Monday, 13 August 2018

Graves of Famous Chess Players: No 9 in a Series of .....

Whatever happened to instalment Number 8, I hear you say? Well it was there within my Bobby Fischer retrospective, it just never made it into the title. But how do you follow a star turn like Bobby? Clearly, some random Victorian English pawn-pusher wouldn't do, so it has to be another big hitter to warrant resurrecting this series. And it is!

But this time, it's not me who has been grave watching. So famous, though, is this series, that without even asking I now apparently have agents out scouting the world's cemeteries for more chess memorials. Consequently, I shouldn't have been that surprised when an e-mail from my sister landed in my inbox complete with photos of the grave of none other than the 4th World Champion, Alexander Alekhine. It was a bit serendipitous, as she was actually strolling round Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris, looking for the grave of Samuel Beckett (well, it takes all types) and chanced upon Alekhine as a bonus. (And also Susan Sontag, for what it's worth.)

The headstone is apparently surmounted by a stone relief portrait.
Alekhine's 4th wife is also interred with him.

I wonder who left the toy car? And why??

Alekhine died in Lisbon in 1946 (possibly murdered by the Soviets) and is the only World Champion to have died while still in possession of the title. His remains were only moved to Paris in 1956, after a long campaign by his widow, as his apparent complicity with the occupying Germans during WW2 had made him, even in death, persona non grata in France for many years.

On the board, Alekhine was, of course, one of the greatest players of all time, and he created many brilliant games that stand comparison with any in chess history. This is possibly his greatest masterpiece, of which he himself wrote, " One of the most beautiful games I have ever played." No kidding!! I am not even going to attempt to provide any annotations - this level of chess is way beyond my pay grade! - but if you are interested, then the works of either Alekhine or Kasparov could reasonably be consulted for some fittingly high-powered commentary.

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