Alekhine - Agony of a Chess Genius
314 pages, paperback, McFarland, 2010
I am an admirer of Alekhine's art, the magic of his games, his fighting spirit and his constant creative zeal. That is why I wrote this work, with love and with pain, for I knew this incomparable chessboard poet during his agony in Spain, and saw him suffer.
"Agony," of Greek etymology, means "struggle." In The Agony of Christianity, Unamuno affirms that he who struggles against life itself agonizes. And we believe that man never struggles harder than when he is dying. This is why I rejected the word "decline" for the book's title. Alekhine's decline commenced long before he reached Spain from Nazi Germany; Alekhine initiated his agony in Spain, to expire in Portugal.
A. Alekhine: Agony of a Chess Genius tries to encompass his last period, from October 1943 to March 1946. The Second World War made this a tragic period in world history. And the games which the world champion played in Spain are little known; they were either never published or appeared in short-live dailies and magazines. Of course they are not his best creations. They could not be, since he was ill, prematurely old and ruined. But they were his most tragic chess battles.
The drama of this genius can be glimpsed in his reply to the journalist and chessplayer Juan Fernández Rúa in July 1944:
"Plans? What plans can I have? The best part of my life has passed away between two world wars that have laid Europa waste. Both wars ruined me, with this difference: at the end of the first war I was 26 years of age, with an unbounded enthusiasm I no longer have. If, sometime, I write my memoirs - which is very possible - people will realize that chess has been a minor factor in my life. It gave me the opportunity to further an ambition and at the same time convinced me of the futility of the ambition. Today, I continue to play chess because it occupies my mind and keeps me from brooding and remembering."
I have gathered 45 of the 63 match and tournament games from the above mentioned period in Spain and Portugal. The remaining eighteen games were impossible to obtain, despite my having contacted most of Alekhine's opponents.
I have added a selection of his best simultaneous games and a glimpse of his previous visits to Spain, as well as a biographical sketch of Alekhine as I, and my friends, the Spanish chessplayers, knew him.
I thank them all for furnishing innumerable facts and advice, especially Dr. Ramón Rey Ardid, of Zaragoza; Juan Lacasa, of Jaca; Manuel de Agustín, of Madrid, and the late Portugese player Francisco Lupi.
Finally, a request. If any aficionado possesses a game not found in this work, or any interesting fact, I would appreciate his writing to: Pablo Morán, c/o McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.
VII Editor's Preface
VIII List of Full Games
XII List of Positions
XIII Author's Introduction
001 1 Condemned to Death
003 2 Francisco Lupi and Portugal
017 3 Alekhine versus Morphy
020 4 Picaresque Exhibitions
024 5 Exhibitions Under the Influence
027 6 The Champion's Ethics
031 7 Was the World Champion Antisemitic?
050 8 The Nazism of Alekhine
052 9 Alekhine and the Man
056 10 Alekhine and Women
059 11 The Incredible Errors
063 12 First Visit to Spain, 1922
075 13 Second Visit, 1922-23
087 14 The World Champion in Barcelona, January 1928
092 15 The "King" Returns in 1935
115 16 Two Visits in 1941
129 17 The Ending Commences (October 1943)
137 18 Alekhine - Rey Ardid Match
147 19 Alekhine's Ability to Save Inferior Rook Endings
152 20 Tournament of Gijón, 1944
175 21 Tournament of Madrid, 1945
196 22 Tournament of Gijón, 1945
225 23 Tournament of Sabadell, 1945
236 24 Tournament of Almería, 1945
245 25 Tournament of Melilla, 1945
254 26 Tournament of Cáceres, 1945
257 27 A Selection of Simultaneous Games, 1943-45
269 28 Alekhine - Lupi Match
274 29 The Ending
281 30 Epilogue
282 31 Alekhine's Career Summary
287 A. Exonerates Chess Champion
289 B. New York Times , 1933
291 C. Gerbec
293 D. 1929 versus 1941
295 E. Alekhine Defends Wartime Conduct
299 F. Bogo Under Fire
301 G. French Post Card to Dr. Rey Ardid
305 Openings Index
306 Endings Index
307 General Index