Was the Attack Irresistible

The problem for a commentator is that a game ending in a brilliant rout of one of the sides can be hard to annotate objectively.

Bent Larsen

The following widely known game is usually given as an illustration of the development of an initiative, seized by White in the opening thanks to a positional pawn sacrifice, into a powerful attack on the king. In fact the pattern of the play in it, as we will see, was far from clear-cut, and in the resulting skirmish each of the two sides had his chances.

Alekhine - Junge

Prague 1942


























According to the modern theory of the opening variation chosen by White, he is not promised any advantage by either the move in the game, or 9 &f4 <Sd5 10 ±g5 Ae7 11 &xe7 Wxe7 12 0-0 ±b7 13 Wc2 c5.

Alexander Alekhine sacrifices his d4 pawn.

Black now has a considerable choice of sound continuations - he can play 11...Sc8, 11...®b6 or 11...b4. However, the young and talented German player (incidentally, in this tournament he shared first place with his great opponent) decided to take a risk and accept the sacrifice. It stands to reason that White gains excellent positional compensation for the pawn. He has the pair of bishops, which with the opening of the game may become extremely dangerous. On the other hand, White has no lead in development and therefore Claus Junge was right to rely on the defensive resources of the position. Aron Nimzowitsch advised: 'A centre pawn should always be taken if this can be done without too great danger\


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Black must exercise caution. 14...e5?! is dubious in view of 15 e3! Bc8 16 £c6! »c7 17 fla6, and White's desired opening of lines is ensured. Joel Lautier continued the variation: 17...&e7 18 exd4 0-0 (intending 19...£>b8) 19 dxe5, after which 19...^b8? is prettily refuted by 20 exf6 £ixa6 21 fxe7 Hfe8 22 £xe8!! *xc2 23 Sd8 ®xc1 + 24 <±>g2 Wc7 25 Axf7+, but the simple 19... #xe5! equalises the game. However, White is not obliged to hurry with the exchange of pawns on e5 - stronger is 19 £ic3! £>b8

22 £Lxc6 Wxc6 23 #xc6 ^xc6 24 exf6 £xf6 - in the endgame Black is a pawn down)

23 ®e2, or 22...<&xa6 23 exd7) 22 £ta3l? £}xa6 23 Axd5 - with two pawns for the exchange, White retains the better chances.

15...®e5 is unattractive, when both 16 i.g2 followed by and the immediate 16 £>b3 &xf3+ 17 exf3 are strong. However, 15... ¿c5!? was quite possible: 16 ®b3 0-0

18 #xc5 £ixc5 19 ¿f4 Sbc8 20 2a5), and 18 Sxd4? is bad because of 18...&b3! The move in the game is more risky.

This was the idea of Black's preceding move. In the event of the cautious 16...ite7?! White would have firmly seized the initiative by 17 e3! dxe3 (17...0-0 18 exd4) 18 i.xe3 We6 19 ¿ha5 or 19 £a7.

Illogical was 17...Wxc5 18 i.c6+ (18 «5!?) 18..19 ITe4 (19 Wxc5 ±xc5 20 2a5 is also possible) with advantage to White.

Q 5-10. How would you continue the offensive?

In this part of the book questions will sometimes be asked, to which there are no clear answers (at least, I do not know them). What can be done here? First determine all the promising possibilities, then calculate the variations as far as it seems reasonable to you (all the same it will not be possible to take them all 'to the end'), and finally, make a choice. By examining the following analysis, you yourself will able to judge how correctly you evaluated the situation, whether you saw enough, and how successfully (from the practical standpoint!) you took a decision.

So, what candidate moves are there? Black obviously wants to castle. The modest 18 Ad2?! does not prevent his intention: 18...0-0 19 Âa5 1fd6. It is possible to prevent castling by sacrificing a second pawn: 18 b4?! ¿xb4 19 i.c6+. However, after 19...^7 followed by ...2hc8 Black successfully completes his development and White will not have any real compensation for the material he has given up.

18 Ag5!?, with the positional threat of

19 Âxf6. is tempting. 18...Sc8? 19 b4 leads to the loss of a piece. In the event of 18...±e7 19 ±c6+ or 18...£\d7 19 Ag4

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