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Capablanca vs Alekhine 1927
Buenos Aires

 Capablanca
 Argentinian newspaper photo. Click here for larger view.
Alexander Alekhine was born in Moscow, Russia in 1892.[1] He began to take chess seriously at the age of 12. During school classes he would analyze games in his head without looking at the chessboard.[2] At age 16, a victory in the Moscow Autumn Tournament (1908) led to his appearance in the strong All Russian Amateur (1909) tournament. He won, earning the Russian national master title.[3] A shared first with Aron Nimzowitsch at the All Russian Masters St Petersburg (1914)[4] qualified him for the great St Petersburg (1914) tournament, featuring most of the best players in the world. Alekhine finished third, behind world champion Emanuel Lasker and Jose Raul Capablanca, ahead of Siegbert Tarrasch, Frank James Marshall, and Akiba Rubinstein.[5]

Alekhine now conceived a long term plan to become world champion. His strategy was to finish first in every tournament he entered and so earn the right to challenge Capablanca, whom he predicted would soon be champion.[6] Capablanca indeed won the world title on April 20, 1921. His first challenge came from Akiba Rubinstein on September 7, 1921. Alekhine challenged two months later, after he won both Budapest (1921) and The Hague (1921).[7] After The Hague (1921), Dutch chess officials proposed a "Candidates Match" between Alekhine and Rubinstein, to be held in the Netherlands on or after March 1922. Both masters agreed to the idea.[8] In December 1921 the American Chess Bulletin reported that Capablanca would honor Rubinstein's challenge first, unless the proposed Dutch candidates match should produce a "decisive victory for one or the other."[7] When Alekhine arrived in the Netherlands in January 1922, he stated that a candidates match was no longer possible because Rubinstein had been admitted to a sanitarium after he played Triberg (1921), due to a mental disturbance. Shortly afterwards the Dutch press demonstrated that Alekhine's claim was false, but the match still didn't take place.[8]

After London (1922), where Alekhine placed second to the champion, the top eight finishers signed "the London Rules," Capablanca's proposal for all future title match conditions. The rules stipulated that the world champion "need not defend" his title "for a lower purse than $10,000 U.S. dollars."[9] Capablanca now gave Rubinstein until December 31, 1923 to meet the new financial demands, but Rubinstein couldn't meet the deadline.[8] Alekhine continued steady negotiations for a title match, but he was unable to raise the $10,000 purse.[10] A title challenge from Frank Marshall in 1923 also came to nothing.[10] In 1926 Nimzowitsch challenged for the title, followed by a renewed challenge from Alekhine in the same year.[11] Alekhine had secured a "firm commitment" from the Argentine Chess Federation to finance the match.[12] William Hartston suggests that the federation did so because "they simply felt it was time to give Capablanca, hero of Latin America, a chance to demonstrate his superiority again somewhere close to home soil."[13] Capablanca accepted Alekhine's challenge, but also told him that he had given Nimzowitsch until January 1, 1927 to meet the purse requirement.[11] Nimzowitsch failed to meet his deadline and Capablanca finally agreed to face Alekhine in a world championship match.[14]

Prior to the match, Capablanca dominated New York (1927), finishing 2½ points in front of Alekhine, who took second. Alekhine had never won a single game from Capablanca, so it was perhaps understandable that some doubted he could win six match games against him.[15] Geza Maroczy predicted victory was bound to go to Capablanca,[16] and Rudolf Spielmann said he would be surprised if Alekhine "were to win even a single game."[17] Richard Reti, on the other hand, concluded "that there are no fundamental reasons for affirming with such certainty that the Cuban grandmaster must necessarily defeat the talented Slav player."[16]

The match began in Buenos Aires on September 9, 1927. Conditions followed the London Rules: games to be played at 2½ hours per 40 moves, with the match awarded to the first to win 6 games, draws not counting. Capablanca would receive $2,000 of the purse as a fee, with the remainder split $4,800 to the victor and $3,200 to the loser.[18] The Argentine Chess Club provided the venue, except for two games played in the Jockey Club.[19] Dr. Carlos A. Querencio served as referee, and Daniel Deletang was Alekhine's second.[20]

Alekhine won the first game on the black side of a French Defence. Every subsequent game would be contested with a Queen's pawn opening. After ten games Capablanca led 2-1, but he dropped two in a row and a long series of draws followed. According to Garry Kasparov, Capablanca let slip "an enormous positional advantage" in Game 17.[21] After Alekhine notched his fourth win in Game 21, Capablanca opined that "there can hardly be a stronger player in the world than the Slav master."[22] Capablanca did well to save the draw in Game 22, and Kasparov maintains that the Cuban now played the match with increasing power until he missed the win in the "completely won" 27th game.[23] After winning Game 29, Capablanca trailed the match by just a point, and optimistically remarked that "the match takes on fresh interest..."[24] Kasparov believes that Capablanca missed a win in Game 31, and then, later in the game, settled for a draw when he was a pawn up, and could well have played on.[25] A win would have tied the match. Alekhine characterized his win in Game 32 as "well-contested" and "full of ideas" from both players.[26] Now Alekhine needed just one more win to take the title.

With adjournments, the 34th and final game took four days to complete, ending on November 29 when Capablanca did not show up to resume play. Instead, he sent a congratulatory resignation note.[27] Nor did the ex-champion show up for the closing ceremony on December 8. Alexander Alekhine, the fourth world chess champion, did attend. He thanked the Argentine Chess Club for its work and declared he was against any changes to the world title match rules, the London Rules.[27]

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314151617181920
Alekhine1½0½½½0½½½11½½½½½½½½
Capablanca0½1½½½1½½½00½½½½½½½½

click on a game number to replay game 2122232425262728293031323334
Alekhine1½½½½½½½0½½1½1
Capablanca0½½½½½½½1½½0½0

FINAL SCORE:  Alekhine 6;  Capablanca 3 (25 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Capablanca-Alekhine 1927]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #11     Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1927     0-1
    · Game #34     Alekhine vs Capablanca, 1927     1-0
    · Game #1     Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1927     0-1

FOOTNOTES

  1. Jan Kalendovsky and Vlastimil Fiala, Complete Games of Alekhine Vol 1, 1892-1921 (Olomouc 1992), pp.6-7
  2. Kalendovsky and Fiala, pp.24-25
  3. Leonard Skinner and Robert Verhoeven, Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games 1902-1946 (McFarland 1998), p.738; Kalendovsky and Fiala, Complete Games of Alekhine Vol 1, 1892-1921 p.48
  4. Rod Edwards, All-Russian Championship, St. Petersburg (1914)
  5. Skinner and Verhoeven, p.89
  6. Shakhmaty v SSSR No.3 (March 1956), pp.87-89. In Sarah Beth Cohen, "Encounters with Alekhine"
  7. Edward Winter, Capablanca: a compendium of games, notes, articles, correspondence, illustrations and other rare materials on the Cuban chess genius José Raúl Capablanca, 1888-1942 (McFarland 1989), pp.186-187
  8. Toni Preziuso, AMERIKA! AMERIKA! In "KARL" no.3 2013, pp.34-39
  9. American Chess Bulletin Sept-Oct 1922, p.150. In Winter, Capablanca p.188
  10. Edward Winter, Capablanca pp.191-197
  11. Edward Winter, Capablanca pp.193-194
  12. Alexander Alekhine, On the Road to the World Championship 1923-1927 G. Feather transl., (Pergamon 1984), p.117
  13. William Hartston, The Guinness Book Of Chess Grandmasters (Guinness World Records Limited 1996), p.82
  14. Alekhine, p.131
  15. Skinner and Verhoeven, pp.294-296
  16. La Nación (14 Sept. 1927), p.12. In Edward Winter, Chess Note 5665
  17. Sonntagsbeilage der Augsburger Postzeitung (25 June 1927), p.104. In Edward Winter, Chess Note 5338
  18. Edward Winter, "The London Rules" (2008); La Prensa 14 Sept 1927. In Edward Winter, "Capablanca v Alekhine, 1927" (2003)
  19. Yuri Shaburov, Alexander Alekhine- The Undefeated Champion (The Voice 1992), p.161
  20. Alekhine, p.151
  21. Garry Kasparov, On My Great Predecessors Part I (Everyman Chess 2003), p.316
  22. Edward Winter, Capablanca p.200
  23. Kasparov, pp.316-318
  24. Edward Winter, Capablanca p.201
  25. Kasparov, pp.323-328
  26. Alekhine, p.209
  27. Magazine Actual (May 1997), p. 25. In Edward Winter, Chess Note 3428

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 34  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-1431927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchC01 French, Exchange
2. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½191927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD65 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack, Main line
3. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-0421927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchA47 Queen's Indian
4. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½491927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
5. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½421927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½401927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
7. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-0361927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½421927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
9. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½341927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½201927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
11. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-1661927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Alekhine vs Capablanca 1-0411927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
13. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½271927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
14. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½251927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
15. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½301927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
16. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½241927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
17. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½591927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
18. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½281927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
19. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½211927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
20. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½431927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
21. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-1321927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
22. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½861927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
23. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½481927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
24. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½411927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
25. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½401927Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 34  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 36 OF 36 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-03-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Capablanca said on Sept 7, 1921 that he drew up a <set of conditions> and that they would govern <future championship matches.>

He presented the London rules less than a year later. (early August 1922)

A total of 21 rules.

Did he have them already in hand when he was challenged by Rubinstein in 1921?

Who can truly say?

We can only speculate at the present time and that is as good as it will probably get.

I looked at the CG database for games played by Capa in 1921, and all you find is the Lasker vs Capa match from Havana 1921.

In 1922, you see mostly simul/casual games and the London 1922 tournament.

Either he was working on those rules during the preceding 11 months (until London 1922) or he already had them in hand in 1921, and simply did not disclose them, because the Rubinstein challenge fell through.

It's a theory.

Jul-03-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <he offered a Gentleman's Agreement that he WOULD play someone who met that price. >

That essentially was the problem with the London Rules - it required two gentlemen to tango. It was a formality more than a contract. Public opinion remained the only court.

<I'll limit it still further and ask you, do you believe there was any discussion about the $10,000? From the info posted by <chancho> above, it's evident he was already asking that amount before he presented his rules in 1922, and that amount did not come down in the final published version.>

Where is it evident? The only tangible evidence to my mind is Shipley's mention of S10,000 as a suitable match purse in his September 25th column. Was this merely an incidental observation, or was Capa's letter <written from Havana the latter part of last month> already to hand wherein the subject had been broached? I suspect the former, so it may have been Shipley who influenced Capa in this regard. In any event. it doesn't prove that Capa actually demanded this amount from Rubinstein.

Jul-04-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Haha, so pretty much everything that can be disputed is still disputed. I'll move on now to the question of $10,000, reasonable or excessive.

<Petrosianic>
I have some problems with the methodology of using a general inflation index and using it to adjust $10,000 in 1922 dollars to the present to judge the case. Here are specific issues.

#1. Inflation indices are just an average based on a basket of commodities. But real prices vary a lot from one item to the next. Some rise fast, some rise slow, some even drop. For example, consider the price of a piece of land in Manhattan versus the price of a long-distance telephone call.

In our case, we are talking about the value chess sponsors placed on a chess event in the 1920's. And it's hard to compare that with the present day. Even as late as the 1960's, Bobby Fischer, one of the biggest celebrities in chess ever, was complaining about his low level of sponsorship. Part of his well-known rant: <We have to depend on tournament prizes. And they're lousy. Maybe a couple hundred bucks. Millionaires back this game, but they're all cheap.> That began to change only since 1972.

#2. Even if we stipulate that we can apply a general inflation index to chess sponsorship, it still doesn't support the claim that $10,000 was reasonable in 1922 but not reasonable in 1930. I went to www.usinflationcalculator.com and entered 1922 and $10,000 and queried the equivalent amount in 1930, and it returned $9,940.48.

So, if you think it was harder to raise that money in 1930, you'll have to take other things into account besides the cost of living index. And if you take them into account for America in 1930, you will have to take them into account also for Europe in 1922.

#3. <There are regional economic variations.> Your cited $139,000 today might be no more than a reasonable retirement nest egg for a middle class individual living in the US, but a fairly sizeable fortune to someone living in Armenia. And such variations must have been more important in the 1920's, a time when international travel and communication opportunities were more limited than today. What was reasonable in America might have been out of reach for a European.

Jul-04-17  Poulsen: I haven't read all of the above, so maybe others has mentioned this: the matches in question all happened in the troublesome years following the Great War.

In those years $ 10.000 was indeed a sizeable sum - no matter the country and date. It must have been very difficult to find a sponsor for a rematch between A. and C. after october 1929 - and several years after that. The 1929 match between A. and Bogul had a smaller purse - and that was even before the crash.

After the first Bogul-match - in the years, that saw A. at his finest - there was not another match for roughly 5 years. Crisis hits the artists, the circusclowns - and the chessplayers hardest.

Jul-04-17  ughaibu: <Because $10,000 then was about $139,000 now. Raising $139,000 for a championship match now would be very easy.>

To get an idea of whether this might be relevant, what do the prizes for golf or tennis tournaments, of the time, convert to in contemporary currency?

Jul-04-17  ughaibu: <Nimzo's only major post-war event had been Gothenburg (1920)>

Dresden (1926)!

Jul-04-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <ughaibu>
<Gothenburg (1920)> <Dresden (1926)> This came up in the context of a purported Nimzowitsch title challenge in 1921. I think we all agree Nimzowitsch did mount a challenge in 1926.
Jul-04-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Petrosianic....Soltis made the observation over the claim that a Pure Wins match would force players to change their styles, and play less drawishly. Here, when someone did change their style for a match, it made them play more drawishly.>

One need not look beyond Karpov-Kasparov I for evidence; once Kasparov fell behind 4-0, then 5-0, he was content to steer for short draws, as was Karpov, if for different reasons.

Jul-04-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <ughaibu> So now we are putting exclaims "!" after tournament titles?

I thought exclaims (or double !! or triple !!! exclaims) were for specific moves only

*****

Jul-04-17  ughaibu: If you look at the tournament table, I think you'll agree that the exclamation mark is apposite.
Jul-05-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: http://www.pennlive.com/sports/inde...
Jul-05-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: http://www.espn.com/general/tennis/...
Jul-05-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <perfidious>: <One need not look beyond Karpov-Kasparov I for evidence; once Kasparov fell behind 4-0, then 5-0, he was content to steer for short draws, as was Karpov, if for different reasons.>

Yeah, that's a good example too. But I was thinking more of a player changing his style before the match even started.

Changing <repertoire> is much more common. Spassky did that a lot. For the second Geller match, he played the French Defense exclusively as black, but it's hard to think of him ever playing it before or since. For the first Petrosian match, he was playing these wild fianchetto extravaganzas, while for the second one, he used the Tarrasch Defense as his primary black weapon. Petrosian used the French and Caro-Kann a lot in the first Spassky match but not at all in the second one.

Jul-06-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <His first challenge came from Akiba Rubinstein on September 7, 1921. Alekhine challenged two months later, after he won both Budapest (1921) and The Hague (1921).[7] After The Hague (1921), Dutch chess officials proposed a "Candidates Match" between Alekhine and Rubinstein, to be held in the Netherlands on or after March 1922. Both masters agreed to the idea.>

A thought occurred: why did Alekhine even issue a challenge when he must have known that Rubinstein's had been accepted? Simply to establish precedence if the Rubinstein bid failed to materialise? Then I read the above again and it started to compute - Alekhine's challenge and the Dutch proposal for a Candidates' match seem to have been practically coincidental in regards to timing, and therefore most likely more than coincidental. Did Alekhine and the organisers of The Hague (1921) conspire to try and bounce Rubsintein out of the way? Or if. as mentioned, Rubinstein (playing in the same event) agreed to the proposed match, was he party to this plan? But why would he have agreed? The source cited is <Toni Preziuso, AMERIKA! AMERIKA! In "KARL" no.3 2013, pp.34-39>.

Jul-06-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <MissScarlett> <"KARL" no.3 2013> Do you have the actual issue in your hands? We need the underlying 1920's source for the story you posted.
Jul-09-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <Capablanca, September 7, 1921: Dear Sir, two days ago, I received your formal challenge to play a match for the world's championship. It will give me great pleasure to defend my title against you>.

If he received Rubinstein's challenge on Sept 5, 1921 <(two days ago, I received your formal challenge...)> how in the hell did it appear in the NY Times on August 27, 1921?

<New York Times
August 27, 1921>

<Rubinstein, Polish Chess star challenges Capablanca

Akiba Rubinstein, Polish chessmaster, <<<has challenged Jose R. Capablanca>>> of Cuba to a match for the world's chess championship. A copy of the challenge received here yesterday (August 26, 1921) showed that Rubinstein requested Capablanca to state his terms for the match. Capablanca came into the title last winter, when Dr. Emanuel Lasker, recognized holder of the championship at that time, resigned after a series of defeats in their championship match at Havana.>

Jul-09-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <chancho>
In 1921, mail from Europe to the Americas was carried by ship. Maybe the mail containing the press release about the challenge reached New York some days before the mail containing the actual challenge reached Havana.
Jul-09-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <Beatgiant> That's a valid point.
Jul-10-17  Olavi: The trans-Atlantic cable had been there for decades.
Jul-10-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: Yup. It's likely they used a telegraph for such communication. Anyway, the whole affair was not exactly good for the promotion of chess IMO.
Jul-10-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: The first trans-Atlantic cable was laid in 1858. But I have no idea how expensive or widespread its use was. Sending messages by ship would have taken about 10 days, but that's best case scenario.
Jul-10-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Capablanca wrote of a <formal challenge> and the NY Times of a <copy>. Those sound more like physical documents (formal challenge probably included a signature, copy might be a mimeograph), but again I'm just speculating.
Jul-10-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: It doesn't matter what <Capa> "challenged" after he blew the 1927 match

Since he lost the match, he also lost leverage

Capa worshipers just don't get this

Capa blew it, due to his own lack of discipline

and thats that

*****

Jul-10-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: <Petrosianic>

If you have no idea about your insecurity, here's a hint:

http://www.thetelegramoffice.com/bl...

Jul-11-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <WorstPlayerEver> It doesn't mention anything about how much more it cost to send a trans-Atlantic message, but thanks for trying.
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