Alexander (Aleksandr) Alexanderovich Alekhine
(some sources say it is pronounced Al-YEH-khin, others say al-YEKH-een) was
born on October 31, 1892 (New Style) in Moscow,
would have been October 19,
1892 on the Old Style or Russian calendar (the Russians switched
from the Old Style Julian calendar to the New Style Gregorian calendar in
Alekhine's My Best Games of Chess
1908-1927, has two biographical notes. The first biographical note states
that he was born on October
19, 1892. The second biographical note states that he was born on November 1, 1892. ChessBase and Caparrios & Lahde also state that he was born on November 1, 1892. The November 1 day is an incorrect conversion
from Old Style to New Style.The Julian
calendar lags behind the Gregorian calendar 12 days in the 19th
century and 13 days in the 20th century.If Alekhine was born on October 19, Old
Style, then 12 days added to October 19 is October 31, not November 1.
His father, Alexander Ivanovich Alekhine
(1856-1917), was a wealthy landowner, a marshal of the nobility and privy
councilor of the Fourth Duma (1912-1917), a legislative assembly (lower
parliament house) in the late Russian Empire established by Tsar Nicholas II. He was also the ex-governor of Voronezh, a southern
spent several winters on the French Riviera where it is reported that he lost
15 million rubles at the gambling tables in Monte Carlo (CHESS, May 1946).
His mother, Anisya Ivanova Prokhorova
Alekhina (1861-1915), daughter of a Moscow
industrialist, was an heiress to a textile fortune. He had an older sister,
Varvara (Barbara) (1889-1944), and an older brother, Alexei (1888-1939).
On November 10, 1892 (Old Style), Alekhine
was baptized.Bothe parents were
orthodox Catholics.His god-parents were
Staff Captain Ivan Yefimovich Alekhine and his wife,
Anna Sergeyevna Prokhorov.
Until World War I, Alexander Alekhine spelled
his last name Aljechin. As a child, Alexander's nickname was Tisha. Some of his earlier correspondence games were
written T. Alekhine (Tisha Alekhine) since he and his
brother were both A.A. Alekhine.
Alexander grew up in Moscow, on Arbat Street,
close to Smolensk Square.
Some sources say that Alexander learned chess
from his older brother, Alexei (Aleksei) Alexandrovitch, around 1898-99.
Divinsky and Moran say that Alexander learned chess from his mother at age
seven. Hooper and Whyld say that both Alexei and Alexander were taught chess by
their mother. Kasparov says that Alexander began playing at the age of 7, and
his main opponent was his older brother Alexei (Alexey). During a radio interview in the Netherlands
in 1934, Alekhine said he learned how to play chess from his older brother at
the age of 7, and was not allowed to play chess outside his house until age 14.
Alexander started recording his chess games
in 1900. Divinsky states that in 1900 Alekhine's family hired the well know master Fyodor Duz-Khotimirsky (1979-1965) to give Alexander
chess lessons for 15 rubles. Kasparov says that the Alekhine home was visited
by some well-known masters such as Duz-Khotimirsky, Blumenfeld, and Nenarokov.
In 1902, Alexander Alekhine watched Harry
Pillsbury (1872-1906) play 22 boards blindfolded in Moscow. That experience left a powerful
impression on Alexander Alekhine and he became more devoted to chess. One of
players who played against Pillsbury was Alexei Alekhine, Alexander Alekhine's
older brother. Alexei drew with Pillsbury.
Alekhine's first known game was from a
correspondence tournament that began on December 3, 1902, when he was 10 years old. He recorded
his first games in a notebook.
By 1902 he was playing correspondence chess
sponsored by Shakhmatnoe Obozrenie chess magazine. At the time, it was Russia's
only chess magazine. The name of A A Alekhine appeared
in the 6th (1902-1903), 7th (1903-1904), 9th (this may have been Alexei
Alekhine), 10th, 13th, 16th (1905-1906), 17th (1909-1910), and 18th
(1910-1911), correspondence chess tournaments of the magazine.
In the 6th Correspondence Tournament
(1902-1903), Alekhine took 6th place. He won 9 games, drew 1 game, and lost 8
In the 7th Correspondence Tournament
(1903-1904), Alekhine took last place, with 2 wins, 1 draw, and 9 losses.
Hooper and Whyld say that Alexander became
addicted to chess about age 11, playing in his head during lessons, and by the
light of a candle when in bed. Garry Kasparov tells the story that once in an
algebra test, Alekhine suddenly leaped up with shining eyes. The teacher asked
if Alekhine had solved the problem. Alekhine responded, "Yes, I sacrifice
the knight, and White wins!" The class burst our laughing.
At the age of 12, Alekhine could analyze his
games blindfolded without sight of board.He analyzed his games in his head during school hours.
Alekhine won the 16th Correspondence Gambit
Tournament of the chess magazine Shakhmatnoe Obozrenie, which took place
during 1905-1906. Alekhine considered this his first serious tournament. He won
10, drew 3, and lost 1 game.
In 1906-1907, he played in the first Prince
F. M. Shakovskoi Correspondence Tournament, and tied for 4th-5th (+6-1=1).
In 1907, Alexander Alekhine was playing chess
at the Moscow Chess Club (Moscow Chess Society). In June, 1907, at the age of
14, he participated in the Moscow Chess Club Spring Tournament. This was the
first tournament played by Alexander Alekhine over the board (OTB) and using
chess clocks. His first OTB opponent was V. Rozanov, which he won. His brother, Alexei, advanced to the “first
In late 1907, Alexander played in the Moscow
Chess Club Autumn tournament. He tied for 11th-13th place (+4-9=1). His
brother, Alexei, tied for 4th-6th place.
In 1907, Alekhine wrote Chess parties of A. Alekhine.It was never published.
In 1907-1908, he played in the second Prince
Shakovskoi Correspondence Tournament.
In 1908, Alekhine won the Moscow Chess Club
Spring Tournament at the age of 14.
In August 1908, Alekhine, age 15, played in
the non-master section of the 16th Congress of the German Chess Federation
(Union) in Dusseldorf and took 4th-5th place (+8 -3 =2).
In August 1908, he defeated Curt von
Bardeleben (1861-1924) in a match, held in Dusseldorf, with 4 wins and one draw.
Alekhine observed the Lasker-Tarrasch world
championship match while in Dusseldorf.
Lasker and Tarrasch played their first
four games in Dusseldorf from August 17 through August 24, 1908, before it
moved on to Munich.First to win 8 games would be the
champion.Lasker won 8, lost 3, with 5
draws.Lasker won 3 games and lost 1
game while in Dusseldorf.The match moved on to Munich and Alekhine also went there to
observe the match.
In September 1908, Alekhine drew a match with
Hans Fahrni (1873-1939) in Munich
In October 1908, he played a match with
Benjamin Blumenfeld (1884-1947) in Moscow
and won with 7 wins and 3 losses.
At age 16 he entered the ImperialHigh School
for Law in Moscow.
In October 1908, Alekhine lost a match
against Vladimir Nenarokov (1880-1953), who was Moscow champion in 1900, 1908, and 1924.
Alekhine lost all three games to Nenarokov (they were supposed to play 6 games,
but Alekhine abandoned the rest).
In January 1909, he won the Moscow Chess Club
Autumn Tournament for first category players (+5-1=3). This gained him entry to
the St. Petersburg All Russian Amateur Tournament.
In February, 1909, at the age of 16, Alekhine
traveled to St. Petersburg
to play in the All Russian Amateur Tournament. He won the tournament (+12-2=2)
which gained him the Russian National Master title. First prize was a cut glass
Sevres vase valued at 650 rubles, donated by the Czar and Czarina and decorated
with the Imperial Russian shield. He was
the youngest player in the tournament.
In March 1909, Alekhine had to have an
operation for appendicitis.
In 1909, Alexander entered the St. PetersburgMilitaryAcademy.
In August 1909, he won a triangular tournament
One of his opponents was V. Karpov.
In 1909-1910, Alekhine played in the 17th Shakhmatnoe
Obozrenie Correspondence Tournament and won it by a wide margin.
In March 1910, he won the Moscow Chess Club
Autumn and Winter Tournament.
In March 1910, Alekhine gave his first
simultaneous exhibition. In Moscow,
he played against 22 boards, winning 15, losing 1, and drawing 6.
In 1910 Alekhine finished MilitarySchool
at St. Petersburg.
In July-August, 1910, Alekhine participated
in the master section of the 17th German Chess Congress (DSB) in Hamburg and tied for
7th-8th place with Duz-Khotimirsky. Carl Schechter took 1st place, followed by
Duras, Nimzovich, Spielmann, Marshall, and Teichmann.
In May 1911, he won the Moscow Chess Club 3rd
Handicap Tournament and the Moscow Chess Club billiard system (knockout)
In May 1911, he played Board 1 for the Moscow
Chess Club in a match against the St. Petersburg Chess Club. He drew his game
with Eugene Znosko-Borovsky (1884-1954).
In 1911 Alekhine defeated Stepan Levitzky
(1876-1924), a Russian master, in a match, scoring 7
wins and 3 losses.
In August-September 1911, he played in the
2nd International Tournament in Carlsbad
and ended up in 8th-11th place. The event was won by Richard Teichmann,
followed by Rubinstein, Schlechter, Rotlewi, Marshall, Nimzovich, and Vidmar.
By the end of 1911, Alekhine moved to St. Petersburg where he entered the ImperialLawSchool for Nobles. By
1912, he was the strongest chess player in the St. Petersburg Chess Society. He
was offered the position as games editor of the chess column in Novoe Vremya.
In March 1912, he won the St. Petersburg Chess
Club Winter Tournament. One of his opponents was VassilyOsipovichSmyslov
(1881-1943), father of the future World Champion, Vasily Smyslov. Smyslov
Senior beat Alekhine in their game.
In April 1912, he won the 1st Category
Tournament of the St. Petersburg Chess Club. He also played Board 1 for the
Moscow Chess Club against the St. Petersburg Chess Club. He drew his game with
In July, 1912 he won a minor tournament in Stockholm, the Nordic
Masters Congress, with a score of 8.5 out of 10.
In August-September 1912, he played in the
All Russian Masters Tournament in Vilna. He tied for 6th-7th. The event was won
by Rubinstein, followed by Bernstein, Levitsky, Nimzovich, and Flamberg.
Alekhine had his only minus score in his career from this tournament. He won 7
and lost 8.
In February-March 1913, Alekhine defeated S.
M. Levitsky in a match held in St.
Petersburg with 7 wins and 3 losses. Years later, he
published and falsified a game score from this match, showing a brilliant
combination that never occurred.
In April 1913, he tied for 1st with Levenfish
in the St. Petersburg Masters Quadrangular Tournament.
Alexander Alekhine's brother, Alexei, was editor
of the chess journal Shakmatny Vyestnik
from 1913 to 1916 and Alexander was a frequent contributor.
In August 1913, he won the 40th Anniversary
of the Nederlandschen Schaakbond (NSB) Commemorative Tournament in
Scheveningen. He score 11.5 out of 13.
In 1913, at the age of 21, Alekhine fathered
an illegitimate daughter, Valentina (born on December 15, 1913) with a Russian baroness (Anna
von Sewergin). Alekhine and the baroness
married in 1920 to legitimize the daughter's birth (Moran and Hooper & Whyld).Valentina died in the mid 1980s in Vienna.
In September 1913, Alekhine defeated Edward
Lasker in a match in Paris
and won 1,000 francs.Shortly after
that, his 1,000 francs was stolen.He
had to borrow money from Edward Lasker to return home.
In January 1914, at the age of 22, he won his
first major Russian tournament when he tied for first place with Aron Nimzovich
(Nimzowitsch) in St. Petersburg,
the All Russian Masters Tournament. Alekhine and Nimzovich played a min-match,
and that was tied, each scoring one win. Both were then allowed to play in the
'tournament of champions' in St.
A few months later, in April-May 1914,
another major tournament was held in St.
Petersburg in which he took third place behind Emanuel
Lasker and Jose Capablanca. Czar Nicholas II conferred the title
"Grandmaster of Chess" to Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch, and
Marshall after they took the top five places at St. Petersburg. The Czar also contributed
1,000 rubles towards the prize fund.
During the spring of 1914, Alekhine
successfully completed his course at the law school in Saint Petersburg, but never practiced.
Alekhine's book, My Best Games of Chess 1908-1937, states in one of its
biographical notes that he obtained his law degree in 1914, then entered the
Russian Foreign Office (Foreign Relations Ministry).
In July 1914, Alekhine tied for 1st with Marshall at the International Tournament in the Cafe
Continental in Paris.
In 1914, Alekhine composed his only known
chess problem, a mate in three.
Alekhine decided to play in the main
tournament in Mannheim,
the 19th German Chess Federation (DSB) Congress. He arrived two hours before
the start of the event on July
20, 1914, and would only play if Capablanca was not participating.
Capablanca did not play in the event. World champion Emanuel Lasker was a guest
of honor at the event, but left before World War I broke out on August 1, 1914. Lasker was there to make plans for an
International Chess Federation.
On August 1, 1914, Alekhine was leading in the tournament
with 9 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss when World War I broke out. The congress was stopped on August 1, the day Germany declared war on Russia.The last 6 rounds were cancelled.After the event was stopped, the leaders were
Alekhine, Vidmar, Spielmann,
Breyer, Marshall, Reti, Janowski, Bogoljubow, Tarrasch, Duras, John, Tartakower, Fahrni, Post, Carls, Kruger, Flamberg, and Mieses.
There were 17 other players in the next
section (Hauptturnier A), and 50 players in the
bottom section (Hauptturnier B).
Alekhine was scheduled to play Capablanca in
September after being invited by the Buenos Aires Chess Club.Now he was unable to get out of Germany.Alekhine received 1100 marks (equivalent to
11,000 Euros in terms of purchasing power today) for his first place finish at Mannheim.
All the foreign players were taken to a Mannheim police station,
and then later released except for Alekhine. He was detained because he had a
photograph of himself wearing the uniform of the law school he attended. The
police had taken him for a Russian officer. He spent the night in jail until it
was later resolved. Later, the
“Russians” were transferred to a military prison in Ludwigshafen,
opposite of Mannheim on the other side of the Rhineriver.
The eleven “Russian” players (Alekhine,
Bogoljubow, Bohatirchuk, Flamberg, Koppelman, Maljutin, Rabinovich, Romanovsky,
Saburov, Selezviev, and Veinstein) were taken to Rastatt, Germany as a prisoner of war on August 4, 1914. They were
supposed to be taken to Baden-Baden,
to settle there in private quarters and to await further orders. But the
conductor of the train stopped at Rastatt and
informed the commandant of the town that he had a suspicious group of
foreigners. The military soldiers went through their luggage and found the
chess score sheets with the recordings of the chess moves from the tournament.
The military thought this was secret code for the transmission of spy messages.
They were beaten up by people in the street, thinking they were all spies
All the chess players were put in a civil prison. Alekhine was put in a cell
with Bogoljubow, and they played blindfold chess for hours. Later, Alekhine was
put in solitary confinement for four days.
Within a couple of weeks, they were finally
all sent to Baden-Baden
and moved in a hotel. Later, they all
had to pass through a medical commission to see if anyone was a danger to Germany.
Alekhine was certified as unfit for military service on September 14, 1914. A doctor may have been an admirer of
Alekhine's chess genius, and released him. Some sources say that Alekhine was released
for feigning madness.Moran states that family influence and the
International Red Cross mediation procured Alekhine’s release.
Bohatirchuk, Saburov, and Koppelaman were
released a few days later as unfit for military service.
Alekhine made his way back to Russia.
Julius du Mont states that Alekhine escaped to Switzerland
and returned home, via Siberia, to join the
Russian army. Hooper and Whyld say that Alexander returned to Russia in October, 1914 via Switzerland, Italy,
England, Sweden, and Finland. Alekhine left for Basel,
Switzerland, and then went
to Genoa, Italy,
which was an Italian port for Russians caught in Europe.
Alekhine was stuck in Genoa for a month and
played hundreds of chess games with Fedor Bohatirchuk (1892-1984), who was also
released from Baden-Baden and was waiting for a
ship in Genoa to take him back to Russia.
Alekhine was planning to go to Buenos Aires to play
Capablanca in a chess match, but this came to nothing.
Alekhine next sailed for Gibraltar, then England, and arrived in London on October 9, 1914.He then went to Stockholm, Sweden
where he gave a simultaneous exhibition on October 21, 1914.He then went to Finland,
and then arrived back in Petrograd (St.
Petersburg) before the end of October.From there, he went to Moscow.
When Alekhine arrived back in Russia, he helped raise money to aid the Russian
chess players who were still interned in Germany (now imprisoned in Triberg)
by giving simultaneous exhibitions.
On December 28, 1915, Alexander's mother died. His father spent more than a year in a German
In December, 1915 Alekhine won the
Championship of the Moscow Chess Club with 10.5 out of 11.
In May, 1916, Alekhine served as an attaché in
the Union of Cities (Red Cross) on the Austrian front as head of the mobile
dressing station. He gave help to the
wounded at the front.
In August-September, 1916, Alekhine twice
suffered from shell shock while on the front line and was twice decorated (du
Mont). He later had to be confined to bed in the Cloisters military hospital in
Tarnopol (Ternopil), a town
in Eastern Galicia (formerly Austria),
now in western Ukraine.During World War I, the city passed from
German and Austrain forces to Russia several times.
In September 1916, he was playing 5 people in
a blindfold display at a Russian military hospital at Tarnopol.
He won all his games.
After leaving the hospital, Alekhine returned
where he was awarded the Order of St. Stanislav
(Stanislaus) and two St. George Medals.(Kasparov)He was also decorated
with the Red Cross insignia (1st and 2nd degrees).
In October 1917, after the Bolshevik
revolution, chess was officially discouraged in Russia as a "decadent
bourgeois pastime." Virtually all organized chess activities and chess
clubs ended in Russia.
Alekhine lost whatever remained of his
parents’ fortune.His mansion was
confiscated by the Bolsheviks.
By December, 1917, shortages made the
production of newspapers and magazines very difficult.During this time, almost all news of chess
activities disappeared from the public domain.(Skinner)
In 1918, chess activity picked up due to the
influence of Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky (1894-1941).He was the Chief Government Commissar for
General Military Organization.As a
strong player himself, he encouraged and organized chess activities in Russia
as part of the campaign to promote culture and education in the Red Army.However, many chess players had to play
tournaments and matches at homes and apartments since chess clubs were still
In 1918, Alekhine finished his legal training
and worked at the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department as an examining
In the autumn of 1918, Alekhine traveled to Kiev and Odessa in the Ukraine
to play chess. J. du Mont states that Alekhine had to teach chess in schools
and universities for several years after the Bolshevik revolution. Alekhine was wishing to travel abroad by
ship.However, he could not get any
tickets to travel by ship from Odessa, and was
stuck in Odessa
until spring of 1919.To stay alive,
Alekhine joined the Communist Party and found work in the commission for
confiscating valuables from the bourgeoisie.He may also have served with the Intelligence Corps of the White Russian
Army in Odessa.
While in Odessa, Alekhine stayed in a hotel room
previously occupied by a British Officer of the Intelligence Service.This British officer left behind a
trunk.During a police raid, the trunk
was found to contain compromising documents.Alekhine was then arrested and sentenced to death (CHESS, May 1946).
In June 1919, Alekhine was briefly imprisoned
death cell by the Odessa Cheka, suspected of being a spy. He was charged with
links with White counter-intelligence after the Russians liberated the Ukraine
from German occupation. He was sentenced by a Revolutionary tribunal to be shot
by a firing squad.Some sources say that
Leon Trotsky himself spared Alekhine’s life.
YakovVilner (1899-1931) was the
chess champion. He heard about Alekhine’s arrest and sent a telegram to the Ukrainian
Chief Commissar, Khristian (Christian) Rakovsky (1873-1941), who knew AlekhineRavovsky gave the order to free Alekhine.Alekhine then returned to Moscow.Reuben Fine states that Alekhine was in a Cheka jail in Odessa for two weeks, from
which he escaped by going to a foreign chess tournament.
In the Russian émigré circles, Alekhine was
held to be responsible for the arrest and death of many White Russians in 1919
(CHESS, May 1946).
In the summer of 1919, Alekhine was ready to
give up chess.He started working in a
film studio intending to be an actor. He was studying at the State Studio for
Cinematographic Art, Moscow's
first school for film actors. He also joined the Communist Party and was
secretary of the Communist Education Department.
In late 1919, Alexander traveled to Kharkov, where his elder
brother, Alexei, was living.Alexander
started working in the office of a military sanitarium.He later caught typhus.
In 1920 he was in a forced labor brigade
working on the Trans-Siberian railway with former members of the Russian
In January 1920, he won the Moscow City
Championship (11 out of 11), followed by N. Grekov (8.5 out of 11). Grekov was
declared the first Moscow Chess Champion because Alekhine's score did not count
(hors de concours). He wasn't a resident of Moscow at the time.
In early 1920, Alekhine married Anna von Sewergin (some Internet genealogy sources say Aleksandra
Bataeva), a Russian baroness several years older than he (Moran). She was an
artist from St. Petersburg
and widow of a Russian landowner killed in World War I.This was his first wife. They married in Moscow to legitimize their
seven-year-old daughter, Valentina (Hooper and
Whyld). There is no record of a divorce.
In May 1920,Alexander found work in Moscow as an investigator
for the police central investigation department.He helped people who lost one another during
the War.He also joined a chess club and
got involved with chess again.
The June, 1920, issue of the British Chess Magazine (BCM) reported on
the disappearance of Alekhine and feared he was killed by the Bolsheviks.There were reports that Alekhine had been
executed in Odessa.The
February, 1921, issue of BCM finally reported that Alekhine was alive and doing
In the summer of 1920, Alekhine was
transferred from the central investigation department to the Communist
International (Comintern) as an interpreter since he was fluent in French and
German.He became a candidate member of
the Communist Party and was secretary of the Communist Education Department.
In the July, 1920 he met a 41-year-old Swiss
woman journalist, Red Cross nurse, and Comintern
delegate Anneliese (Anna-Luiza
or Annaliene) Ruegg
(1879-1934).She had come to Russia
as a delegate to the Second Congress of the Comintern
International, and later interviewed Vladimir Lenin in November, 1920.The Comintern
assigned Alekhine to interpret at the congress, since he was fluent in French
and German from boyhood.
In October, 1920 Alekhine won the first
Soviet (or USSR retro-actively)
chess championship (called the All-Russian Chess Olympiad at the time) in Moscow. His score was 12 out of 15 and he went
undefeated.His brother, Alexei, took
3rd place in the tournament for amateurs. It was the last event that the two brothers
played in together.This event was
organized by the Universal Military Training Organization as part of an all
Russian Sports Olympiad. The chess event was directed by Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky. The Sports Olympiad never materialized,
but the chess event went ahead. The top event incorporated the championship of
the Russian Soviet Federative Socialistic Republic (RSFSR). The USSR
was not founded until 1924 (dissolved in 1991). All the chess players were mobilized and were
in the Army and given travel facilities to get them to Moscow. This was Alekhine’s last tournament in Russia.
In November 1920, the Moscow
secret police brought a new case against Alekhine after hearing from their Odessa branch.Later, the charges of ‘anti-Soviet activity’
Alekhine and Ruegg
got engaged on December 25,
In early 1921, Alekhine’s first wife, Anna
von Sewergin, and daughter, Valentina, left for Austria.
On March 15, 1921, Alekhine married a second time to Anneliese
Ruegg, who was 13 years older than he. She was 41 and he was 28. He may have
not divorced his first wife at the time. Anneliese was already expecting a baby, and
wanted to have the birth back home in Switzerland.
Shortly after, on April 29, 1921, Alekhine was given
permission to leave Russia
for a visit to the West with his wife. Alekhine never returned to Russia.
The couple traveled to Riga,
Latvia, and Berlin, where he only
had 200 marks in his pocket.Alekhine
wanted to go to France
and from there, tour the world playing chess.But the entry visa into France
was refused by the French Consulate.Alekhine finally obtained a visa on the understanding he would not
undertake any communist propaganda.
In June 1921, Annaliese returned to Switzerland,
where she gave birth to a son, Alexander AleksandrovichAljechin, in early 1922.
In 1921, Alekhine drew a match against
Richard Teichmann (1868-1925) with two wins, two draws, and two losses. He then
took first place at Triberg (July), Budapest
(September), and The Hague
Alekhine won three straight tournaments in
Triberg, Budapest, and The Hague, without losing a game. In Budapest he popularized
what is now called the Alekhine's defense (1.e4 Nf6). By then, he had adopted the French version of his
name - Alexandre Alekhine.
In November 1921, Alekhine challenged Jose Capablanca
(1888-1942) for a world championship match. A match was suggested to be played in the United States
In 1921, Alekhine published his first book, was
in Sowiet-Russland. (Chess Life
in Soviet Russia).It was only 16 pages and was published in Berlin by Kagan.He also wrote WeittkampfAlejechin-Bogoljobow, Triberg
1921, but it was never published.Alekhine wrote no books in Russian.
Alexander's brother, Alexei, remained in
Soviet Russia and denounced his brother. Alexei won the championship of Kharkov in the Ukraine and served as the Executive
Board member of the USSR Chess Federation. He was also the Secretary of the
Ukrainian Chess Federation and the editor of the first Soviet chess annual,
published in 1927.
In January 1922, his son, Alexander (Alex) AleksandrovichAljechin, was born
His mother was Anneliese Ruegg.
In March 1922 a candidate match was supposed
to take place between Alekhine and Akiba Rubinstein (1882-1961). The winner was
supposed to be recognized by Capablanca as the official challenger to a world
championship match. The match never took place.
In April 1922, Alekhine tied for 2nd-3rd
(with Spielmann) in the Breyer Memorial Tournament in Pistyan. The event was
won by Bogoljubow. In is game with Treybal, Alekhine stated that one of his combinations in
that game was the longest he had ever undertaken, claiming a winning maneuver that
he saw 20 moves ahead.
In 1922, Alekhine first visited Gijon, Spain.On June 25, 1922, he played 34 boards at the Royal Asturian
Regatta Club and won all 34 games in record time.
In August 1922, Alekhine took 2nd at the 15th
British Chess Federation Congress (known as the London victory tournament). The event was won
by Capablanca. This was the first event
after the War that Alekhine and Capablanca played against each other.The participants of the tournament signed the
agreement on August 9, 1922,
which were the regulations for world championship matches.,
first proposed by Capablanca.
The signers of the London Rules included
Alekhine, Capablanca, Bogoljubow,
Maroczy, Reti, Rubinstenin, Tartakower, and Vidmar.Clause one
of the London Rules stated that the match to be one of six games up, drawn
games not to count.
In September 1922, Alekhine won the Hastings
International Tournament with the score of 7.5 out of 10.
In December 1922, Alekhine took 4th-6th at
the Austrian Chess Association Congress, held in Vienna. The event was won by Rubinstein,
followed by Tartakower and Wolf. This
was the last meeting between Alekhine and his first wife, Anna von Sewergin,
who was living in Austria
with their daughter, Valentina.They
never met again.
It was in Vienna that Ernst Gruenfeld beat Alekhine
when he played the Gruenfeld’s Defense against Alekhine.Alekhine resigned by taking his king and
throwing it across the room (Kmoch , Schonberg, Moran).
In April 1923, Alekhine took 2nd-5th at the
Kent County Chess Association Congress in Margate.
The event was won by Gruenfeld.
In May 1923, he tied for first at Carlsbad with Bogoljubow
and Maroczy. Reinfeld
and Kmochwrites that after
losing to Spielmann at Carlsbad,
Alekhine went back to his hotel room (the Imperial, the best hotel in Carlsbad) and smashed
every piece of furniture in his room.Alekhine lost three games at Carlsbad
(Chess Review, May 1950).
In August 1923, Alekhine won the 16th British
Chess Federation Congress at Portsmouth.
In November 1923, Alekhine challenged
Capablanca for a second time.
In April 1924, he took 3rd place in New York, behind Lasker
and Capablanca. Alekhine spent much of
1924 annotating all the games from the New
On April 27, 1924, Alekhine broke the world record for
blindfold play when he played 26 players (the old record was 25, set by
Breyer). Alekhine won 16, lost 5, and drew hours of play. The event was held in New York.
In 1924, Alekhine divorced his second wife, AnnelieseRuegg.Her social commitments and refusal to
accompany Alekhine to chess tournaments led to marital problems.
In 1924, at a Paris ball, Alekhine met Nadezhda Semyenovna
Fabritskaya (Fabrickaja) Vasiliev
(Vasileva or Wasilief),
widow of the Russian General V. Vasiliev.She was born on March
19, 1884 in Odessa.Her daughter, Gvendolina, was almost as old
In 1924, he wrote Book of the Hastings International Masters Chess Tournament 1922,
published in London.He also wrote Mismejorespartidas
1908-1923, published in Madrid
In February 1925, Alekhine won the Five
Masters Tournament in Paris.
On February 1, 1925 Alekhine broke his own world blindfold
record by playing 28 games blindfold simultaneously, winning 22, drawing 3 and
losing 3. The event took place in Paris.
In May 1925, Alekhine won a tournament in Baden-Baden (+12-0=8).
This was the first international tournament in Germany since World War I. Alekhine’s game
with Reti was considered one of the finest games that
he ever played.
In 1925 Alekhine entered the SorbonneLawSchool, and wrote his thesis on the
Chinese prison system (The System of Imprisonment in China). He did not get his PhD and
only completed two of the four stages required for the degree (Hooper and
Whyld). However, he started introducing himself as Doctor Alekhine. J. du Mont
states that he obtained his Degree of Docteur en Droit (Doctor of Law) at ParisUniversity.
Brace states that he received a doctorate in law from the Sorbonne, but never
practiced law because of his passion for chess. Horowitz says that the
"Dr." was for a degree in jurisprudence. Divinksy says that it is
doubtful that Alekhine graduated from the Sorbonne. Kasparov says that Alekhine
did become a Doctor of Law.Alekhine
himself started signing his name as "Dr Aljechin" after 1925.
In 1925, he married his third wife, Nadezhda
Semyenovna Fabritskaya Vasiliev.They
lived at 211 rue de la Croix-Nivert in Paris.
Kotov claims that Alekhine divorced his
second wife, Anneliese, to marry Nadezhda.
In 1925, he wrote Das GrossmeisterturnierNew York 1924, published in Berlin and Leipzig
by De Gruyter.Also in 1925, Alekhine and Hermann Helms wrote The Book of the New York
International Chess Tournament, 1924, published by the American Chess
Bulletin (ACB).His New York 1924 book was also published in
German, Russian.After World War II, it
was published in Spanish.
In January 1926, he tied for 1st with Vidmar
in the 6th Hastings Congress of 1925-26.
In March 1926, he took 2nd at the
International Tournament in Semmering. The event was won by Spielmann.
In April 1926, Alekhine took 2nd at the
Dresden Chess Club 50th Year Jubilee Congress. The event was won by Nimzovich.
In May 1926, Alekhine won a tournament at Scarborough.
In June 1926, Alekhine won a tournament at Birmingham.
In October 1926, Alekhine won a tournament at
Buenos Aires. At this time, he challenged Capablanca
again.The Argentine government
undertook to guarantee the finances of the match.Alekhine spent several months touring South America and giving exhibitions.
In 1926, he wrote La valeurtheoretique
du tournoi de Baden-Baden,
published in Brussels.
In 1926-7 Alekhine beat Max Euwe in a match
with 3 wins, 5 draws, and 2 losses. Alekhine then challenged Jose Capablanca
for the world championship.
In March, 1927 Alekhine took second place
($1,500), behind Capablanca ($2,000), in New
York, with 5 wins, 13 draws, and 2 losses. It was in New York that Capablanca, Alekhine, and the
Argentine organizers finally reached an agreement about the world championship
match.The winner would be the first
person with six wins, draws not counting.
In July he won at Kecskemet 1927.
accepted the challenge and began their world championship match in Buenos Aires on September 16, 1927. The Argentine Chess Club (Club Argentino de Ajedrez) of Buenos Aires put up
$10,000 (40,000 pesos).$4,800 was to
go to the winner, $3,200 was to go to the loser, and $2,000 was for
Capablanca’s appearance fee.
The match between Capablanca and Alekhine saw
32 out of 34 games with the same opening, the Orthodox Defense of the Queen’s
On November 26, 1927, Alekhine became a
naturalized French citizen.While in France, he
called himself a White Russian.When he
obtained his French naturalization, he became a French patriot and said he was
proud to enhance the prestige of France in foreign countries through
On November 29, 1927 Alekhine beat Capablanca with 6 wins, 25
draws, and 3 losses to become fourth chess champions of the world. The only
time-out was when Alekhine had 6 teeth extracted during the match. After the
final game, Alekhine was carried through the streets of Buenos Aires by a crowd of 10,000 chess
Alekhine became the 4th official world
champion of chess after Steinitz, Lasker, and Capablanca. All the games in Buenos Aires took place
behind closed doors. There were no spectators or photographs. The winner was
the first to win 6 games. Before the match, the score between the two opponents
was 4 wins, 5 draws, and 0 losses in favor of Capablanca. Before the match,
Spielmann predicted that Alekhine would not win a single game.
On December 12, 1927, Alekhine and Capablanca had their last
meeting in Buenos Aires.They discussed the conditions for a new match.Capablanca suggested limiting the number of
games, but Alekhine liked the rules as they were.Nothing more was suggested and they parted.
After the match, Alekhine avoided the
required return match with Capablanca, and refused to play in any event that
Capablanca was in.He forced organizers
to drop Capablanca from any invitations if they wanted Alekhine to play.Capablanca was not invited to San Remo 1930 and Bled
1931 because Alekhine was invited, but would not play if Capablanca
participated. This continued until 1936
(Capablanca and Alekhine played in Nottingham 1936), after Alekhine had lost
the title himself to Max Euwe.At Nottingham, Capablanca defeated Alekhine in their
In 1927, AlexanderAlekhine
wrote Moiluchshiepartii, published in Moscow
and Leningrad (St. Petersburg).He also wrote My Best Games of Chess
1908-1923, published in London and New York.Alekhine and Max Euwe
wrote De SchaakwedstijdAljechin-Euwe, 1926, published in Amsterdam in the Dutch
In 1927, Alekhine’s
brother, Alexei, wrote Match napervenstvomiraAlekhin-Capablanca,
published in Kharkov.
After the world championship match, Alekhine
returned to Paris
and spoke against Bolshevism at the various clubs around the city. Afterwards,
Nikolai Krylenko (1885-1938), president of the Soviet Chess Federation,
published an official memorandum stating that Alekhine was the enemy of the
Soviets and should be treated as an enemy. The Soviet Chess Federation broke
all contact with Alexander Alekhine. Newspapers in the USSR published a letter by Alexei
Alekhine that he rejected Alexander Alekhine and was finished with him forever.
In 1928, FIDE held its congress at The Hague.Alekhine, the reigning world champion,
attended part of the 1928 Congress.He
agreed to place future world championship matches under the auspices of FIDE,
although any match with Capablanca had to be played
under the same conditions as in Buenos
In 1928, he was co-author of Das erste
International Schachturnier in Kecskemet, 1927 with Hans Kmoch, GezaMaroczy,
and AronNimzovich.Alekhine also wrote Das New Yorker Schach-Turnier, 1927,
published in Berlin and Leipzig.
In 1929, Alekhine attended the 1929 FIDE
Congress in Venice, Italy.
In June 1929, he won at Bradley Beach, New
Jersey. Bradley Beach offered to host a
Capablanca-Alekhine return match, but Alekhine refused and accepted a challenge
from Efim Bogoljubow (1889-1952).
On July 29, 1929, Alekhine and Bogoljubow signed an agreement
for a match.The rules differed from the
London Rules (6 wins, draws not counting) with the number of maximum games
limited to 30 games, but the winner must still score at least 6 wins.The
match was not played under the auspices of FIDE or the London Rules.
In August, 1929, Alekhine was present at the Carlsbad tournament as a
correspondent for the New York Times,
in which he wrote six reports.Alekhine
did not play in the event, but Capablanca did.The two were no longer on speaking terms, and did not greet each
Alekhine avoided Capablanca's challenge of a
re-match and took on Bogoljubow at Wiesbaden
(first 8 games), Heidelberg (3 games starting
October 3), Berlin (6 games), The
Hague, and Amsterdam
from September 6 through November
12, 1929. Alekhine won with 11 wins, 9 draws, and 5 losses. He
avoided Capablanca by insisting that the winner get $10,000 in gold, just as he
got on Buenos Aires.
But after the stock market crash in October, 1929, there were no backers. Alekhine had a small fortune until the 1929
financial crash, in which he lost almost everything.
In February 1930, he won at San Remo (+13-0=2).
At the 3rd Chess Olympiad, held in July 1930
in Hamburg, he scored his first 100% score
when he won all 9 games as board one for France. Capablanca is there as a spectator, but
Alekhine and Capablanca avoid each other.
In July 1931, Alekhine played Board 1 for France at the 4th Olympiad, held in Prague. He won 10, lost 1,
and drew 7. His loss to Mattison was his first loss in a serious chess event
since winning the world championship.
In September 1931, he won at Bled. He won by
a margin of 5 1/2 points over his nearest rival (Bogoljubow).
In February 1932, he won at London.
On February 28, 1932, Alekhine played against 300 opponents
in Paris (60
teams of 5 players each). He won 37, lost 6, and drew 17.
In July 1932, he won the 36th Swiss
Championship at Berne.
On August 14, 1932, Alekhine arrived on the eve of the Chess
Congress Masters Tournament at the Maryland Hotel in Pasadena, California.The event followed the 10th Modern
Olympic Games at Los Angeles.Alekhine won the event at Pasadena and $250, with a score of
8.5-2.5.During this period, Alekhine,
Isaac Kashdan, and Arnold Dake took a flight over Los
Angeles and Pasadena
on the Goodyear blimp Volunteer.
On September 1, 1932, Alekhine
gave a 50-board simultaneous display at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. He lost
at least 2 games (to R.McBride and to Dr. M. Scholtz).
On September 15, 1932,
Alekhine gave an 8-board simultaneous blindfold exhibition at the Ambassador
Hotel in Los Angeles,
winning 5 and drawing 3.
From 1929 to 1932 Alekhine took first place
at San Remo (performance rating of 2812), Bled, London, and Pasadena.
In October 1932, he tied for 1st with Isaac Kashdan
in Mexico City.
On December 15, 1932, world
champion Alexander Alekhine gave a 22-board simultaneous exhibition at the Los
Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC), winning 19 and drawing 3.
On December 17, 1932,
Alekhine played against 26 boards at the new Hollywood Chess Club, winning them
all. The next day, he then gave a 7-board simultaneous blindfold exhibition at
the Hollywood Chess Club, winning 5 and drawing 2. The president of the
Hollywood Chess Club was Douglas Fairbanks,
Jr. Herman Steiner later became the president of the Hollywood Chess Club.
Members included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer, and Jose
In 1932, he wrote Auf deuWegezurWeltmeisterschaft,
1923-1927, published in Berlin and Leipzig.Alekhine and Hatton-Ward wrote Sixty-Six Master Games Played in the London International Chess
Tournament, 1932.The book was
published in London and Philadelphia.
In June 1933, Alekhine played Board 1 for France
in the 5th Chess Olympiad in Folkestone. He won 8, drew 3, and lost 1 (to
On July 16, 1933, Alekhine played 32 people blindfold
simultaneously at the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago (World's Fair), winning 19, drawing
9, and losing 4 games in 14 hours. This was a new world record.
In 1933, Alekhine toured the Orient, giving simultaneous
exhibitions. He traveled to Shanghai, Canton, Hong Kong, Manila,
the Netherland Indies. It was called Alekhine's Magical Mystery Tour.
In 1933, Alekhine met Grace Freeman Wishart
(sometimes given as Wishard, Wishaar, Wislar, or Wishar) at a minor chess
tournament which she had won in Tokyo.
Her prize was one of Alekhine's books (Deux
cents parties d’echecs – 200 games of Chess). She
asked him to sign the book and their relationship developed from that moment.
Grace, born in New Jersey on October 26, 1876, was a widow of the English
Captain Archibold Freeman, her third (possibly fourth) husband who died in the
early 1930s.She had been previously
married to a British tea planter in Ceylon and a French Morocco
Governor (Moran).Grace retained her
British citizenship to the end of her life.She owned a chateau called Saint-Aubin-le-Chef, located a few miles
southeast of Dieppe in Normandy.She also owned an art studio in Paris.Soon, Grace was living with Alekhine, even
though Alekhine was still married to his third wife, Nadezhda.
He traveled the world giving simultaneous
exhibitions. He was made an honorary Colonel in the Mexican army and appointed
as chess instructor for the Mexican army.
In October 1933, he won at Paris.
In January 1934, he tied for 2nd, with
Lilienthal, at Hastings
1933-34. The event was won by Flohr.
In February 1934, Alekhine won at Rotterdam.
In March, he divorced his third wife,
Nadezhda in Amsterdam.
On March 26, 1934 Alekhine married for the 4th time to Grace
Wishart at Villefranche-sur-Mer in the French Riviera.The marriage certificate spells her maiden
name as Wishaar.
In April-June, 1934 Alekhine defeated
Bogoljubow for the world championship in Germany with the score of 8 wins,
15 draws and 3 losses. He then accepted a challenge from Max Euwe.
On May 2, 1934, Alekhine’s second wife, Annaliese Ruegg died
in Luasanne, Switzerland.Alekhine put his son, Alex, in a boarding
school in Zurich, Switzerland under the guardianship
of the Swiss master Erwin Voellmy (1886-1951).Alekhine saw very little of his son.
In July 1934, he won the 37th Swiss
Championship in Zurich.
It was here that Alekhine won his first
and last game with Emanuel Lasker.
In April 1935, Alekhine won at Orebro.
In June 1935, Grace Alekhine
played in the French Women’s Championship, but was not among the top four
In 1935, Alekhine tried to cross the Polish
border with no documents or passport.Alekhine allegedly told the border guard, “I am Alekhine, chess champion
of the world.This is my cat.Her name is Chess.I need no passport.”
In August 1935, Alekhine played for France in the 6th Chess Olympiad in Warsaw. He won 7, drew 10,
and lost none. He brought his wife and his favorite cat, a Persian cat named
At the end of August, 1935, Alekhine attended
the FIDE Congress in Warsaw.He was part of a commission to make a list of
candidates who had the right to challenge the world champion in the next world
championship match.The list was based
on the last known results.Capablanca came first, followed by Botvinnik.
In 1935 Alekhine wanted to establish his
residence in Mallorca, but his wife, Grace, disliked
On October 3, 1935 the world championship match between
Alekhine and Euwe began in Zandvort for $10,000 to the winner. On December 15, 1935 Euwe had
won with 9 wins, 13 draws, and 8 losses. This was the first world championship
match to officially have seconds to help in analysis during adjournments. Salo Landau, a Dutch Jew, was Alekhine's
second and Geza Maroczy was Euwe's second. After the 26th game, Landau
withdrew after a disagreement with Alekhine.
In 1935, he wrote International und 37 SchweizerischesSchachturnier in Zuerich, 1934,
published in Zurich.
In July 1936, Alekhine took 2nd at Podebrady.
Salo Flohr won the event.
In August 1936, Alekhine played in Nottingham which was won by Capablanca and Botvinnik.
Alekhine ended up in 6th place. His game with Capablanca was the first time
they had met since the world championship match in 1927.
In October 1936, Alekhine won at the ASB
Jubilee tournament in Amsterdam.
In October 1936, Alekhine took 3rd at the De
Arbeiderspers tournament in Amsterdam.
Euwe and Fine tied for 1st.
In 1936, he wrote Deux cents partesd’echecs,
1908-1927, published in Rouen.Alekhine and Euwe
wrote Aljechin-Euwe, Weltkampfbuch,
1935, published in German.
In January 1937, Alekhine won the 17th Hastings tournament for
1936-37. He won 15 sterling pounds for his effort, His wife, Grace, won 3rd
prize in the Third Class tournament at Hastings,
winning 1 pound.
In April 1937, Alekhine took 3rd at Margate. Fine and Keres
tied for 1st.
In July 1937, Alekhine took 4th-5th at
Kemeri. Flohr, Reshevsky, and Petrovs tied for 1st.
From October 5 to December 7, 1937, Alekhine played Euwe
for the world championship match in various Dutch cities (The
Hague, Rotterdam, Haarlem,
Groningen, and Amsterdam). Alekhine did what no other world
champion before him had been able to do - he regained the world championship in
a return match. He won 10 games, drew 11, and lost 4.
In 1937, he wrote The Book of the Nottingham International Chess Tournament,
published in London.
In March 1938, Alekhine won at Montevideo.
In April 1938, Alekhine won at Margate. His wife, Grace,
competed in Section A of the Second Class Tournament.
In September 1938, Alekhine tied for 1st at Plymouth with Sir George
At the 1938 AVRO (Algemene Verenigde Radio
Omroep) tournament in Holland
on November 2-27, the top eight players in the world participated. This was the
strongest tournament ever held. First place was $550. Alekhine, for the first
time in his life, came ahead of Capablanca. Capablanca, for the first time in
his life, scored below 50%. Capablanca, for the second time in his life, lost a
game on time – to Alekhine.Flohr, the
official challenger to Alekhine in the next world championship match (called
off because of World War II) came in last place without a single win in 14
rounds. Alekhine tied for 4th-6th with his only even score in a tournament. He
won 3 and lost 3. Keres and Fined tied for 1st. Botvinnik took 2nd place.
In 1938, Alekhine and Euwe
wrote The World Chess Championship, 1937,
published in English.
In 1939, Alekhine was representing France on board 1 at the chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires when World
War II broke out. As team captain of the French team, he refused to allow his
team to play Germany.
In September 1939, he won a tournament at Montevideo. Alekhine could have remained in Argentina or he could have gone to the United States with his American-born wife, but
decided to return to France
to join the French Army.
Alekhine played a lot of bridge in South America, but was not a strong bridge player.His wife, Grace, once said to him after he
played a bad hand, “If you go on like this, you’ll lose us our chateau in France.”
In January, 1940, Alexander and Grace (and
two cats) sailed from Buenos Aires to Estoril, Portugal,
where they stayed a few days before going to France.
He returned to France in February, 1940, to enlist
in the army as a non-commissioned officer.Owing to his knowledge of foreign languages, he was soon transferred to
intelligence work and became an interpreter (he was a Lieutenant-Interpreter in
the French Army).
In June, 1940, after the Nazis occupied Paris, Alekhine was with his section at Arcachon, near Bordeaux.He then fled to the so-called unoccupied zone
and was demobilized at Marseilles.
he wanted to leave for Portugal
where he hoped to sail for South America so as
to play a return match with Capablanca.But he was not yet 48 years old, and the
French law prohibited all men under 48 from leaving France (CHESS, May 1946).He tried
to obtain a passport both at Marseilles and at
Nice, but could not do so,Alekhine then returned to Paris
to see his wife, Grace.
Alekhine then went to Spain. His wife had insisted on
staying in Paris
to protect their chateau at Saint Aubin-le-Cauf.She was an American citizen and could move
a little bit more freely.
It took Alexander nearly a year to get
permission to leave for Portugal.
In the autumn of 1940, he sought permission
to enter Cuba.
He also agreed to play a match with Capablanca if he were allowed to enter Cuba.
In 1940 Alekhine estimated that he had played
50,000 chess games in his life to that point. He told friends he did not mind
losing his title to a master of the younger generation such as Botvinnik or
Keres. He did not want to lose to a player of his own generation.
At this time, news reached Alekhine that his
wife and chateau in France
was in the hands of the Germans. To protect his wife and their French assets,
including his six cats, he agreed to cooperate with the Nazis. He wrote six
articles critical of Jewish chess players and participated in Nazi chess
tournament is Munich, Salzburg,
Warsaw, and Prague. The Nazis looted his French chateau
at Saint Aubin-le-Cauf, near Dieppe.
Mrs. Alekhine later sold the castle under American Embassy protection. (Chess magazine) The Germans refused Mrs.
Alekhine an exit visa.
Around December 1940, he was giving chess
exhibitions in Paris
for the German Army and Winter Relief. He played in no tournaments in 1940.
In 1941, Ehrardt Post, General Secretary of
the Grossdeutscher Schachbund (GSB), the Great German Chess Federation, wrote
Alekhine that although he would not be allowed to return to France, if he consented to play in a chess
tournament in Munich,
his wife would be permitted to join him there. At the time, she was 62 years
old and in failing health, Alekhine agreed to the terms.
On March 18-23, 1941, six anti-Semitic articles appeared
under Alekhine's name and published
in the Pariser Zeitung (Paris
Journal). He argued that there was a "Jewish" way of playing chess
(cowardly and for money), and an "Aryan" way of playing chess
(aggressive and brave). A part of these articles were published in the April,
May, and June 1941 issues of the German chess magazine Deutsche Schachzeitung (DSZ). His first article on Jewish and Aryan
chess appeared on March 21, 1941
in Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlander (German News in the Netherlands).
Alekhine’s anti-Semitic articles were
published in France, Holland, and Germany.
It is possible that the articles were
falsified by Austrian master and chess journalist Theodor Gerbec
(Herbertz), who was a chess editor of PariserZeitung,
co-editor of Deutsche Schachzeitung,
and a fascist.He died in 1945.
In April, 1941, he tried to go to America by traveling to Lisbon and applying for an American visa. But
because the anti-Semitism from his articles showed in his published articles,
the visa was not approved.
In an interview quoted in a Madrid paper on September 3, 1941, Alekhine said he was proud of
his articles that were published in the Pariser
Zeitung. Alekhine gave two exhibitions and several interviews during this
In 1941-1942 he participated in Nazi chess
tournaments in Munich, Salzburg,
Warsaw, and Prague. Alekhine was residing in Poland and Czechoslovakia during this time.
In September 1941, he tied for 2nd-3rd at Munich. The event was won
by Stoltz. The event was attended by
leaders from the Nazi Party, the State Government, and the Wehrmacht.The reception was attended by Josef Goebbels
and Dr. Hans Frank (1900-1946).
In October 1941, he tied for 1st with Paul
Schmidt at Cracow/Warsaw.
In December 1941, he won at Madrid.
In June 1942, he won at Salzburg.
In September 1942, he won at Munich.
In October 1942, he won at
In December 1942, he tied for 1st with Junge
at Prague. The tournament was sponsored by Germany’s
Nazi Youth Association.
In late December 1942, Alekhine fell ill and
nearly died from scarlet fever at Prague.
He was treated at the same hospital that Richard Reti died in 1929 from scarlet
fever. Alekhine claimed that as soon as he was out of the hospital, he was
obliged to take part in various German exhibitions and tournaments; otherwise
his ration cards would be withdrawn.
In April 1943, he won at Prague with a score of 17 out of 19 and
In June 1943, he tied for 1st at Salzburg.
The Gestapo gave Alekhine an exit visa, but
would not permit his wife to accompany him. She had to return to Paris.
In October 1943, he was invited to Madrid by the Spanish
Chess Federation. He arrived too late (October 15, 1943) to take part in the Madrid
International Tournament staged by the European Federation, which was played on
October 4-20, 1943.
A Nazi broadcast claimed that Alekhine went to Madrid to take part in the tournament, but
was confined to a sanitarium shortly after his arrival. There were reports that Alekhine had been
showing signs of a mental disorder.Alekhine
did play in the "International Speed Game Tournament" that was held
in Madrid on
When asked if he knew about the controversy
aroused by his articles against the Jews, Alekhine replied, “I swear I did not
write a word of that.” (Moran).
By 1943 Alekhine was spending all his time in
Spain and Portugal as the German
representative to chess events. After World War II he was not invited to chess
tournaments because of his Nazi affiliation.
In July 1944, he won at Gijon. After the event, he gave some chess lessons
to prodigy Arturo Pomar.By that time he was severely depressed.He said that he continued to play chess
because it occupied his mind and kept him from brooding and remembering (ChessBase).
In 1944, his older sister died in the USSR.
In 1944, Grace Alekhine
won the women’s chess championship of Paris.
Alekhine’s first disavowal of his anti-Semitic articles appears
to date from just after the liberation of Paris
in August, 1944.
In 1944, he wrote GrauTorneo International de ajedrezMadrid, Oktobre 1943,
published in Madrid.He also wrote Curso a Arturo Pomar, published in Madrid.
By 1945, Alekhine was suffering from
cirrhosis of the liver, duodenitis, high blood pressure, and hardening of the
In March 1945, he won at Madrid.
In July 1945, he tied for 2nd-3rd at Gijon, Spain.
The event was won by A. Rico. During
his time in Spain,
he was technical advisor for the chess magazine Ajedrez Espanol.
In August 1945, he won at Sabadell,
near Barcelona, Spain (6 wins, 3 draws).During this time, his wife had written,
telling Alexander that she wanted no more to do with him. (Moran)
During World War II, Alekhine played in 16 tournaments,
winning 9 and sharing 1st place in 4 more.
In the autumn of 1945, he moved to Estoril, Portugal.
In September 1945, the British Chess
Federation sent Alekhine an invitation to tournaments in London
and Hastings.Alekhine accepted the invitations by cable
In October 1945, the United States Chess
Federation (USCF) protested the invitation of Alekhine to the victory
tournament in London.The USCF refused to take part in any projects
or tournaments involving Alekhine.Protesters included Reuben Fine and Arnold Denker.
In November, 1945, Alekhine was in the Canary
Islands giving chess exhibitions and giving lessons to Arturo Pomar (born in
1931), who later became a grandmaster.
In November 1945, a telegram arrived, signed
by Mr. W. Hatton-Ward of the Sunday
Chronicle, the paper that was organizing the victory tournament in London that, due to a protest from the United States Chess
Federation, the invitations to tournaments in England had been cancelled.Shortly after, Alekhine had a heart attack.
In December 1945, he said that none of the
anti-Jewish articles were written by him.
In December, 1945, Alekhine played is last
tournament at Caceres, Spain.
In 1945, Alekhine, Peres, and Aguilera wrote AjedrezHupermoderno:
studio de lasescuelasajedrecistas a traves de una selection de partidas de grandes maestros de todaslasepocas, published in Madrid by Castilla.
Alekhine's last chess match was with Francisco Lupi at Estoril, Portugal
in January 1946. Alekhine won 2, lost 1, and drew 1.
In January 1946 a Victory Tournament was to
be held in London.
World Champion Alekhine was first invited by the British. The there were
objections from the Dutch and the U.S. Chess Federation because of his articles
of anti-Jewish content published under the signature of Alekhine. Some of the
had threatened to withdraw from the tournament if Alekhine was invited. Alekhine
was not invited to the event, which was won by Herman Steiner.
Alekhine decided to return to France
and to defend himself before the French Chess Federation. He applied for a
visa, but Spain's
borders were closed and the visa never reached him.
In early March, 1946, he received a telegram
from Mr. Derbyshire, the President of the British Chess Federation,
transmitting a challenge to a match by the Russian champion, Mikhail Botvinnik
(dated February 4, 1946).
The Moscow Chess Club was offering $10,000 for the match. The match would take
place in England
subject to the British Chess Federation's (BCF) approval. Alekhine would
receive $6,600 to play in the challenge match.
Shortly after receiving the invitation,
Alekhine suffered another heart attack. He soon recovered and accepted the
challenge and started his preparation for the match. He was also working on a collection of Capablanca’s best games.
In his last letter to the BCF, he asked if it
was possible to get a visa to England
from where he would most easily reach France. He also enquired whether a
practice match with Dr. Tartakower could be arranged.
On March 23, 1946, the BCF unanimously agreed to sponsor the
match in England
between Alekhine and Botvinnik.
On the evening of March 23 or early March 24, 1946 (a
chambermaid found his body at on March 24) Alekhine died in his shabby hotel room (the Park
Hotel) in Estoril, Portugal
(just outside Lisbon)
at the age of 53. He was dressed in an overcoat to keep warm and slumped back
in a ratty armchair with a peg chess set on the table and his dinner dishes in
front of him. Kasparov says he died on March 24. Other sources say he died on
A Portuguese news report states that Alekhine
had beside him at the time of his death an anti-Nazi novel, Chosen Races, by Margaret Sothern.A Belgian violinist named Neuman,
who had lived in the same hotel as Alekhine, had rushed to the room that
morning when a waiter told him Alekhine was dead.He had observed that there were dinner plates
on the table with a chess board and pieces on top of a support for suitcases.He saw Alekhine sitting in an armchair as if
still listening to Neuman’s violin.
AP reported that Alekhine’s
body was found by a waiter (another source says a chambermaid) when he brought
in breakfast.The waiter said that
Alekhine was slumped at the table, and that the supper served on the previous
day had not been touched, although his napkin was already tucked in.(ChessBase).However, police photos of the dead Alekhine
as he was found in his hotel room do not show the napkin and all the food is
gone.This had led to conspiracy
theories of his death (murder or suicide).
Pictures of Alekhine’s
death look totally staged and his body looks arranged with his overcoat on,
sitting in the armchair very calmly.The
dinner plates are in front of him, arranged very neatly.The chessboard is set just to the side of
him, set up in the original position with no moves made.It’s possible that the photographer prepared
the scene by setting up a chessboard and pieces, along with dinner plates (but
no knives or forks) in front of Alekhine.
Some say he died of a heart attack (Hooper
and Whyld). Others say he choked on a piece of meat. An autopsy took place at
the Department of Legal Medicine of the MedicalSchool of the University of Lisbon
on March 27, 1946.Dr. Antonio J. Ferreira wrote the official
death certificate, and said that the autopsy revealed the cause of death as
asphyxia due to a piece of meat which lodged itself in the larynx. Years later, Dr. Ferreira claimed that Alekhine
was shot. Brace and Kotov state that when Alekhine
died, he did not have enough money even to buy cigarettes. Alekhine’s son later hinted that Alekhine
might have been murdered by Soviets (Kasparov).Boris Spassky told Susan Polgar
that he believes that Alekhine did not die of natural causes.
One conspiracy theory is that the French
Resistance created a super secret ‘Death Squad’ after World War II to deal with
some of the people who had collaborated too willingly with the German
Nazis.Dr. Antonio Ferreira later
supposedly told friends that Alekhine’s body was
found on the street, infront of his hotel room.He had been shot and Portuguese government
pressure forced him to complete the death certificate that now exists.An overcoat was put over him to hid the bullet wound.
Some medical doctors have commented on Alekhine’s death.Some point out that patients who become
unconscious from a heart attack always fall to the floor and never remain
sitting peacefully in chairs.If someone
were choking to death, the gag reflex would kick in.Even an unconscious person would gag and cough,
usually throwing out whatever is blocked in their airway and not die
immediately.A conscious person would
gag and struggle, moving around, knocking pieces over.A person choking to death would not end up in
a calmly sitting position.
The body was not buried for three weeks as no
one claimed the body, which was in a mortuary in Lisbon. French consular officials said they
had neither the funds nor instructions from Paris about a funeral.Finally, the Portuguese Chess Federation took
charge of the funeral. Less than a dozen folks showed up for his burial in the Estoril cemetery on April 16, 1946.
On April 10, 1946, Grace Alekhine wrote a
letter to the CHESS editor that said her husband
never accepted a salary nor the title of ‘Sachberator
fur Ostfragen.She writes that Alekhine was offered a very advantageous position
provided he became a Nazi, but he refused to to
so.She said that he had no influence
with any of the Nazi party leaders and never mixed politically.
In 1946,Legado was published after Alekhine’s
death.It was published in Madrid.
In 1947 the FIDE Congress voted for Euwe to
be the world champion since Alekhine died. However, the Soviet delegation was
late for this vote. The next day, after protest from the Soviet delegation, the
title was rescinded in favor of a match-tournament which Botvinnik won.
Grace WishartAlekhine died in 1956. After she died, the Aryan and
Jewish Chess notes in Alekhine's handwriting were
allegedly found in her effects by Brian Reilly (1901-1991), then the Editor of
the British Chess Magazine.However, Reilly denied ever having seen the
handwritten notes (Winter).
In 1956, the 10th anniversary of
his death, theUSSR and French Chess Federation agreed to
transfer his remains to the Cimetiere du Montparnasse
(division 8) in Paris.
The Soviets were anxious to have him buried in Moscow,
but his widow refused and wanted him buried in Paris. FIDE provided the tombstone. It is in
the shape of a chess board made out of red granite and there is a bust of him
made out of Carrara
marble at the head of his tomb. The birth and death date on Alekhine's
tombstone is wrong. The tombstone reads:
Genie des echecs de Russie et de France
1ST NOVEMBRE 1892
25TH MARS 1946
CHAMPION du MONDE des ECHECS
de 1927 a 1935 et de 1937 a sa mort
The ceremony in Paris
was attended by Alekhine's son, Alexander, who came from Switzerland, the Soviet ambassador
to France, the FIDE president and vice president, Bronstein, Geller, Keres,
Petrosian, Smyslov, Spassky, Ossip Bernstein, and several French players and
Grace is buried next to Alexander.The headstone gives her maiden name as Wishar.
On December 26, 1999, strong winds in Paris did considerable
damage to Alekhine’s grave.The headstone monument was blown over,
shattered and fell on the main gravestone. (ChessBase).The grave was later repaired and restored to its original state, except
that a chessboard was replaced with the 90 degree rotation, showing the black
squares to the right instead of the whits squares.
In world championship play, Alekhine won 43
games, drew 73 games, and lost 24 games for a total of 140 games, with a 56.8%
win ratio. He was world champion for 17 years, playing in 5 world championship
Alekhine played over 1000 tournament games,
scoring 73 percent in his games. He played in 44 strong tournaments, taking 1st
place in 25 tournaments and 2nd place in 8 tournaments. He took 1st place in 34
of 39 minor tournaments. His historical ELO rating has been calculated to be
Over 2,700 of Alekhine's games survive.
Alekhine played over 1,000 simultaneous
exhibitions in his lifetime.
Alekhine was a cat lover. He often played in
tournaments with his cat "Chess" by his side. He wore clothes with
cat designs. One defeated opponent said, "I knew I was in trouble when he
showed up wearing that damned animal."
Alekhine could speak in six to ten different
languages and was most fluent in Russian, French, German, and English.