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.       

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