How to Play Chess: Backward pawn and f7 focal point

Alexander Alekhine while visiting Russia played many blindfold exhibition games of which this was one. Many were never kept for posterity’s sake but thankfully this one was preserved for all of us to enjoy.

Alekhine vs Amateur  Opening: The French Defense

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.exd5 Nxd5 [More normal seems to be recapturing with the pawn.]

5.Ne4 f5?! [Dangerous as it leaves the e pawn backward in the half-open file. A sounder idea is to retreat the N to f6 as Bg5 can be answered by Be7.]

6.Ng5 Be7 7.N5f3 c6 8.Ne5 0-0 9.Ngf3 b6 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.0-0 Re8? [Obviously his plan includes adding defense to the e-pawn but now the vulnerable f7 square as mentioned in my lecture about Chessboard study turns the light on in Alekhine’s sharp mind as this square is only guarded by the King.]

12.c4 Ndf6 13.Bf4 Nbd7 [Developing but at the same time eliminating some free squares for the Queen to move.]

14.Qe2 c5 15.Nf7!! [With the threat of Qxe6 after the Queen moves. He then has a neat mate pattern. Do you see it?]

15…Kxf7 16.Qxe6+ Kg6 [Naturally after Kxe6 White mates with 17.Ng5 mate.]

17.g4 Be4 18.Nh4++(Checkmate).

Where did Black go wrong? Except for the weak f5 play, he developed his game but did that development contribute to improving his position or eliminating his pawn weakness? The answer is no. Here is a perfect example of my lecture dealing with the f2,f7,c2,c7 focal points, f7 here in this game. Alekhine honed in on the weakness and like a cat, pounced when his forces were positioned for the kill.

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