New York 1924, Round 1: Alekhine starts with a win against Yates

by Johannes Fischer
5/5/2020 – The Grandmaster Tournament in New York, one of the strongest tournaments in the history of chess, has started. Favourites are the current World Champion José Raúl Capablanca, the former World Champion Emanuel Lasker, and the young Russian Alexander Alekhine. In the first round, two of the five games ended with a decision: Alekhine won against Frederick Yates after Yates missed a golden opportunity, and Savielly Tartakower won against Efim Bogoljubow with an unusual line of the King's Gambit: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2!?. | Photo: Alexander Alekhine

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New York 1924, Round 1

At 31 years of age, Alexander Alekhine is the youngest participant in New York. He was born in Moscow on 31 October 1892 as the son of a wealthy family, but after the turmoil of the October Revolution of 1917, Alekhine, who was already one of Russia's best players at the time and had won the All-Russian Championship in 1920, decided to emigrate. In 1921 he left Russia together with his second wife, Anneliese Ruegg, who is 13 years older than Alekhine, comes from Switzerland and worked in Russia as a journalist and delegate of the Comintern. But the marriage did not last long and shortly after the couple's arrival in Western Europe they went their separate ways again.

Alekhine is known for his ambition and his sharp attacking style and in New York he wants to prove that he has what it takes to successfully play against World Champion José Raúl Capablanca for the title. And Alekhine started well: in the first round he won with Black against Frederick Yates from England though not without some help of his opponent who missed a winning shot in a bad position.


New York 1924 is one of the strongest chess tournaments of all times and it also promises to be a battle of old and new chess concepts. Before the start of the tournament the former World Champion Emanuel Lasker had a conversation with his namesake and very distant relative Edward Lasker, in which he was sceptical about his chances of success in New York.

At 55 years of age, Lasker is the second oldest participant in New York (Dawid Janowsky is a few months older), and Edward Lasker, who is planning to write a book about his adventures in the world of chess (working title: Chess Secrets I learned from the Masters), later revealed why Lasker was pessimistic:

"He warned me that chess had changed a great deal since the outbreak of the world war, and that the young fellows – Alekhine, Reti, Bogolyubov and the rest – had developed new opening systems, the intimate knowledge of which gave them a tremendous advantage. He thought there was little hope for anyone unacquainted with these openings to emerge unscathed and that even if one did find his way through them over the board, the time consumed in so doing would prove too great a handicap when faced by a first class master."

Emanuel Lasker

Whether Lasker's scepticism about his chances is justified will only become apparent in the second round because Lasker started the tournament with a bye. But it is hard to believe that the experienced fighter is not secretly hoping to win the tournament – after all, he had been World Champion for 27 years, and last year he convincingly won the strong International Tournament in Mährisch-Ostrau with 10½/13. Lasker did not lose a single game in this event and finished ahead of players such as Reti, Boguljubow and Tartakower, who also take part in New York.

But the clear tournament favourite is of course the reigning world champion, José Raúl Capablanca, who has not lost a single serious tournament or match game in the last eight (!) years. On the other hand Capablanca is lacking practice, as he has also not played a single serious game in the last 15 months. Moreover, the Cuban was plagued by the flu before the tournament began and in the first round he quickly drew against Janowsky - the game ended after 21 moves with perpetual check.


The second win of the first round was scored by Savielly Tartakower, who is known for his wit and paradoxical aphorisms. Tartakower also showed originality in his opening choice against Efim Bogoljubow: after 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 he surprised his opponent, the other players and probably almost all experts with the move 3.Le2, a surprisingly modest concept in the King's Gambit. But Bogoljubov did not find the right concept against this approach and now Alekhine and Tartokower share the lead after the first round.


Savielly Tartakower

Round 1 - Results

D. Janowsky ½-½ J. Capablanca
F. Yates 0-1 A. Alekhine
F. Marshall ½-½ R. Réti
Ed. Lasker ½-½ G. Maróczy
S. Tartakower 1-0 E. Bogoljubow

Bye: Emanuel Lasker

Standings after round 1

Rk. Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts.
1 Alexander Alekhine                   1 1.0
2 Saviely Tartakower                 1   1.0
3 Jose Raul Capablanca               ½     0.5
4 Frank James Marshall         ½           0.5
5 Richard Reti       ½             0.5
6 Edward Lasker             ½       0.5
7 Geza Maroczy           ½         0.5
8 Dawid Markelowicz Janowski     ½               0.5
9 Efim Bogoljubow   0                 0.0
10 Frederick Dewhurst Yates 0                   0.0

Round 1 - Games



World class tournament in New York about to start

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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