a piece (21 a3) and enacting his grand scheme.

Mar-27-10  Calli: <Tamar> Yes, I like 20 Qb1 Bb4 21.Rc4! also. The problem with AA's Qe2 is that 22...f6 puts up a lot more resistance than the Qb1 lines. See my post in Apr-27-2004. 2004? Funny how time slips away!

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Yeah, 2004 seems like just the other day...
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Calli> I've been analyzing 20 Qe2 Bc5 21 Rab1 with Rybka 3 with an eye to see where Alekhine messed up.

The variations show that Qe2 is okay if not optimal (20 Qb1 is), but that 21 Rab1 gives away most of White's advantage in the manner you outlined.

<22...f6 23.Bc1 (other moves seem worse) Rfd8 24.b4 Rd3! (threatens the rook at c4) 25.Nd2 Bxb4 26.Rbxb4 Qxa2!>

That last move is an amazing shot that would be difficult for anyone to see, so I think Alekhine may have missed it even in analysis.

There was another move however, 21 Qb5, which leads to safer material gains.

click for larger view

If 21...Qe8 22 Rxc5
If 21...a6 22 Qc4 Qb7 23 b4 Bxb4 24 Qxb4 Nd3 25 Qe7 Qxe7 26 Bxe7 Nxc1 27 Bxf8 Nxa2 28 Bxg7 and White has a piece for two pawns which should be enough.

Mar-28-10  Calli: 21 Qb5 works nicely. Revises my opinion of Qe2. As stands now, the annotation might read 20.Qe2!? (Qb1!) Ba5 21. Rab1?! (Qb5!) Qa6 22.Rc4 Na4? (f6!)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: I looked up what Kotov said about the critical move (Qe2) in his book on Alekhine. In short, practically nothing:

<17...Nxe4> After this mistake, White will get an irresistible K-side attack by force.

<Qe2! Ba5> (absence of commentary)

<... Na4> At first glance, it looks like Black discovered an excuse... But Alekhine applies a long prepared K-side strike.


Dec-07-11  AnalyzeThis: <You dont really think that Alekhine "noticed" the Bf6 idea and sequence at move 23, do you?>

Quite right. I'm sure that he thought of it when 21....Qa6 was played, at least.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: This game was awarded the tournament Brilliancy Prize.

From the <Budapest 1921> International Tournament.

<Alekhine> finished clear 1st over a decent field including Grunfeld, Kostic, Tartakower, Balla, Euwe, Bogoljubow, and Samisch.

An ideologically interesting comment on this tournament from the <British Chess Magazine>:

<"Alekhine, who held the lead from soon after the start, came out first with the fine score of six wins and five draws- 8.5 points in 11 games- and proved that, in spite of his <<<Bolshevist experiences,>>> he is still the great player that he was before the war.">

<BCM> 1921, p.411

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: Hello:

My annotations of this game ...
(The above is not my website, but one of a friend. I hope we can find a new viewer, maybe the PGN viewer from here.)

Oct-23-14  Travis Bickle: Game is over... ; P
Oct-23-14  morfishine: Interesting comments on the "missed" <20.Qb1> by Alekhine and the subsequent "missed" <22...f6> by Sterk.

Alekhine's "oversight" can be explained by the principle that once one sees a winning line, cease analyzing alternatives and focus on the line chosen. If its pointed out later that a faster win was overlooked, its really no matter since a win is win. Of coure, in this case, Alekhine's oversight is better defined as a miscalculation

Sterk's "oversight" is a whole different animal. Having found himself inveigled in an Alekhine crafted spider-web, Sterk drifts while trying to find the best way to lose a piece vs AA, an unpleasant task any way you look at it.

But did Sterk "miss" or "dismiss" 22...f6?

Oct-23-14  widjaja70: Was 24....Rc5 a mistake? 24....Qxc4 should have won for Black, threatening Qc1+. Or am I missing something?
Oct-23-14  kevin86: Black's king is in need of a priest!
Oct-23-14  Chess Dad: <24....Qxc4 should have won for Black, threatening Qc1+. Or am I missing something?>

25. Qg5 Qc1+ 26. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 27. Qxc1 gxf6 28. Qc6

The final move of that sequence leaves white with a double attack against Na4 and Ra8, and after the Qxa4, white is up Q vs. R+p.

Oct-23-14  Gilmoy: Hah! I saw <22.Rc4> and instantly thought: Alekhine did that once!

Then I realized ... oh, this <is> that game. The cheesy pun was so bad I didn't even notice White's name.

Dec-28-14  TheFocus: Alekhine won the Budapest International tournament held in Budapest, Hungary with a score of +6=5-0.

This is round 4, September 9, 1921.

Jan-10-16  morfishine: Yet another nonsensical, infantile play-on-word that needs to be erased
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Calli: One of my favs. It works because 24...Qxc4 25.Qg5 Qc1+ (forced) 26.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 27.Qxc1 gxf6 looks playable for black, but then 28.Qc6 forks the Knight and the rook. This is Alekhine's familar last move "stinger". >

That scorpion's sting as the culminating moment de la combinaison is a most pleasing characteristic of Alekhine, with a well-known example being the predecessor Lasker vs J Bauer, 1889.

Jul-25-16  andrea volponi: 22...f6!(...h6?-Axh6 gxh6-Ce5! )-Ac1 Tad8-b4 Axb4-Tbxb4 Dxa2 -Tc2 Da6-Tbc4 e5-Ch4 g6-h3 Td5-Ae3 Db5-Df3 Td3
Apr-14-17  zanzibar: 22...Na4 certainly is a "Sterk crazy" move - what could possibly be the rationale for such a move - to provoke 23.b3 ... ?

Certainly did set up a beautiful move though.

Apr-15-17  ChessHigherCat: Hi Zanzibar, "Sterk crazy" is great, much better than the chosen pun. I think Na4 was probably supposed to 1) prevent pushing b3 or b4 because it would be answered by the fork on Nc3 (R can't take N, of course, because of the pin on the Q) and 2) allow b5 on the next move so the bishop can escape and vamoos to greener (or blacker and whiter) pastures.
Aug-20-22  Sirius69: On move 28) Qf4-- it appears that 28)Rf4 is the stronger move. And blacks 28)---Qc2 is just plain horrible!
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