Alekhine's Visit to Scotland - 1938

The World Champion in Glasgow and Edinburgh during his exhibition tour.

After participating in the Plymouth Jubilee Congress (September 5th - 10th), Alekhine embarked on an extensive tour of simultaneous exhibitions across the country. He headed first for Ireland where he gave three displays, two in Dublin and one in Belfast. He then travelled to Scotland for two exhibitions in Glasgow and Edinburgh before continuing to England for a further nine displays. In total Alekhine played 386 games, winning 349, drawing 25 and losing 12.

The results of the Scottish displays:
Glasgow, September 20 1938: + 27, = 1, - 2.
Edinburgh, September 22 1938: + 21, = 1.

The following reports are mostly taken from the weekly column in the Glasgow Herald, except for one additional report in the paper on the day following the Glasgow display. The columnist was D.M. MacIsaac, a major figure in Scottish chess circles over many years.

From the Glasgow Herald of Friday, August 26 1938
The committe making arrangements for the visit to Glasgow of Dr Alekhine, Champion of the World, reported good progress at their meeting on Tuesday, and the event promises to be one of the most successful held localy for many a day. Dr Alekhine, who will be the first Champion to play in Glasgow since 1903, will give a simultaneous display on 30 boards on September 20 in the ballroom of th Jewish Institute, under the auspices of a committee representing all the leading clubs in the West of Scotland. Dr Alekhine is expected to be in Glasgow for a few days, and plans are being made to ensure that he and Madame Alekhine will enjoy their visit to the full.

Glasgow Herald of Friday, September 16 1938
A warm welcome has been arranged for next week for Dr Alekhine, who will be the first world's champion to come to Scotland for more than thirty years. The local players have combined to show their appreciation of Dr Alekhine by supporting with unusual enthusiasm the arrangements made both for his two professional engagements and for the entertainment of the champions and his wife for the few days they will be in Glasgow and Edinburgh. In Glasgow they will be the guests of Mrs Rodger, of Glasgow Ladies' Chess Club.

Dr Alekhine's engagement in Glasgow was arranged by a committee representing the clubs of the West of Scotland, who will raise a strong team of 30 to meet him in a simultaneous display in the Jewish Institute on Tuesday, starting at 6.30 p.m. For that engagement there will be ample room for spectators. On Thursday Dr Alekhine gives a similar display against the members of Edinburgh C.C. at 7.30 in the clubroom at 1 Alva Street.

Glasgow Herald, Wednesday, September 21 1938
The Chess players of Glasgow district paid tribute last night to Dr Alekhine, champion of the world, by tutning out in large numbers to witness his simultaneous display in the Glasgow Jewish Institute.

The following were Dr Alekhine's opponents:-
S. Levart, G. Jackson, Mrs Brockett, Aird Thomson, R. Smeeton, Rev. H.C. McColl, P.D. Walker, T. Rothwell, A.E. Dodd, W. Ferrie, Mrs Sunter, Mrs Thomson, W.E. Wyse, J. Douglas, J.S. Macmartin, A. Murray, J. McGrouther, P.B. Anderson, C.W. Marshall, W. Davies, C. Hochfield, W.E. Jones, H.J. Hewetson, J. McL. Mill, T. Lennox, C. Neil, Mrs Reid, W. Muir, T. Coats and M. Aupret.

Alekhine opened with alternate groups of Queen's-pawn and King's-pawn games, and allowed his opponents to show their peculiarities, if any, before venturing on anything unusual himself.

In a few moves he had the opposition fairly well "placed," as was evident from the slightly longer pause with which he complimented certain boards.

In an hour and a half he had two games won by direct mates after about 20 moves, and had ten clear wins in three hours.

Afterwards results came quickly in Alekhine's favour until the last four, and here the champion had to resign to J. McGrouther, of Glasgow CC, and J.S. Macmartin of Polytechnic CC, and accept a draw from A. Murray of Glasgow CC. A win on the remaining board made the score 27 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw in favour of Alekhine.

Glasgow Herald, Friday, September 23 1938
A good show was made by the local team of 30 Dr Alekhine on Tuesday. The champion took over four hours to win 27, lose to J. McGrouther (Glasgow C.C.) and J.S. MacMartin (Polytechnic C.C.), and draw with A. Murray (Glasgow C.C.)...

Dr Alekhine proved a great attraction. Over 300 spectators were present to see the champion in action, which was no mean personal compliment, for such displays have little appeal in themselves. A feature was the number from beyond Glasgow, and the friendly contacts that were made or renewed as a consequence.

Displays of the kind are a greater strain on the performer than is generally supposed, and we formed the impression that to Dr Alekhine's sensitive, nervous system the display was a serious ordeal-there was certainly a world of a difference between the genial Alekhine we met on the Irish steamer on Sunday morning and the nervous and restless Alekhine of Tuesday evening.

Alekhine - J. McGrouther
Glasgow, Simultaneous Exhibition, 1938 Ruy Lopez [C78]
[Notes from the Glasgow Herald]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 d6 7.a4 Bg4 8.c3 Be7 9.d4 0-0 10.Be3 d5 11.axb5 dxe4 12.bxc6 exf3 13.gxf3 Bh3 14.Re1 exd4 15.Qxd4 Qxd4 16.Bxd4 Bd6 17.Nd2
Rfb8 18. Ra5 Rb5 19.Rxb5 axb5 20.Ne4 Nxe4 21.fxe4 Kf8 22.e5 Be7 23.e6 f6 24.f4 Ra6 25.Bd5 Ra8 26.Kf2 Ke8 27.Kf3 b4 28.c4 g6 29.b3 Ra3 30.c5 Ra8 31. Be4 Kf8 32.f5 Rd8 33.Bf2 gxf5


White is now lost. If 34.Bc2 Rd2
35.Bd1 Bg4+ wins a piece. [White does not have to
play 34. Bc2 - he has, for example, 34. Bb1. AMcG]
34...fxe4 35.Kxh3 Rd3+ 36.Kg4 If 36.Be3 Bxc5 wins
a piece, and if; 36.Re3 Bxc5 37.Rxd3 exd3 38.Be1 Be3 again wins a piece. [The last suggestion is wrong, as White does not have to play 38. Be1. He has 38. Bxc5 with check, and he still stops the d-pawn. AMcG]
36...f5+ 37.Kxf5 Rf3+ and Black wins. 0-1
The column does not make it clear that the game
ended at this point.
Source: Glasgow Herald, Friday, 4 November 1938

Alekhine-R Smeeton
Glasgow, Simultaneous Exhibition, 1938 Caro-Kann Defence [B15]
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 Qc7 6.Ne2 Bg4 7.h3 Bxe2 8.Qxe2 Nbd7 9.0-0 e6 10.Bg5 0-0-0 11.b4 h6 12.Bh4 Bd6 13.b5 c5 14.c3 g5 15.Nxd6+ Qxd6 16.Bg3 Qb6 17.a4 Qa5 18.Rfc1 Rhe8 19.b6 Qxb6 20.Rab1 Qc6 21.Bb5 Qd5 22.Ba6 Nb6 23.a5 bxa6 24.axb6 axb6 25.Rxb6 c4 26.Rcb1 Re7 27.Qa2 Ra7 28.Qa4 1-0
Source: Glasgow Herald, 21 September 1938, p6. Quoted in Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games, 1902-1946, page 629, by Leonard M. Skinner and Robert G.P. Verhoeven. McFarland & Co. Inc., Publishers.

Glasgow Herald, Friday, September 30 1938
...Dr Alekhine concluded his short but memorable tour of Scotland last week with a display against 22 boards in the Edinburgh C.C. rooms in Alva Street. Alekhine won 21 games and drew against D. Simpson...

Alekhine visit 1923