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That Other Alekhine (24.10.2015.)

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of their club, Plymouth organised a big congress in 1938, with the top section consisting of 8 invitees, including both current world champions, Alekhine and Vera Menchick. Alekhine was accompanied by his 3rd wife, Grace (née Wishaar), a competent player in her own right and an accomplished artist.

The fast-approaching war treated them both badly. Alekhine found himself exiled in neutral Portugal and died there in 1945, reportedly choking on a salt beef sandwich, alone in his hotel room. Meanwhile, the Nazis commandeered Grace’s opulent chateau at Saint Aubin-le-Cauf, near Dieppe, stripping it of her collection of paintings.

For a decade after the war she made repeated extended visits to west Cornwall, even becoming a member of the West Penwith Chess Club based at Lelant, near St. Ives. However, the reason for her presence probably had more to do with her interest in the St. Ives school of artists, centered around Ben Nicholson and his wife Barbara Hepworth, and included rising stars like Patrick Heron and Terry Frost. Grace may have been happy just to rub shoulders with them, to join with them in painting or even to buy their works to replace those stolen from her.

What I don’t know is where she actually lived at these times. Did she rent a different house each summer, or purchase a semi-permanent home nearby which she could use both as a studio and a meeting house for like-minded artists? Also, in trying to trace her through electoral rolls or chess club minutes, what surname did she use? She’d been married four times, so had five names to choose from, including Wishaar, Eisler, Peeke, Freeman and Alekhine. She was undoubtedly proud of the Alekhine name but may have wished for something a little less obvious. If anyone can cast a little light on this question of her time in Cornwall I’d be most grateful. Please get in touch via e-mail (

On Sunday, 10 teams of 4 players competed in Devon’s team blitz chess tournament at the Newton Abbot club. Exmouth Eagles retained the Thomas Cup, with their Board 2, Dr. Jonathan Underwood winning a trophy for being the top individual scorer of the afternoon, on tie-break from Josh Blackmore (Bd. 4  of Newton Abbot A), both with 5½/6 points. The cup for teams with a total grade of Under-600 was won by Exeter A, while that for U-450 grades was won by Exeter B. The Junior Cup for school or junior teams was won by Torquay Boys’ G.S. Full details of every team and player’s performance and 10 photographs may be found on

Michael Adams won last week’s game after 1.Rxd6 Nxd6 (if 1…Qxd6 2.Nf7+ wins the queen). 2.Nc6 White needs e5 for his queen. Qf7 3.Qe5+ forcing the return of the exchange. 3…Rg7 4.Nxg7 Qxg7 5.Qxe6 and White’s queen has control of the board.

In this game from 1916 how did Alekhine smash open the Black king’s position?

White to play and win by force.

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