Alekhine – Bogoljubow World Championship 1934

Alekhine - Bogoljubow

On 12th November 1929, one day after the finish of Alekhine – Bogoljubow 1929 World Championship match, the former champion Jose Raul Capablanca sent a letter to Alekhine in which he informed him he „confirmed his previous challenge for the World Championship match“ and he

„deposited 500$ sum to guarantee the challenge in accordance with the 1922 London Rules“.

Alekhine accepted the challenge in principle, giving Capa a one-year deadline to organize the match. Capa relied on his representative, Dr. Lederer, to raise the funds and set-up details regarding the match. However, due to the major stock crisis, Lederer’s friends and patrons refused to provide the money. On  24th December 1929, Lederer sent a letter to Capablanca, informing him he without Capa’s engagement, it will be impossible to raise the necessary funds.

Capa sent another letter to Alekhine, asking for the match to be postponed to the last months of Winter 1931-1932. Alekhine agreed and set a new deadline to 15 February, with the condition that

Should the further sums referred to in paragraph 12 of the 1922 London rules not be deposited three months before this date (…) your challenge (…) will be considered cancelled and the sum of $500 to which I shall be fully entitled, will have to be paid to me by the stakeholder.“

Alas, the return match never happened. Capablanca sent another letter claiming he made a clerical error in the previous letter; his intention was to postpone the match to the last months of winter 1931-1932. Capablanca also wanted to keep his $500 deposit.

 The communication between players became increasingly sharper. It all escalated on 20th February 1931, when Capablanca sent a sharp letter, claiming Alekhine

„has persistently delayed a re-encounter with him in defiance both of the official match rules and the tenets of good sportsmanship“.

He also sent a letter to the FIDE president Reub in which he demanded the change in the London Rules ($ 8000 instead of $10000, the limited number of games, etc.).

Alekhine kept insisting Capablanca should base his challenge strictly on the 1922 London Rules and that he should deposit another $500 dollars before the proposed match can move forward. Capablanca refused to forfeit the original $500 he gave to Lederer. On 9th July 1931, Alekhine sent a letter to Capa in which he formally annulled the latter’s challenge. The two masters kept arguing over the course of next years and their relations went quickly downhill – by the end of 1933, they already weren’t on speaking terms.

It is a pity chess world never got to see Alekhine – Capablanca rematch. Alekhine’s new/old challenger Efim Bogoljubow, who challenged hi min October 1933, was a much more convenient opponent for him. In 1933, Bogoljubow was backed up by the Nazis and he didn’t have any difficulties in raising the required sum.

The match was scheduled for April, 1934. The conditions were identical to conditions of the 1929 match. The number of games was limited – 30 games and the winner had to score at least 6 wins and 15.5 points (meaning there was also a minimum number of games constraint). The time control was 40 moves for the first 2.5 hours. In order to maximize the profit, the match was played in 12 German cities.

Still, the match generated little public interest. Hardly anyone considered Bogoljubow as a legitimate challenger anymore. The course of the match indeed proved Bogoljubow doesn’t stand a chance. After four games the result was 2-0 in Alekhine’s favour after eleven games 4-1 and after seventeen games 6-1. In the end, Alekhine collected the necessary 15.5 points after 26 games and retained his title with ease.

Later, in his book Alexander Alekhine: My Best Games of Chess: 1924 – 1937, even Alekhine himself admitted this match wasn’t of the highest competitive significance:

„This game – more than any other – proves how useless from the sporting point of view was the arrangement of this second match, and at the same time explains my indifferent play on a number of occasions.“


Chessgames: Alekhine – Bogoljubow 1934, Chess collection

Chessgames: Alekhine – Bogoljubow, 1934

Chesspedia: Alekhine – Bogoljubow, 1934

Garry Kasparov: On My Great Predecessors, Part One

Alexander Alekhine: My Best Games of Chess: 1924 – 1937


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