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Friday, October 28, 2011

Alekhine’s Hoaxes

Alekhine was accused of occasionally "improving" games.  According to GM Andy Soltis, "He allegedly made up games against fictitious opponents in which he came out the victor and had these games published in various chess magazines."  The most famous example is his game with five queens.

Chess historian Edward Winter discovered another game Alekhine allegedly won in 15 moves involving a Queen sacrifice at Sabadell in 1945. Some photos of the game in progress were discovered that showed the players during the game and the position on the board. Based on the position of the pieces in the photo, the game could not have taken the course that was given in the published version.

Alekhine had the audacity to publish the five queen game in his book “My Best Games of Chess 1908-1923.” For many years it was thought that this game was authentic but Alekhine later claimed that the game was not played against Grigoriev but against an anonymous player in Moscow in 1915. 

Dr. Albert Buschke discovered that the game was originally published in 1925 by J. du Mont as "Alekhine-N.N." Alekhine had shown the game to du Mont in 1923 and it was du Mont, who went on to translate into English both Alekhine's collections of best games, 1908-1923 and 1924-39, that actually was responsible for the game’s publication.  However,  Alekhine had close relations with du Mont so certainly had ample opportunity to correct the mistake but he never did.  Buschke discovered the five queens were merely a possible side-variation of a game that that actually been played in wartime Russia (Grigoriev-Alekhine, Moscow 1915).

Alekhine also faked his “Doctor” title.  After Alekhine's death du Mont wrote Memoir of Alekhine and claimed that after World War One Alekhine "managed ..... to renew his legal studies and to become a Doctor-at- Law of the French Faculty".  This was not true. Alekhine had studied law before the WW One but his addiction to chess prevented his receiving a degree.

Nikalai Grigoriev was a Russian player and a composer of endgame studies. He was born in 1895 in Moscow, and he died there in 1938.

His father, was a professional musician in the Bolshoi Theatre orchestra. At the age of eighteen, Grigoriev joined the Moscow chess club and played in the Moscow tournament of 1915.  In 1917, he was drafted into the Imperial Russian army in the First World War and was sent to the front. He was wounded and returned severely ill.

In early October 1937, Grigoriev returned from a trip to the Far East and Siberia, where he gave lectures and played. The NKVD militia on the train arrested him. Grigoriev was frail and he lost consciousness after the use of force and his throat began to constantly bleed. After an interrogation, the interrogators had to wash down the room. An unexpected illness then confined him to bed and severe complications required immediate surgery. As a result Grigoriev was severely weakened and died of lung cancer.

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