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Frank James Marshall vs Jose Raul Capablanca
Capablanca - Marshall (1909)  ·  Queen's Gambit Declined: Lasker Defense (D53)  ·  0-1
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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-12-09  TheWizardfromHarlem: Capablanca studied..u can tell by his openings. they improved throughout the match if a line was bad or didnt lead to anything he found his mistakes and he made sure he changed it before the next game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: A cold-blooded tactical game by Capablanca and Marshall, this game deserves more attention.

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12. Rfe1 dxc4 allows Marshall to maneuver his Queen to the 4th rank. 13. BXc4 b6 14. Qe4.... 18...Rbc8

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Given his central and Kingside superiority Marshall embarks on a plan that looks quite reasonable, and which I believe many chessplayers would also take, to attack the Kingside beginnign with a rook lift 19. Re3.

Capablanca reacts vigorously, first trying to exchange off white's dangerous rook on the 3rd rank, 19... cxd4 20. cxd4 Rc3 21. Bb1

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Then Capa plays the cold-blooded 21... g5, inviting the subsequent knight sacrifice by Marshall 22. Nxg5. Not many chessplayers would play such a move, as it leads to hair-rising complications and hanging pieces. Capa before playing this move must have seen that the line 26. Rxd4 leads to a win.

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The reason why he played 26. Rxd4 instead of 26...Qf6

<Although this pretty move led to a win, Capablanca commented objectively that the better move , overlooked by all the analysts, was 26 Qg7-f6, whereby the King is provided with a flight-square at g7. This would have spared him some trouble.

'I was highly praised,' says he, 'because of the excellence of my play in this position, while in reality I could have done better.'>

is probably because he had already seen that this <pretty> move should win as well, even several moves back. Otherwise he probably would not have gone into the line leading into this position at all, beginning with 21...g5. For some psychological reason, once a clear way to an advantage has been calculated, most players just tend to follow their original calculated line; why waste time calculating other winning lines? If so, Capa must have preconceived the remarkable position after 28. e5+ even several moves back.

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Black's King is under discovered check, while at the same time his Bishop and Rook are hanging. Capa must have seen that the resource 28... Be4 not only blocks the discovered check, but also removes one of the hanging pieces and neutralizes white's dangerous bishop.

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Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: After several more easier-to-find moves, the game settles down in this position 37. Qxe6.

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Capablanca must have seen that his advantage should be enough to win, and probably already had a plan of how to go about it even during the middle game. A classic case of Fischer's hypothesis.

<"Capablanca was among the greatest of chess players, but not because of his endgame. His trick was to keep the openings simple, and then play with such brilliance in the middle game that the game was decided - even though his opponent didn't always know it - before he arrived at the ending." - Fischer>

In the above position, many players no doubt would have gone after the White outside passed a-pawn, and thus leave their exposed King to a perpetual check, something that Marshal must have counted upon. Unfortunately for Marshall, Capablanca carries out the only plan that could even conceivably win the game. He mostly leaves the passed pawn alone and instead goes for a direct attack on the White King with his Queen and Bishop, while shuffling his own King between h5 and g6 to avoid successive checks and so gain tempo for the attack; and he places his Queen in squares where it can ward of checks by the White Queen but still be available to attack White's King.

During the final Q and B attack Capa had to foresee the following remarkable position.

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White is about to queen his passed pawn, which Capa had left alone to march up the a-file. However, now comes 52... Bxf3

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Suddenly mate is threatened, and poor Marshall remarkably has no checks. With the same two pieces that he is threatening mate with, Capa economically also defends all squares in which Marshall can check the Black King (a6, c6, e8).

A fantastic game!

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: In conclusion: I do not think that this game is as well-known as other Capablanca - Marshall games. I think it deserves more attention. It clearly shows how dangerous an attacking player Marshall was, and how good Capablanca was in complications and in steering his brilliant middlegames into endgames won as a 'matter of technique'; and how difficult such 'matter of technique' endgames could be.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: If 25.Qc7, Capablanca says <25...Rc8 26.Qxb7 Rc1 27.Qb8+ Kg7 28.Rf1 Qd2> is winning outright (from 'My Chess Career').
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: I forgot to note that in the above position, aside from

<With the same two pieces that he is threatening mate with, Capa economically also defends all squares in which Marshall can check the Black King (a6, c6, e8).>

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Marshall can deliver a check with his Queen anyway on a6, c6, or e8 in order to draw away the Black Queen from mating his King, and then think of promoting his a7 pawn to a Queen.

But it is not to be. Astonishingly, however Capa captures, the a8 square is defended!

53. Qa6+ Qxa6

53. Qe8+ Qxe8

53. Qc6+ Bxc6

Everything falls in place with computer-like precision. And there is no doubt that Capablanca had seen all these even several moves before.

It's games like this that gave rise to the legend of the chess machine, although this particular game is not well known.

Dec-08-11  King Death: <visayan> Thanks for pointing out this game. It's a defensive masterpiece by Capablanca.

Twice that bishop goes to e4 and causes White nothing but pain.

One nice point after the brilliant 28...Be4 is that Marshall couldn't regain his piece with 29.Be4+ Re4 30.f3 Re2 31.fg Qg4 when Qb7 or Qa8 both fail after another little tactic, 32...Rg2+.

The back rank weakness makes 31...Be4 possible too after 32.Re4 Nf3+ 33.Kf1 Nd2+ and wins.

May-03-12  Anderssen99: Capa missed: 26...,Qf6. 27.Qg3,h5. 28.f3 (28.e5?,Rxd4!!. 29.exf6??,Rxd1#),Rxd4. 29.Re1,Qe5!! (Forcing white to abandon the pin on the N). 30.f4,Qd6. 31.Qf3,f5 and W. is crushed (e.g. 32.a3,fxe4. 33.Bxe4,Bxe4. 34.Rxe4,Re1+. 35.Qf1,Qc5+ mates).
Jun-17-12  checkmateyourmove: I think this gem has not had so much spot light because capa wouldnt want it to. i think he gets himself in jams then bails himself out. he would of preferred to get high praise for winning all aspects of the chess game not just parts of it. As far as a game its amazing, to see a legend fight his way out of fairly even positions is as exciting as seeing him win like a machine too from move 1 to 60.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: Cyrus Lakdawala wittily writes of Marshall’s <13. Qe4> (which he annotates “!?”, being more generous than the “?!” given this move in annotations found in the copy of this game in ChessBase’s Mega Database 2012): “Marshall was good at what he did but sometimes what he did wasn’t so good!” (<Capablanca: Move by Move>, by LAKDAWALA, Cyrus, Everyman Chess ©2012, at page 83.)

Lakdawala elaborates with the observation that: “Typically, Marshall waste[d] no time transferring his queen over to the kingside in the hopes of launching an attack” (ibid., p. 83), but in this case the position does not warrant immediate attack.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: In the position after <15. Bc4-d3>:

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Lakadawala (in the book cited in my previous post, at p. 83) refrains from the comment I probably could not have resisted: "Will he see it?"

The chances that Capa would notice the mate threat were approximately 110%; and what follow-up did Marshall envision after <15. ... Nf6>? The game continuation is less than convincing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: Note: In the first of my two preceding comments the move is numbered incorrectly: the move reference should read <14. Qe4>.
Jan-04-13  chrisfalter: @Boomie - After 21...g5 22. Qg3 Lakdawala gives 22...Rxe3 23. fxe3 Nxe4 and white has insufficient compensation for the pawn deficit. Also, 21...e5 is not a shot that Capa missed; it is a mistake he avoided (22. Qxe5 Qxe5 23. Nxe5 and white is up a safe pawn)

@Peligroso Patzer - Lakdawala states that he is "not a big fan of" <13. Qe4>, so I think he meant to award a '?!' (dubious) rather than a '!?' (intereresting). Editor's error.

Jan-04-13  chrisfalter: Speaking of editing errors, here's my post in good English:

@Boomie - After 21...g5 22. Qg3 Lakdawala gives 22...Rxe3 23. fxe3 Nxe4 and white has insufficient compensation for the pawn deficit. Also, 21...e5 is not a shot that Capa missed; it is a mistake he avoided (22. Qxe5 Qxe5 23. Nxe5 and white is up a safe pawn)

@Peligroso Patzer - Lakdawala states that he is "not a big fan of" <14. Qe4>, so I think he meant to award a '?!' (dubious) rather than a '!?' (interesting). Editor's error.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: 33...Nh4+ is stronger than Capa's choice 33...f5: 33...Nh4+ 34.Kh3 Nf3 and Black has deadly threats due to the open h-file and 1-rank.
Jul-21-14  jdc2: Related to Karpova's '07 comment concerning Evans mistaking the position: Reinfeld in his book "1001 Winning Chess Combinations" (from 1955) took the position from this game after white's 45th move, shifted the queen to c6 and made it white to move, thus creating one of my favorite problems, where white either skewers the king or mates him. It's problem #774 in my edition.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Relating to the above post.

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White to play and win.

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The actual position from the game.

A wee bit of tampering with a position for instructive value is OK provided one does not state it appeared in the actual game and was missed. Else, as we have seen, it goes all around the world.

I worked my way through Reinfeld 1001 'combo' books and sometimes you do recognise a pattern from a game or an opening trap. It seems when composing these positions, Fred in some positions tweaked a few well know games to make a combo work. (some are as what really appeared on the board) and provided you give no names, dates then no harm done.

For example in this Marshall - Capablanca game.

This is the position after 33. Kg2

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If we pull the h4 pawn back to h2.

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It is now a with Black to play a mate in 5.

Feb-23-15  TrumanB: Instead of 32.g3 why white simpy didn't take the bishop?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jim Bartle: I think 32. Rxe4 Nf3+ 33. Kh1 Qa1++
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <TrumanB>

<babakova: <Why doesn't Marshall take that bishop???> I assume you mean on move 32 with 32.Rxe4? I was looking at the board at first and couldnt figure it out then I saw 32.Rxe4? Nf3+ and now if 33.Kf1 Nd2+ forks rook and king and wins, if instead 33.Kh1 Qa1+ mates...>

May-23-15  chessgamer2000: Capablanca.beautiful chess
Mar-05-16  Timi Timov: 44...Ba2 .-. Why did Capa play that?
Mar-05-16  Howard: My guess was to get the bishop on the a8-h1 diagonal ASAP. From b1, the bishop couldn't get to that diagonal in just one move, due to the white pawn on f3. But from a2, it was to later jump to d5--in just one move.
May-01-16  Graber7: It appears that Capablanca missed two earlier wins in the game the first with 33. Nxh4++ and the second with 35. Qa1. I made a long comment about all the lines but it got deleted so I will just put in the critical ones. After Nxh4++ 34. Kh3 fails to Bc5+ since 35. Kxh4 Qg5 is mate. If instead the King goes back to g2 or h2 then Nf3+ just wins a pawn and probably more. 35. Qa1 seems to win because mate follows if the Knight is took with both 36. gxh4 and Rxh4 and if perpetual is tried with 36. Qc7+ then the King finds a safe haven on g6. Therefore the only reasonable option(I think at least) is 36. Rxe4 when Nf3+ 37. Kg2 fxe4 wins a Knight. I may be way off in left field or people may have already mentioned these wins but I have not seen any comments relating to them.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Capacorn: <visayanbraindoctor> Nothing like pouring yourself a drink and going over some of these classics. I just reviewed this game with Chernev's book. Capablanca's vision was just ridiculous. You explained (very well, I might add) what I marveled at on at least two occasions. As the great Lasker once said, "I have known many chess players, but among them only one genius -- Capablanca."
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