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!

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