26 September 2013

Alekhine's Defense

A Pair of Games

Alekhine's Defense is not my favorite weapon against 1.e4, but I respect it enough that on the White side I often will play 2.Nc3 with the idea of transposing into a Spanish or Italian Opening. I also play the main line. After a series of frustrating games on Chess.com at 15 minute plus 10 second increment, I played two games against one opponent that both were Alekhine's.

The 15 10 time control on Chess.com frustrates me because I suspect that it is too easy to cheat, and that Chess.com lacks diligence in their probing for nefarious activities by players in the 1600-1800 rating range.* In truth, however, these suspicions are more than likely paranoia that stems from inability to correctly assess the quality of my own play. I'm losing to players rated ~1650 because my play is terrible, not because my opponents are using assistance.

With White in the first game, I made an effort to punish an obvious error: my opponent failed to play d6. I opted to play the Alekhine in the second game so I could play d6 and hence give my opponent a bit of instruction in the proper way to handle his choice of opening.

Stripes.J (1646) - Internet Opponent (1630) [B03]
Live Chess Chess.com, 26.09.2013

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 Nc6

3...d6 is the main line

4.c4 Nb6 5.Nf3

5.f4 is a popular alternative

Black to move

5...d6 is necessary


White already has a clear advantage.


6...d6 was possible still.




7...exd5 8.cxd5 Ne7 White has a slight advantage

8.d6!? cxd6 9.exd6 Nf5


10.Bf4 Qf6 11.Be5+-

Black to move

My play has not been spectacular. Indeed, I have missed the strongest continuation often enough that one might question whether I have the faintest understanding of how to exploit Black's opening failure. Nonetheless, I have a decisive advantage. The win is mine to throw away.

11...Qh6 12.a3 Bc5

White to move

Even in a techically lost position, Black has some tricks.

13.b4?? would have been embarrasing. 13...Bxf2+ 14.Kxf2 Qe3#

13.Ne4 f6 14.Bc3 Bxf2+ 15.Nxf2


15...Ne3 16.Qd2 Nbxc4 17.Bxc4 Nxc4 18.Qxh6 gxh6

White to move


19.Ne4 was more accurate.

19...Nxd6 20.Bxf6 0–0 21.Be7 Nf5 22.Bxf8 Kxf8 23.Rac1 b6 24.Ne5 d6 25.Nc6 Bb7 26.Ne4 Kg7 27.g4 Ne3 28.Rf3 Nxg4 29.Rg3 1–0

Internet Opponent (1621) - Stripes,J (1654) [B03]
Live Chess Chess.com, 26.09.2013

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6

White to move


Any of 5.Nf3, 5.f4, or 5.exd6 offer White opportunities for advantage.


Black has an advantage.

6.c5 Nd5


7.dxe5 e6?!

Perhaps if I played Alekhine Defense more regularly, I would understand that 7...Bf5 should be played. Familiarity with the Caro-Kann Defense also could have served me here.


Part of what I find frustrating in the standard rated pool on Chess.com is that I will get an opponent like this one who seems to lack elementary understanding, and then the next opponent with the same rating will play like a well-trained junior, or even a rusty master.

Black to move

8... Nc6

8...Nb4 was better. 9.Qc3 Qd4 10.Qxd4 Nc2+ 11.Kd1 Nxd4–+

9.Bb5 Qe7 10.Bxc6+ bxc6 11.Nf3




12.Nc3? Ba6–+

White to move

13.Bd2 Nb4 0–1

*My standard Chess.com rating in the mid-1600s puts me at the 98th percentile. The Standard rated pool on the site is small, and the ratings are generally low.


  1. I don't get why your uscf rating is 1900+ and your chess.com rating is low 1600s. Maybe the computer screen has something to do with it. Internet chess is only good for lightning or blitz in my opinion..

    1. It has nothing to do with the screen. My Chess.com ratings range from mid-2100s (correspondence) to low 1600s (bullet). The game presented here is standard (one of three live ratings). Ratings do not compare well across pools. More telling is percentile rank. In correspondence on Chess.com I'm at 99.5 with 1500 players above me. In standard, I'm at 98.1 with 13,800 players above me. In bullet, my percentile is much lower at 95.7 with 22,000 players above me. Even this, however, is higher than my USCF of 93.4 3300 players higher, and my Washington state percentile ranking 87.6 69 players higher.

      The percentile difference between Washington and the USCF is easy to explain. In Washington, scholastic players do not need to join the USCF in order to compete in scholastic tournaments. In most of the US, they do.

      Casual adults and children deflate the rating pool. Chess.com is by far the most popular place for these casual players to meet and play.

      I'm over 50 years old. Bullet calls for fast reflexes which seem harder to muster today than one year ago. Even in my youth I was better at endurance sports like distance running than sports requiring quick reflexes. A high percentage of my losses in bullet are on time in superior positions, although I have a few wins that way too.

  2. Understood...on a side note: By you broadcasting your openings and defenses, don't you think its easier for one to prepare for you? As it pertains to OTB tournaments of course. I just feel like the opposition has a slight advantage because they know what you play..

    1. Of course it makes it easier for my opponents to prepare, if I'm worth the effort. Everyone in Spokane knows that I favor the French Defense against 1.e4.

  3. Stripes Hello sir, my name is Ruben Cornejo Messiah, and I am a Peruvian chess player who lives and teaches chess in Chiclayo, a city in northern Peru. I recently discovered your blog, and I found very interesting the approach gives classes, introducing students to the knowledge of the ancient games. I would like to suggest you post quite often a selection of thumbnails of old or recent games where you appreciate the tactical errors of the contenders to also use them in teaching the game.
    Moving on, I take this occasion to tell you that I too am a regular player in blitz chess sites now abound on the Internet. And it occurred to me to send a game mine, played last month at ChessCube. The game was played 15 minutes, and I especially love to give useful mate two horses and a tower

    [Event "ChessCube Game"]
    [Site "www.chesscube.com"]
    [Date "2013.09.13"]
    [Round "-"]
    [White "kondeciano@chesscube.com"]
    [Black "fil12@chesscube.com"]
    [Result "1-0"]
    [WhiteElo "1822"]
    [BlackElo "1901"]
    [Time "19:29:22"]
    [TimeControl "900"]

    1. d4 e6 2. e4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. h4 c5 7. Nb5 a6 8. Nd6+ Kf8 9. c3 Bxg5 10. hxg5 Nc6 11. Qf3 Qe7 12. g6 Ncxe5 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Rxh7 Rg8 15. Nxf7 Nxf3+ 16. Nxf3 Bd7 17. N3e5 Bb5 18. Bxb5 axb5 19. O-O-O Rxa2 20. Kb1 Ra4 21. Rdh1 Qc7 22. Rh8 Rxh8 23. Rxh8+ Ke7 24. Rg8 Kf6 25. g4 Rxg4 26. Nxg4+ Kxg6 27. Nge5+ Kf6 28. Rh8 d4 29. f4 dxc3 30. bxc3 b4 31. Ng5 Qa5 32. Rf8+ Ke7 33. Rf7+ Kd8 34. Nxe6+ Ke8 35. Nxg7+ Kd8 36. Ne6+ Ke8 37. Rxb7 Qa3 38. Ng7+ Kd8 39. Nf7+ Kc8 40. Nd6+ Kd8 41. Ne6# 1-0