Alekhine Controversy - Articles written by the World Chess Champion in 1941

One of the greatest controversies in chess history concerns the authorship by World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine of a series of articles published in Nazi Germany in 1941 during World War II entitled "Jewish and Aryan Chess".

Because of these articles, Alekhine was branded as a Nazi and was ostracized from the world chess community after the conclusion of the war. He was not allowed to play in the London Victory Tournament in 1946. He died in a squalid hotel room in Portugal shortly thereafter in 1946 when a piece of meat got stuck in his throat.

One of the questions is whether Alekhine actually wrote the articles. His "defenders" tried to contend that he did not. However, from the articles themselves, it seems reasonably clear that Alekhine did write the articles. Certainly the author evinces knowledge and familiarity of the playing styles of the great chess players of the period between the two world wars, and there were few people living in Nazi Germany in 1941 who knew this subject as well as Alekhine did.

The more serious question is whether Alekhine deserved to receive the international opprobrium which he has suffered ever since the appearance of these articles. To this day, it is said that Alekhine was a Nazi and wrote articles for the Nazis. But, what do these articles really say? Do they say anything so terrible as to deserve the universal condemnation which Alekhine has received ever since?

Here are the articles, in three parts. Let the reader judge for himself.

Sam Sloan

Jewish and Aryan Chess [1]

Is it too much to hope that, with the death of Lasker, the second and in all probability last Jewish chess champion of the world, Aryan chess (perverted hitherto through Jewish defensive ideas) will find its way to becoming world chess? I cannot be too optimistic, for Lasker has left many disciples and many followers who might endanger World Chess yet.

Lasker's great faults as the leading chess master (I am neither willing or qualified to speak of him as man or "philosopher") were manifold. After vanquishing the 30-years-older Steinitz by his tactical skill - it was rather amusing, by the way, to observe how these two skilful tacticians tried to convince the chess world that they were great strategists or discoverers of new ideas! - he did not think for a moment of giving the chess world a creative idea of his own; instead, he contented himself with publishing in book form a series of lectures he had delivered in Liverpool under the title "Common Sense in Chess."

Lasker Plagiarises the Great Morphy

In these lectures, in this book, Lasker plagiarised the great Morphy and his ideas about the "fight for the centre" and about "attack in and for itself." For the idea of attack as something optimistic, something creative, was entirely unfamiliar to Lasker the chess master and in this regard he was the natural successor to Steinitz, the greatest "grotesque" the history of chess had to endure.

What is Jewish Chess, the Jewish chess idea in its real essence? It is not hard to answer this question:-

1. Material profit at all costs;

2. Opportunism - an opportunism pushed to the highest point with the aim of eliminating even the shadow of a potential danger and which consequently reveals an idea (if one can apply the word "idea" to this) namely "defence, in and for itself." As far as future possibilities are concerned, Jewish chess has dug its own grave in developing this "idea" which, in any form of combat whatever cannot mean anything else, finally than suicide. For by merely defending one's self, one may occasionally (and how often?) avoid defeat - but how does one win? There is a possible answer: by a mistake on one's opponent's part. What if the opponent fails to make this mistake? All that the defender-at-all-costs can then do is whine in complaint of this absence of errors.

It is not easy to explain how the defence idea succeeded in gaining so many adherents. As far as Europe is concerned, there came, between the matches La Bourdonnais and Macdonald [sic-HS] fought with remarkable enthusiasm and spirit, and the appearances of Anderssen and Morphy, a very characteristic period of chess "chess dawn" - culminating probably in the match between Staunton and Saint-Amant. Staunton won this match, his victory justifiably entitling this Englishman to claim a place in the chess history of the nineteenth century. As I write this, I have before me a book of his, namely that about the first international world tournament, played in 1851, in which the German chess genius Adolf Anderssen took first prize. His congress was really the victory of our aggressive fighting chess over the English-Jewish conception (in the first round of the tournament, Anderssen crushed the Polish Jew Kieseritzky); but the "theoretician" Staunton describes the congress in his book, for his English readers, as a mere matter of coincidences. According to his words, he was in ill-health because he had been overburdened with the toil of organising the congress, etc., etc., etc., in other words, the usual and all-too-well-known rubbish of excuses! Staunton's defeat at the hands of Anderssen was in reality much, much more than a decision than between two chess masters; its significance lay in the fact that it spelt the defeat of the English-Jewish idea of defence at the hands of the German-European idea of aggression.

Europe's Chess Drama

Soon after Anderssen's victory, the great drama of European chess developed: the genius was confronted by another and greater genius, emerging from New Orleans. That did no harm in itself, for Morphy's chess was real chess in the truest sense of the word. It became harmful only because, first, Morphy lost his mental balance immediately after his dazzling successes and was thus lost to the cause of chess, and, second, Anderssen failed to recover from the defeat he had suffered at Morphy's hands and consequently yielded the chess sceptre without greater ambitions, to Steinitz the Jew.

To cast light on the question of who Steinitz really was, and why he deserved to play a leading role in our chess, it is necessary (strange as it seems) to delve into the problems of professionalism in chess. For in any art - and chess is, notwithstanding its element of conflict, a creative art - there are two kinds of professionals: those who do not hesitate to sacrifice, in devoting themselves passionately to the urge of their inclination, all other hopes and possibilities of life and living. These "victims of their art" once cannot blame for trying to make a livelihood from their life's work, for they create for their fellow-men aesthetic and spiritual delights enough. Entirely different is that other type of professional chess player which I do not hesitate to call the "Eastern Jewish" type. Steinitz the Jew was born in Prague; one might call him the first of his species and quickly, much too quickly, he had a following.

Are the Jews, as a race, gifted for chess? After a chess experience of thirty years, I should answer this question as follows: Yes, the Jews are extremely well endowed with the ability to exploit the ideas of chess and the practical potentialities entailed; but, as yet, no real chess artist of Jewish origin has yet existed. I could mention (and only give outstanding names) the following representatives of Aryan chess:- Philidor, Labourdonnais, Anderssen, Morphy, Tchigorin, Pillsbury, Marshall, Capablanca, Bogolyubov, Euwe, Eliskases, Keres. As to the "Jewish harvest" for the same historical period, one cannot but call it poor and meagre. Apart from Steinitz and Lasker, various groups might profitably be examined in historical sequence. In the decadence period of Lasker's hegemony (1900-1921) two of his closest Jewish competitors, Janowski and Rubinstein, are somewhat noteworthy.

"Brilliancy" Games Against Weaker Opponents

The typical representative of this group is probably the Polish Jew Janowski, who lived in Paris. He succeeded in finding there a rich man, namely the Dutch "artist" Leo Nardus, also a Jew, and did not loosen his hold on this man for 25 years. Somebody once showed this Nardus a few of Morphy's games with brilliant sacrifices; from that moment forth, his idol was Morphy, and he asked his prot?g? Janowski to play "beautiful games" at all costs. Janowski in response created "brilliancy" games willy-nilly, but it soon became apparent that he could do this only against his weaker opponents. In combat with real masters, his style was just as matter-of-fact, dry and materialistic as that of 99% of his fellow racials. He was never a serious opponent for Lasker, who vanquished him almost playfully in several matches. We might comment here that one of the most typical features of Lasker's "talent" was to avoid the most dangerous opponents and face them only when they were no longer a real danger to him as a result of age, illness or decline of their fitness. It is easy to quote instances of these tactics, e.g., how he avoided matches with Pillsbury, Maroczy and Tarrasch, taking up the latter's challenged only in 1908 when he could no longer be considered a serious competitor for the title. Then there was the "short match" against Schlechter (Vienna 1910); the drawn result of this match was intended, of course, to serve as "decoy-bird" for the chess public to arrange a much larger - and appropriately remunerated - return match.

Brought Up in Hatred Against the "Goyyim"

Lasker's second Jewish competitor was the Lodz master, Akiba Rubinstein. Brought up as a strict orthodox, in Talmudic hatred of the "Goyyim," he was obsessed, from the commencement of his career, by the idea of making some sort of "mission" out of his inclination for chess. Consequently he set out, as a young man, to study the theory of chess with the same eagerness as he devoted, as a boy, to the Talmud..and this at a time of decadence in chess, when the "Viennese" school (founded by the Jew Max Weiss and subsequently developed by the Jews Kaufmann and Fahndrich), which saw the secret of success not in victory but in avoidance of defeat, was in complete occupation of chess's world stage.

No wonder Rubinstein, who, throughout this period, was always better primed in the openings than his opponents, was able to celebrate, from his first debut in international chess, impressive victories. His outstanding success, I suppose, was his tie for first place with Lasker in St.Petersburg in 1909, a memorable tournament which I attended as a youth of sixteen. From this peak achievement commenced his decline, at first slow, afterwards more and more apparent. It is true he continued to study indefatigably, and a few isolated successes resulted; but one noted that this study was actually too much for his brains, which were talented for chess but otherwise very mediocre. And so it happened that, when I came to Berlin after four years' experience of the Soviets, I found there a Rubinstein who was only half a grand-master and a quarter of a human being. Blacker and blacker the shades closed round his brains, partly from megalomania, partly from persecution mania.

The following small anecdote illustrates this well. Towards the end of the same year (1921) a small tournament was arranged through Bogolyubov' s efforts in Triberg, with Rubinstein participating. I was tournament director and asked Rubinstein after one of his games "Why did you play this move in the opening? It is so obviously inferior to that by which I beat Bogolyubov a few months ago and which we examined so convincingly, together with you."

He Wanted to Avoid His Opponent's Influence

"Yes," replied Rubinstein, "but it is a strange move!" In other words, he could not appreciate anybody else's ideas; his chess only, HIS chess only, was utilised by him in that period. In spite of a few partial successes, the persecution mania became stronger and stronger. In the last two or three years of his chess career, he used to run away - literally! - from the chess board as soon as he had made his move; used to sit somewhere in a corner of the tournament room and not return to the board until it was his turn to move again. This, as he himself explained, was "in order to escape the vicious influence of his adversary's Ego." Rubinstein is somewhere in Belgium now, dead to chess for ever.

The Riga Jew Niemtsovitch belongs to the Capablanca rather than to the Lasker period. His instinctive, anti-Aryan conception of chess was curiously - subconsciously and against his own inclinations - affected by the Slav-Russian aggressive conception (Tchigorin!). I say "subconsciously," for how he did hate us Russians, us Slavs! I shall never forget a little conversation we had after the New York tournament of 1927. I surpassed him in this tournament, and the Jugo Slav master Professor Vidmar had repeatedly beaten him in their encounters. Furious though he was, he dared not attack us directly but one evening, whilst talking about the Soviets, he turned to me and said "Who says 'Slav' says 'Slave'" whereupon I replied "But who says 'Jew' need say no more!"

In some circles, he was considered a deep thinker, mainly after the publication of two books entitled My System and Praxis of My System. I am firmly convinced that his whole "system" (notwithstanding the fact that it is not even original) is based on wrong premises. Not only does he make the mistake of striving for a synthetic end from an analytical beginning but, continuing to err, he bases his analysis solely on his own practical experience and afterwards hands out the results of his analysis as the ultimate synthetic truth. Undoubtedly, there are a few true and correct elements in Niemtsovitch's doctrines; but whatever is correct is no his own but was created by others, old masters as well as contemporaries, and he plagiarised it, consciously or unconsciously. Correct were

1. The idea of battle for the centre, a Morphy conception; this had previously been illustrated by Tchigorin's best achievements as well as the games of Pillsbury and Charousek. 2. and 3. The truths of M. de la Palisse, namely that it is of advantage to occupy the seventh rank and, finally that it is better to be able to take advantage of two weaknesses in the opponent's camp than only one. And such was the ingenuousness of the English and New York chess public (not the American chess public for New York, the city of Jews is, thank heaven, not identical with America) that they granted him fame as a chess writer.

These were truths. On the other hand, there were many inaccuracies which were a direct consequence of his attitude toward chess, for whatever was half-way to being original had a cadaverous smell denying all that is creative. Examples: (1) "manoeuvring" is nothing more than the Steinitz-Lasker idea of waiting until one's opponent blunders; (2) "overprotection" (a premature protection of supposedly weak points) is again a purely Jewish idea contradicting the whole spirit of struggle, i.e., being afraid of battle. Doubt in one's own spiritual powers - truly, this is a sad picture of intellectual self-humiliation! This is the poor literary bequest Niemtsovitch left when he died, to only a few successors and fewer friends - apart from some fellow-racialists.

To the Bratislava master, Richard Reti, the chess world owes, without a doubt, gratitude for having proved the Niemtsovitch idea of "overprotection" to be an absurdity. For he applied the theory of concentrating on an opponent's weaknesses from the very beginning, no matter how that opponent built up his game..

It is becoming more and more apparent that the purely negative Jewish conception of chess (Steinitz-Lasker-Rubinstein-Niemtsovitch) prevented for half a century, the logical development of our art of battle.

Jewish and Aryan Chess [II]

Reti was applauded by the plurality of Anglo-Jewish intellectuals for his work Modern Ideas in Chess, just as Niemtsovitch had been for My System, and these people were particularly impressed by the absurd cry Reti invented, namely "We, the young masters" (he was then 34) "are not interested in rules but in exceptions." If this sentence makes sense at all, it means "We (or rather, I) know the rules governing the game of chess much too well. To carry on with further research in this field will be, in future, the task of the more feeble-minded of the chess community. But, I, the grandmaster, will devote myself exclusively to the more delicate filigree of brilliant exceptions, with my own clear elucidations." This cheap bluff, this shameless half-attempt at self-boosting, was swallowed without a struggle by a chess world already doped by Jewish journalists, the exulting cries of the Jews and their friends "Long Live Reti and the hyper-modern, neo-romantic chess!" finding an echo far and wide.

Reti died young, at 40. Even earlier, his "double bluff" idea had suffered a quiet and inglorious death. Contemporary representatives of Jewish chess chose to imitate older examples (Steinitz, Rubinstein) rather than him. Hence Salo Flohr of Prague, is, in a chess sense, a product partly of Steinitz's timid defensive ideas and partly of Rubinstein's religious belief in a comprehensive study of openings and end-games. A difference being that, unlike Rubinstein, he is bodily and mentally sound and, therefore, likely to be able to hold his own for some time to come.

Reuben Fine, a New Yorker of Eastern Jewish extraction, is certainly more intelligent than Flohr. Brought up in a communistic school at the expense of a Jewish community, he has been influenced chessically, if not politically, by the ideas of modern Russia. This is why he is more aggressive than the other Jewish masters, in his attitude and his manners, as well as in his chess. His main idea towards chess is, however, just the same, the purely traditional laying-in-wait; nothing venture! [sic] He tries to attain his goal in a comparatively new way; not by merely waiting or pure defence, but by delving ever more exhaustively into the ramifications of the openings. In order to improve his chances in practical chess, he undertook, for instance, to modernise the old English treatise by Griffith and White; for this purpose, he had to study thousands upon thousands of opening variations and he succeeded, by his superior knowledge of modern theory, in attaining a partial success in the AVRO tournament of 1938; the suprise was general, but I do not think there will be a repetition of this success.

Poor Chess America!

There are two more Jewish chess masters to mention: Reshevsky and Bovinnik. The Eastern Jewish child prodigy (there have been so many wonder children of this race in all branches of the arts - why not have a Jewish chess child prodigy once in a while, too?) - Samuel Reshevsky was systematically exploited, from his fifth year onward, by his likewise Jewish chess managers. Of course, there was money enough at that time (1919-1922) for all kinds of appetite, in democracies intoxicated by war profits. No wonder that Reshevsky, having become americanised and even U.S. champion, by the age of 30 owns a fortune that would enable him to play his future career as an amateur. What a suprise it caused when it became apparent that the adult Reshevsky, when he returned to Europe, represented the worst type of chess professional and was employing every sort of chess trick that would suit his purpose! If, as has been told, Reshevsky is really the image of present-day Chess America, all one can explain is "Poor Chess America!"

The Soviet chess master Botvinnik owes, in my opinion, even more than his American co-religionist to the influence of the younger Russian school. Instinctively inclined to "safety first," he has slowly become a master who knows how to use the weapons of aggression. How this occurred, is a curious and typical story: not the idea of attack and , if necessary, sacrifice, but - however, paradoxical this might seem - the idea of procuring, by attacking possibilities, even greater security for himself, is responsible for this change. Only by subtle knowledge, by intensely careful study of (a) new potentialities in the openings and (b) the attacking and sacrificial technique of the old masters, Botvinnik has succeeded in rounding off his original style and impressing it with the marks of a certain many-sidedness. That he is strong, very strong now, there can be no doubt. Otherwise, he would hardly have been able, considering the high development of chess in present-day Russia, to attain to the championship of his country five or six times in succession, in such convincing fashion. With this apparent superiority, one might yet compare the succession of impressive victories scored by Germany's master Erich Eliskases in Germany and abroad, during the last few years. All the same, most of Botvinnik's games make a dry and soulless impression. This is easily explained: there is no art in which the most perfect copy could arouse the same feelings as the original and, as far as attack is concerned, Botvinnik's chess is just no more than an excellent copy of the old masters. In spite of these shortcomings, I should say that one can consider Botvinnik to be an exception, compared with all the others we have mentioned.

Jewish and Aryan Chess [III]

Hailed as a kind of child-prodigy in his hometown (he won the championship of Cuba at the age of twelve), admired as a fiery attacking player with real Morphy insight at the outset of his career, Capablanca would have become not only the god of the Latin chess world - as he actually was for long - but the idol of the whole world chess community, had he not been sent, as a young man, to Columbia University in New York and there assimilated, in Jewry's capital, the professional methods of the chess-Yankees. Repressing his tactical endowments, he forced himself, even as an eighteen-year-old, to regard chess not as an end in itself, but as a means of livelihood and to pursue the Jewish principle of "safety-first" to the limit. So great were his natural gifts, that for a certain time he was able to set himself up as a master of defence; and so shrewd was he that he sought to justify the negative principle of defensive chess, through pseudostrategical conceptions, in numerous writings. Continual transitory brilliant exceptions, fiery "blitzes", occurred, even in his world championship matches - sub-conscious reactions of his repressed temperament. Nowadays these are becoming more and more rare.

So it came about that these two, the Jew Botvinnik and the Latin Capablanca, each finally took intellectually the same turning (or, rather, wrong turning). Their existence is undoubtedly necessary for our art, and for the combating of defensive thought in chess, for they are the exceptions which prove the rule. Exceptions? Yes, real exceptions. Unfortunately, there exist false exceptions, too, chess artists who utilise the Aryan spirit of attack in their attempt to gratify their professional lust for gold. The typical representatives of this tendency are undoubtedly the Viennese Jew Rudolf Spielmann, now settled in Stockholm, and the Leipziger Jack [sic] Mieses, now living in London. Spielmann, who undoubtedly has combinative gifts, came to the conclusion, early in his chess career, that these would gain him most money from the great Public, if he could succeed in making his name as a "brilliant sacrificial player." In the same way as Fine and Botvinnik studied the openings and the laws of attacking play, Spielmann applied himself to the much simpler problem of the ultimate technique of sacrificial play. One must admit that he achieved some success in his aim, in the course of a lengthy experience. In 1935 he even went so far as to publish a booklet under the corrupting [sic] title: "Correct Sacrifices." (The English version, The Art of Sacrifice.-Ed.) In this, every possible variety of sacrifice in chess is analysed, up to the only kind which marks the true artist, the intuitive sacrifice. Just as far removed from the realm of truly sacrificial thought is the chess master and journalist J. Mieses, who used to swamp a large part of the German press of years ago with "brilliancies" of just this realm. He contributed a convincing demonstration, for example, to the chess magazine Chess, which is run by the Jew Baruch Wood in Birmingham; as the best performance of his career, he put forward his prizewinning game against von Bardeleben at Barmen in 1905.

Hitherto, I have said much about the Jewish defensive idea, but little of Aryan attacking concepts; let us elaborate these. As an introduction, it is necessary to mention an important, because totally exploded attitude towards chess. About 1830 and 1840, there came upon chess, as sequel to the meteoric splendour of Mahe de la Bourdonnais, a marked quietness. As strongest player in the world was regarded - possibly with justice - the Englishman Howard Staunton. His chess, which unfortunately had a certain influence on his colleagues, was so monotonous, boring and poor in ideas, that nobody can wonder at the annihilating judgment passed by the genial Edgar Allan Poe in his "Murders in the Rue Morgue." Early on in the story Poe writes (of no inner necessity) -

"To calculate is not in itself to analyse. A chessplayer, for example, does the one without effort at the other. It follows that the game of chess, in its effects upon mental character, is greatly misunderstood. I am not now writing a treatise, but I will take occasion to assert that the higher powers of the reflective intellect are more decidedly and more usefully tasked by the unostentatious game of draughts than by all the elaborate frivolity of chess. In this latter, where the pieces have different and bizarre motions, with various and variable values, what is only complex is mistaken (a not unusual error) for what is profound. The attention is here called powerfully into play. If it flag for an instant, an oversight is committed, resulting in injury or nine cases out of ten it is the more concentrative [sic-HS] rather than the more acute player who conquers."

Now on the positive side.

"In draughts, where the moves are unique and have but little variation, the probabilities of inadvertence are diminished." And further: "Men of the highest order of intellect have been known to take an apparently unaccountable delight in whist, while eschewing chess as frivolous. Beyond doubt, there is nothing of a similar nature so greatly tasking the faculty of analysis as whist. The best chessplayer in Christendom may be little more than the best player of chess; but proficiency in whist implies capacity for success in all those more important undertakings where mind struggles with mind."

Enough! These quotations adequately prove that the ingenious poet of the "The Raven," the charming author of "Eureka" and the "Colloquy of Monos and Una" has in this case either been altogether stupidly misled or, for some unknown reason, knowingly deceived his readers. Chess can be compared with no other board game, because of a basic distinction which stamps it as an art; not that this implies any disparagement of other board games, each of which has its rightful place. This distinction lies in the fact that chess alone, in contrast to all these other games, has an aim other than mere capture or gain of territory, namely the conception of mate. Admittedly one must strive for gain of material or space to begin with. But as soon as mate, the idea of encircling the principal enemy piece, enters the scene, no sacrifice of time, space or material is too great to achieve it. This is why chess is necessary, this is why it is so attractive; because it calls forth in us - often only subconsciously, maybe - humanity's striving after an ideal; the joy of dedicating one's self for an idea. And this is why chess awakes in us aesthetic feeling, this is why conception of the beautiful is awakened in chess too; because its inner spirit corresponds in every way to the virtue of self-sacrifice in us.

Of what other game can this be even remotely maintained? No, Edgar Allan Poe could not, with all his genius, provide half as much justification for the existence of any other game! Even more disputable is his comparison of chess with whist; for this reason, that in that card game, the human mind has to work wholly otherwise than in chess. Chess is a fight of the moment, and of the future - as soon as a move has occurred, the players are no longer concerned with what has gone before. In Bridge, on the other hand (to restrict ourselves to this most modern of card-games), anybody who aspires to become a good player must bear in mind not only the make-up of each trick, but also the cards which have previously been played. As for alleged "analysis" this becomes, as a result of the presence of too many imponderables, a practical impossibility. So the American's attack loses all point, except only as a sign of his times.

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So concludes the final part of the Chess translations (1941) of the version of articles which appeared in the Deutsche Schachzeitung. This incomplete version omitted the last 20 paragraphs from the original articles as well as one on Schlecheter, wherein the latter Alekhine apparently erroneously refers to Schlechter as a Jew.

According to Moran:

Highlights of the remaining 20 paragraphs (devoted to "Aryan" chess masters from Morphy to Eliskases) include Dr. Euwe's "Jewish connection" and - in the penultimate paragraph - this clarification:

For all that I would like to emphasise forcefully that my chess fights do not bear a personal character - against no individual Jew himself - but are directed against the collective Jewish chess ideas.

From:Staunton ( Subject: Re: Jewish and Aryan Chess Part 3 (of 3) by A. Alekhine Date:2000-11-19 12:25:20 PST

> According to Moran: > > Highlights of the remaining 20 paragraphs (devoted to "Aryan" chess > masters from Morphy to Eliskases) include Dr. Euwe's "Jewish connection" > and - in the penultimate paragraph - this clarification: > > For all that I would like to emphasise forcefully that my chess fights > do not bear a personal character - against no individual Jew himself - > but are directed against the collective Jewish chess ideas. > >

Euwe's 'Jewish connection' is thus:

'Again in the 1937 return match with Euwe the collective chess Jewry was aroused. Most of the Jewish masters mentioned in this review attended as press reporters, trainer and seconds for Euwe. At the beginning of the second match I could no longer let myself be deceived: that is, I had to fight not Euwe, but the combined chess Jewry, and in the event my decisive victory (10:4) was a triumph against the Jewish conspiracy.'

Note: In this return match, Euwe was seconded by Reuben Fine (who developed appendicitis soon after the start and had to withdraw) and Alekhine by Eliskases. In the first match, Alekhine had the services of Landau (a Jew) and Euwe had Maroczy.

Alekhine's defence began soon after the liberation of Paris (therefore not post-war as has been alleged).

Both the BCM and Chess reported that News Review (23 November 1944) reported an interview with Alekhine wherein he claims that whilst in occupied France "he had to write two chess articles for the Pariser Zeitung before the Germans granted him his exit visa...Articles which Alekhine claims were purely scientific were rewritten by the Germans, published and made to treat chess from a racial standpoint."

After being 'disinvited' from the London Victory tournament in 1946 Alekhine wrote an open letter to the organiser W. Hatton-Ward:

Dear Mr. Hatton-Ward,

I have received your letter on my return from the Canaries on November 28th. Before I knew the contents of this letter it was manifestly impossible for me to undertake anything, for I had no idea what reasons had induced you to cancel the invitation. Now I can and must do it, and this not solely on account of the tournament which you are organising - whatever purely chess interest it might have had for me - but especially because of these very reasons.

First of all you inform me that certain circles have formulated objections based on my alleged sympathies during the war. Now anybody not swayed by prejudice must realise what must have been my real sentiments towards people who took from me all that makes life worth living; people who have wrecked my home, pillaged my wife's castle (and evidently all I possessed) and finally even stole my name!

Having devoted my life to chess I have never taken part in anything not directly connected with my profession. Unfortunately, all my life - especially after I had won the World's Championship - people have ascribed to me a political aspect which is entirely preposterous. For nearly twenty years I have been nicknamed "White Russian" which was particularly painful to me, for this made impossible any contact with my country of origin which I have never ceased to love and admire.

Finally in 1938/9, I had hoped, over negotiations and correspondence with the U.S.S.R. champion, M. Botvinnik, to have put an end to this absurd legend, for in fact a match between him and myself in the U.S.S.R. was practically fixed. Then - came the war - and after its termination here I am, being vested with the degrading epithet "Pro-Nazi, accused of collaboration, etc., etc.

In any event, far from bearing any ill-will towards you, I am grateful to you for having provoked this accusation - for the false position in which I have been placed during the last two years was in the long run morally intolerable.

Dr. Euwe's protest I find far from surprising - the reverse rather would have surprised me. For, among the mass of monstrosities published by the Pariser Zeitung, insults were featured against members of the organising committee of the 1937 match; the Netherlands Federation has even addressed a protest on this subject with Mr. Post. At that time I was quite unable to do the one thing which would have clarified the situation - to declare that the articles had not been written by me.

Dr. Euwe was so convinced of my "influence" with the Nazis the he wrote me two letters in which he asked me to take steps in order to ease the fate of poor Mr. Landau and of my friend Dr. Oskam. The fact is that, in Germany and in occupied territory, we were under constant supervision and the threat of the concentration camp on the part of the Gestapo. Dr. Euwe's reaction on my being invited is therefore quite natural; but, in common with so many, he is wholly mistaken.

The principal reason which has induced you to dispense with my participation is the "ultimatum" as you call it, of the U.S.A. Chess Federation. This is a serious matter, for these gentlemen have evidently taken their decision, giving reasons which in their opinion justified this step. I cannot at the moment know these reasons accurately, but I am entitle to suppose that it is a question of an accusation of collaborating with the Nazis. The term collaborator is generally used against those who, officially or otherwise, have acted according to the views of the Vichy Government. But I have never had anything to do with this Government nor with their representatives. I have played chess in Germany and occupied countries because this was our only means of livelihood, but also the price I paid for my wife's liberty. Reviewing in my mind the situation in which I found myself four years ago, I can only state that to-day I should have acted in the same way. In normal times my wife has certainly the means and necessary experience to look after herself, but not in time of war and in the hands of the Nazis. I repeat, if the allegation of "collaboration" rests on my forced sojourn in Germany, I have nothing to add - my conscience is undisturbed.

It is another matter if facts are alleged against me which are non-existent, notably the articles which appeared in the Pariser Zeitung. Here I must object strongly. During three years, until the liberation of Paris, I had to keep silent. But at the first opportunity I have, in interviews, tried to place the facts in their true perspective. In these articles, which appeared in 1941 during my stay in Portugal, and which came known to in Germany as reproduced in Deutsche Schachzeitung, there is nothing that was written by me.

The matter which I had provided related to the necessary reconstruction of the International Chess Federation [FIDE] and to a critical appreciation, written long before 1939 of the theories of Steinitz and Lasker.

I was astonished, on receipt of letters from Messrs Helms and Sturgis at the reaction which these purely technical articles had produced in America and replied in this sense to Mr Helms.

It is only when I obtained knowledge of the perfectly stupid balderdash which emanated from a mind imbued with Nazi ideas, that I understood what was on foot. At that time I was a prisoner of the Nazis and our only chance was to keep silent before the whole world. These years have destroyed my health and my nerves, and I am astonished that I can still play good chess.

My devotion to my art, the esteem which I have always shown for the talent of my colleagues, in short my whole pre-war professional life should have led people to think that the vapourings of the Pariser Zeitung were a fake. I particularly regret not to be able to come to London in order to re-affirm this fact in person.

Please excuse the length of this letter (of which I am sending copies to the British and U.S.A. Federations).

I remain, Yours sincerely, Signed A. Alekhine Madrid, December 6th, 1945

In his book Legado, published posthumously, Alekine wrote:

"Once more I insist on repeating that which I have published on several occasions: that is, that the articles which were stupid and untrue from a chess point of view and which were printed signed with my name in a Paris newspaper in 1941, are a falsification. It is not the first time that unscrupulous journalists have abused my name in order to publish inanities of that kind, but in the present case what was published in Pariser Zeitung is what has caused me the most grief, not only because of its content but also precisely because it impossible for me to rectify it...Colleagues know my sentiments and they realise perfectly well how great is the esteem in which I hold their art and that I have too elevated a concept of chess to become entangled in the absurd statements poured out by the above-mentioned Parisian newspaper."

From:Staunton ( Subject:Re: Jewish and Aryan Chess Part 3 (of 3) by A. Alekhine Date:2000-11-19 15:58:10 PST

From Francisco Lupi's The Broken King, a memoir of Alekhine (Chess World, October 1, 1946):

Grand Tribunal

When I left for England, Alekhine had not yet received any important letter by which he could accurately judge what the chess world thought about him. So, before I left I promised I would sound in London the opinions of the distinguished players in the tournament, his former colleagues from many countries. Actually, 24 hours before the end of the contests, the masters Euwe and Denker convoked an assembly to judge Alekhine's case. Among those present, besides Denker and Euwe, were Sir George Thomas, Dr. Ossip Bernstein, Dr.Tartakover, List, Friedmann, Medina, Abrahams, and Herman Steiner. The meeting was somewhat lively and it can easily be understood that some of the Jews present showed hard feelings. I must say, however, that the attitude of Denker and Euwe was very calm and dignified. They seemed to realise the responsibility of trying a man for his professional life while he was many miles away in Lisbon. In the end, the question was referred to the International Chess Federation, while Alekhine was asked to present himself to his own French chess authorities to defend himself from the accusations made against him. When I got back to Lisbon I found Alekhine very willing to fall in with this advice. He immediately applied for a French visa. He was dead before it arrived.

Friendship with Nuremberg Criminal

In those last weeks, grief, sickness, and poverty entirely crushed him. In desperation some of us decided to appeal again to his wife. "Since his arrival here a month ago, " we wrote, " your husband has been in an impossible situation - sick, with no material resources and living virtually on charity in an Estoril boardinghouse." Days went by, and nothing new happened. Alekhine spent his time in bed, or pacing his room like a lion in a cage.

One afternoon I asked him how it was that he received so many privileges from the Germans and in German-occupied countries. He revealed that this arose from an old acquaintance with the notorious Dr. Frank, the Nuremberg war criminal, who was a chess enthusiast and had one of the most complete chess libraries Alekhine had ever seen. "And was Dr. Frank kind to you?" "Yes, in the beginning he showed great generosity toward me. But later he began to show signs of suspicion, especially after he knew about a comment I had made on the execution of Przepiorka, a Jewish player who had gone into a Prague cafe verboten to Jews." And Alekhine added nervously: "Maybe some of my colleagues do not understand that I had to act discreetly if I wanted to stay alive." Fifteen days before his death, I was called on the telephone and heard Dr. Alekhine ask me sadly, whether I wanted to work with him on "Comments on the Best Games of the Hastings Tournament." adding: "I am completely out of money and I have to make some to buy my cigarettes."

The Cable from Moscow

I went to Estoril and tried to cheer him up a little. We began work immediately. And when we were almost at the end of Tartakover's games, deep into the task, we heard a knock at the door. I can see him now, rising, and with uncertain steps walking to the door to receive this telegram from Mr.Derbyshire in Nottingham:

"Moscow offer substantial sum (1) for chess championship of world to be played in England between you and Botvinnik suggest you appoint someone in England represent you and arrange all details wire reply."

This was the cause of Alekhine's second cardiac stroke. It was hard for him to overcome the shock, and he could not believe that he would soon be back in the great chess world. He answered Mr. Derbyshire immediately, accepting the match provided that Botvinnik would agree to the conditions of 1939. Poor Alekhine! He would have accepted any conditions. Some days later Michael Botvinnik himself sent a letter through the British Embassy in Lisbon. The text was in Russian, with an English version attached:

"World's Championship. "Mr. A. Alekhine! "I regret that the war prevented the organisation of our match in 1939, But I herewith again challenge you to a match for the world's chess championship. "If you agree, a person authorised by myself and the Moscow Chess Club will conduct negotiations with you or your representative on the question of conditions, date and the place where the match should be held, preferably through the British Chess Federation. "I await your answer, in which I also ask you to state your ideas about the date and place of the match. I beg you to send a telegraphic reply, with subsequent postal confirmation, to the Moscow Chess Club."

February 4th, 1946. "(Sgd.) Michael Botvinnik."

Secret Weapons

A few days after this letter arrived, when Alex had already asked Mr. du Mont in London, the editor of the British Chess Magazine, to be his intermediary, something happened which will seem out of place mentioned here - Churchill's sensational speech at Fulton. (2) As soon as Dr. Alekhine read Reuters' report of the speech in the Portuguese papers he telephoned me in alarm, asking me to take the first train to Estoril, because he urgently wanted to speak to me. When I arrived he was slumped in an armchair, utterly demoralized. He said: "See how unhappy I am! The world has got no sense and is moving towards another war. I am sure my match with Botvinnik will never be possible." I tried to reassure him. We got to work again over the games of the Hastings Tournament, and once, while we stopped to have a cup of coffee, I asked him what was the opening plan he had for his play with Botvinnik. He whispered, forgetful at once of his usual preoccupations, that the world would be startled by the ideas he had in mind. And he said, with a child-like look in his eyes, that he was going to play Botvinnik a little trick. "I intend to play open games, trying all the time to get him into the Ruy Lopez." I answered: "But Botvinnik will never get into the Lopez.(3) You know very well that the Russian masters have a deep knowledge of the French game. So..." He replied that he had been studying some variations of the Panov atack. When I asked him to show me some of them he made a gesture as if to say: "Whoever displayed his secret weapons?"

Night Club Flicker

This was the old Alekhine. But 24 hours later, at about one in the morning of Friday, March 22, as I climbed the stairs of my apartment in Lisbon, I saw, leaning against the door, somebody whom a few steps closer I recognised as my friend. When I was near him, his hands grasped nervously the sleeves of my coat, and he said, in a voice I shall never forget: "Lupi, the loneliness is killing me! I must live. I must feel life about me. I have already worn down the floorboards of my room. Take me to some night club." This was the last time he felt the dynamic life force within him. While the band played melancholy tangos it made me ill to watch the shadow of him who was once the greatest chess player of all time. As we sat, he again talked of the match with Botvinnik. "Could it, would it, ever take place?" It was late when we parted, and this was the last time I was to see him alive. The autopsy said of him that he suffered from arterio-sclerosis, chronic gastritis and duodenitis, that his heart weighed 350 grammes, that the perimeter of his skull was 540 millimeters, and so on...

"Old Dr. Alex"

All I know is that on Sunday morning about 10:30 I was awakened and asked to hurry to Estoril, because something had happened to "old Dr. Alex." I entered his room together with the Portuguese authorities. There he was, sitting in his chair, in so calm an attitude that one would have thought he was asleep. There was only a little foam at the corner of his mouth.(4) The medical verdict as to the cause of death - that a piece of meat had caught in his throat - had no meaning for me. To me he looked like the King of the chessmen, toppled over after the most dramatic game, the one played on the board of Life.

"'Tis all a Chequerboard of Nights and Days " Where Destiny with Men for Pieces Play; " Hither and thither moves and mates and slays " And one by one back in the Closet lays." (5)

Checkmate! That is in the original Persian shah mat - the King is dead.


Notes by translator Frank X. Mur in Moran's book:

1) $10,000: winner and loser to split 2/3 and 1/3 according to J. du Mont, 3/5 to 2/5 according to B.D. Wood.

2) Winston Churchill called war with Russia inevitable ("Iron Curtain" speech, Fulton, Missouri, March 5, 1946.)

3) Lupi was unaware that in the 1941 USSR Absolute Championship, Botvinnik beat Smyslov twice as Black: in a French defence and a Ruy Lopez. Alekhine wisely included the Lopez in his arsenal to meet 1..e5.

4) He died in the company of his dearest friends: a peg-in travelling set lay open beside him - C.J.S. Purdy

5) From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam(..)

UPDATE: GM Kevin Spraggett has a theory on how Alekhine really died.

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