|Alekhine´s Defence is a chess opening for Black beginning with the moves 1. e4 Nf6 (in algebraic notation). It is named after Alexander Alekhine who first used it in two games in the 1921 Budapest tournament: one against Andre Steiner (which he won) and the other against Fritz Sämisch (which he drew). Another early exponent of the defence was Ernst Grünfeld. The opening is considered to be hypermodern because Black allows White to set up a big and dangerous center, in the hopes of proving that this central mass of pawns is in fact weak.|
- The Four Pawns Attack 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 is White´s most ambitious try, and the variation which perhaps illustrates the basic idea of the defence best: Black will allow White to make several tempo-gaining attacks on the knight, and to erect an apparently imposing pawn center, in the belief that it can later be destroyed. The game can become very sharp since White must either secure his advantage in space, or make use of it before Black succeeds in making a successful strike at it. Black must also play vigorously, because passive play will be crushed by the White center. The Four Pawns Attack is not particularly popular, not because it is bad, but because many White players are wary of entering a sharp tactical line which Black may have prepared. The main line continues 5...dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6 7.Be3 Bf5.
- The Chase Variation 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5 is also an ambitious try. Whites´s pawns on c5 and e5 secure a spatial advantage, but the d5 square has been weakened. Unlike the Four Pawns Attack, the White center is not as fluid and the game takes on a more strategic character.
- The Exchange Variation 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6 is less ambitious than the Four Pawns Attack. White trades pawns, accepting a more modest spatial advantage. Black´s main decision is whether to recapture with the solid 5...exd6, which will lead to a fairly strategic position, or the more ambitious 6...cxd6 when Black has a preponderance of pawns in the centre.
- The Modern Variation 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 is the most common variation of the Alekhine. As in the Exchange Variation, White accepts a more modest spatial advantage, and hopes to be able to hang on to it. There are a number of possible Black responses:
- 4...Bg4, pinning the knight is the most common response, and White usually follows up with 5.Be2. Black will often voluntarily surrender the bishop pair by ...Bxf3 because the White knight is a fairly strong piece, and capturing it undermines the White center.
- 4...g6, preparing to fianchetto a bishop in the fight over the centre is also a common response. This variation was played in the 13th game of the Match of the Century between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer. (The 19th game of the same match featured the more common 4...Bg4.)
- 4...dxe5 is another possibility which can lead to the sharp sacrificial line 5.Nxe5 Nd7 6.Nxf7!?.
- The Two Knights Variation 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.Nc3 is a variation where White immediately accepts doubled pawns in exchange for rapid piece development.
- White does not have to chase Black´s knight on the second move, defending the e-pawn is also possible:
- 2.Nc3 is a common move. Black is now presented with the opportunity to play 2...e5 and enter the Vienna Game. Black can also play more ambitiously with 2...d5.
- 2.d3 is rarer. Although solid, this move blocks in White´s light-squared bishop, so the variation is considered somewhat passive.
Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings
The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings has four codes for the Alekhine Defence, B02 through B05.
- B02: 1.e4 Nf6
- B03: 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 (this includes the Exchange Variation and Four Pawns Attack)
- B04: 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 (Modern Variation without 4...Bg4)
- B05: 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 Bg4 (Modern Variation with 4...Bg4)