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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 Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-143 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchC01 French, Exchange
2. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½19 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD65 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack, Main line
3. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-042 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchA47 Queen's Indian
4. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½49 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
5. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½42 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½40 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
7. Capablanca vs Alekhine 1-036 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½42 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
9. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½34 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½20 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
11. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-166 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Alekhine vs Capablanca 1-041 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
13. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½27 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
14. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½25 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
15. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½30 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
16. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½24 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
17. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½59 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
18. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½28 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
19. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½21 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
20. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½43 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
21. Capablanca vs Alekhine 0-132 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
22. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½86 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
23. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½48 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
24. Alekhine vs Capablanca ½-½41 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship MatchD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
25. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½40 1927 Capablanca - 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 29 OF 29 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-06-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Capablanca to Julius Finn from Buenos Aires on 15 October 1927 which concluded:

‘Should the match here end in a draw, I suggest that the next match be limited to 20 games, the winner of the majority to win the match. Please attend to this for me...>

Capablanca may have been thinking of another long run of draws after game 30. At game 30 the score was 4-3 to Alekhine.

Mar-06-15  Petrosianic: <It depends on your preparation, I guess... there is a trade-off between trying to surprise your opponent and getting yourself in an unfamiliar position.>

Well, Capa played 1. P-K4 in Game 1, and after his defeat there, didn't play it again, even though it must have been part of his prep (and even though that move had nothing to do with the defeat).

Mar-07-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Botvinnik never played 1.e4 in a World Championship match. Even when he had given up hope, as in the last games of Petrosian - Botvinnik World Championship Match (1963). They were drawn in 21, 10 and 10 moves, and in the first and last of those Botvinnik had white.
Apr-22-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: What a great match. If one is on holiday in a caravan in Auchinleck, with just a view and a chess set, playing through this match, game by game, can bring about a petrifying, Zen-like state of existence. It was a good job I had a motorcycle to look after as well!
Apr-22-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: $10,000 was a lot of money to ask for. But Capablanca was in a bit of a cleft stick. Lasker had asked for huge amounts. I can't even remember what they were because they were so huge that my mind boggles.

Capablanca wanted to set a fair amount and I think he based his figure on what Lasker had asked for. But the big problem was his own reputation for being invincible! If Capablanca asked for say $25,000 who would sponsor a match like that? I'll tell you who. No one, that's who.

So Capablanca's reputation as an invincible player may have assisted in his own downfall, because he set the prize fund limit lower than Lasker's.

Oist wiz your own petard, grandmaitre!?

Apr-22-15  Zonszein: It's the motorcycle all right?
Apr-22-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Zonszein: It's the motorcycle all right?>

The motorcycle, a Hercules Wankel, is fine.

Apr-22-15  not not: Mozart of chess vs Beethoven of chess,
simplicity and clarity versus dark, grand, demonic struggle

Mating Net: The golden age of chess,

v true

May-01-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <According to <Alekhine>, all of the games in this match were played in private, with no spectators.>

<The speaker admitted that he himself had taken an interest in the game for a great many years, and it had been a great pleasure to follow some of the great matches in recent times. He was at Buenos Aires when the championship match was going on between Capablanca and Dr Alekhine.

“I gazed at the players through a plate-glass window, much in the way you would look at corpses in a morgue. (Laughter.) I watched for three-quarters of an hour, during which time Dr Alekhine made no move. Each man had the same pieces – a king, a castle and four pawns – and exactly at midnight Dr Alekhine made the move which I should have made in 30 seconds. (Laughter). The next morning the game was drawn by mutual consent.”>

http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...

Suggests there was a private viewing area for select guests.

Aug-03-15  fisayo123: I've always wondered, was there a pact to only play the Queen's gambit in this match or something?
Aug-03-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Maybe; for such deviationism in the openings as was exhibited in two of the first three games was ruthlessly punished.
Sep-23-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I wonder how much the players talked to each other outside of the game-room? Did they exchange any chit-chat? Is it possible that, at around the 30th game, with the score at 4-3, Capablanca said something like this to Alekhine:

<Capablanca>: This match is going on a long time... I was thinking, perhaps we should call it a draw and start a new one limited to 20 games next year. I'll pay!

<Alekhine>: Well. Not yet.

<Capablanca>: Not yet, no! But perhaps if the score was 4-4?

<Alekhine>: Well ...

<Capablanca>: Or if the score was 5-5?

<Alekhine>: Let's wait and see.

And Capablanca may have thought there was a possibility of a draw if the score reached 5-5.

Oct-31-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: MissScarlett: <Suggests there was a private viewing area for select guests.>

There was a painting of a man on the wall near the players.

Select guests could go behind that painting and view the players through its eyes.

Dec-25-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: The Sánchez bio at the end of the chapter on this match has:

In his summary of the match, Hübner said that Capablanca was strategically superior in the understanding of new positions that emerged in the openings, such as in games 3, 7, 11, 17, 20, and 27. But “by accepting to continually reel off again and again the same variations, he deprived himself of his most important ches trump card,” which according to the German grandmaster was “his superirity over Alekhine in a bettern understanding of the strategic demands of the conduct of the game.” According to the analysis of Hübner, Capablanca shuold have obtained a score of three wins and three draws from game 27 through 32.

At the end of the match, Alekhine promised a rematch in preference to any other challenge, provided that it was played with the ame conditions as the one that had just ended. But the new world champion knew very well how close he had been to losing. It is not unreasonable to infer that his understanding of the danger he had encountered was the reason why he did not offer the Cuban the opportunity of a rematch. All his subseqent “fury” seems rather an elaborate charade.

Capablanca never received the opportunity he gave Alekhine. It was one of the most famous contexts never played. http://www.amazon.com/Jose-Raul-Cap...

Jan-25-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Why Capablanca really lost... http://kevinspraggettonchess.wordpr...
Jan-25-16  aliejin: London rules were prohibitive. They were unthinkable that anyone would comply.

Capablanca never gave an opportunity
to nobody. What of Argentina was crazy
If there was a match between Alekhine and the Cuban was a miracle.

The most logical thing would have been that there never was a match between them or one too late( like lasker vs tarrasch )

Jan-25-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <They were unthinkable that anyone would comply.>

So why did the signatories agree to them?

Jan-25-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Jonathan Sarfati> <the new world champion knew very well how close he had been to losing>

At what point after the 11th game was Alekhine in danger of losing the match?

Jan-25-16  aliejin: "So why did the signatories agree to them?"

I believe that
if they did not sign, they had no
even the hope.
.

Jan-25-16  aliejin: "Capablanca shuold have obtained a score of three wins and three draws from game 27 through 32."

I think
if both opponents have done the right thing, the six
games, should have finished tie
.

Jan-26-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <TheFocus>, as indicated. If Capa had won the clearly winning position in Game 27 as well as the actual win in #29, he would have been tied at 4-4. Likewise, Capa at his best would surely have won #31, which also would have tied the match.
Jan-26-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <aliejin>: London rules were prohibitive.

Here they are: http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...

They were not thought of that way at the time, which was before the Depression and during the Roaring 20s. The purse of $10,000 was only half that of that for the Lasker - Capablanca World Championship Match (1921)

Jan-31-16  The Kings Domain: whiteshark: That's an interesting and fun possibility. Perhaps Alekhine hired Guzman to distract the champ? :-). That Kevin Spraggett is quite the character.
Feb-01-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati: <TheFocus>, as indicated. If Capa had won the clearly winning position in Game 27 as well as the actual win in #29, he would have been tied at 4-4. Likewise, Capa at his best would surely have won #31, which also would have tied the match.>

I completely agree. 1916 to 1922 healthy Capablanca, the chess machine that was almost inhumanly accurate, would have surely won games 27 and 31. And won the match.

Alekhine in his writings himself felt surprised that he won the match against a player that he believed was better than him. To his credit, even when he felt that Capa was better than him, AAA fought for every move in every game, putting up such a principled stand that it must have dismayed Capablanca, who had never experienced such resistance before. A less motivated player, even gifted with the equivalent of Alekhine's genius, would have lost.

Hardly any one expected the result at that time, including the world's top masters of 1927.

My theories on this:

1. It's quite probable that Alekhine in this match played the best chess of his entire career. He temporarily peaked above a declining and dismayed Capablanca who by 1927 was already being bothered by symptoms of Hypertension, which was to kill him 15 years later.

2. Perhaps the match was just statistical serendipity. Even if Capablanca was still better than Alekhine in 1927, there is nothing certain in the real world. Let us suppose that Capablanca's chance for winning was 70%. It just so happened that the match went to the less probable 30% in AAA's favor.

Capablanca after this match played in quite a lot of tournaments (for him) in the next two years (1928 and 1929), obviously trying to present his claim as the best possible Challenger for AAA. Although not as dominant as he was in his peak, he still won most of these events. With AAA declining a return match, Capablanca seems to have lost heart and 1930 and 1931 saw him playing less top level tournaments. His last hurrah was beating Euwe in their 1931 match before he went into semi retirement.

I wonder though if Capablanca in these post 1927 competitions had lost confidence in his playing abilities. His games in this period seem to be a tad less aggressive than they were a decade before.

Regarding the quality of this match, I believe that this and the 1921 Lasker vs Capablanca match, may be the most accurate yet at the same time well fought in chess history.

Feb-01-16  Petrosianic: <I completely agree. 1916 to 1922 healthy Capablanca, the chess machine that was almost inhumanly accurate, would have surely won games 27 and 31. And won the match.>

It's hard to second guess this stuff. He absolutely should have won Game 27, and might very well have won Game 31. On the other hand, he might easily have only drawn Game 29.

Even had he won 27, 29 AND 31, he still might not have won the match.

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