AVRO, Round 10: Four draws and some drama

by Johannes Fischer
6/12/2020 – Four draws, no win - that was the outcome of the tenth round of the AVRO Tournament 1938, which was played in the Dutch city of Breda. But despite the four draws the spectators in Breda got their money's worth as they could watch two fascinating tactical duels: Samuel Reshevsky (pictured) used hidden tactics to attack Mikhail Botvinnik, Reuben Fine used hidden tactics to defend against José Raúl Capablanca. Of course, nothing has changed in the standings. After 10 of 14 rounds Fine and Keres share the lead with 6½/10, Botvinnik follows with 5½/10. | Photo: Samuel Reshevsky (Archive)

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Missed opportunities

With three wins, three losses and three draws, Samuel Reshevsky was exactly on 50 percent before round ten. However, in his perennial time-trouble Reshevsky had missed a couple of good chances in his previous nine games – and in time-trouble he also spoiled a winning position against Mikhail Botvinnik in round ten.


Reuben Fine enjoys the reputation of being a solid positional player who values correct chess above all but against Capablanca he showed how tactically alert he is. After a small inaccuracy in the opening Fine came under pressure but found a remarkable tactical resource that allowed him to escape into an endgame in which he was only slightly worse. He tenaciously defended this ending, but when the draw seemed within reach, he blundered in time-trouble and almost spoilt all his previous efforts. However, Capablanca failed to see how fortune had smiled on him and the game ended in a draw.


Max Euwe and Alexander Alekhine are old rivals and have played two World Championship matches against each other. In the first half of the tournament Alekhine won a brilliant attacking against against Euwe, but in the second half of the tournament they drew after a tough fight.


For Salo Flohr the AVRO Tournament 1938 is not a good tournament. With 2½ points from 9 games (5 draws and 4 losses) he is in last place after nine rounds. And in round 10 he had to play with Black against tournament leader Paul Keres. However, Flohr had no problems to equalize and to get an easy draw. If the tournament had gone better for Flohr he might even have considered to try to pressure Keres a bit longer in the final position.


Results of round 10

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

Standings after round 10






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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