"Chess is vanity."
World Champion 1927-1935, 1937-1946
Born: 1892, Moscow
Died: 1946, Lisbon
was a well-rounded player, combining technical
skills with wonderful tactical vision.
His technical skills were so well honed that he was even able to take away
the World Championship from Capablanca in 1927 using Capablanca's own weapon-
solid and technical positional
play. Alekhine made his own unique contribution to chess. He decided
it wasn't necessary to occupy the center
to control it. He postulated that pawns in the center were vulnerable to
attack, and thus to become cancerous weaknesses.
An opening that Alekhine invented,
the Alekhine defense, made use of such principles. The opening invites
white to push pawns in the pursuit of black's knight (which is just asking
for punishment). These pawns get to occupy the center "for free" one could
say. However, destroying this pawn center will give black joy for many
games to come. Alekhine declined to give Capablanca a return match (probably
wise for Alekhine) but lost his title anyway to Max Euwe in 1935. Demonstrating
his intense will to win, Alekhine came back in 1937 to defeat Euwe and
take back his place as King of Chess. Alekhine died, still World Champion,