AVRO, Round 7: Keres wins top encounter against Fine

by André Schulz
6/9/2020 – In the first six rounds of the AVRO Tournament Reuben Fine was the dominating player and scored a whopping 5½/6. But in round 7 he lost against Paul Keres who now has 5.0/7 and is only half a point behind Fine. The other games of the round were also interesting and they all ended decisively: Mikhail Botvinnik won against Alexander Alekhine, Samuel Reshevsky defeated Salo Flohr and José Raúl Capablanca beat Max Euwe. | Photo: Amsterdam

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Keres beats Fine

The first rounds of the AVRO Tournament were dominated by Reuben Fine. The American, who lives in the Netherlands and is married to Emma Thea Keesing from the Netherlands, started the tournament by scoring five and a half points out of six games. Fine beat Flohr, Euwe, Alekhine, Botvinnik and Reshevsky and drew against Capablanca. In the seventh and last round of the first half of the tournament Fine played with White against Keres. With 4 out of 6 the Estonian was Fine's closest rival and thus this game was crucial for the tournament.

Reuben Fine usually opens with 1.d4 but at the AVRO Tournament he decided to try 1.e4 to surprise his opponents. Against Keres he also opened with 1.e4 and opted for the Worral Variation of the Spanish (Qe2 instead of Re1). Keres reacted by offering an interesting pawn sacrifice which Fine accepted. However, taking the pawn does not seem to promise White any advantage and after a short, tense middlegame a complicated endgame appeared on the board. Keres played the endgame better and managed to win this important game.


Despite this loss Fine is still sole leader with 5½/7 but with 5.0/7 Keres is only half a point behind and has good chances to catch Fine in the second half of the tournament.

The game between Mikhail Botvinnik and Alexander Alekhine was a generational struggle. But the game was also a rather one-sided affair, as Botvinnik, who is about 20 years younger than Alekhine, didn't give the current World Champion any chance.


With 42.Nc6 Rf6 43.Ne7 Kb8 44.Nxd5 White won a pawn while keeping the better position. A few moves later White also won the game. "I was completely outplayed," World Champion Alekhine admitted after the game.

There are rumours in the press centre that Alekhine has started secret negotiations with Botvinnik about a World Championship match. These rumours are probably true because Alekhine has already talked about the possibility of a World Championship match with all participants of the AVRO Tournament — with the exception of Capablanca, of course. But rumour also has it that Alekhine continues these complicated negotiations to be able to avoid having to play a match for the World Championship at all. However, Alekhine himself says that he is not getting any younger and that he has to play such a match as soon as possible if he wants to have a realistic chance against his young rivals.

After the round, Botvinnik and his young wife Gayane, a dancer at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, went on a sightseeing tour to downtown Amsterdam.

Mikhail Botvinnik and his wife Gayane

But in the game between José Raúl Capablanca and Max Euwe the older player prevailed. Soon after the opening Capablanca was a pawn up and had a strategically won position. Euwe then tried to muddy the waters and sought tactical complications but Capablanca kept his cool and slowly but surely converted his material plus.


26... f5 27.exf5 Qxf5 28.g4 Qf4 29.gxh5 Qxh2+ 30.Ke3 Qf4+ 31.Ke2 Qc4+ 32.Ke1 Qd3 Threatening to win with ...Qe3.


33.Qb3+ But not 33.Kf2? Rxc3 34.Rxc3 Qd2+ 35.Kg3 Qg5+ 33...Kh8 34.Rc2 The only move. 34...Rf6 35.Rd2 Qf5 [35...Qe3+ 36.Re2] 36.Qc2 36.Qd5 was also good. 36...Qf4 37.Qe4 Qg3+ 38.Rff2 Qg1+ 39.Ke2 Rff8 40.h6 1–0

Salo Flohr is out of shape at the AVRO Tournament. Against Samuel Reshevsky he blundered in a bad position.


31... Bxe5 After 31...a5 32.Be1 (32.Ba3 Ba6) 32...Qe7 33.f5 gxf5 34.Bg3 Black is worse but can still fight. 32.fxe5 f5 33.Rc7+ Kg8 34.Qc3 Rc6 35.Rxc6 Bxc6 36.Kh1 A small finesse. 36.Qxc6 Qxd4+ 37.Kh1 Qxb4 38.Qxg6+ also wins. 36...Qf2 36...Bxa4 37.Qc8+ Kf7 38.e6+ 37.Qxc6 Qf1+ 38.Kh2 Qf4+ 39.Kg1 Qxd4+ 40.Kh1 Qxb4 41.Qxg6+ Kh8 42.Qxh6+ Kg8 43.Qg6+ Kh8 44.Qf6+ 1–0

Results of round 7

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

Standings after round 7





Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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