He began his chess career by participating in a correspondence chess tournament on December 3, 1902. From 1902 to 1911, he took part in several correspondence tournaments which were sponsored by “Chess Review”, a chess magazine.
In 1907, he played for Moscow chess club’s Spring Tournament which was his first over-the-board tournament. In the following year, he became the winner of the club’s Spring Tournament.
After winning the All-Russian Amateur Tournament in Saint Petersburg in 1909, he started participating in several strong tournaments for which he went outside of Russia. Thus, he gained reputation of being one of Russia’s top chess players by the age of sixteen.
In 1911, he participanted in the friendly team match of St. Petersburg Chess Club vs. Moscow Chess Club. At the end of the year, he shifted to St. Petersburg and attended the Imperial Law School for Nobles.
In 1912, he won several matches like the St. Petersburg Chess Club Winter tournament and the 1st Category Tournament of the St. Petersburg Chess Club. Besides these, he played a friendly team match of Moscow vs. St. Petersburg.
In the month of January 1914, he got success in the All-Russian Masters Tournament held at St. Petersburg. In this match, he tied for the first place with Aron Nimzowitsch.
When the World War I was declared against Russia, he was interned in Rastatt, Germany along with ten other Russian players. At the end of 1914, he came back to Russia.
After winning the title of Moscow Chess Club Champion in 1915, he succeeded in a mini-match against Alexander Evensohn. In 1918, he attained success in a Triangular tournament held in Moscow.
In 1920, he was not declared Moscow Champion in spite of his remarkable performance in Moscow City Chess Championship as he was not a resident of that city.
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From 1921 to 1927, he won a number of tournaments. In 1924, he broke the world record for blindfold play by playing against 26 players. In the next year, he broke his own world record by playing 28 opponents in blindfold game.
After gaining a French citizenship, he joined the Sorbonne Faculty of Law where he did his research work on the Chinese prison system. In 1927, he became the winner of the World Chess Champion match held at Buenos Aires.
In 1929 he took part in a world title match with Bogolijubow, a Russian chess grandmaster. He won that match. In 1933, he played against 32 opponents in yet another blindfold match in which he won 19 matches.
In 1933, he challenged Max Euwe to a championship match. This world championship chess match was held in 1935, in Netherlands but he faced defeat in this match.
He regained the title of World Championship from Max Euwe through a return match in Netherlands in 1937. In the following year, he achieved success in the Montevideo 1938 chess tournament held at Carrasco and at Margate.
During his participation in the 8th Chess Olympiad held at Buenos Aires, World War II began. After winning nine silver medals in the Olympiad, he returned to Europe in 1940.
He participated in several chess tournaments whose organizer was Ehrhardt Post, the Chief Executive of the Nazi-controlled Greater Germany Chess Federation.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1920, he got married to Alexandra Batayeva whom he divorced the next year. He married his second wife, a Swiss journalist, Anneliese Ruegg, on March 15, 1921 but left her in the month of June itself.
In 1927, he got married for the third time to Nadiezda Vasiliev, the widow of a top-ranking Russian officer. In 1934, Grace Freeman became his fourth and last wife.
He had a son namely Alexander Alekhine Junior. He was found dead in his hotel room in Estoril, Portugal. The cause of his death is still a matter of debate. “Chess Life” magazine mentioned about an autopsy report according to which a piece of unthawed meat blocked his windpipe and that resulted into his death.
His name is associated with several openings and opening variations of chess playing such as the well known Alekhine’s Defence. Moreover, Alekhine Variations are important parts of chess openings like the Budapest Gambit.