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Reuben Fine vs Samuel Reshevsky
AVRO (1938), The Netherlands, rd 9, Nov-19
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Chigorin Defense (C97)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-27-08  Wone Jone: <Rookfile> I thought "A Bridge Too Far" was the movie where Telly Savalas played a serial killer who saved a bunch of Jews from the Holocaust and Liberty Valance had to find Private Ryan. I don't remember any parachutes landing on German tanks.
May-27-08  Jim Bartle: No, it was the one where National Geographic photographer Clint Eastwood has an affair with housewife Meryl Streep.
May-27-08  RookFile: You forgot to work in references to Rocky Balboa and Bullwinkle.
May-29-08  Wone Jone: <RookFile> Yo! Adrian! Are you talkin' to me?!
May-29-08  RookFile: Well, look at the bright side. The Allies sent ten thousand men into Arnhem, and after the Germans butchered them, came out with almost 2 thousand to continue fighting. That's what Montgomery did when he labelled this operation as 90 percent successful.
May-29-08  Wone Jone: <RookFile> Then I guess the Spartans were 100 percent sucessful at Thermopoleye. <Or however you spell that word!>
May-29-08  Wone Jone: I should have said the Texans at the Alamo in my last post. I know how to spell Alamo. <By the way, did Santa Anna ever find Pee Wee's bike?>
Jul-27-08  sneaky pete: The first 40 moves were played in Arnhem, November 19, but the second session (41.bxa3 .. was the sealed move) were played on November 21 in Hotel Krasnapolsky, Amsterdam.

An eyewitness:

6 hours were reserved for 3 adjourned games that Reshevsky had to finish; one with Keres, one with Alekhine, the third with Fine. Against expectations two difficult endgames were drawn within an hour, thus leaving, a half hour pause according to regulations included, three hours for the final of Fine vs Reshevsky.

Fine, convinced that it wouldn't be his turn that day, was having siesta in his hotel when he was summoned by telephone to appear in the tournament hall. He refused. He was threatened with a loss by forfeit, if not disqualification. Fierce argument, with a not uncertain outcome.

Unkempt, unshaven, sleepy and possessed by the devil Fine stormed to the tournament hall and started defending his precarious position against Reshevsky. Alekhine watched, standing, his back turned to Capablanca, seated on an adjacent table.

One should have seen the American rivals Fine and Reshevsky in action to predict what follows. For their first few moves the gents took two hours reflection time together. They each had only a few seconds left to make the last 10 moves until the time control. No more notation, only hammering on clocks and skittling around chess pieces.

Very efective skittling around, especially by Fine. No sooner had he thrown the saving move on the board, when he was told: "You have exceeded the time limit!". Fine, with an eye on the clock: "You have exceeded the time limit!". Both claims were true, but Fine's flag had fallen first. Against the verdict of the attentive tournament director there was no appeal.

Fine, furious: "Why must I always lose always against the worst patzers?". Prompt some strong unfriendly remarks were returned.

On which world champion Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine with spreaded arms bended over his two 20 year younger colleagues, admonishing paternally: "Aber bitte, meine Herrschaften, benehmen Sie sich doch nicht wie Capablanca!". In German; as if he spontaneously was talking to himself, but knowing that the message would be understood by both Fine and Reshevsky as by the haughty José Raul Capablanca y Graupera, to whom he was still showing his back.

Jan-17-09  sneaky pete: The eyewitness quoted in the previous post was well known chess journalist Berry Withuis, who died yesterday, January 16, in his home town of Zutphen, at age 88 (born January 20, 1920).
Jan-17-09  Calli: <sneaky pete> thanks for the story and translation. There is an irony in Alekhine commenting on bad behavior.
Jun-10-09  AnalyzeThis: To think that if Fine had won or even drawn this, he would have won the tournament and may well have played Alekhine....
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Fine made the decision shortly before this tournament to retire from competitive chess and complete his studies. In fact, he thought this may have been one of the reasons he played so well as the "pressure" was off. He tried to get out of this tournament but the organizers would not allow him to.
Jun-10-09  Marmot PFL: Fine played fairly steadily right through the early 50s. If I had $100 for every time some player told me he was quitting chess and didn't I could almost quit working. Another thing is masters who tell you they "never study chess" - complete garbage.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: I was merely quoting what he said before AVRO in 1938. Perhaps "retiring" was too strong a word. I think, at the very least, he de-emphasized chess and gave up trying to become WC.
Jun-10-09  AnalyzeThis: If he had just a draw in this very game, he may well have played Alekhine.
Jun-10-09  Marmot PFL: When and where would he have played Alekhine?
Jun-10-09  AnalyzeThis: Sometime after AVRO. Keres, the winner of the tournament, might have played Alekhine, but for world war 2. With Fine being an American, and winning the tournament with the extra half point, this may have been possible to arrange even with world war 2 going on. Let's say 1939. Alekhine would have been under no obligation to play Fine (according to the statement he made at the beginning of the touranment), but if the financing could have been put together, he might well have gone for it. Alekhine was in a bad way financially.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: <Alekhine was in a bad way financially.>

Well, then why didn't he play a rematch with Capablanca?

Jun-10-09  Petrosianic: Because he was able to get other matches. Euwe confirmed that the reason Alekhine played his matches was that he needed the money. Alekhine offered to play him a match aboard ship once, that would be for the World Championship, but Euwe nixed it on the grounds that nobody would take it seriously. But he was able to find enthusiastic backers back home that put together the money for the 1935 match.

The idea that another half point would have somehow gotten Fine a match is pretty wishful thinking, though. Fine wasn't even the top player in his own country. That's not to say that such a match might not have been interesting, though.

Jun-10-09  AnalyzeThis: Well, to Alekhine's way of thinking, Fine would have been perfect. If he was willing to play a clown twice for the world championship, Fine would have been ideal as well. The AVRO 1938 tournament would have been on Fine's resume, and would have been enough to sell this to the public.
Jun-10-09  Marmot PFL: Alekhine said he was willing to play a match with Fine (as well as Reshevsky, Keres, or Botvinnik) but was blacklisted by US and European chess for anti-Semitic articles (which he denied writing). The exception seemed to be the Soviets, who were interested in an Alekhine-Botvinnik match in Moscow. If this seems strange remember that Kotov and Yudovich praised Alekhine in their Soviet School of Chess and that they had several Alekhine Memorial tournaments. His son though thought he was killed by Soviet agents. It could also have been a reprisal killing by the French, or death by natural causes.
Jun-10-09  Petrosianic: Yeah, but those articles were written after the war started. Before that, there was talk that Alekhine might make it to America, which is the Reshevsky-Horowitz match was played; to give Reshevsky some match experience.

Alekhine did write the articles. The original manuscripts were later found in his handwriting. Alekhine wasn't a Nazi, but he was a collaborator. Highly unlikely that the Soviets would have killed him, considering that the match was arranged, and Botvinnik was a heavy favorite to win it. All the death of Alekhine did was to delay Botvinnik's reign by 2 years, and let Reshevky, Euwe, Keres and Smyslov into the mix. A reprisal by the French is a stronger possibility, or maybe it was just an accident.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 8..Na5 is rarely played anymore and can lead to some relatively unexplored positions though in this case after 11 h3..0-0 the game transposed into the main line of the Chigorin. 12 a4 is unusual and 13 Nbd2?! was an error; 13 axb or 13 d5 would have been preferable. In game 6 of their 1942 US Championship Playoff match Kashdan tried 15 axb..Qxc2 16 Qxc2..Rxc2 17 Rxa5..Bxb5 against Reshevsky but Black was better in this case as well. After Reshevsky's 16..Nh5! the response 17 Bxa6? would have been punished by 17..Nf4 18 Qf1..Rxa3 19 Qxa3..Rb8 and the threat of ..Bb5 will cost White his queen. Reshevsky thought that the position after 23..Bxb2 24 Bxb2..Qxb2 25 g4..Nf6 26 Qf4..Ne8 27 Bc4..Be6 28 Ra2 would have been unclear. Reshevsky with 45..Nec5? missed the winning 45..f5! 46 Rf1..f4+ 47 Bxf4..Nxf4 48 Kxf4..Ra6 49 Nc8..Rf6+.
Mar-26-12  RookFile: Everything was a matter of fashion, of course. Lasker played the Berlin Defense, and that went out the window at some point until Kramnik started playing it.
Aug-07-19  sakredkow: And no pawn to be won by 18. Bxa6? Rxa6 19. Qxa6 Bb5. The queen dies alone, in a corner...unloved...
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