Thursday, January 30

St. Petersburg All-Russan tournament, Round 16: Flamberg seizes sole lead with win as Alekhine falls to Bogoljubow; Niemzowitsch joint 2nd; Dramatic final round in store

Alexander Flamberg defeated Alexander Evensohn in the 16th round of the St. Petersburg All-Russian Masters' tournament to assume sole leadership of the event with one round yet to be played. Flamberg's victory carried him past Alexander Alekhine, undisputed tourney leader since the close of the 10th round, when the latter was forced to lower his colors after a sharp struggle vs. Efim Bogoljubow. The Warsaw-born Flamberg, who has not occupied first place since the tourney's opening round, now stands but one game away from the greatest triumph of his career, with both the Russian national Championship and an invitation to April's grand St. Petersburg international tournament tantalizingly within reach. Flamberg can crown his success with a victory as Black over Eugene Znosko-Borovsky in the final round; any lesser result, however, will give hope to both Alekhine and Aron Niemzowitsch, winner on the day over Peter Evtifeev, each of whom stands just one half-point behind the new leader. Alekhine in his final game will handle the Black pieces vs. veteran Semyon Alapin, while Niemzowitsch will play White vs. Grigory Levenfish. With so much at stake, high drama may well ensue.

We present below the full list of results from the penultimate round, as well as the current tourney standings:

Flamberg  1-0  Evensohn
Alekhine  0-1  Bogoljubow
Evtifeev  0-1  Niemzowitsch
Lowtzky  1-0  Alapin
Levenfish  0-1  Smorodsky
Eljaschoff  0-1  Znosko-Borovsky
Salwe  0-1  Gregory
Levitsky  1-0  v. Freymann
Taubenhaus  0-1  Lebedev

Standings after 16 rounds:  Flamberg 13; Alekhine, Niemzowitsch 12 1/2; Lowtzky 11, Levenfish 10 1/2; Znosko-Borovsky, Smorodsky 9; Alapin, Bogoljubow 8 1/2; Salwe, Evensohn 8; von Freymann 7; Levitsky 6 1/2; Taubenhaus 6; Lebedev 4 1/2; Evtifeev, Eljaschoff 3 1/2; Gregory 2 1/2

Today's offerings will prove a delight to aficionados of the open game, as all four contests below begin with the mutual two-square advance of the King's pawn. We of course give pride of place to Flamberg, the new tourney leader, who as first player in a Ruy Lopez overcame the Steinitz Defense of Evensohn, a result that might well have been reversed had Black at his 29th turn selected 29...gxh5 in preference to 29...Bc6+.

Alekhine, too, opted for the Ruy Lopez, to which Bogoljubow replied with the classical defense 3...Bc5. The young Muscovite received a genuine shock at the 21st move when Black answered 21.Qg5 with 21...Rxf2!, having in mind the beautiful "epaulette" finish 22.Qxf4 Rxg2 mate.

Levenfish fell from fourth place to fifth, behind Lowtzky, when he suffered defeat at the hands of Smorodsky, who handled the pawn endgame in a masterful manner. Students of the game will find much of benefit therein.

Levitsky topped von Freymann after a hearty struggle, with Black's 39...Kf7? proving the decisive error.


Tuesday, January 28

St. Petersburg All-Russian tournament, Round 15: Leaders maintain torrid pace as Alekhine, Flamberg, Niemzowitsch all win again

The race to the finish line continued at a breakneck pace at the St. Petersburg All-Russian Masters' tournament as Alexander Alekhine, Alexander Flamberg, and Aron Niemzowitsch all recorded victories in the tourney's 15th round. Alekhine, front-runner by half a point, maintained his position atop the score table, besting Eugene Znosko-Borovsky from the Black side of a Giuoco Piano in a stormy contest ultimately decided in a delicate pawn endgame. Flamberg, who has never stood more than one point from the lead since the close of the fourth round, continued his ceaseless pursuit of Alekhine and defeated Sergey Lebedev as second player in a Queen's Gambit Declined. Meanwhile, Niemzowitsch, in third place a further half-point to the rear of Flamberg, overcame Stepan Levitsky in a difficult struggle, concluding matters with a sudden and unexpected Queen sacrifice. Grigory Levenfish and Moishe Lowtzky, in fourth and fifth places respectively with highly creditable scores, faced each other in this round and played to a draw, effectively extinguishing their remaining hopes for first prize. We list the day's full results below.

Znosko-Borovsky  0-1  Alekhine
Lebedev  0-1  Flamberg
Niemzowitsch  1-0  Levitsky
Levenfish  ½-½  Lowtzky
Bogoljubow  ½-½  Alapin
Smorodsky  1-0  Evtifeev
Evensohn  1-0  Eljaschoff
von Freymann  1-0  Salwe
Gregory  0-1  Taubenhaus

Standings after 15 rounds: Alekhine 12 1/2; Flamberg 12; Niemzowitsch 11 1/2; Levenfish 10 1/2; Lowtzky 10; Alapin 8 1/2; Salwe, Znosko-Borovsky, Evensohn, Smorodsky 8; E. Bogoljubow 7 1/2; v. Freymann 7; Taubenhaus 6; Levitsky 5; Lebedev, Evtifeev, Eljaschoff 3 1/2; Gregory 1 1/2

We are happy to present half a dozen games from the day's play, and assure our readers that they will find a veritable chess feast contained therein. The Znosko-Borovsky-Alekhine clash proved most fascinating, with Black striving from early on to seize the initiative, and with the two players later conducting simultaneous King-side attacks in the vicinity of the 30th move.  At his 45th turn Alekhine chose to exchange all the remaining pieces, a decision for which he faults himself, believing the resultant pawn endgame to be drawn had Znosko-Borovsky defended it correctly. One of our clubmates, however, has discovered a clever win for Black against the suggested defense, which the reader will find in the notes, along with many variations graciously supplied by the winner.

Flamberg chose Dr. Tarrasch's 3...c5 defense to the Queen's Gambit and succeeded in applying constant pressure to the position of Lebedev, who at last erred decisively at the 31st move. The Black Bishops in particular did yeoman work.

Niemzowitsch, as first player in a Four Knights' Game, massed his pieces on the King-side vs. Levitsky. Although White gained a pawn, victory appeared still some way off until Black at his 42nd turn chose 42...Be6?, allowing the immediately decisive stroke 43.Nxh5!

Bogoljubow and Alapin engaged in a colorful contest attesting to their shared love of combat. See, for example, the position after White's 24th move, which offers clear evidence of battles past, present, and to come.

Gregory appeared to make good progress on the Queen-side vs. Taubenhaus, only later to find his center crumbling and his adventurous Rook in dire straits.

Smorodsky adroitly forced a weakening of the King-side of Evtifeev, crowning his efforts with the sharp 26.g4!

Monday, January 27

St. Petersburg All-Russian tournament, Round 14: Alekhine 1st, Flamberg 2nd; Niemzowitsch drops to 3rd with draw

The fierce battle for first place continued in the 14th round of the St. Petersburg All-Russian Masters' tournament, with four of the five members of the leading quintet recording victories. Tourney front-runner Alexander Alekhine topped Alexander Evensohn to maintain his grip on first place, one half-point ahead of Alexander Flamberg, victor over Bernhard Gregory. Aron Niemzowitsch, who began the day in joint second position along with Flamberg, fell to third after he was held to a draw by Georg Salwe. Close behind Niemzowitsch come Grigory Levenfish in fourth place and Moishe Lowtzky in fifth, the former having taken the full point from Peter Evtifeev and the latter emerging victorious after a hard battle vs. Efim Bogoljubow. With three rounds remaining the top five Masters are arrayed in stair-step fashion at half-point intervals, as the reader may observe from the standings given below.

14th round results:

Alekhine  1-0  Evensohn
Flamberg  1-0  Gregory
Salwe  ½-½  Niemzowitsch
Evtifeev  0-1  Levenfish
Lowtzky  1-0  Bogoljubov
Alapin  ½-½  Znosko-Borovsky
Levitsky  0-1  Smorodsky
Taubenhaus   ½-½  von Freymann
Eljaschoff  1-0  Lebedev

Standings after 14 rounds: Alekhine 11 1/2; Flamberg 11; Niemzowitsch 10 1/2; Levenfish 10; Lowtzky 9 1/2; Salwe, Alapin, Znosko-Borovsky 8; Bogoljubow, Evensohn, Smorodsky 7; von Freymann 6; Levitsky 5 1/2; Taubenhaus 5; Lebedev, Evtifeev, Eljaschoff 3 1/2; Gregory 1 1/2

The victory by Alekhine over Evensohn not having been included in today's dispatch, we begin with the encounter between Flamberg and Gregory, a somewhat unusual Sicilian Defense in which Black seemed to hold his own over the first 30 moves, only then to allow the winning advance of White's passed a-pawn.


Salwe and Niemzowitsch contested a carefully-played Queen's Pawn Game in which neither party ever seemed likely to win. In the final position Black may choose either to give or to permit perpetual check, but that is all.


Lowtzky at last overcame Bogoljubov, breaking through on the King-side after a difficult struggle. We must advise the reader that the game score as transmitted from St. Petersburg was unfortunately somewhat garbled; we have endeavored to make sense of it as best we could. Bogoljubow, who after seven rounds found himself among the leaders, has added only two points to his total since that time and now stands in the middle of the pack with an even score.

Eljaschoff scored his second victory of the tournament (the first having come at the expense of Gregory in the previous round) when Lebedev went astray in a complicated middlegame. 34...d3 would seem to lead to a draw. The finish is attractive.

Sunday, January 26

St. Petersburg All-Russian tournament, Round 13: Alekhine still 1st, Flamberg, Niemzowitsch tied for 2nd, Levenfish 4th after all score victories

The leading group of players all recorded victories in the 13th round of the St. Petersburg All-Russian Masters' tournament. Tourney leader Alexander Alekhine recovered from his unexpected 12th-round defeat at the hands of Berhard Gregory to top Sergey Lebedev as second player in a Dutch Defense and increase his total to 10 1/2 points. Alexander Flamberg and Aron Niemzowitsch, in joint second place one half-point behind Alekhine, kept pace with the leader, the former winning easily after a Fingerfehler on the part of Sergey von Freymann and the latter outplaying Jean Taubenhaus in a Queen's Gambit Declined. Grigory Levenfish, an early front-runner of the event before suffering three consecutive defeats in the middle rounds, assumed sole fourth position by besting Stepan Levitsky in a Ruy Lopez; the 24-year old Levenfish has now tallied 4 1/2 points from his last five games and, standing 1 1/2 points to the rear of Alekhine with four rounds yet to play, again enjoys some slight hopes of overall success in the tournament. The day's full slate of results was as follows:

Lebedev  0-1  Alekhine
von Freymann  0-1  Flamberg
Niemzowitsch  1-0  Taubenhaus
Levenfish  1-0  Levitsky
Evtifeev  ½-½  Lowtzky
Smorodsky  0-1  Salwe
Evensohn  0-1  Alapin
Znosko-Borovsky  1-0  Bogoljubow
Gregory  0-1  Eljaschoff

Standings after 13 rounds: Alekhine 10 1/2; Flamberg, Niemzowitsch 10; Levenfish 9; Lowtzky 8 1/2; Salwe, Alapin, Znosko-Borovsky 7 1/2; Bogoljubow, Evensohn 7; Smorodsky 6; von Freymann, Levitsky 5 1/2; Taubenhaus 4 1/2; Lebedev, Evtifeev 3 1/2; Eljaschoff 2 1/2; Gregory 1 1/2

We have four games to share with our readers today, including the victories by the three leading Masters. Alekhine succeeded in advancing his central pawns in a Dutch Defense and won a piece through continuous pressure against Lebedev's Queen-side castled position.


Flamberg received a gift point when von Freymann, who had intended to play 16.Nf5, took hold of the wrong Knight at his 16th turn.

Niemzowitsch accepted an isolated Queen's pawn vs. Taubenhaus and scored the game to his credit via some clever play on the Queen-side.

Znosko-Borovsky essayed the Ponziani Opening vs. Bogoljubow, the two imaginative fighters engaging in a lively struggle that ended in favor of the first player after Black erred with 24...Nf5?

Friday, January 24

St. Petersburg All-Russian tournament, Round 12: Gregory beats Alekhine in stunning upset; Flamberg, Niemzowitsch edge closer to lead with draw

In a stunning turn of events, tournament tail-ender Bernhard Gregory defeated front-runner Alexander Alekhine in the 12th round of the All-Russian Masters' tourney at St. Petersburg. Gregory, with only one half-point to his credit from eleven previous games, confounded all expectations by outplaying Alekhine in a strange and complicated struggle, at last forcing the resignation of the young Muscovite Master at the 51st move with an unanswerable threat of mate in two. The startling defeat has halted the seemingly relentless victory march of Alekhine, who since an opening-round loss to Moishe Lowtzky had tallied 9 1/2 points from ten games, including wins over his two nearest pursuers, Aron Niemzowitsch and Alexander Flamberg. The question of top prize in the tourney - and invitation to the great St. Petersburg international tournament slated to begin in April - now becomes very much an open one, with Alekhine on 9 1/2 points still clinging to first place, followed closely by Niemzowitsch and Flamberg, who played to a draw in their twelfth-round encounter and so increased their total to 9 points each. Fourth and fifth places, a further point behind, are shared by Grigory Levenfish, victor over Georg Salwe, and Lowtzky, who fell to Eugene Znosko-Borovsky. The round's full results were as follows:

Alekhine  0-1  Gregory
Flamberg  ½-½  Niemzowitsch
Salwe  0-1  Levenfish
Lowtzky  0-1  Znosko-Borovsky
Bogoljubow  ½-½  Evensohn
Taubenhaus  1-0  Smorodsky
Alapin  ½-½  Lebedev
Eljaschoff  0-1  v. Freymann
Levitsky  1-0  Evtifeev

Standings after 12 rounds:  Alekhine 9 1/2; Niemzowitsch, Flamberg 9; Lowtzky, Levenfish 8; Bogoljubow, Evensohn 7; Salwe, Alapin, Znosko-Borovsky 6 1/2; Smorodsky 6; von Freymann, Levitsky 5 1/2; Taubenhaus 4 1/2; Lebedev 3 1/2; Evtifeev 3; Gregory, Eljaschoff 1 1/2

We begin, of course, with the Alekhine-Gregory encounter, a game whose very first moves - 1.d4 d5 2.Bg5 Qd6 - seemed to presage unusual doings. Alekhine forced the early displacement of Black's King and soon brought about the sort of knotty complications in which he so delights: by the 21st move, for instance, both White Rooks stood en prise to Black Knights stationed deep inside enemy lines. White, however, proved unable to land a finishing blow, and immediately following the exchange of Queens Gregory's 27...Nxc2! converted an endgame a pawn to the bad for Black into one a pawn to the good. Yet the adventures were far from finished, as Alekhine with 35.Nxb6 regained the pawn, only then to find his Knight unexpectedly trapped via 37...Kc6. The tourney leader fought manfully thereafter, despite his missing piece, and advanced his passed a- and b-pawns to the seventh rank, escorted by the King, in a last attempt to save the game. Finally, though, Gregory's 51...Qd5 put an end to White's faint hopes, whereupon Alekhine resigned. We highly commend this rich and vicissitudinous battle to the attention of our readers.


Flamberg and Niemzowitsch contested a rather quiet but by no means uninteresting Philidor Defense in which neither side ever seemed likely to develop a decisive advantage. The draw was agreed at the 42nd move.

The other two games that we have to share with our readers today were decided by blunders. Smorodsky's 11...b5? allowed Taubenhaus to play 12.g5 and 13.Nd5, winning immediately.

Eljaschoff, for whom the tourney has been rough going, tried too hard to win vs. von Freymann and in so doing created a sort of self-mate problem in a pawn endgame. Young and inexperienced players would do well to note the predicament into which White puts himself so that they may avoid just such a catastrophe in their own games at some later date.