The Gambiteers Guild

Hall of Fame

Alapin, Semyon Zinowiewitsch (1856-1923)

by Wim van Vugt

Alapin was born in Wilna (Lituania) but spent the major part of his life in St. Petersburg (Russia) and Heidelberg (Germany). He scored many good results in tournaments in which also the great names of his time participated: Schiffers, Rotlevi, Fahrni, Teichmann, von Bardeleben, Pillsbury, Schlechter, Tarrasch, Duras, Maroczy, Mieses, Marshall, Yanowski, Chigorin and Spielmann. His most successful tournaments were St. Petersburg 1901 and Munich 1911 in which he attained the 1st prize. More than a tournament player he has been better known as a chess writer, publishing many opening ideas and analyses, for which he often invented fictitious player’s names, the successful attacker being ”Attakinski” and the defending side ”Defendarov”.

Not only a gambit bears Alapin’s name, many variations spread over several openings are also named to this great player. For instance, in the Ruy Lopez he launched the idea of the ”silly bishop” 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bb4, an idea that has been seen in modern times under the name of Portuguese Opening: 1.e4 e5 2.Bb5 or even 1.d4 d5 2.Bg5. Other ideas of his are 1.e4 e5 2.Ne2 intending 3.f4 and 1.e4 c5 2.c3 e5 inviting the gambit continuation 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nf3.

In the Orthodox Queens Gambit Declined he proposed to solve the bishop problem immediately by 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 b6, which variation also bears his name. One of the main systems against the King’s Gambit being the Falkbeer’s Counter Gambit still in current theory follow the lines advised by Alapin: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.d3 Nf6 5.dxe4 Nxe4 6.Nf3 Bc5 7.Qe2 Bf2+ 8.Kd1 Qxd5 9.Nfd2.

A short win with that variation over the famous Frank Marshall (Ostende 1905) was: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.d3 Nf6 5.dxe4 Nxe4 6.Nf3 Bc5 7.Qe2 f5 8. Nc3 Bf2+ 9.Kd1 0-0 10.Bd2 Nxc3+ 11.Bxc3 Qxd5 12.Kc1 Rd8 13.b4 Bb6 14.Qe7 1-0
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