Wednesday, 18 June 2014


by Alekhine

For success I consider three factors are necessary: firstly, an awareness of my own strengths and weaknesses; secondly, an accurate understanding of my opponent's strengths and weaknesses; thirdly, a higher aim than momentary satisfaction. I see this aim as being scientific and artistic achievements, which place the game of chess on a par with other arts.

Through chess I developed my character. Chess first of all teaches you to be objective. You can become a big master in chess only if you see your mistakes and short-comings. Exactly the same as in life itself.

During a Chess competition a Chessmaster should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk.

When asked, "How is that you pick better moves than your opponents?", I responded: I'm very glad you asked that, because, as it happems, there is a very simple answer. I think up my own moves, and I make my opponent think up his.

Play on both sides of the board is my favourite strategy.

The fact that a player is very short of time is to my mind, as little to be considered as an excuse as, for instance, the statement of the law-breaker that he was drunk at the time he committed the crime.

Chigorin's talent is enormous, and possibly he is a real genius. At times the depth of his ideas can be inaccessible to mere mortals.

… Pillsbury aspired for the candle of his life to burn constantly at both ends. 'Wine, women, and not harmless songs, but strong cigars' - this was Pillsbury's principle in life.

Lasker was my teacher, and without him I could not have become whom I became. The idea of chess art is unthinkable without Emanuel Lasker.

Never before and never since have I seen - and I cannot even imagine, such an amazing rapidity of chess thinking that Capablanca possessed in 1913-14. In blitz games he gave all the St. Petersburg players odds of five minutes to one - and he won.

Reti is the only grandmaster whose moves are often completely unexpected to me.

Capablanca was snatched too early from the chess world. With his death we have lost a great chess genius, the like of whom we will never see again.

I do not play chess - I fight at chess. Therefore I willingly combine the tactical with the strategic, the fantastic with the scientific, the combinative with the positional, and I aim to respond to the demands of each given position …

For my victory over Capablanca I am indebted primarily to my superiority in the field of psychology. Capablanca played, relying almost exclusively on his rich intuitive talent. But for the chess struggle nowadays one needs a subtle knowledge of human nature, an understanding of the opponent's psychology.

I consider chess an art, and accept all those responsibilities which art places upon its devotees.

(My first tournament victory) endowed me with a curious psychological weakness which I have had to work long and hard to eradicate - if indeed I have eradicated it! - the impression that I could always, or nearly always, when in a bad position, conjure up some unexpected combination to extricate me from my difficulties. A dangerous delusion.

Chess is a matter of vanity.

Chess will always be the master of us all.

"Oh! this opponent, this collaborator against his will, whose notion of Beauty always differs from yours and whose means (strength, imagination, technique) are often too limited to help you effectively! What torment, to have your thinking and your fantasy tied down by another person!"

Euwe's chess talent is in origin purely tactical - unlike that of such masters as Steinitz, Rubinstein, Capablanca, and Niemtsovitch. But he is a tactician who is determined at all costs to become a good strategist, and by dint of a great deal of hard work he has had some measure of success.

The infallible criterion by which to distinguish the true from the would-be strategist is the degree of originality of his conceptions. It makes little difference whether this originality is carried to excess, as was the case with Steinitz and Nimzowitsch.

During a chess tournament a master must envisage himself as a cross between an ascetic monk and a beast of prey.

Young players expose themselves to grave risks when they blindly imitate the innovations of masters without themselves first checking all the details and consequences of these innovations.

Playing for complications is an extreme measure that a player should adopt only when he cannot find a clear and logical plan.

Psychology is the most important factor in chess.

I did not believe I was superior to him. Perhaps the chief reason for his defeat was the overestimation of his own powers arising out of his overwhelming victory in New York, 1927, and his underestimation of mine.  -  (0n Capablanca)

During a Chess competition a Chessmaster should be a combination of a beast of prey and a monk.

on Alekhine

I remember our class working on algebra. All the boys were quiet ... Suddenly Alekhine stood up excitedly, his face radiant ..."Well, Alekhine, did you solve it?' teacher Bachinsky asked him. "I did ... I sacrifice the knight, and the bishop moves ... And White wins!".  -  Georgy Rimsky-Korsakov (classmate)

He deals with us like inexperienced fledglings.  -  (after a 19 move loss vs. Alekhine in Bled 1931)  -  Aaron Nimzowitsch

It is said that Alekhine sometimes got so excited with the position that he jumped up from the board and ran round it 'like a hawk'.  - Alexander Kotov

Alekhine believed it essential for every strong player to develop in himself 'unwavering attention, which must isolate the player completely from the world around him'.  -  Alexander Kotov

He won a number of well-known games, by right from the opening holding his opponent in a vice prepared at home. And his grip was strong: after seizing his victim, he would no longer release him.  - Anatoly Karpov

Alekhine developed as a player much more slowly than most. In his twenties, he was an atrocious chessplayer, and didn't mature until he was well into his thirties.  -  Bobby Fischer

Alekhine is a player I've never really understood. He always wanted a superior centre; he manoeuvred his pieces toward the kingside, and around the 25th move, began to mate his opponent. He disliked exchanges, preferring to play with many pieces on the board. His play was fantastically complicated, more so than any player before or since.  -  Bobby Fischer

He considered that chess was closest to an art, and he was able to demonstrate this with his optimistic, eternally youthful play.  -  Boris Spassky

… I recalled the story about Alekhine, who after a lost game, threw his king far away. Though I am far from Alekhine's genius, I could understand him at that moment.  -  Borislav Ivkov

Who else in chess history has won so many serious games with the help of brilliant tactical strokes?  -  Garry Kasparov

The inspirational games of Alekander Alekhine, my first chess hero, find a place alongside the inspirational character of Winston Churchill, whose words and books I still turn to regularly.  -  Garry Kasparov

I knew Alekhine very well and he was perfectly sane; there is not a scrap of evidence that he was anything other than a chess genius who was perfectly sane either over the board or away from it.  - Harry Golombek

Alekhine evidently possesses the most remarkable chess memory that has ever existed. It is said that he remembers by heart all the games played by the leading masters during the last 15-20 years.  - Jose Capablanca

The great World Champions Morphy, Steinitz, and Lasker were past masters in the art of Pawn play; they had no superiors in their handling of endgames. The present World Champion has not the strength of the other three as an endgame player, and is therefore inferior to them.  -  Jose Capablanca

… at the chessboard he was mighty, away from chess … he was like a little boy who would get up to mischief and naively think that no one was watching him.  -  Max Euwe

As a person Alekhine was an enigma. He was focused on his chess and on himself to such a degree that in our countries he was jokingly called 'Alein-ich' (in German 'I am alone'). With such a frame of mind he could not have any real friends, only admirers and supporters.  -  Max Euwe

Not without reason is he famed as a conoisseur of opening theory. To gain some advantage from the opening is vital to him, and he is willing to risk any difficulty or even hazard to attain, as quickly as possible, a position in which he feels at home.  -  Max Euwe

Alekhine's real genius is in the preparation and construction of a position, long before combinations or mating attacks come into consideration at all.  -  Max Euwe

He is a poet who creates a work of art out of something which would hardly inspire another man to send home a picture postcard. -  Max Euwe

Alekhine is dear to the chess world, mainly as an artist. Typical of him are deep plans, far-sighted calculation and inexhaustible imagination.  -  Mikhail Botvinnik

In Alekhine we are captivated by his exceptional combinative talent and his whole-hearted love for chess.  -  Mikhail Tal

Much of Alekhine's theoretical work in the openings sprang from his refusal to accept the prevalent notion that Black, because he moves second, must be satisfied to overcome White's natural initiative and achieve theoretical equality.  -  Pal Benko

I can comprehend Alekhine's combinations well enough; but where he gets his attacking chances from and how he infuses such life into the very opening - that is beyond me. Give me the positions he obtains, and I should seldom falter.  -  Rudolph Spielmann

The name of Alekhine is illuminated by the brilliance of his chess combinations. Alekhine possesssed an exceptionally rich chess imagination, and his skill in creating combinative complications is incomparable.  -  Vasily Smyslov

When Alekhine recognizes the weakness in his position he has a tendency to become very aggressive. Patient defence is not for him if he can see the slightest chance of creating an attack. Yet sound strategy often demands that you submit to the opponent's will so as to strengthen your weaknesses and get rid of defects in your game.  -  Emanuel Lasker

When I was a child I liked the games of Capablanca, and later I was captivated by Alekhine's play.  -  Vladimir Kramnik

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