Wednesday, April 24

St. Petersburg quadrangular tournament, Final Round: Alekhine wins, Levenfish draws to share 1st place

Alexander Alekhine, playing Black in a Ruy Lopez, defeated Eugene Znosko-Borovsky in the final round to claim a share of first prize in the Masters' Quadrangular tourney at St. Petersburg.  Alekhine's victory left him with 2 points scored from three games and brought him into a tie with Grigory Levenfish, the tournament leader at the beginning of the round, who drew his game with visiting Czech Master Oldrich Duras.  Znosko-Borovsky and Duras shared third and fourth places, each with one point.  The final placing of the the latter will doubtless be a disappointment to him, but, we daresay, only a small one, as the tourney was of brief duration and, in any case, such results are, at least on occasion, well-nigh inevitable in the tiring life of a peripatetic chess Master.  Duras, we understand, has already left St. Petersburg en route to engagements in Riga and Warsaw.

We provide a crosstable of the event; one curiosity to note is that all three of Alekhine's games finished decisively, while the remaining games in the tourney were all drawn:

                                 L       A      Z       D           Total
Levenfish             x       1       =       =               2
Alekhine               0       x       1       1               2
Znosko-B.            =       0       x       =              1
Duras                     =       0       =       x              1

Alekhine, who is much to be feared when in possession of the initiative, chose as Black a defense sometimes favored by Marshall, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.d4 Bg4, and seemed as early as the 15th move to dictate the course of the play.  The young Master's pressure on the Queen-side was crowned by the fine move 33...c4, allowing the Black pieces entry into the opposing position.  The reader should also note the forceful and imaginative concluding stroke 43...h5, which poses unanswerable threats.

Levenfish, as second player in a Queen's Gambit Declined, defended ably against Duras, sacrificing a pawn in return for strong pressure on the Czech's position.  Even the - admittedly short-lived - possession of two Bishops against Black's two Knights failed to secure a White advantage.  Levenfish at his 40th turn at last reclaimed the sacrificed pawn, and a draw was agreed in an equal Rook endgame 7 moves later.

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