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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Akiba Rubinstein
Berlin (1928), Berlin GER, rd 5, Oct-16
Queen Pawn Game: Krause Variation (D02)  ·  1-0


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Jan-21-04  Whitehat1963: I've read people describe Capablanca as a middle game and endgame specialist. What about Rubinstein? I've read that he was the master of the Rook and Pawn ending. Does anyone know of some games that really illustrate both? And what about a rook and pawn ending between these two?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Rubinstein vs Lasker, 1909
Jan-21-04  Whitehat1963: Do you know of any that Rubinstein played against Capablanca that perhaps aren't on the database?
Jan-21-04  Resignation Trap: Capablanca had a high opinion of Rubinstein's skills and this was his only victory over Rubinstein (revenge 17 years later).

By the way, this opening is usually classified as "Queen's Pawn Game", but has anybody noticed that it is also a variation of the Tarrasch French?

Jan-21-04  TrueFiendish: I must defend Capa. When necessary he could mix it tactically with the best (indeed, WAS the best). Have a look at Capa vs Spielmann, New York 1927 where the Cuban wins as white (on this database but, amazingly, not kibitzed yet). Now that's a combo. Please write your thoughts on this game, comrades.
Jan-21-04  ughaibu: TrueFiendish: Rather than looking at it that way it might be interesting to examine Capablanca's losses to see if he tended to be outplayed positionally or tactically, whether the positions were simple or unbalanced, etc.
Jan-21-04  TrueFiendish: Hmmm...I remember reading that he wasn't immune to oversight or "second best" moves, but I think the only time he was truly outplayed was when Alekhine took his world title. Frank Marshall was one of the best attacking players going around for many years and Capa beat him like a child, time and time again. Alekhine himself was, along with Kasparov, (in my humble opinion) the greatest creator of an attack in history, but was forever humbled by Capa before and after the title match. C and A did not talk but, when he spoke of Capa, Alekhine gave his contemporary the highest praise imaginable, full of childlike wonderment at his abilities.

"There will never be anyone to equal him," said Alekhine...

Jan-24-04  tud: Which is true. Chessplayer without a chess set at home. Probably this guy would have been a brilliant scientist but chess was much simpler and gave him time to fool around
Jan-15-05  Ruylopez: What happens if 44... Ne6?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: <Ruylopez>--45.Nxd4 followed by an exchange of knights and black is two pawns down.
Jan-15-05  aw1988: 44...Ne6 45. Nxd4 Nxd4 46. Rxd4 with a won rook endgame.
Jan-15-05  aw1988: Gah! GSM beats me again.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: <aw1988>--I outdrawed you again, pardner!
Nov-15-06  CapablancaFan: Even 1 pawn down, Rubinstein knew it was hopeless against Capa.
Jul-29-07  sanyas: 25.♖b7 leads to the win of a pawn by force, doesn't it? An example of the merging of tactics and strategy. The positional advantages lead to material gain automatically.
Jul-29-07  Karpova: <sanyas: 25.Rb7 leads to the win of a pawn by force, doesn't it?> Yes, after 25...b5 both 26.Na5 and 26.Rb7 are good enough to win a pawn
Oct-07-07  notyetagm: 23 ♖e1-e7 threatens 24 ♖e7xa7!, exploiting the <PIN> on the Black b6-bishop by the White a5-bishop to the Black d8-rook.

(VAR) Position after threatened 24 ♖e7xa7!:

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Always, always, always try to exploit the <PIN>! And three pieces in a row (White a5-bishop + Black b6-bishop + Black d8-rook) is a <PIN>.

Nov-13-08  chocobonbon: The coordination of the Rook & Knight is as fluid as a fish swimming downstream. I would have liked to have seen the game & heard the thoughts of each contestant. Rubinstein's internal vocabulary probably sought expansion.
Jun-22-09  Bridgeburner: PART I:

This was another sad loss by Rubinstein.

On the surface, this was another, typically smooth win by Capablanca. Looking deeper, Rubinstein missed a couple of chances to take control of the game, a couple of more to save it, and then blundered to lose the game and allow Capablanca to level their career scores. Although this game has a series of errors, theyre fascinating grandmaster errors resulting in a flawed but extremely instructive game.

ACTUAL GAME MOVES 1-11:<1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5 3.dxc5 e6 4.e4 Bcc5 5.exd5 exd5 6.Bb5+ Nc6 7.0-0 Nge7 8.Nbd2 0-0 9.Nb3 Bb6 10.Re1 Bg4 11.Bd3?>

Capablanca had played a quiet opening, maybe content to continue with his policy of draws with Rubinstein since that stinging defeat at San Sebastian in 1911, but incredibly, he has misplayed the opening.

<11.Bd3> is probably a transpositional error and now the <d3> square should become a target. <11.h3> immediately was better, and if now <11Bxf3 12.Qxf3 a6 13.Bd3 Ng6> and White has gained a tempo on the position in the game.

ACTUAL GAME MOVES 11-13 <11Ng6 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Qxf3>

Rubinstein could have now grabbed the game by the short and curlies with <13Nge5!> freeing the <g6> square and leaving the queen knight where its needed on the queen wing - instead of <13Nce5>, which is only sufficient for equality. Position after <13Nge5>:

FEN No: 1

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A. If now <14.Qf5 g6 15.Qf4 Nxd3 16.cxd3 a5 (threatening <17a4> followed by <Nb4>) 17.d4 Nb4 18.Re2 (preparing to develop the bishop and to double on the e-file, if permitted, and preventing <18Nc2>) Re8 19.Rxe8 (oh well) Qxe8 20.Be3 Qe4> and Black is calling the shots. For example, if <21.Qf6>, Black has the choice of <21Bd8> and <21Qe6>. Or if <21.Qxe4 dxe4> and the endgame is good for Black.

B. Alternatively, if <14.Qf4 Nxd3 15.cxd3 a5 16.d4 (to prevent <16d4>) Rc8> and Black has a great time with all sorts of possibilities and threats involving the c-file and Knight forks from <b4>.

Jun-22-09  Bridgeburner: Part II

C. Finally, if <14.Qg3 Nxd3 15.Qxd3>:

FEN No.2:

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then <15Qf6!>:

FEN No.3:

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and White has a serious problem completing his development while simultaneously defending <f2> and <b2>.


A. <16.Qe2 h6 17.c3 (apparently defending both points) d4! (threatening <18d3>) 18.cxd4 Nxd4 19.Nxd4 Bxd4>:

FEN No.4

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Whites problems remain. If <20.Rb1 Rae8! 21.Be3 (forced if <21.Qxe8?? Qxf2+ 22.Kh1 Rxe8 23.Rxe8+ Kh7> the value of <16h6> is apparent here - and White has to surrender the bishop or be mated) 21Bxe3 22.fxe3>:

FEN No.5

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And its better to be Black than White. Black can triple on the e-file against the weak e-pawn and White can only defend.

B. <16.Rf1 Rfe8 17.Bd2 Rad8> (probably better than <17Qxb2 18.Bc3 Qa3 19.Qxd5>) and White is behind in his development, with Black square weakness on both wings, namely at <f2> and <b2>, but also at <c2>. Black has complete control of the center, especially <d4>. If White tries <18.Bc3>, then <18d4>, followed by <19Ne5> tightens the screws.

C. <16.Be3 Bxe3> followed by <17Qxb2>

D. <16.Qg3>:

D.1. <16Qg6 17.Qxg6 fxg6! 18.Be3 d4 19.Bd2/g5 d3 20.Be3 Nb4 21.Bxb6 (<21.cxd3 .Nc2> wins the exchange) axb6 22.Re4 Nxc2 23.Rd1> should hold, eg: if <23Rxa2 24.Rxd3 Rxb2 25.Re7> and Whites extra pawn is worth zip.

D.2. <16Nb4! 17.Bg5 Qg6!> (<17Bxf2+ 18.Qxf2 Qxg5> also wins a pawn, but the position is not as convincing, eg: <19.Nd4 Rae8 20.a3 Nc6 21.Nxc6 bxc6 22.Qa7> regains the pawn, with equality):

D.2.a <18.Red1 Nxc2 19.Rac1 d4> followed by a rook to <c8> and Black is much better or

D.2.b <18.Rad1 Nxc2 19.Re2 Rfe8 20.Rxe8+ Rxe8 21.Rxd5 Nb4 22.Rd7 Qe6 23.Rd1 or d2 (not <23.Rxb7?? Qe1+ 24.Kh2 Bxf2> wins the queen) 23Nxa2> and again Black is preferable, eg: <24.Nd4 Qg6 25.Nf3 f6 26.Bh4 Qxg3 27.Bxg3 Kf7> and Black may be winning.

Jun-22-09  Bridgeburner: PART III

Returning to FEN No. 1

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If instead <14.Qg3 Nxd3 15.cxd3>:

FEN No.6

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then <15Qf6!> still works well:

FEN No.7:

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White still lags in development, and the pressure on <f2> and especially on <b2> remains acute. <16.Be3> is still not possible without giving away the pawn on <b2>. White is reduced to having to use a rook (<16.Re2> or <16.Rb1>) to defend <b2> so the bishop can develop. Heres a 23 ply dump that gives an idea of the difficulties with which White has to contend:

<1. 16.Re2 Rae8 17.Bg5 Qg6 (17Qxg5?!! Is interesting) 18.Rae1 Rxe2 19.Rxe2 Nb4 (also possible is19...a5 20.a4 Nb4 21.d4 Nc6 22.Rd2 Re8 23.Kh2 f5 24.Bf4 Qf7 25.Bd6 Re1 26.f3) 20.d4 Nc6 21.Be3 Qxg3 22.fxg3 f6 23.Kf2

2. 16.Rb1 Rfe8 17.Be3 h5 18.a3 h4 19.Qg4 Bxe3 20.fxe3 Re7 21.Rf1 Qh6 22.Rbe1 Rxe3 23.Qd7 Qe6 24.Qxe6 Rxe6 25.Rxe6

3. 16.Be3 Bxe3 17.Qxe3 Qxb2 18.Rab1 Qxa2 19.Nd4 Nxd4 20.Qxd4 b6 21.Ra1 Qd2 22.Qxd5 Rad8 23.Qb7 Rxd3>

All variations favor Black


ACTUAL GAME MOVES 13-15: <13Nce5 14.Qf5 Nxd3 15.Qxd3?> (after <15.cxd3>, Black has nothing.):

FEN No:8

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ACTUAL GAME MOVE: <15.d4?!>:

FEN No. 9

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A pity. He misses another golden opportunity to seize the initiative with <15Qf6>:

FEN No: 10

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The same problems of protecting both <f2> and <b2> while trying to somehow complete his development would confront White now. In fact there are six reasonably viable ways of protecting <f2>, but all leave Black with a positional and/or material advantage:

<16.Qe2>, <16.Rf1>, <16.Be3>, <16.Re2>, <16.Qd2> and <16.Qf1>, while <16.Kh1> trades the f-pawn for the d-pawn, again with advantage to Black. Naturally not <16.Qxd5??? Qxf2+>.

Maybe it was the abundance of such defensive moves, and the complexity of the variations which they produced, that motivated Rubinstein to try a different strategy, but two chances in one game to gain an advantage over Capablanca was more than most players received in a lifetime.

Jun-22-09  Bridgeburner: PART IV:

ACTUAL GAME MOVES 16-19 (from FEN No. 9): <16.Bd2 Qf6 17.Re4 Rad8 18.Rael Qc6 19.g3 Rfe8(?)> (<19Rd5> followed by <20Rc8> and Blacks fine):

FEN No. 11:

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A third slipamazing. Why didnt Capablanca bother to exchange rooks and remove the d-pawn, giving himself the advantage?

ACTUAL GAME MOVES 20-23: <20Rxe4(?)> (<20Bxa5 21.Nxa5 Rxe4 22.Qxe4 Qb6 23.Nb3 Nf8> followed by <24Ne6> would have safely secured the draw) <21.Qxe4 Nf8 22.Qxc6 bxc6 23.Re7>:

FEN No. 12

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White has gained an edge with this rook move. Essential for Black now is <23d3> to liquidate some pawns, creating some room for his rook, eg: <24.cxd3 Rxd3 25.Bxb6> (if <25.Bb4> hoping to snare Black on the back rank, then <25Rxg3+! 26.Kf1 Rg5 27.Re8 c5 28.Ba3 f6> and Black has won a pawn, and is home free) <25Rd1+ 26.Kg2 axb6 27.Rb7 Nd7 28.Kf3 g6>:

FEN No.13

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And Black should comfortably defend the draw.

ACTUAL GAME MOVE: <23Rd5?>. Possibly the losing move against a player of Capablancas quality: it severely jeopardizes the game, allowing Whites pieces to infiltrate his position, and to mobilize a queen side attack.

ACTUAL GAME MOVES 24-26: <24.Bxb6 axb6 25.Rb7 Nd7 26.Rc7>:

FEN No.14

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Rubinstein had played the endgame sluggishly, allowing Capablanca to infiltrate his second rank and to probe for weaknesses.

<26c5> was essential, eg: <27.Rc8+ Nf8 28.Nd2 b5 29.b3> White will create a passed pawn on the a-file with either <c4> or <a4>, while Black takes his chances in the middle. The game may still be lost for Black as Whites pieces have a better defensive placement to stop Blacks central advance, whereas Black has very little to prevent Whites queen side attack, but the actual move ruins any chances of saving his game.

Jun-22-09  Bridgeburner: PART V

ACTUAL GAME MOVES 27-32: <27.Rc8+ Nf8 28.Nd2 c5 29.Nc4 Re6 30.Rb8 Re1+ 31.Kg2 g5 32.a4 Ra1>:

FEN No.15

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White is now winning easily, but just as <33.Na3!> followed by <34.Rxb6> would seal the win, Capablanca gives Rubinstein another chance to save the game.

ACTUAL GAME MOVES 33-36: <33.Nxb6?!> threatening the pinned Knight <33Kg7 34.Rc8 Ne6 35.Nd7 Rxa4 36.Nxc5>:

FEN No. 16

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ACTUAL GAME MOVES 36-37: <36...Rb4? 37.Nd3>, he may as well have resigned at this point as resistance is now futile.

Exchanging knights with <36...Nxc5 37.Rxc5> would have given Black much more of a fighting chance in a very tight rook/pawn ending:

There might follow: <37...Kg6 38.Kf3 Rb4 39.b3 d3! 40.cxd3 Rxb3 41.Ke4 Rb2>:

FEN No.17

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and White has to work really hard for the win, perhaps in vain, eg: <42.Rc6+ f6 43.f4 gxf4 44.Kxf4 h5>:

FEN No.18

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It's hard to see how White can make headway, eg:

1. <45.Ke4 Re2+ 46.Kf3 Rd2 47.Ke3 Rg2>


2. <45.h4 Rf2+ 46.Ke4 Ra2 47.Rc5 Re2+ 48.Kf4 Rf2+ 49.Ke3 Rg2>


3. <45.Rc8 Rf2+ 46.Ke4 Re2+ 47.Kf3 Rd2 48.Rc3 Rd1 49.Ke2 Rg1 50.Kf2 Rd1 51.Kf3 Rf1+ 52.Kg2 Rd1 53.Kf2>

Alternatively (from FEN No.17), <42.f4 h6 (<42gxf4> seems to lose here) 43.d4 Re2+ 44.Kf3 Rd2 45.f5 Kf6 46.Rc6+ Kg7> provides Black with some stiff challenges, however, they can be seen through (especially if you have an engine, unlimited time, and the patience to navigate the engine through some of the balderdash it evolves from this seemingly simple position).

ACTUAL GAME MOVES 37-43: <37Rb5 (Rubinstein must now realize hes lost) 38.Kf3 h6 39.b4 h5 40.g4 hxg4 41.hxg4 f6 42.Rc4 Kf7 43.Nc5 Nd8 44.Nb3 resigns>

Whites d-pawn must fall.

Premium Chessgames Member
  profK: Opening I think transposes into a Tarrasch French, over which Capa copped it against Keres at one point as Black.
Jul-04-16  RookFile: 4. e4 was a nifty move. Black can't play 4....dxe4 because of 5. Qxd8+ Kxd8 6. Ng5 Ke8 7. Nxe4 and Capa has a clear advantage in the endgame.
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