Alexander Alekhine: A Chess Prodigy and World Champion
William T Green

William T Green

Sep 01, 2023

Alexander Alekhine: A Chess Prodigy and World Champion

Alexander Alekhine, born on October 31, 1892, in Moscow, Russia, is a name that resonates with chess enthusiasts worldwide. His journey from a young chess enthusiast to a world champion is a testament to his dedication, skill, and strategic prowess.

Early Life and Introduction to Chess

Born into a privileged family, Alekhine had the opportunity to be introduced to chess at a young age. His mother, an avid chess player, was his first teacher. By the age of nine, he was already showcasing his talent, defeating experienced players and drawing attention in local chess circles.

Rise to Prominence

Alekhine's rise in the chess world was meteoric. In 1909, at the age of 16, he won the All-Russian Amateur Tournament, a significant achievement for someone so young. This victory was just the beginning. Over the next few years, he would participate in numerous tournaments, consistently finishing at the top and defeating many established players.

His unique style of play, characterized by aggressive tactics and deep calculations, set him apart from his contemporaries. Alekhine was not just a player; he was a visionary. He could foresee moves several steps ahead, a skill that often left his opponents baffled.

World Championship and Legacy

In 1927, Alekhine's hard work and determination culminated in the ultimate achievement: he defeated José Raúl Capablanca, the reigning world champion, in a match that lasted for 34 games. This victory made him the fourth official World Chess Champion.

Alekhine's reign as the world champion was not without challenges. He faced fierce competition from other grandmasters, but he managed to defend his title successfully until 1935 when he was defeated by Max Euwe. However, Alekhine's indomitable spirit was evident when he reclaimed his title in a rematch in 1937, holding onto it until his untimely death in 1946.

Apart from his achievements on the board, Alekhine made significant contributions to chess literature. He authored several books, including "My Best Games of Chess 1908-1937," where he provided insightful annotations to his games, allowing readers to delve deep into his thought process.

Personal Life and Controversies

While Alekhine's chess achievements are unparalleled, his personal life was marked by controversies. He faced criticism for his alleged anti-Semitic views, which have been a topic of debate among historians. Some argue that these views were a result of the political climate of his time, while others believe they were genuinely held beliefs.

Alekhine's death in 1946 was sudden and unexpected. He was found dead in his hotel room in Estoril, Portugal, with an unfinished chess game by his side. The cause of his death remains a mystery, with theories ranging from natural causes to assassination.


Alexander Alekhine's legacy in the world of chess is undeniable. His contributions to the game, both as a player and a writer, have left an indelible mark. While his life was marked by controversies, his genius on the chessboard is universally acknowledged. Today, young chess players worldwide study his games, drawing inspiration from his innovative tactics and strategies.