Saturday, March 30

Vienna Jubilee tournament, Round 8: Spielmann, Tartakower, Schlechter are winners

The eighth round of the Vienna Jubilee tournament, opening the second half of the event, proved a near-replica of the initial round, with Spielmann, Tartakower, and Schlechter repeating their earlier victories over, respectively, Löwy, Schenkein, and Kaufmann.  Only Perlis failed to equal his first-round success, this time drawing his game vs. Reti.

We have received two game scores from Vienna, and can state with confidence that our readers will find both of interest.  In the first, Spielmann, playing White in a Four Knights' Game, gradually builds up an attack against the King-side of Löwy, at last crowning his efforts with a fine sacrificial idea.  In the second, Schlechter, as Black in the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, masterfully dismantles the apparently solid position of Kaufmann.  We would call particular attention to the moves 19...Nf4, 23...f5, 26...b5 and 29...c4, each of which loosens the foundations of the opposing bulwarks.  We have reason to believe that the concluding moves of this game may be missing from the version that has reached us, as Black's victory, though demonstrable with careful analysis, is by no means obvious at the point where the score breaks off.  In consequence, we have appended to the game score the results of the analytical investigations of some of the finest players of our club, who agree unanimously that the final position as we have it is won for the second player in theory, just as it was in practice.

Scores after 8 rounds: Spielmann 6 1/2; Tartakower 6; Reti, Schlechter 5; Perlis 4; Löwy 3; Schenkein 1 1/2; Kaufmann 1.

Friday, March 29

Vienna Jubilee tournament, Rounds 6 and 7: Spielmann retains lead at halfway mark despite first loss; Tartakower 2nd, Reti 3rd

The Vienna Jubilee tournament has reached its halfway mark after the completion of the sixth and seventh rounds, with native son  Rudolf Spielmann, who has never stood less than equal first in the tourney, alone atop the score table.  Spielmann, with five and one-half points from seven games played, leads Dr. Saviely Tartakower by one half-point, while Richard Reti, who inflicted the first defeat on the leader in the latest round, stands third, a further half-point behind.

We have received only the results, and not the game scores, of the sixth-round contests, which ended as follows:  Spielmann 1-0 Kaufmann; Löwy 0-1 Tartakower; Schlechter 1/2-1/2 Perlis; Schenkein 0-1 Reti. 

These results produced the following standings: Spielmann 5 1/2; Tartakower 4 1/2; Schlechter, Reti 3 1/2; Perlis 2 1/2; Löwy, Schenkein 1 1/2; Kaufmann 1.

In the seventh round, Reti, playing White in a Ruy Lopez, obtained an excellent position against Spielmann, winning a pawn through a mating threat and bringing about an endgame which the first player conducted successfully to victory.  We present below the first 30 moves of this encounter, all that have been transmitted from Vienna.  In other games, Tartakower and Schlechter fought to a draw, Perlis defeated Schenkein, and Löwy, in a game whose complete score we have appended below, topped Kaufmann on the Black side of a Ruy Lopez, making imaginative and energetic use of his Queen-side pawns.

The scores after Round 7, the halfway mark, are thus as follows: Spielmann 5 1/2; Tartakower 5; Reti 4 1/2; Schlechter 4; Perlis 3 1/2; Löwy 3; Schenkein 1 1/2; Kaufmann 1.  We note the curious circumstance that the first six competitors each stand exactly one half-point apart, making frequent alterations to their ordering most likely in the coming rounds.

The games:



Wednesday, March 27

Vienna Jubilee tournament, Round 5: Spielmann still 1st, Tartakower now clear 2nd after victories

Tourney leaders Rudolf Spielmann and Dr. Saviely Tartakower both recorded victories in the fifth round of the Vienna Jubilee tournament, the former maintaining his hold on first place by defeating Joachim Schenkein in crushing style and the latter moving into clear second position after dispatching Dr. Arthur Kaufmann via a Rook sacrifice leading to a mating attack.  Dr. Julius Perlis registered the day's other win by topping Leopold Löwy, Jr., while the game between Richard Reti and Carl Schlechter was drawn.

We have received from our Austrian sources the two leaders' games from this round, which the reader will find appended below.  Schenkein, playing White, appears to have badly mishandled an English Opening, to the extent that the first player already found himself without resource after Spielmann's ninth move, and was forced to strike his colors seven moves thereafter.  Tartakower, maneuvering adroitly in a Giuoco Piano, slowly brought his forces to bear on Black's castled position on the Queen-side, and crowned his efforts with the fine winning blow 34.Rxb7+.

Scores after 5 rounds: Spielmann 4 1/2; Tartakower 3 1/2; Schlechter 3; Reti 2 1/2; Löwy, Perlis 2; Schenkein 1 1/2; Kaufmann 1.



Tuesday, March 26

Vienna Jubilee tournament, Round 4: Spielmann defeats Tartakower, retakes sole lead

Rudolf Spielmann defeated Dr. S. Tartakower in a fourth-round battle between the two players at the head of the score table at the Vienna Jubilee chess tournament, once again establishing himself as sole leader of the event.  Spielmann, who appears to be in excellent form, has now recorded three and one-half points from four games played.  In the day's other contests, Arthur Kaufmann registered his first victory of the competition with a win over Dr. J. Perlis, while the games Schlechter-Schenkein and Löwy-Reti were drawn.

Scores after 4 rounds: Spielmann 3 1/2; Tartakower, Schlechter 2 1/2; Löwy, Reti 2; Schenkein 1 1/2; Kaufmann, Perlis 1.   

We continue to present to our readers all game scores that we are able to procure from this tourney, and express our particular regret at the absence of the Spielmann-Tartakower encounter from these pages.  Today we offer the bright win by Kaufmann over Perlis, in which White via 21.Ne5, leaving his Queen en prise, inaugurates an irresistible attack.


Sunday, March 24

Vienna Jubilee tournament, Round 3: Spielmann, Tartakower tied for lead

Dr. S. Tartakower scored a fine attacking win over Dr. J. Perlis in the third round of the Vienna Jubilee tourney to claim a share of the lead in the event alongside Rudolf Spielmann, who dropped his first half-point of the competition by drawing with Carl Schlechter.  In other games, Löwy topped Schenkein and Reti defeated Dr. Kaufmann, the last-named suffering his third successive loss.

Tartakower, the master of myriad unusual opening variations, employed the Cozio Defense against the Ruy Lopez of Perlis, obtaining an active position therefrom at the cost of certain weaknesses in his pawn structure.  The decisive moment of the struggle came at the 17th move when Black sacrificed a Bishop to launch an attack against the White King, which assault proved irresistible after the quiet but deadly coup 20...Qc3!.  Perlis found himself compelled to cede a full Rook to escape from the toils, whereupon Tartakower, now an exchange to the good, made short work of achieving victory.  We present below the game score, the only one from this round to have reached our offices.

Scores after Round 3: Tartakower, Spielmann 2 1/2; Schlechter 2;  Löwy, Reti 1 1/2; Perlis, Schenkein 1; Kaufmann 0.


Saturday, March 23

Ed. Lasker-Gunsberg match: Gunsberg resigns match without further play

From London comes the unexpected news that Isidor Gunsberg has resigned his scheduled six-game match with Herr Edward Lasker after only two games, with the score level at one point all.  The veteran Master, soundly defeated in the first contest, and balancing on the precipice of defeat in the second before being rescued at the last moment by his opponent's blunder, considers the play to date as evidence of his inability to perform at his former level, and in consequence has chosen to withdraw from the field of battle, sportingly conceding the superiority of his young adversary.  In our time we have heard players assign the blame for their own performance to the sun, the stars, and the sea air, and it is a rare man indeed who can acknowledge the superior strength of another without cavil or equivocation.  Nevertheless, our view is that we need more such men in chess, not fewer, and we express our distinct hope that Gunsberg, even as he now approaches the end of his sixth decade, will, upon further consideration, continue, "made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" in future struggles over the sixty-four squares.       

Thursday, March 21

Alekhine-Levitsky match, Game 10: Alekhine, with win, claims match 7-3

St. Petersburg: Alexander Alekhine defeated Stepan Levitsky in the tenth game of their match to claim victory in the contest by a score of 7 wins to 3, with no games drawn.  Alekhine concluded the duel as he had begun it, taking the last three games in succession.  Only in the middle phase of the match did Levitsky display his best form, winning games 4, 5, and 7, though the loser's play in several of the other encounters did him honor, despite the unfavorable result.  With this victory Alekhine reinforces his reputation as one of the strongest of the rising Russian players, and raises hopes and expectations for more successes to come.  He will surely be heard from again.

The tenth game was rather more-sided than most of those that preceded it, with Levitsky countering Alekhine's Vienna Opening in less than optimal fashion, exchanging his opponent's pieces at the expense of developing his own.  An error by Black at the 10th move allowed Alekhine to win a pawn, and thereafter the first player made steady progress, enjoying a three-pawn advantage in a Rook endgame by the time of Black's resignation at the 28th move.  We present the game, with notes by the winner, and we take this opportunity once again to thank the anonymous benefactor whose largesse allowed for the rapid procurement of the game scores and notes, and whose knowledge of the Russian language made possible their translation. 

Ed. Lasker-Gunsberg match, Game 2: Gunsberg evens score after blunder by Lasker in winning position

Isidor Gunsberg enjoyed a near-miraculous reprieve from looming defeat in the second game of his match against Edward Lasker when the latter, with victory and a prospective 2-0 advantage in the six-game contest within his grasp, committed a grievous blunder, overlooking a Bishop interposition and allowing his veteran opponent to escape from what had appeared a hopeless situation.  To compound matters, Lasker, his equilibrium obviously disturbed by the error, thereafter overpressed his blunted attack, and, twice spurning opportunities to bring the game to a drawn conclusion, went on to lose.  The score in the match is thus leveled at 1-1, and aficionados of our game cannot help but speculate anent the manner in which this sudden reversal of fortune might affect the subsequent course of the contest.  Supporters of Herr Lasker may perhaps draw some cheer from the fact that the young adept, rather than making excuses for his play or retreating into silence, has provided commentary to the game in which he manfully takes himself to task for his own errors, surely a sign of a strong and honest character, and one capable of withstanding such an unexpected blow:

Wednesday, March 20

Vienna Jubilee tournament, Round 2: Spielmann takes lead

Rudolf Spielmann now stands alone in first place at the Vienna Jubilee tournament with a perfect score after recording a fine win over Dr. Julius Perlis in the second round.  In other games, Tartakower and Reti played to a draw, as did Löwy and Schlechter, while Schenkein, playing Black, defeated Kaufmann.

The standings after 2 rounds are:  Spielmann 2; Tartakower, Schlechter 1 1/2; Perlis, Schenkein 1; Löwy, Reti 1/2; Kaufmann 0.

We have received from Vienna the score of only the Spielmann-Perlis encounter; in compensation, it represents an excellent performance by the winner, one we are happy to share with our readers:

Tuesday, March 19

Alekhine-Levitsky match, Game 9: Alekhine wins again; with 6-3 lead stands one game from victory

Alexander Alekhine defeated Stepan Levitsky in the ninth game of their match at St. Petersburg, imposing near-constant pressure on his opponent before at last forcing a decisive error in a difficult heavy-piece endgame.  With his latest success Alekhine takes a 6-3 lead in this match of seven games up, and requires only one further like result to claim victory in the event.  None of the nine games played to date has been drawn, testimony to the fighting spirit that has prevailed throughout the contest.

Alekhine, playing Black, chose the gambit continuation 4...Nf6 against Levitsky's Ponziani Opening, sacrificing a pawn in order to further the development of his forces.  Black's pawn deficit lasted from the 5th to the 35th move, during which time he presented his opponent with a seemingly endless series of threats, attacking in succession on the King-side, in the center, and on the Queen-side of the board.  Then, no sooner had the young Master at last regained his missing pawn than he conjured up the temporary sacrifice of a Bishop, again with the object of applying continuous pressure to the position - and, we daresay, the to mental equilibrium - of Levitsky, who at last committed a fatal error in the vicinity of the 40th move.  We would make two observations:  first, we are most impressed by the fact that Alekhine, in his notes to the game, which the reader will find below, remains refreshingly forthright and self-critical, claiming that all his sacrifices and ingenuity ought to have led at best to a draw had his opponent at long last not erred.  Such frankness is rare, especially among the young.  Second, the positions created by the fertile imagination of Alekhine in the latest game present such difficulties of evaluation that much analysis remains to be performed before arriving at a final judgment upon them - see the long editor's note included in the score:        

Monday, March 18

Vienna Jubilee tournament, Round 1

An eight-man tournament is underway to celebrate the jubilee of the founding of the Vienna Chess Club, and featuring several Masters and strong amateurs resident in that metropolis: Schlechter, Tartakower, Spielmann, Perlis, Reti, Kaufmann, Schenkein, and Löwy.  The event will be a double-round affair, with prizes generously provided by the Trebitsch memorial fund.

First-round pairings were  Löwy vs. Spielmann, Schlechter vs. Kaufmann, Reti vs. Perlis, and Schenkein vs. Tartakower, with all games decisive, and those whose names appear in boldface above having registered victories.  Herewith we present three of the games, all that have come to hand; we shall of course continue our coverage of this event as it proceeds.

Our favorite game of the round was the following splendid victory by Dr. Perlis:

Sunday, March 17

Alekhine-Levitsky match, Game 8: Alekhine wins, leads 5-3

Alexander Alekhine defeated Stepan Levitsky in the eighth game of their match at St. Petersburg to take a 5-3 lead in the contest and move within two wins of the seven required for overall victory.  The young Moscow Master recorded his latest success in a spirited, tactical affair typical of the fighting chess that has characterized this clash between two players of vivid imagination and uncompromising style.

Alekhine, as in the fourth and sixth games, chose the Vienna Opening, the players on this occasion entering the complex variation 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5.  Levitsky with 10...Nxb3 and 11...f5 introduced a new plan into this much-analyzed line, to which Alekhine responded in fortissimo style, sacrificing the exchange and two pawns by the 18th move, and afterward regaining his material investment with a continuing attack.

We must confess to some uncertainty regarding the manner in which the game concluded, having received by cable from Russia two versions of the score.  In the first, given precedence below, White with 30.Nf7 brings about an endgame in which he enjoys the material advantage of an extra exchange, and duly achieves victory at the 50th move.  In the second version, which reached our offices two hours later, and which we have included in a note, White in the same position plays the stronger 29.Nxg4+! (variations and transpositions in the score accounting for the differing move number) and forces an immediate decision after 29...Bxg4 30.Qe5+.  We can offer no explanation for this discrepancy, unless perhaps the latter finish was intended by Alekhine to demonstrate an opportunity missed during the game, and discovered during subsequent analysis?  The notion that the winner, whose comments appear below, may have been attempting to "polish" the game score and provide a neater finish than that which in fact occurred seems to us altogether out of the question.       

Saturday, March 16

Marshall in New Orleans

Following his victory in the recent Havana tournament, Frank J. Marshall traveled to New Orleans for a chess engagement.  During his stay in the Crescent City Marshall contested the following individual game with Judge Leon L. Labatt, long one of the strongest New Orleans players.  Judge Labatt succeeded in doing what only Janowski had accomplished in Havana; namely, inflicting a defeat on the United States Champion.  The game, which would merit attention by virtue of its result alone, is rendered even more noteworthy by the peregrinations of White's King, and by Marshall's ingenious attempts to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat via yet another "swindle":

Friday, March 15

Alekhine-Levitsky match, Game 7: Levitsky closes to within one point with convincing win; trails 4-3

St. Petersburg: Stepan Levitsky, continuing his recovery from a poor start, scored a relatively easy victory over Alexander Alekhine in the seventh game of their ongoing match, winning for the third time in the last four contests and narrowing the score to 4-3 in favor of his young opponent.  Overall victory in the contest will go to the first player to record seven won games.

Levitsky, with the first move, chose the Giuoco Piano, the game following the lines of the third contest between these same opponents until White varied at his 9th turn with 9.h3 in place of the earlier 9.Be3.  Alekhine, ever aggressive, attempted a quick strike on the King-side with 11...g5 and 12...g4, an advance that proved not only harmless for White but disadvantageous for Black, and which, in combination with 15...Bxe3? and 18...Bxf3?, left the first player in possession of a powerful Bishop and the open f-line as means of exploiting the weaknesses in the opposing position.  White soon gained two pawns, while simultaneously bringing about an endgame completely lacking in counterplay for Alekhine, who resigned at the 54th move, the result of the game having long been a foregone conclusion.  We append the game score, together with a few very brief comments by Alekhine, who appears understandably dissatisfied with his play in this latest encounter:

Wednesday, March 13

Alekhine-Levitsky match, Game 6: Alekhine wins protracted battle, leads 4-2

Alekhine Alekhine defeated Stepan Levitsky in the sixth game of their match at St. Petersburg, forcing him opponent's resignation after 90 moves in a contest marked by much maneuvering, broken on occasion by episodes of thrust-and-parry on various sectors of the board.  Alekhine now leads the race to seven victories by a score of 4-2; the two chess gladiators are yet to record a single draw.

Alekhine, playing White, chose the Vienna Game, and an early exchange of several minor pieces brought about after a dozen moves a position in which each side remained with Queen, both Rooks, and a full complement of eight pawns, the first player possessing in addition a Bishop against his opponent's Knight.  There followed a long period of probing, with Alekhine, who held a slight initiative, seeking inroads on the opposing King-side, and directing his fire primarily against his opponent's weak pawn on f6 - an plan that fell short of the desired result.  The later appearance of a weak White pawn on g3, whose defense required the attention of four pieces, further complicated the first player's attempts to make progress, and the fact that no pieces, and only a handful of pawns, were exchanged between the 13th and 73rd moves provides telling evidence of the nature of the play.  At length, however, White succeeded in breaking through via an advance on the Queen-side, in which zone the Black King had taken shelter, and Alekhine with a concluding attack achieved an advantage sufficient for victory, though in the opinion of the winner both White's offense and Black's defense in this final phase might have been materially strengthened, an understandable circumstance given the duration of the contest.

We present the game, with commentary by Alekhine:

Ed. Lasker-Gunsberg match, Game 1: Lasker opens contest with victory

In London, Herr Edward Lasker has won the first game of his six-game match against Isidor Gunsberg, scoring the full point in a Queen's Pawn Game in which the White Rooks and Knights overran the undeveloped opposing position, as an examination of the situation after White's 25th move (see diagram) will make evident to the reader.  Herr Lasker, who thus leads the match by a score of 1-0, has kindly provided a few brief comments to the game:

Tuesday, March 12

City of London Chess Club Championship Final

We present two games played recently in the early rounds of this annual event, tantamount to the Championship of the metropolis itself.  In the first, Mr. Loman scores a fine victory over Herr Lasker in a game displaying the power of the two Bishops on an open board.  In the other, Mr. George A. Thomas, for several years one of the strongest London players, wins a difficult pawn endgame from Mr. Cole.  We urge our readers to consider this endgame carefully, as it offers much in the way of instruction.  Indeed, some of the strongest players in our local club, including the current club Champion, Herr Fritz, were mistaken in their initial evaluation of the position after 38.Kxc2, thinking that it must be drawn.  Closer examination, however, reveals it to be a win for White, and we have added a few apposite variations, fruit of the analytical work of our clubmates, as evidence thereof:


Monday, March 11

Ed. Lasker-Gunsberg match announced

Word has reached us of a match of six games' duration to be contested in London between Herr Edward Lasker, newcomer to the English chess scene, and veteran campaigner Isidor Gunsberg, an encounter promising a fascinating clash of youthful vigor versus seasoned experience.  A brilliant victory by Lasker recently appeared in our pages; the name of Gunsberg, we suspect, may be less familiar to some of our readers, in particular the younger ones, as in recent years the old Master has rather limited his active participation in chess events, devoting himself in the main to journalistic and literary efforts in the service of our royal game.  Let us recall, therefore, that Gunsberg in his day was capable of defeating any player in the world, and once mounted a campaign to wrest the title of Champion from Steinitz himself, an effort in which he suffered a narrow and honorable defeat.  We present a small selection of games won by Gunsberg against  Masters of world class; those against Tarrasch and Blackburne, taken from the Hamburg tourney of 1885, were played several months before Herr Lasker was born.

Sunday, March 10

Alekhine-Levitsky match, Game 5: Levitsky wins 2nd consecutive game with sacrificial attack; score now 3-2 in favor of Alekhine

The Alekhine-Levitsky match, which a scant few days ago gave the appearance of a runaway affair, has transformed into a much more closely-fought contest after yesterday's fifth game, a slashing victory by Stepan Levitsky.  Levitsky, recording a success for the second consecutive game, defeated Alekhine with a violent attack and now trails his younger compatriot by a single point, 3-2, in this match of seven games up.

After the obligatory 1.e4 e5, as prescribed by the match conditions, Levitsky employed the Center Game, against which Alekhine reacted vigorously.  At his 13th turn Levitsky, facing a situation in which routine play would cede the initiative to  Black, chose instead to launch a sacrificial attack, shattering the opposing King's defensive position at the cost of a piece.  The soundness of this approach may be open to question, but the dangers it presented for the defending side were without doubt, and Alekhine, by his own estimation, committed a serious error at the 16th move.  Thereupon Levitsky, making excellent use of a pin on the d-file, combined with threats of a mating attack, applied continuous pressure until his opponent, short of time, opted, as in the fourth game, to yield his Queen for Rook and minor piece in the hope of mounting a defense with his remaining forces, a hope that soon proved vain when, at his 25th turn, and facing further loss of material, the young Muscovite resigned.  We present the game, along with commentary by Alekhine:

Saturday, March 9

Thoughts on the Havana tournament

The Havana tournament has concluded, and, after a few days' reflection, we venture to offer our thoughts on the contest and the participants therein.

Cuba is well-known in the chess world for the respect and hospitality it affords its guests, and the present tourney was certainly no exception to this deserved reputation.  The competitors were welcomed, feasted, and attended to in fine style, worthy of the city Steinitz once called "the El Dorado of chess."  If the organizers and public had, as is understandable, expected to celebrate another triumph for Capablanca, their native son, they were no less effusive in their praise and applause for the victory of Marshall.  Only an unfortunate undercurrent of suspicion, alluded to in one of our earlier reports, dulled the brilliance of this worthy event.  Our sympathies in the above affair lie with Jaffe, who found himself faced with the impossible task of proving a negative: namely, that he did not blunder intentionally as a means to aid the cause of Marshall.

As for Marshall, he demonstrated that not only is he capable of scoring many victories - defeating each of the other seven participants in succession in rounds 5 through 11 - but also that he is a most difficult man to defeat, and often at his most wily and dangerous when in an inferior position, as was discovered by ChajesCapablanca, and Kupchik in consecutive rounds.  The United States Champion's reputation for "swindles" will only increase after this tourney, as will, certainly, his standing in the chess world.

That Capablanca's second place finish is viewed by many as a blow to his reputation is evidence of the lofty standards to which he is held, by himself no less than by his admirers.  He played much excellent chess, with his first-round game against Corzo being awarded the brilliancy prize.  We believe that, with the possible exception of Dr. Lasker, against whom he has not yet contested a serious game, Capablanca is a match for any Master in the world, and more than a match for most.  But if at times the chess gods choose to smile on another participant in a tournament, as it seems they directed their beneficent gaze toward Marshall in Havana, then the young Cuban maestro should not begrudge his rival their attention.  Many more successes await Capablanca, perhaps even the greatest of all.

Janowski gave an excellent account of himself, his victory over Chajes being notable for fighting spirit, and that vs. Capablanca standing as a fine example of overall mastery.  The latter game must have afforded great satisfaction to Janowski, who let slip a similar chance against the same opponent at San Sebastian two years ago.  His Havana result demonstrates that the veteran of so many chessboard struggles possesses life and sparkle within him yet, for which we can all be grateful.

The first three finishers were the only competitors to end the event with a plus score, all the others having more games lost than won on their balance sheet, and with Chajes and Kupchik, the next nearest to Janowski in the rankings, trailing the Frenchman by the large margin of two and one-half points.  We can think of no more striking example of the difference between an average Master and a player of world class.  To discuss the others briefly:  Kupchik was up when Chajes was down, and vice versa, the former beginning well with 6 points from 10 games, only to lose three of his last four; while the latter, after recording only 2 1/2 points through nine rounds, tallied four wins from 5 games at the close.  It is perhaps fitting that, after such variable swings to and fro, they should have finished the event on the same score.  Jaffe never displayed the same form he had recently shown in New York, and, for the reason mentioned above, was quite content to see the tourney draw to a close.  Blanco lost all six games played against the top three finishers, but achieved a score of 5-3 against the other four, defeating each once, and can with justification claim to be the equal of any of them.  And, finally, Corzo, despite finishing in the bottom place, produced much lively chess, and can take solace in the fact that his lone win, scored against Jaffe in the sixth round, was brought about by a pretty Queen sacrifice.  Such bright moments keep all of us returning to chess again and again, even in our darker days.

Friday, March 8

Alekhine-Levitsky match, Game 4: Levitsky records first victory, trails 3-1

Stepan Levitsky scored his first victory in the fourth game of his match against Alexander Alekhine, defeating his young opponent in a hard-fought battle lasting 56 moves.  Alekhine now leads the match, whose victor will be the first to win seven games, by the score of three victories to one.

Alekhine, playing White, selected the Vienna Game as his weapon of choice, advancing steadily with his pawns on the Queen-side while his opponent sought counterplay on the King's wing.  White's attack initially appeared the faster, but ultimately proved inadequate to break through the Black defenses.  Alekhine, whose notes are included in the game score below, feels that his move 28.Qa2 was an error, and cites 28.f3 as a superior option.  Then, as so often occurs in chess, an opportunity missed by one side leads to the tipping of the balance in favor of the other, and the next several moves saw Levitsky in the ascendancy, with Alekhine at last feeling himself compelled to yield Queen for Rook, Knight, and pawn at his 36th turn.  The second player handled the remainder of the game with assurance, invading White's position with his heavy pieces and rendering harmless the White b-pawn, which stood dangerously close to the Queening square, until at last forcing resignation at the 56th move.  Herewith the game score:

Thursday, March 7

Havana tournament, Round 14: Marshall wins tourney despite last-round loss; Capablanca 2nd after draw with Kupchik

United States Champion Frank J. Marshall survived a final-round defeat at the hands of David Janowski to capture first prize in the Havana international chess Masters' tournament.  Marshall, scoring 10 1/2 points from 14 games played, finished one half-point ahead of José R. Capablanca, who drew his final game against Abraham Kupchik.  The result represents an exact reversal of the positions occupied by the two players at the recent New York tourney, where Capablanca claimed victory over his American rival by a similar narrow margin.  Third prize in Havana fell to Janowski, with 9 points, while the fourth and fifth prizes were shared by Kupchik and Oscar Chajes, each with 6 1/2, the latter capping a splendid finish by defeating Juan Corzo to record his fourth victory over the last five rounds.  In the day's final game Rafael Blanco defeated Charles Jaffe in a game marked by a matched set of nearly incomprehensible blunders.

Marshall, who led Capablanca by a full point entering the final day's play, stood alone through 13 rounds as the only competitor not to have tasted defeat, a distinction the American Champion had likewise achieved in New York.  His overall success in the tourney thus appeared secure, as only a loss for Marshall, combined with a Capablanca victory, would allow the Cuban to claim a share of first prize.  Yet Janowski accomplished what others had not, gradually gaining the advantage in a Queen's Gambit Declined, and then, owing to the strength of a passed d-pawn in a Rook endgame, forcing the tournament leader to strike his colors at the 47th move.  Though analysts on the scene feel that Marshall may have missed a drawing chance with 29...Re6, Janowski's technique was of a high standard, and with this victory he adds a fine finish to a commendable third place performance.  As for Marshall, today's defeat can do but little to tarnish a most shining achievement, one worthy of being added to his already long list of similar successes: 


Capablanca, in need of a win at all costs as Black against Kupchik, saw a promising position turn sour, and narrowly escaped defeat himself.  After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 the Cuban chose the uncommon 3...g6, reckoning that the intricacies of that line would prove unfamiliar to his young opponent.  Indeed, by his 30th turn Capablanca had seized the initiative, and seemed to enjoy fair prospects for a successful attack on the King-side, yet over the next several moves Black's own King came under such heavy assault that he soon found it necessary to bring about a perpetual check by means of a Rook sacrifice.  (Even this drastic measure may not have sufficed with best play: our Herr Fritz asks whether Kupchik at the 48th move might not have tried 48.Bg2, avoiding the perpetual check and winning for White - see the game score below.)  In the players' defense it should be mentioned that the many spectators at the Ateneo not only created a sweltering atmosphere, but, carried away by the excitement of the final round, raised a genuine din in the hall, conditions hardly conducive to faultless play, and perhaps responsible for the large number of oversights and outright blunders in this final round.  His second place finish here in the place of his birth is undoubtedly a disappointment to Capablanca, though we are certain not only that other successes await him, but that, given the level of support he enjoys from his countrymen, the opportunity will one day once again present itself for him to demonstrate his full chess prowess on his native soil:

Corzo, fighting to the last, opened with the King's pawn and directed his attack against the castled position of Chajes, who chose the Sicilian Defense.  The game stood in balance when the Cuban Champion, with 34.b4, initiated a mistaken combination involving the sacrifice of the exchange, having overlooked the simple rejoinder 36...Qd6, which extinguished the nascent attack almost before it began and left Black with an easily won game.  Thus did Chajes equal the 6 1/2 point score of Kupchik to share the 4th and 5th prizes:

Finally we come to Blanco vs. Jaffe, which is perhaps best looked upon as evidence that playing conditions during the final round were rather less than ideal.  We can think of no other reasonable explanation for a Master game in which each player in turn blunders away a full Rook, Jaffe losing his Rook to a pair of obvious checks and Blanco, even more remarkably, simply leaving his own Rook en prise one more thereafter.  These instances of chess blindness left Blanco in possession of an extra pawn in an endgame, which, it must be admitted, he conducted well.  And there the tourney ended:

Final scores:  Marshall 10 1/2; Capablanca 10; Janowski 9; Kupchik, Chajes 6 1/2; Jaffe 5 1/2; Blanco 5; Corzo 3.

We expect to share some further thoughts on the tournament in the coming days.