Alexander Alekhine

1892 - 1946

4th World Champion, 1927 - 1935, 1937 - 1946

Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine was born in Moscow, Russia in 1892. He was the son of aristocratic parents. His mother taught him to play chess and he soon developed a great passion for the game. He gained the title of master at St Petersburg in 1909.

In 1914 he came third in the St Petersburg tournament behind Lasker and Capablanca and it was around this time he began to think seriously about challenging the world champion, Capablanca. However, the outbreak of the war occurred while he was playing in the Mannheim tournament in 1914 and interrupted his chess plans.

During Alekhine's time there were more chess players than ever before. The term "grandmaster" has only been a formal title since 1950 but it had been applied to players of world championship standard since the 19th Century. Formerly there had never been more than three or four players of this standard around at the same time. Now there were at least twenty. Consequently, when Alekhine refused to play Capablanca because of a personal feud there were plenty of other players willing to take his place. 

In 1929 and 1934 he played Russian, Bogolyubov for the world champion beating him easily. However in 1935, the Dutchman, Euwe challenged him. Alekhine, who had a liking for alcohol was frequently drunk during his games with Euwe and consequently lost his title. However in a rematch, after giving up alcohol, he defeated Euwe by 10 wins to 4 with 11 draws making him the first man to ever regain the world champion.

In 1938 a tournament sponsored by AVRO (Algemene Verenigde Radio Omroep), a wireless company, was held in the Netherlands to determined the next world champion challenger. The eight strongest players in the world were invited to play. Estonian, Paul Keres and American, Ruben Fine were the joint winners. Mikhail Botvinnik came third. In fourth place were Alekhine and Euwe and Capablanca who had suffered a minor stroke during the tournament came seventh. However, Botvinnik had the backing of Russia and as a result  he could offer greater financial rewards to Alekhine. Hence Alekhine accepted Botvinnik's challenge for the world champion.

The outbreak of the war interrupted the world championship preparations but when the war ended negotiations resume. The match preparations were near completion when Alekhine had a heart attack and died in Portugal in 1946.

Richard Reti vs Alexander Alekhine
Baden-Baden 1925

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