AVRO 1938, Round 3: Alekhine and Botvinnik impress

by Johannes Fischer
6/5/2020 – Round 3 of the AVRO Tournament 1938 brought a number of remarkable games. Mikhail Botvinnik convincingly outplayed Samuel Reshevsky, and Alexander Alekhine showed against Max Euwe why he is considered to be one of the best attacking players in chess history. Reuben Fine and José Raúl Capablanca drew after both had missed good chances. With 2½/3 Fine continues to be sole first. | Photo: Alexander Aljechin

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Attacking chess

The 27-year-old Mikhail Botvinnik from the Soviet Union is known as an excellent theoretician and outstanding strategical player. In round 3 against Samuel Reshevsky he showed why he enjoys this reputation. After the opening Botvinnik had a slight plus and put Reshevsky under constant pressure.

Reshevsky found no concept, used oceans of time and after 23 moves was almost lost. Botvinnik finished the game with a couple of precisely calculated tactical shots.


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Alexander Alekhine's nimbus suffered greatly from his defeat against Max Euwe in the 1935 World Championship match - and even Alekhine's win in the rematch against Euwe in 1937 could not fully restore it.

Alexander Alekhine during the match against Euwe in 1935

But in his game against Euwe in round 3 of the AVRO tournament Alekhine showed how well he still plays, especially in dynamic positions with hidden attacking potential.


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Reuben Fine started the tournament of the world's eight best players with two wins and in round 3 he almost won his third game in a row. Fine had White against Capablanca and missed a good chance in a complicated middlegame – but in the end Fine could be happy about half a point.


The only dull game of the round was the encounter between Paul Keres and Salo Flohr, which ended in a draw after 23 unspectacular moves.


Results of round 3

M. Botvinnik 1-0 S. Reshevsky
A. Alekhine 1-0 M. Euwe
R. Fine ½-½ J.R. Capablanca
S. Flohr ½-½ P. Keres

Standings after round 3

Rk. Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts.
1 Reuben Fine         1 ½   1 2.5
2 Alexander Aljechin       1   ½   ½ 2.0
3 Paul Keres       ½ ½   ½   1.5
4 Max Euwe   0 ½       1   1.5
5 Mikhail Botvinnik 0   ½         1 1.5
6 Jose Raul Capablanca ½ ½         ½   1.5
7 Salo Flohr     ½ 0   ½     1.0
8 Samuel Herman Reshevsky 0 ½     0       0.5




Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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