alekhine's pawn

In C.N. 3369 Yasser Seirawan (Amsterdam) reported that Najdorf had told him a similar story about playing Alekhine, but with some different details:

‘The Polish club, he claimed, deliberately annoyed Alekhine by announcing that only 20 players had paid for the privilege to participate, and Alekhine insisted on being paid the agreed fee despite having only half the field. Reluctantly, the club directors agreed and proposed that Alekhine play ten games by sight and ten blindfold. Alekhine agreed. The club then snuck all the best players into the blindfold room and put ten patzers on the games that Alekhine could view. Just as the club directors had contrived, Alekhine had a terrible time. He wiped out the players he could see and sat racking his brains on the blindfold games, where the masters were in ambush.

Concerning his own game, Najdorf told me he was on the black side of a Sicilian in which the players had castled on opposite wings. Alekhine was breaking through when Najdorf uncorked the standard …Rc8xc3 exchange sacrifice. Alekhine had seen that shot and did not bother to recapture the rook, pursuing his own attack instead. The move he had missed was the follow-up …Rc3xa3, and Najdorf’s attack was first and decisive.

Najdorf added that many years later he had hosted Alekhine in a drinking bout in Buenos Aires. They both got thoroughly drunk. In a toast Najdorf declared Alekhine the greatest chess player ever but added, “Just remember: our score is one draw and one win in my favor”. Alekhine maintained that even if drunk he knew that their score was one draw. Najdorf then reminded Alekhine of the Polish display, and Alekhine said, “Are you the one who gave me …Rxa3?” Najdorf was astounded at Alekhine’s memory, even when he was intoxicated.’