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Ludwig Rellstab vs Alexander Alekhine
"The Baby Smiles" (game of the day Mar-11-2023)
Munich (1942), Munich GER, rd 3, Sep-17
Queen Pawn Game: Symmetrical Variation. Pseudo-Catalan (D02)  ·  1-0



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sac: 59.Nxd5+ PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-07-04  mjk: Alekhine, the great calculator, blunders with 50...♕g7? by not calculating his opponents moves.
Dec-08-04  Calli: He's dead lost at that point anyway becuase there is nothing to do about Rh5, Nxf4. Really, he could have resigned, but here he turns over the King only one move before mate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: I wonder why Alekhine didn't try ...♗xd2 on move 17 or 18? In the ensuing position with a blocked pawn structure, it looks like the knight will be better than the bishop.
Dec-09-04  drukenknight: 31...f4 looks hopeless, he is trying to get the N out there.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: The pawn sacrifice 23...♘c4 looks like a miscalculation. I would expect something like 23...f4 24. ♘b2 ♕d7 25. c4 dc 26. ♘xc4 ♘xc4 27. ♕xc4 ♕d5 and it looks drawish to me.
Dec-10-04  Calli: <bg> Alekhine made a thousand pawn sacrifices like this one for the initiative. It was his stock and trade. He figured that he was likely to outplay his opponent from that point forward. He was right! As for this game, its hard to tell if the sac is bad or AA just didn't find the correct followup. I kind of like 24...Qh7 then if 25.Rae1 f4! and Black on top.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Calli>:
<As for this game, its hard to tell if the sac is bad or AA just didn't find the correct followup. I kind of like 24...Qh7 then if 25.Rae1 f4! and Black on top.>

After 24...♕h7 25. ♕c1 f4!? 26. ♘xf4 ♕xc2+ 27. ♕xc2 ♘e3+ reveals some of the points of this idea. But White could try 24...♕h7 25. ♕c1 f4 26. ♖f2 ♘e3+ 27. ♔h1 which looks similar to the actual game.

If Black refrains from ...f4, we are back to <drukenknight>'s earlier comment.

The problem is that the position is rather blocked and hard for Black to break through.

Dec-11-04  Calli: <If Black refrains from ...f4> But if 25.Qc1 then open it up with 25...fxg4 26.fxg4 Qe4+ with reasonable play for Black.
Dec-11-04  drukenknight: yes I think you've solved this one.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Calli>:
<But if 25.Qc1 then open it up with 25...fxg4 26.fxg4 Qe4+ with reasonable play for Black.>

Yes, he has to open it, but I was considering 24...♕h7 25. ♕c1 fxg4 26. hxg4 h3+ 27. ♔h2. It's not clear how Black continues the attack, although I agree that it looks a lot more promising than the game.

Dec-11-04  Calli: Not claiming a win or even an advantage for Black but he gets a speculative initiative for his pawn. "Unclear" is exactly what Alekhine was aiming for in most games.
Dec-11-04  drukenknight: yes he is excellent at that, is he not? Tal sort of but not the same since inevitably w/ Tal it was sacking material, but Alek. it was something crazy, could be material. could be anything. Did you see those games were Euwe beats him? SImple positional chess.
Mar-01-06  Maynard5: The sequence of moves in the game score is probably incorrect: most likely, white actually played 14. g4, followed by 16. e4.

But Alekhine's crucial mistake here is 16. ... Bg5. Instead, 16. ... dxe4, 17. fxe4 fxg4 18. hxg4 h3+ appears superior for black. After missing this opportunity, the king side becomes blockaded, and Rellstab is able to shift the attack to the queen side.

Mar-14-10  siegbert: alekhine must have thought he was winning. many moves on the manoeuvre and all to show for it one knight in enemy territory.
Sep-15-17  Toribio3: Rellstab is a giant killer!
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: <Maynard5>
The sequence of moves in the game score is probably incorrect: most likely, white actually played 14. g4, followed by 16. e4.

I agree, as Alekhine can safely win a pawn by 14...hg3, as 15. Kxg3 Bd6+ 16. Kg2 Qh4 with decisive threats of 17...Qg3+ and 17...Qh3+.

Oct-04-22  jerseybob: I'm amazed white survived this game. Setting up the three pawns abreast, f3/g3/h3, seems logical, to meet either f4 or h4 with the g4 bypass and after 13..h4 I expected 14.g4. 14.e4?!? looks absurdly loosening, though I don't see a forced win for black. But I don't necessarily agree with <Maynard5> and <GrahamClayton> that the score is wrong, because I can't reconstruct a believable move sequence where white plays 14.g4. Whatever, after white was allowed to lock the position, Rellstab's attack was fantastic, featuring a rampaging rogue knight.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <jerseybob>
Instead of letting White lock the position with 16...Bg5 17. e5, it must be stronger to blast it open with <16...dxe4>. White's kingside looks much too loose after 16...dxe4 17. fxe4 fxg4 18. hxg4 and maybe only then 18...Bg5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  scutigera: As confirmed by William Winter (Chess Notes 8215), this is the game that inspired Reuben Fine to write, "In such positions combinations are as natural as a baby's smile." I've read that expression often enough to propose "The Baby Smiles" as this game's title.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Personally, can't blame Alekhine for his pawn sacrifice--spent most of the first 20 moves of the game wondering if Rellstab had any idea of what he was doing. Black's overconfidence seems understandable; he could not have anticipated that White would start playing *much* better after the sacrifice.
Mar-11-23  goodevans: <drukenknight: 31...f4 looks hopeless...>

It looks to me that by that point Alekhine had given up trying to find a way through, had realised he was simply worse and was trying to lock the position up and play for a draw.

<beatgiant: The pawn sacrifice 23...♘c4 looks like a miscalculation...

Calli: <bg> Alekhine made a thousand pawn sacrifices like this one...>

Actually, the sac was first offered with <21...Rh6>. White can play 22.Bxf4 gxf4 before 23.Nd3 and the pawn on f4 can't be saved. I guess <Calli> was right and when Rellstab declined, Alekhine got insistent that he really, really wanted to sac that pawn.

But enough about Alekhine's dubious play here and lets celebrate Rellstab's excellent attack in the second half of the game. <50.Rh8!!>, truly beautiful. <59.Nxd5+!>, absolutely deadly!

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