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:        

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