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Alexander Alekhine vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"The Game to End All Games" (game of the day Jun-26-2017)
Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship Match (1927), Buenos Aires ARG, rd 34, Nov-26
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern. Knight Defense (D51)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 1 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-22-03  GlassCow: One of the great rook and pawn endgames in history. Capablanca was rarely outclassed in the endgame (although Rubinstein's brilliancy against the great one is another fine example.)
Jul-22-03  mkdir: is there a way to save this kind of a endgame?
Jul-22-03  Sylvester: Alekhine indicates Capablanca played well after losing a pawn with 20...h6 and 21...Be6--"The position has proved too difficult for black".
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: I agree, a great game by Alekhine to win the championship. Converting the extra pawn in some sixty moves without an error against Capablanca is quite an accomplishment. 21.Qd2! threating h6 and a7 is a sharp move. If 22...Bb5 then 23.Nh4! threatening Nf5+. I think Black can play 22...Bc6 threatening the e pawn. These kinds of errors began to creep into Capa's game in the late twenties.
Jul-23-03  PVS: I don't think it was too late if 23...Qb3 24. Qxe5 Rfe8.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: White would probably continue with 24.Nxe5, but it looks lively after that. Something like 23...Qb3 24.Nxe5 Rxc1 25.Rxc1 Qxb2 26.Nd3 Qd4 27.Qxa7 unclear(?).
Jul-23-03  PVS: That looks right, black would not be lost.
Aug-25-03  sleepkid: <mkdir>: Ironically it is possible to draw this kind of endgame, however Capablanca's King is in the wrong place. So this one is lost. However, just so you can see what the draw does look like if the king is in the right place. . .

Bondarevsky vs Keres, 1939

Sep-06-03  Benjamin Lau: The Capablanca-Alekhine match during 1927 reflected the true thoughts of the greatest players of that time. It would be a match without the latest fashionable trends in chess thinking. In that championship, each player would play what he truly believed in because they both knew that the struggle would be immense and that slight details could alter the victor. 15. Nxd4, instead of exd4 is an interesting move. It shows that Alekhine agreed with hypermoderns that that the IQP's middle game power was not worth its liability in the endgame (you'll see Alekhine avoid having an IQP against Capablanca in many other games during 1927 as well). As Alekhine suspected, Capablanca would be too strong to overcome with flashy middlegame tactics. Alekhine thus adopted a more conservative, solid, and patient strategy reminiscient of Capablanca himself. Another thing worthy of note in the 1927 match is that mainly classical openings were played and almost all of them began with d4 (the lone exception was a French exchange I believe; Alekhine won as black and Capa did not bother playing e4 for the rest of the match). The signal was clear- they both believed that d4 was the strongest way to open up the game and that it offered white the best chances. Another point soon became clear as well- the QGD Orthodox was their favorite response to d4. Even Alekhine, whose most common d4 defense (excluding the Queen's Pawn Game) was the Nimzo Indian, would not play anything other than the QGD, showing that he did not fully trust the loss of a bishop against someone who could be reasonably deemed the most talented player ever in the world. In addition, only one hypermodern game would be played in their match (a Queen's Indian) and after Alekhine lost as black, he did not try anything but the QGD against Capa again for the rest of the match.
Sep-26-03  Phoenix: 21.Qd2 is a very hard move to find!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  matey: By the way Alekhine picked up the winning Qd2-Qa5 manouver from none other than Capablanca! Don't believe me? Check out this game Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1913
Oct-16-03  Shadow 812: The crucial moment of this endgame was on move 49.Qd4, forcing an exchange of Queens, the point being that Alekhine was able to get his Rook behind the a-pawn, to bring about a winning endgame. The Rook ending from move 50 onwards is a theoretical win, it was only for Capablanca's determined resistance that it took Alekhine another 32 moves to win the game, there can be no doubt in my opinion that even a master player could have won that Rook endgame against Capablanca from move 50, it may have taken a bit longer to force a win.
However, this was an interesting game to look at, enjoyable and instructive!!
Oct-20-03  drukenknight: Hey I just had an ending like this (with a passed RP and the connected 3 pawns for each player on the other side) and I have started to study this type of endgame (maybe wrong but..).

There is a way to save it when it gets down to 2 passed pawns, which is pretty much what seems to happen in this situation.

2 passed pawns meaning a passed pawn on a and c files. Or f and h files. What happens is the defender (say black) gangs up on the f pawn with R/K the white K moves over to defend, he is on the g file. The black R then hits him on the g file and they play around but eventually Rooks are traded and the f pawn is gone. Its either that or the white K runs around forever.

Set up different situations on the board and you will see what I mean, there are exceptions of course.

Ok so we are left with a lone h pawn. If the white K is in front of the h pawn and black K is close enuf he can pin that K to the h file and the RP will not queen.

In this case it is impossible because Alkehines K is behind that final h pawn. And capa's K would need to be in opposition on the f file to force all this.

If you go back in the game he lost the opposition around move 61, probably here was a good chance to save it.

Oct-27-03  Shadow 812: To Drunken Knight, your comments are interesting and you make a number of excellent points, however if the position had to be adjudicated after move 50, what do you think the result would be? So maybe from move 61 it may have been possible with the best play to hold the position, but this would only have been possible due to Alekhine who did not handle the ending with the accuracy that position warrented. However, in my opinion nothing has changed from move 50, it should be a win for White with correct play.
Oct-27-03  drukenknight: Okay: SHOW ME YOUR WINNING LINE!
Nov-01-03  Shadow 812: To Drunken Knight: To reiterate what I have have said previously, if the game had to be adjudicated at move 50 what do think the result should be with best play from both sides!! As far as a line
that wins by force, there is no forced winning line, the win is made possible by following established winning ideas such as Rook behind the passed pawn and advancing the pawns on the other side of the board, to create a weakness of the opposition's pawns,active use of the King to infiltrate into the enemy position: There are countless number of games where this has been achieved, if you geniuinely believe that this end game should have been drawn, then you are in a very small minority, but as Gandhi once said "If you a minority of one, you are still a minority"
Nov-02-03  drukenknight: so you're playing the Ghandi defense?
Nov-03-03  drukenknight: Having studied the position a little more it does not look that difficult to show draw at say move 61.

You might first want to try setting up the position on blacks 61st move but with the K side pawns all on their original squares. The other pieces are the same. You can set up all sorts of positions with a passed pawn on one side, 2 rooks, and same number of pawns on the other.

It seems easy to show that black's K/R will gang up on the passed pawn but white will take the f pawn on the k side. white will get a passed pawn, but the position is drawn in the usual way with the R pinning the pawn to the K.

Now the position on move 61 has the K side pawns advanced some which has created a hole for the white K. Black needs to stay in opposition vs the white K to prevent him from entering the pawn formation. This may have messed up Capablanca up, if he was as smart at endgames as we think the first exercise above would be known to him.

So that is perhaps why he kept his K attacking/blockading the a pawn.

So black should keep his K in opposition to prevent the white K from entering the pawn formation. But the white R will hit him and take the f pawn again. But blacks R/K will then team up vs white K to give check and this should keep it in balance. You have to keep the Ks in opposition for the check to work.

I dont have time to give a full line right now but here is the starting pt see if you can follow it up:

61...Kd5 62 Ra4 Kc5 63 Kc3 Kd5 64 Kd3 Ke5 65 Ke3 Kf5 66 Rf4+

Nov-21-03  Shadow 812: At the risk of repeating myself for the
third time now, if the game had to be adjudicated after move 50, what do you think that the result would be? Please don't keep banging on about the position after 61 moves, this is not relevant at move 50. I certainly do intend to ask you the same question a fourth time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <Shadow 812> If I may put my penny's worth in, I believe that Alekhine had good chances of winning this, even if there was a move 50 adjournment.

(1). Granted that Capablanca had excellent R and P endgame technique e.g. against Duras in 4p + R v 3P + R with all pawns on the K-side

Duras vs Capablanca, 1913

but so did Alekhine and especially in this match.

(2). I do not know of any annotator who can show a mistake on Capablanca's part after move 50, or can seriously strengthen his defence. This includes such experts as Smyslov and Averbakh. If 61...Kd5 62.Ra4 Kc5 63.Ra1! seems both strong and sufficient.

(3).Grandmaster Mednis in his "Practical Rook Endings" (1982) examines the position at move 54 and says that the most critical factor is the placement of the R's.

As Alekhine's R is behind the passed pawn, Mednis states that Alekhine should win after centralising his K. This prepares a Q-side incursion which if Capablanca marches his K there will leave the Black K-side vulnerable to Alekhine's K breaking in there.

Finally, by opportunately sacrificing the a pawn Alekhine's R can swing over to the K side and with the active K break thorough there.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <shadow> The position is a technical win at move 50. IIRC, the position after the queen exchange can be drawn if the passed pawn is not far enough advanced. Place the pawn at a2, the white rook on d2 and the black rook on a3 or a4. Then white king has difficulty moving up the board. The other critical part is white pawn formation. Even with the pawn at a4, the position might be drawn with a weakness in white's kingside.

Still, its a difficult win and Alekhine deserves praise for the precision ending.

Nov-22-03  drukenknight: I was looking at 61...f6 the other day, is there something wrong with that?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <Drukenknight> I do not believe that <f6> is a better move than 61...Kb5 as played, e.g.

<61...f6> 62.f4 f5 (62...Kd5 63.Kb4 Kc6 64.f5 gxf5 65.Rf2) 63.Ra1 Ra7 64.Re1 Kd5 65.Re5+ Kc6 66.Kc4 winning

In the actual game, Tartakower gave two particularly interesting lines:

64...f6 65.a6! Rxa6 66.Rxa6 Kxa6 67.Ke4 winning for White - Tartakower

76.Kg8! Rf6 (76...Kb7 77.Re7+ Ka6 78.Rxf7) 77.Kf8 Kxa5 (77...Rf5 78.Kg7 Zugzwang) 78.Ke7! winning for White - Tartakower

This is an extremely educative endgame and rewards study.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <Chessical> Thanks for giving us Tartakover's analysis. Had not seen it before. The position after 61.Kc3 could justifiably be called Zugswang. Black will run out of pawn moves and then any king or rook move demonstrably loses. If he could just keep things as they are, he would draw.
Premium Chessgames Member
  meloncio: Last game of the match. Saturday and Monday, November 26-28th. What a sad week-end for Capablanca!
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