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Saturday, March 15, 2014

100 Years Ago This Month…

…Alexander Alekhine emerged as one of history’s greatest players. First, he tied for first place with Nimzovich ahead of, among others, Flamberg, Levitzky and Levenfish, in the Russian National Championship and then finished third in the great St. Petersburg tournament.
     To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the St. Petersburg Chess Society a giant tournament was organized. They intended to invite the top twenty players, including world champion Emanuel Lasker, challenger Capablanca, Alekhine, Nimzovich, Burn, Teichmann, Winawer, Duras, Maroczy, Schlechter, Speilmann, Tartakower, Vidmar and Weiss. Burn, Teichmann and Winawer declined (too old) while Duras, Maróczy, Schlechter, Spielmann, Tartakower, Vidmar and Weiss could not accept due to tensions between Russia and Austria-Hungary. As a result they ended up with eleven top players from Germany, France, United Kingdom, United States, Cuba, and Russia.
     The main event lasted from 21 April to 22 May 1914. The games were played at the St. Petersburg Chess Club in the afternoon and evening. The final tournament was a double-round tournament among the top five players. Since the results of the preliminaries carried over into the finals, Capablanca with a 1½-point lead was a heavy favorite to win the tournament.
The final five

     The preliminary event scores: (1) Capablanca undefeated at 8.0 (2-3) Lasker and Tarrasch 6.5 (4-5) Alekhine and Marshall 6.0 (6-7) Bernstein and Rubinstein 5.0 (8) Nimzovich 4.0 (9-10) Blackburne and Janowsky (3.5) (11) Gunsburg 1.0
     The final five were supposedly awarded the title of Grandmaster by the Czar of Russia. The final standings:
(1) Lasker 6.5 + 7.0 = 13.5
(2) Capablanca 8.0 + 5.0 = 13.0
(3) Alekhine 6.0 + 4.0 = 10.0
(4) Tarrasch 6.5 + 2.0 = 8.5
(5) Marshall 6.0 + 2.0 = 8.0
A collection of games from the event can be found HERE.

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