A North Carolina publisher, McFarland, provides an excellent catalogue of quality chess books, not only for the upcoming holiday season but for enjoyment well into the next millennium.
The life of former world champion Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) dominates McFarland's list. A monumental book "Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games, 1902-1946" byLeonard M. Skinner and Robert G.P. Verhoeven, the best-researched and most detailed work so far, has been already reviewed in this column. It won a 1998 award from the United States Chess Federation. Pablo Moran's "A.Alekhine, Agony of a Chess Genius", covers the last three years of Alekhine's life and his visits to Portugal and Spain. Alekhine's quests in the world championships are also recorded in the second edition of "Chess World Championships" by James H. Gelo. This book records games from all world championship and other important matches from 1834 to 1998. On a lighter side, Mc Farland issued this year an exciting fictionalized novel "Alekhine Anguish" by Charles D. Yaffe. Some conversations in that book are well thought out and remind me of Richard Laurie's wonderful theater work about the Russian exile called "Knight of the Id."
All these books areexcellent and should be in any serious chess library. McFarland promises to come out with two new books this month: "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" by Andrew Soltis and "Correspondence Chess in America" by a local correspondence player, Bryce D. Avery. I haven't seen those two books, but McFarland penchant for excellence in chess publishing has already produced magnificent and award-winning works on Capablanca by Edward Winter and on Frank Marshall by Andy Soltis. More information can be obtained at McFarland (Box 611, Jefferson, North Carolina 28640; phone (336) 246-4460; web site: www.mcfarlandpub.com).
Alekhine's fans can also enjoy Cecil Purdy's "Extreme Chess", covering both important world championship matches Alekhine-Euwe in 1935 and 1937. The 1972 match Spassky-Fischer is thrown in as a bonus. It was issued by Thinker's Press (Box 8, Davenport, IA 52805-0008; phone 1-800-397-7117; website (www.chessco.com). The 6th game of the return match in 1937 was the shortest decisive game between the rivals.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 dxc4 (Alekhine planned to meet the Winawer gambit 3...e5 with 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.e4! dxe4 6.Bb5+. Kasparov prefers 4.dxe5.) 4.e4 e5 (English grandmaster Matthew Sadler, who recently retired from chess, recommends 4...b5 5.a4 b4 6.Na2 Nf6 7.f3 e5.) 5.Bxc4 exd4 (After 5...Qxd4 Alekhine planned 6.Qb3 Qd7 7.Bg5!, followed by 8.Rd1 with initiative.) 6.Nf3!! (Purdy compares this with Muzio variation of the King's gambit, where white gives up his knight on the kingside.) 6...b5? (A blunder. After 6...Bc5 white plays 7.0-0! Nf6 8.Na4 Be7 9.e5 Nd5 10.Nxd4 0-0 11.Nc3 with better game. However the best is to accept the knight 6...dxc3 and after 7.Bxf7+ Ke7 8.Qb3 follow Goncharov's suggestion 8...cxb2! 9.Bxb2 Qb6! 10.Ba3+ [After 10.Bxg8 Rxg8 11.Qxg8 Qb4+ 12.Nd2 Qxb2 13.Rb1 Qc2 wins for black.] 10...c5 11.Bxg8 Rxg8 12.Bxc5+ Qxc5 13.0-0 Qh5! and black is better after 14.Qxg8 Be6 15.Qh8 Nc6.) 7.Nxb5 Ba6 (On 7...cxb5? 8.Bd5 wins.) 8.Qb3 Qe7 (After 8...Bxb5? 9.Bxf7+ Kd7 10.Nxd4! white has a powerful attack.) 9.0-0 Bxb5 10.Bxb5 Nf6 (After 10...cxb5? 11.Qd5 wins.) 11.Bc4 Nbd7 12.Nxd4! Rb8 13.Qc2 Qc5 14.Nf5 (The tempting 14.Nxc6 is met by 14...Rc8, according to Purdy.) 14...Ne5 15.Bf4 (Much better than 15.Nxg7+? Kd8 16.Rd1+ Kc7.) 15...Nh5 16.Bxf7+! Kxf7 17.Qxc5 Bxc5 18.Bxe5 Rb5 (Also 18...Rbe8 is met by 19.Bd6.) 19.Bd6 Bb6 20.b4 Rd8 21.Rad1 c5 22.bxc5 Bxc5 23.Rd5 and black resigned.
But it was not the shortest game in the history of the world championships. That distinction belongs to the last game between William Steinitz and Johannes Hermann Zukertort in 1886. It took Steinitz 19 moves in 30 minutes to clinch the world title.
Steinitz - Zukertort
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.d4!? d5 5.exd5 Qh4+ 6.Ke2 Qe7+ 7.Kf2 Qh4+ 8.g3 fxg3+ 9.Kg2 Nxd4 (On 9...Bd6 10.Qe1+ Nce7 11.hxg3 Qxd4 12.Nf3 gives white the edge.) 10.hxg3 Qg4 11.Qe1+ Be7 12.Bd3 (The immediate 12.Rh4 is met by 12...Nxc2.) 12...Nf5 13.Nf3 Bd7 14.Bf4 (After 14.Ne5 comes 14...Qxg3+! 15.Qxg3 Nxg3 16.Kxg3 Bd6 17.Bf4 g5.) 14...f6 15.Ne4 Ngh6? (Loses, but black had to do something against 16.Nf2 Qg6 17.g4.) 16.Bxh6 Nxh6 17.Rxh6 gxh6 (After 17...Bc8 Steinitz gives 18.Rh4 Qd7 19.d6! cxd6 20.Bb5 Qxb5 21.Nxd6+ winning the queen.) 18.Nxf6+ Kf7 19.Nxg4 Black resigned.
Solution to today's problem by A. Koenig
(White: Ka4,Qc4,Bd7,Nc8; Black:Kb7,Qe5,Rh7,P:a7,b6,c7): 1.Nd6+! Qxd8 (1...Kb8 2.Qg8+ Qe8 3.Qxe8 mate.) 2.Qa6+!! Kxa6 (2...Kb8 3.Qc8 mate.) 3.Bc8 mate.