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Gideon Stahlberg vs Alexander Alekhine
Hamburg Olympiad (1930), Hamburg GER, rd 3, Jul-15
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Spielmann. Stahlberg Variation (E23)  ·  0-1



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Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <Gypsy> <Since the <why> part was already answered by <Once>, I will add a forced win against what I think would have been a stiffer defense:

<31.Be2> Rxf3 32.Rxf3 Rxf3 <33.Qxf3!?>

33...Bxf3 34.Bxf3 <e4!> 35.Bg4 (35.Bxe4 Qe3+, 35.Rxd4 Qe3+) Qxg4 36.Rxd4 Qe2 ... 0-1 >

Take a look at 32...Nxf3+ in your line, which leaves the white queen undefended.

Aug-11-11  naruto00122: <Once> hey, I just noticed that there are 'once' (thirteen in spanish) stripes on your Avatar

Is it concidence?

Aug-11-11  I play the Fred: <<Once> hey, I just noticed that there are 'once' (thirteen in spanish) stripes on your Avatar>

Once is the Spanish word for <eleven>.

Aug-11-11  stst: tired and near bed time, just offer the line before checking with Alehkine: (too much a fortress protecting f3) --

...Nf5 (ck Q) and later eyeing for g3+

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: As noted by <notyetagm>, this game won the best game prize at the 1930 Hamburg Olympiad.

Regarding 18.a4, Alekhine commented in, "My Best Games of Chess - 1924-1927", <...takes decidedly too much time and thus permits Black to build the ensuing instructive attack.>

Instead of 18.a4, Alekhine recommended 18.Qe5, with the threat of 19.Qc7. Alekhine indicated the game would then have continued with the moves: 18...f4 19.Qc7 Bxf3 20.Bxf3 fxe3 21.fxe3 Nf5, and White, according to Alekhine, would be able to protect his King.

Fritz indicates Alekhine's variation results in an equal evaluation: (.00) (22 ply) 22.Rd3 Qg6 23.Be4 Qg4 24.Qe5 g6, or (.00) (22 ply) 22.Qe5 Qg6 23 Rf1 Rc8 24.Rad1 d6.

While Fritz evaluates Alekhine's suggestion as equal, it also evaluates Stahlberg's 18.a4 as a better continuation, giving White the advantage.

Fritz indicates 18.a4 gives White an advantage, and provided the following analysis: (.70) (22 ply) 18...Rc8 19.Ne5 d5 20.c5 bxc5 21.bxc5 Nc6 22.Nf3, or (.88) (22 ply) 18...f4 19.exf4 Rxf4 20.a5 Bxf3 21.Bxf3 Rc8.

After his move 18...f4, Alekhine comments, <From now on, until the end, all Black's moves are very exactly timed. It is hardly possible to replace any one of them by a better one.>

While Alekhine finished the game very strongly, Fritz will show us that he also received a little help from his opponent.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Jimfromprovidence> Yup, thx.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Jimfromprovidence> Your <31.Bd3> suggestion seems to be an improvement on Alekhine's own analysis.

AAA (via Kotov) states this:

<After 31.Qd2 (relatively best) comes Bxf3 32.Nxf3 Nxf3+ 33.Rxf3 Rxf3 34.Qxg5 Rxf1+ 35.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 36.Kxf1 hxg5 37.Ke2 Kf7 38.Kf3 Ke6 39.Ke4 b5! with a won pawn end-game.>

That makes me suspect that AAA did not properly consider the 31.Bd3 defense; or he ignored it in his comments because he did not see how to break it.

Could someone run an engine on the position after the 31.Bd3?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After 18.a4 f4, Fritz indicates it is White that has the advantage: (.78) (22 ply) 19.exf4! Rxf4 20.a5, (.72) (22 ply) 20...Bxf3 21.Bxf3 Rc8 22.Be2 d5, or (.79) (22 ply) 20...Qg6 21.axb6 axb6 22.Ne1 Nc8.

In this position:

click for larger view

Instead of playing the move 19.exf4!, White's advantage was less after: (.38) (22 ply) 19.a5 fxe3 20.Qxe3 Nf5 21.Qc3 d6 22.axb6 axb6.

Alekhine made no comment regarding the merits of 19.exf4 vs 19.a5. Certainly Alekhine must have expected that Stahlberg may respond with either 19.exf4 or 19.a5. It would have been interesting to see what evaluation and line of play Alekhine intended, had Stahlberg played 19.exf4!.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: At move 23, Alekhine comments: <If 23.Ra7, then of course 23...Rd7, threatening to win a piece by 24...Bxf3, etc.>

Based on this comment, one may think 23.Ra7 was a weak move. On the contrary, it is White's best move, and the resulting position slightly favors White: (.38) (22 ply) 23.Ra7! Rd7 24.Nd4 Qg6 25.g3 Rdf7 26.Nxf5 Qxf5 27.f3.

In addition to 23.Ra7!, another reasonable choice for White was: (.30) (22 ply) 23.Nd4 Qg6.

Instead of one of these moves, or several other moves that give an approximately equal position, Stahlberg played: (-.26) (22 ply) 23.Ne1? e5! 24.Ra7. Even Alekhine may have been surprised by 23.Ne1?, as Fritz indicates White had more than 20 other moves that were superior to 23.Ne1?.

A strange point in the game analysis by Alekhine. He appears to criticize 23.Ra7, which is actually a good move, and then he offers no evaluation of the inferior move 23.Ne1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After 25...Rd7, Alekhine comments in, "My Best Games of Chess - 1924-1937", <Threatening 26...Bf3, etc.>. This note does not seem to be correct. Do other sources show this same wording? After 25...Rd7, Black does threaten 26...Nxe2+ 27.Qxe2 Bf3 28.Nxf3 Rxa7, but this is not the same, as the wording noted above.

After 25...Rd7, Fritz prefers: (-.21) (22 ply) 26.Bd3 Rdf7 27.Rd2 Qc8, or (-.22) (22 ply) 26.Rd2 Rf4 27.Bd3 Rdf7 28.f3.

Stahlberg's choice, 26.Ra2, is only slightly less preferred by Fritz: (-.36) (22 ply) 26.Ra2 Qf7 27.Rad2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <Aug-11-11
Once: <Jim> As ever your side puzzle squeeze the last little drop of juice from the position!>

For once, I have to agree with <Once> ... you almost always explore the side positions ... this is a good way to learn tactics AND help those less experienced than yourself. (Good job!)

Aug-12-11  Calli: <Pawn and Two> The situation may be similar to Alekhine vs L Asztalos, 1927 Alekhine convinced the prize committee based on incorrect analysis. He did not correct it in published notes, possibly to save the embarrassment. It could be the same here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Calli> That was interesting, regarding Alekhine's analysis, for his Brilliancy Prize game with Asztalos at Kecskemet. In looking at Alekhine's notes for that game, I see that he awarded two exclamation marks for 42.Nxf7 and remarked, "Only so!", although as several others have pointed out, it was clearly not the strongest move in the position.

Your theory may be correct for this game with Stahlberg, as Alekhine's analysis of it is certainly less than what I expected.

Aug-13-11  aliejin: "It could be the same here"

Yes it could be , especially if you
need it !

Aug-13-11  aliejin: "Your theory may be correct"

Why the analysis of Alekhine (or any other player) have to be perfect and withstand the test of computers a century later?

I understand that it is useful to learn how to improve the game, but not to judge as a court-martial

Any event of the past must be studied in its context, in its possibilities

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After 26.Ra2, Fritz prefers, (-.38) (23 ply) 26...Rdf7 27.f3, or (-.36) (22 ply) 26...Qf7 27.Rad2.

With his 27th move Stahlberg set the stage for the exciting conclusion of this game. Fritz agrees that 27.f3 was the best defense, but with so many Black pieces posed for the destruction of White's king side, and with those pieces commanded by Alekhine, who could have played 27.f3 with any real confidence of survival?

Alekhine remarked regarding 27.f3, <One would suppose that this Pawn, besides being protected by its neighbor, and easily supported by 3-4 pieces, cannot possibly form a welcome object for Black's attack.>

Yet, as Alekhine points out, it was almost inevitable that White's f3 would be captured, and he stated, <It was certainly the unusualness of Black's winning stratagem which induced the judges to award to this game the Brilliancy Prize.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <18...f5-f4!

From here till the end of the game, all moves of Black are carefully calculated. It would be hard to replace any of them with a better one.>

A. A. Alekhine

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <<Apr-22-10 alexrawlings: 31.. Rxf3 would make a nice Wednesday or Thursday puzzle.>> Good call ... ____ exceptionally gifted too. (Do you pick lotto numbers as well?)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Fritz indicates 27.f3 was White's best defensive try, and Stahlberg bravely played it.

Certainly, with several Black pieces threatening to capture on f3, and Alekhine thinking of multiple ways to crash through, the White position looks precarious:

click for larger view

Though under pressure, Fritz indicates White has very good chances to hold this position.

Here is Fritz's analysis for its' top three continuations: (-.29) (24 ply) 27...h5 28.Bd3 Qe6 29.Rf2 Rf4 30.Ra1 h4, (-.23) (24 ply) 31.h3 Qd7, or (-.26) (24 ply) 27...Bc6 28.Bd3, (-.33) (24 ply) 28...Rf4 29.Rf2 Qe6 30.b5 Bb7 31.Ra1, or (-.24) (24 ply) 27...Qc6 28.Bd3, (-.23) (24 ply) 28...Qc8 29.Rf2 Rf4 30.Ra1 h5 31.h3.

Alekhine's response, 27...Rf4, certainly looked good, but it allowed White the possibility for a strong response, reducing the position evaluation to near total equality: (-.18) (23 ply) 28.c5!, (-.19) (24 ply) 28...Qc6 29.cxd6 Qxd6, (-.17) (24 ply) 30.Rad2 h6 31.Bc4+ Kh7 32.Bd3+ Kh8, (-.10) (22 ply) 33.Bb1 Qf6 34.h3 Rd8 35.Kh1.

After 28.c5! Qc6 29.cxd6 Qxd6, White can play: (-.15) (24 ply) 30.h3 h6 31.Rad2 Kh8 32.Bd3, (-.10) (22 ply) 32...Qf6 33.Bb1 Bc6, and again the evaluation of the position is near totally equal.

Also, after 28.c5!, if 28...bxc5 29.bxc5, (-.02) (24 ply) 29...dxc5 30.Nd3 Bd5 31.Rb2, with an equal evaluation.

Stahlberg missed a chance for an equal position with 28.c5!.

Instead, Stahlberg played his 2nd best move: 28.Bd3. This move also provided White with very good drawing chances, however, the game's course would soon depart from that predicted by Fritz.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Instead of 28.c5!, Stahlberg played 28.Bd3, which Fritz indicates was also good enough for a draw.

After 28.Bd3, Fritz indicates the best continuations are: (-.27) (24 ply) 28...Bc6 29.Rf2 Qe6, or (-.26) (24 ply) 28...Qh5 29.Rf2!, (-.21) (24 ply) 29...Qg5 30.Ra1 h6 31.Ra7, or (-.25) (24 ply) 29...Rh4 30.h3 Bc8 31.Be4 Be6 32.g4 Qf7 33.f4 Bxc4 34.Nd3, with near equal evaluations for each of these continuations.

After 28.Bd3, Alekhine played 28...Qh4, and stated in "My Best Games of Chess - 1924-1937", <Threatening 29...e4!>. He did not provide any likely or possible continuations.

The threat Alekhine was referring to is: 29...e4 30.Be2 Nxe2+ 31.Rxe2 Qg6 32.Rf2 exf3 33.g3 Rxc4 34.Nxf3, or 30.Be2 Nxf3+ 31.Nxf3 exf3 32.Bxf3 Bxf3 33.gxf3 Rxf3, with material advantage and a better position for Black.

White however, did have a very good response available for 28...Qh4, with the move 29.Rf2!. Stahlberg missed 29.Rf2!, and instead he erred with 29.Bf1?.

Alekhine too, missed that White should play 29.Rf2!. However, a move later Alekhine correctly noted that 30.Rf2 was forced.

After 29.Bf1?, Alekhine had the advantage, but it was still a fight, and there were more surprises to come.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: As noted above, instead of playing the nearly equal 29.Rf2!, Stahlberg made a serious error by playing 29.Bf1?.

This was the position on the board after 29.Bf1?:

click for larger view

Alekhine gave an (!) to his next move, 29...Qg5, and noted, <With the main threat 30...Rxf3! forcing the win of the Queen.>

Alekhine further noted regarding White's next move: <White's answer is forced>.

Alekhine was correct in that 30.Rf2 was forced.

However, his use of the (!) mark for 29...Qg4, was not the best. It is true that Black has some advantage after 29...Qg5, but considerably stronger was the move 29...Qg4!.

The advantage of the move 29...Qg4!, is that by keeping maximum pressure on f3, the defensive move 30.Rf2 would lead to a significant disadvantage for White: (-1.89) (24 ply) 30.Rf2? Bxf3! 31.Nxf3 Rxf3 32.Rxf3 Nxf3+ 33.Kh1 Nxh2.

After 29...Qg4!!, White best defense is 30.Be2!, and with the move Rf2 not possible, Black can then play 30...Qg5!, with a strong advantage.

In my next posting I will review the continuations and evaluations after 29...Qg5 30.Rf2, and 29...Qg4! 30.Be2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: This was the first time that a reigning World Champion played in a Chess Olympiad.

On first board for France, however, <Alkhine> sat out his scheduled games against the strongest opponents he would have faced, including Flohr, Marshall, Maroczy, Rubinstein, and Sultan Khan.

In "Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games, 1902-1946," <Skinner and Verhoeven> speculate on the reason for this behavior:

<"The reason for this was probably due more to his <<<unwillingness>>> to undertake the time and effort required in the absence of any substantial prize money, rather than any fear of meeting those particular opponents.">

May-13-14  RookFile: Yet another strong effort for Alekhine in the Nimzo-Indian. The opening really should have been named for Alekhine, rather than Nimzo, as Alekhine played it for as long as Nimzo did, but with much better results and with a more modern style.
Oct-28-14  Travis Bickle: Game is over...
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: It's that darn knight on White's first rank. Often when a player moves a knight back from the center his or her opponent will have the opportunity to exploit the loss of time in some way.

In the final position, Rxf3 is not an option for White because of ...Qxe3 and the Bishop hangs with mate.

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