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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Viacheslav Ragozin
Moscow (1935), Moscow URS, rd 6, Feb-22
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation. Accelerated (E24)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-17-03  aulero: Poor Ragozin: it is very hard playing an entire game without any possibility of counterplay. It is interesting seeing how Capablanca fixed the King side to exploit the Queen side.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: This is one of those Capablanca games where the opponent looks helpless. It is as if the loss was unavoidable from the start. You have to look very closely to spot the error. One mistake is 19...Kc7?. This unguards the Queen and he can't retake with 20...Nxf6 because of 21.Qxg7.
Feb-07-04  Benjamin Lau: Yeah Calli, but black already looks completely screwed even before "19...Kc7?" ;-) I think Ragozin probably misplayed the opening.
Jun-06-04  Shadout Mapes: Amazing, after 35.a6 blacks only moves that don't lose material are Qc7, Qd8, and Qf8. A great bind.

Are there any other games like this?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Shadout Mapes> Have you seen any of the following Polugaevsky vs Petrosian, 1961; P F Johner vs Nimzowitsch, 1926; Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1927; Alekhine vs Nimzowitsch, 1930 Does it strike you as strange that Nimzowitsch features prominently in these games
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Did anybody notice the co-incidence?:look at the opening!:NIMZO-Indian/Samisch variation!

Nimzowich PLAYED Samisch in the famous "Immortal Zugzwang Game"-an ending such as the one here-where the loser is straitjacketed,i.e- cannot move without quickly compromizing his position

Mar-13-05  aw1988: Black was less cramped in the starting position than at the end of the game.
May-12-05  OverDjinn: Ragozin's first mistake was 10...Ne7? Instead of this move, which intends to play f5 in a position that is too weak for it, 10...Na5, b6, and Ba6 was needed. The remarkable aspect of this game is how it illustrates the king's "self-defense" as insufficient without a form of active defense as well. The plan to set loose the monarch with 13...f6 was therefore the turning point since counterplay was only possible on the queenside with b5, so, the king should have stayed on the kingside..
Jul-03-06  Ulhumbrus: Give the opponent adequate and rational reasons for playing moves that make it appear that he can do nothing. The art of the one sided game, in which, to use Tartakower's words, Capablanca was the high priest.
Jul-03-06  RookFile: For those who would imagine a match between Capablanca and Steinitz, this game is not far off from the way that Capa would have crushed Steinitz with white.

Steinitz's biggest weakness, by far, was that he was insufficiently mindful of the importance of space.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <benzol> here's a very close cousin to this game. Maroczy vs H Suechting, 1905

There's even a Nimzowitsch link -- he annotated it in <My System>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <keypusher> Thanks mate.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: It is interesting to read some comments from annotators regarding this game.

In Reinfeld's book, "The Immortal Games of Capablanca" he states regarding the move 10...Ne7: <A highly illogical move which condemns Black to permanent passivity. Correct was 10...Na5 to be followed by ...b6 and...Ba6: the text, on the other hand, leaves Black without counterplay.>

Golombek writes in, "Capablanca's 100 Best Games of Chess"; <Much too defensively played; Black must concentrate on White's weak spot with 10...Na5 followed by b6 and Ba6. After the text, White can build up his attack without any possibility of interference from Black>

In the tournament book, "Moscow 1935" it states; <This and the following knight manoeuvre is hard to understand. It would have been simpler, without further ado, to play the routine 10...Na5 followed by ...b6 and ...Ba6, creating play on the queen's flank.>

Reinfield and Golombek give the impression that Black's game is nearly lost after 10...Ne7, the tournament book is not as critical.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After 13.f6, Reinfeld writes; <Losing his head completly. The text creates a target which makes it possible for White to open the KN file; which means that Black's king will be dangerously insecure. A much better plan was later indicated by Ragozin: 13...Bd7; 14.Ng3 (if 14.a4, Qe8; 15.a5, Nbc8 followed by ....b6), 14...Na4 followed by ...a6 and ...b5.>

Golombek makes no comment regarding 13...f6.

Regarding 13...f6, the tournament book states: <Black prepares a tiresome journey of his king to the queen's flank. However, the move 13...f6? is the decisive mistake; he should play 13...Bd7! 14.Ng3 (If 14.a4, then 14...Qe8 15.a5 Nbc8 followed by ...b6) 14...Na4, intending the counterattack ...a6 and ...b5.>

It now appears that after 13...f6, all agree that Black has a lost game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Interestingly, Fritz 9 evaluated the position as almost equal at move 13, White having just a slight advantage, Fritz agreed that Ragozin should have followed his own recommendation of 13...Bd7.

Even after 13...f6 14.Ng3 Kf7, it seems that Black has some defensive possibilities.

At this point, Fritz 9 evaluated the position to be in favor of White (.49) (17 ply), and considered that White should continue to increase the pressure on the king side by 15.h5 Kg8 16.Nf5, to be followed by Qg2.

Capablanca's move 15.g5 was given an exclamation point by both Reinfeld and the tournament book. Fritz, however, preferred 17.h5, and evaluated the position after 15.g5, as having a rather small advantage for White (.35) (18 ply), and suggested a continuation of 15...Kg8 16.Nf5 Nxf5 17.exf5 Bd7.

It would be interesting to make a deeper evaluation of Black's defensive possibilities after 15.g5 Kg8. Can Black hold this position?

According to Fritz, Black's move 15...Ng8, was a decisive error. I will need to check the remainder of the game score to determine if Black had any additional chances to save the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: As I indicated, after 15.g5, Fritz 9 considered Black's best chance to obtain a draw was to renounce the idea of playing the king to the queen side and instead play 15...Kg8.

Black's actual move of 15...Ng8, was considered to be very weak by Fritz. Interestingly, neither Golembek or the tournament book made any comment regarding 15...Ng8.

Reinfeld said: <There is little choice: if 15...fxg5 16.hxg5 Kg8 (with the idea of making the KR useful on the KB file); 17.Qh2 and wins.> Fritz agrees that Black is quickly lost in this variation by Reinfeld.

A deeper look by Fritz, in the position after 15...Kg8, gave an evaluation of (.43) (20 ply) and recommended the following continuation: 16.Nf5 Nxf5 17.exf5.

After 17.exf5, Fritz's evaluation was (.57) (19 ply), with a recommended continuation of: 17...Qe8 18.Rg1 fxg5.

The two main lines after 18...fxg5 are:

(.65) (20ply) 19.f6 e4 20.fxe4 g4 fxg7 Kxg7 Bg5 h6.

(.70) (20 ply) 19.Bxg5 e4 20.fxe4 Bxf5 21.0-0-0 Bg6.

I tried several continuations from these variations and also from earlier positions after 15...Kg8, but I could not find a winning line for White.

Perhaps someone else can improve on this analysis and determine if White is winning after 15...Kg8 or if Black can obtain a draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: 7 games from the 1935 Moscow tournament were selected and awarded a prize for being the best games of the tournament. This game was one of the seven selected.

According to the tournament book: <The jury considered games to be "the best" if they were "distinguished by pureness and internal logical beauty, and while elements of their outward effect do not play a decisive role, they are nonetheless desirable" >

1st-2nd prizes ex aequo (on an equal basis) - Lasker for his game against Capablanca and Botvinnik for his game against Riumin.

3rd prize - Spielmann for his game against Chekhover.

4th and 5th prizes ex aequo - Riumin for his game against Rabinovich and Ragozin for his game against Lilienthal.

6th and 7th prizes ex aequo - Capablanca for his game against Ragozin and Levenfish for his game against Bogatyrchuk.

Jan-10-09  WhiteRook48: 1. d4!! Capablanca makes this "less popular" opening move do the trick. amazing: Capa played 4. a3 right away.
Mar-17-09  WhiteRook48: total zugzwang
Premium Chessgames Member
  extremepleasure2: What's the white's wining plan if the black continue to move his queen back and forth instead of playing this weakening 38...b5?
Jun-22-09  AnalyzeThis: 38...b5 gives the queen some air. By way of contrast, play 38....Qf8 instead, and white can play 39. Ne6, forcing 39...Bxe6 40. dxe6.

White has multiple threats:

A) Qd3 and Qd5

B) Bf7, Rg7, and the h pawn drops

C) Double on the g file before the knight can get out and win the g8 knight.

The computer tells me that white doesn't need to rush and play Ne6 right away. He can play the calm Kc1 first. The point of this is to make it a little easier to double rooks on the g file, since black can't do anything other than shuffle the queen around.

Jun-22-09  WhiteRook48: knights freeze opponents on g7 (or g2)
Jul-22-13  Chessman1504: In the quotes, Botvinnik mentions a game where Capablanca initiated no active maneuvers and instead adopted a waiting game. Soon,Capablanca won a second pawn and soon the game. Was he talking about this game?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Chessman1504:> I think it was this game between the same players Capablanca vs Ragozin, 1936
Premium Chessgames Member
  fiercebadger: Capa never does put the knight on e6
the threat was stronger then its execution
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