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International chess tournament “Alekhine Memorial”

Louvre and Russian STATE Museum TO HOST INTERNATIONAL COMMERATIVE Chess Tournament to Alekhine

The historic international chess tournament is dedicated to the memory of the fourth World Chess Champion, and Russia's first such champion, Alexander Alexandrovich Alekhine (1892-1946). Some of the world's leading chess players will take part in the tournament organised by the Russian Chess Federation on the initiative and with the support of businessmen Gennady Timchenko and Andrei Filatov.

On the 20th of April the official Opening ceremony of the tournament will be held in the Tuileries garden (Louvre) in Paris. The chess tournament will be held in two stages. The first five days of the tournament (from 21st  to 25th  of April) will take place at the Louvre Museum in Paris, the city where Alekhine lived and worked at the peak of his fame. The second four-day stage of the Memorial will begin on 28 April at the Mikhailovsky Palace of the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg, the city where his brilliant chess career was launched at the famous St Petersburg chess tournament in 1914. The winner will be announced in St Petersburg on 1 May 2013.

The leading international grandmasters who have confirmed they will participate in the tournament include the current World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand, world number-two ranking Vladimir Kramnik, world number-three Levon Aronian, winner of the Chess World Cup Peter Svidler, winner of the 2012 Candidates' Tournament Boris Gelfand, champion of France Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Britain's strongest chess player Michael Adams, International Grandmaster Laurent Fressinet, member of the gold-medal-winning Russian team at the World Team Chess Championship Nikita Vitiugov, and China's reigning Chess Champion Ding Liren. Boris Postovsky will be the head arbitrator of the tournament.

Ilya Levitov, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Russian Chess Federation, said: "Alekhine was one of the brightest personalities in world chess history. It is a wonderful thing that a tournament commemorating Alekhine will be held in the two global cultural capitals that were an integral part of his life. The interesting roster of participants promises an intense competition, while the spectacular museums hosting the tournament will attract the spectators' interest to the Alekhine Memorial as both a chess and a cultural event."

Gennady Timchenko, a sponsor of the Alekhine Memorial, added: "The Alexander Alekhine Memorial continues the successful tradition of holding top-level chess tournaments at famous museums, which was started by the Tretyakov Gallery in May 2012. We are thankful to the Louvre and the Russian Museum for supporting our proposal and believe that the upcoming tournament will serve not only the development of chess but also popularisation of Russian art. Alkehine was the first Russian World Chess Champion and one of the most interesting chess virtuosos of the 20th century. His creative legacy remains of value to new generations of chess players, while the story of his life continues to excite historians and chess enthusiasts alike. The coming tournament is a tribute to the memory of a great chess player and a worthy citizen of the two countries to which his life was closely tied: Russia and France."

Admission to the watch the tournament in Paris and St Petersburg will be free of charge. There will also be a live webcast of the tournament, with commentary in Russian, English, and French.

The Alekhine Memorial tournament continues the successful practice of holding major international chess tournaments in museums, combining two areas of important cultural interest. In May 2012, the State Tretyakov Gallery hosted the FIDE World Chess Championship Match organised by the Russian Chess Federation, again with support from both Timchenko and Filatov.

Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946)

Born in Moscow on 19 October 1892, the first Russian World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine was the son of a State Duma deputy, marshal of the Voronezh nobility, and the owner of huge black-earth estates in Central Russia. Alekhine graduated from the St Petersburg School of Law in 1914. That same year, he became one of the world's strongest chess players, placing third at the prestigious St Petersburg chess tournament, after the then-reigning World Champion Emanuel Lasker and before the future Champion José Raúl Capablanca.

Alekhine was playing at a tournament in Germany when WWI broke out. He was arrested and thrown into a German prison; upon his return to Russia, he signed up as a volunteer with the Red Cross. Alekhine was twice contused on the Galician Front, carried the wounded from battlefields, was decorated several times and was nominated for the Order of Saint Stanislaus with Swords. He became the first Chess Champion of the USSR in 1920, before leaving Soviet Russia in 1921 for France, where he became a citizen in 1925.

In 1927, Alekhine defeated the "invincible" José Raúl Capablanca in a match for the World Champion title. He dominated the chess world for several years after that, winning major tournaments at a big advantage over his rivals. In 1935, he lost a match to Max Euwe, only to defeat the Dutch Grandmaster two years later in a return match and to remain undefeated until his death.

In 1939, during the chess Olympics in Buenos-Aires he called for the German team to be disqualified because of the German attack on Poland. After the Olympics he performed charity games, with funds going to the Polish Red Cross. In 1940, he joined the French army, which brought many complications to his life in occupied France.

Alekhine died in Portugal in 1946, on the eve of an announcement that his World Championship match against Mikhail Botvinnik would take place after all. Alexander Alekhine was the only World Chess Champion to die undefeated.