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Friday, January 26, 2018

Losing With Alekhine's Defense

    Last year I did a post titled My Macabre Fascination with Alekhine's Defense in which I commented, “When I see it, I want to turn away, but am drawn to it and generally can't resist playing over the game.”
     Alekhine's Defense is sharp and often underrated. Black immediately challenges the white e-pawn and tries to lure white into constructing a big P-center with the hope that it will be vulnerable to counterattack.
     It has been recounted numerous times that Alekhine introduced the defense, but never played it again. That story has been told by many including Anthony Saidy and Norman Lessing in The World of Chess, which they probably got from R.N. Coles in Dynamic Chess in his introduction to Alekhine's game against Endre Steiner at Budapest, 1921.  Actually, Alekhine appears to have first played it in a consultation game against A. Donegan, E. Müller and O. Zimmermann in Zurich on August 27, 1921. The game against Steiner was played the following month in September. 
    Yakov Neishtadt writing in Paul Keres Chess Master Class stated that Alekhine’s Defense had been employed earlier by the little-known M. Klyatsky who hailed from Moscow.  Historian Hugh Meyers opined that “M. Klyatsky” could possibly be Mikhail Gertsovich Klyackin who was born in 1897 in Poland and died April 14, 1926 in Moscow.
     Klyackin was born in Warsaw and during the First World War his family moved to Petrograd. He studied law and after the revolution moved to Moscow where he worked in the legal profession. He was the winner of the All-Russian Chess Olympiad amateur tournament in 1920 and in 1921 he played three matches with Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky, winning one (5-3), losing two (0.5-5.5) and (2.5-7.5). He participated in a couple of Moscow championships: 1920-21 (4th place) and 1923, 5th place. In 1926, he played three rounds before withdrawing and shortly thereafter died of tuberculosis. He was also a problem composer and his first problem was published in Izvestia in 1922. He published about 30 problems.
     However, Alekhine's Defense had been published as far back as 1824 when Alexander Petrov published analysis on it. Even before Petrov though was Johann Allgaier (1763-1823), the German-Austrian master and theoretician and author of the first chess handbook in German, Neue theoretisch-praktische Anweisung zum Schachspiel, who published analysis on it.
     In the United States Edward Hymes Jr. (December 4, 1908 – October 17, 1962), a bridge and chess player who was noted for his original opening style, frequently played Alekhine's Defense. Hymes was an attorney from New York City. At age 26, he joined the ACBL Laws Commission which stipulates the rules of bridge. His main partner was Oswald Jacoby. His father and uncles were prominent players in New Jersey.
     Die Aljechin-Verteidigungpublished was a 28-page booklet published in 1922 by Hans Fahrni. It was the first monograph on Alekhine's Defense and Fahrni explained that he had decided to call it Alekhine's Defense.

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