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Edward G Sergeant vs Jose Raul Capablanca
Margate (1935), Margate ENG, rd 6, Apr-30
French Defense: Winawer. Delayed Exchange Variation (C01)  ·  0-1
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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-14-05  CapablancaFan: Sometimes I love these quiet lesser known games from Capablanca. Here is a rare game from Capa where he actually uses the french defence opening! The game flows along smoothly, there are no sacrafices or combanative surprises. The game whittles down to a 2 knight vs knight and bishop ending. Just as the game looks like it's heading toward drawish territory, Capa suddendly checks with the knight! The white king is forced to step back, then suddendly Nxg2! Abruptly, just like that, game over! Notice that if 38.Nxg2? dosen't help because then 38....h3! and white cannot prevent the pawn from reaching the queening square! Capa was something else, just another example of why this guy was able to remain world champion for 8 years. I just love this guy's style.
Nov-14-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  James Demery: I couldn`t agree more CapaFan. Capablanca rocked the house. Lasker and Capa are my two favorite players.
Nov-15-05  CapablancaFan: <James Demery> Kudos. Capa always played chess seemingly effortlessly. He made it look so easy. Not many players had that ability.
Nov-15-05  ughaibu: Can someone explain to me what's meant by Capablanca making chess look easy? I dont think his moves are more predictable than those of other top players.
Nov-15-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <ughaibu> Maybe it was the effortless way he beat his opponents, that made it look "easy".
Nov-15-05  ughaibu: Yes but what does "effortless" mean?
Nov-15-05  paladin at large: It doesn't look effortless or easy to me. For example, a move like 12....h4 shows me a lot of thought or deep intuitive understanding of the position, but it is not an immediately obvious move. In retrospect, Capablanca's moves often seem natural in that they gain time or force a weakening of the opponent's position. But there seems to be uncommon foresight and understanding of the possiblities within the position which lead to the timing and sequence of his moves. I am always glad to learn in a Capablanca game whenever he took a long time for a particular move, since this is an indicator where he felt he had to shift for the moment his reliance on judgment and intuition into deeper calculation.
Nov-15-05  euripides: One thing Capablanca and Fischer had in commoon was an ability to use exchanges to retain an advantage. At move 22 it looks as if White needs to exchange the rooks off and can then hope to survive. Capablanca calmly allows the exchange, perhaps knowing that the ending was much better for him. I think this ability to allow a position to simplfy while keeping the advantage is part of what lies behind the 'effortless' impression.
Nov-15-05  jaaron11: I think part of the reason that Capablanca's play is often described as "effortless" is the speed and accuracy with which he played in complicated positions. It must have been unnerving to sit across from him and calculate variations for 20 minutes, only to see his rejoinder played almost off-handedly in a matter of moments.
Nov-15-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: I read in some book that when you played Alekhine, you didn't know what was coming.But when you played Capablanca, you knew what was coming, but you could not stop it.
Nov-16-05  paladin at large: <chancho> I believe it was G.A. Thomas who said that.
Nov-16-05  euripides: 36 Nd2 may be an oversight. But White is possibly in a fatal zugzwang anyway. If 36 b4 Black can wait and allow bxc5 bxc5 or b5, and then White seems to run out of moves.
Nov-16-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <paladin at large> Thanks for the info.
Nov-17-05  ughaibu: Euripides: It's an interesting idea. In this game Capablanca isn't actively exchanging but the exchanges sought by his opponent dont relieve the opponent's position. As exchanges seem to have always been considered the standard method of reducing pressure, it's possible that Capablanca made a practice of forming plans that would specifically lead to his advantage in case of exchanges thus forcing his opponents to search for non-standard plans, almost a species of psychological zugzwang. It would be interesting to see if he was able to win in the same style against the strongest opponents, capable of more imaginative planning than Sergeant (I dont feel that the Nimzowitsch game really illustrates the same effect).
Nov-17-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <euripides: 36 Nd2 may be an oversight. But White is possibly in a fatal zugzwang anyway. If 36 b4 Black can wait and allow bxc5 bxc5 or b5, and then White seems to run out of moves.> 36. Nd2? loses. It is just a blunder.

I do not see any zugzwang after 36. b4, threatening b5. Black must stop this. If 36... a6 37. b5!. If 36... Bb8 (or Bd8 or Bf4) 37. b5 Kd6 38. Nf5. So Black must play 36... Nf4 and there is no zugzswang.

Nov-17-05  euripides: <Mateo> yes I had thought Black could simply play Kd7 but hadn't noticed that White attacks d5.

One possibility is 36 b4 Bf4 37 b5+ Kd6 38 Nf5+ Kd7 39 N1e3 Bxe3 40 Kxe3 (not Nxe3 Nf4+ followed by Nxg2) Nf4 41 Kf2 Nd3+ 42 Ke2 Nb2 43 Kd2 Nxa4 44 Kc2 and White is probably OK as Black has to extricate his knight. So perhaps Black should play 36...Nf4+ as you suggest and continue with c4 gaining hold of d3.

Nov-17-05  euripides: ...another possiblity is 36 b4 Nf4+ 37 Kd2 cxb4 38 cxb4 b5 fixing the b4 pawn as a target. After 39 a5 Bd6 40 Kc3 Black has Ne2+.

I feel Capablanca would have found a win but it would be nice to be sure.

Nov-19-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: This game is an easy win even without 36.Nd2.

<Euripedes> <another possiblity is 36 b4 Nf4+ 37 Kd2 cxb4 38 cxb4 b5 fixing the b4 pawn as a target>

Exactly or d4 can become a target. Most exact is 36.b4 Nf4+ 37.Kc2 a6 and either White is passive and Black will exchange pawns 38.Kd2 cxb4 39.cxb4 b5 40.axb5+ axb5 41.Kc3 Bb6 or White can try exchanging 38.dxc5 bxc5 39.Kb3 Be5. Either way, White can't defend the k-side and q-side at the same time.

A far-sighted plan by Capablanca.

Oct-12-06  notyetagm: <Knights hate rook pawns!>

Steve Giddins says this over and over again in his new book "50 Essential Chess Lessons". Here Capablanca provides a great example.

The position after 37 ... ♘xg2! 38 ♘xg2 h3 is absolutely hysterical:


click for larger view

White has not one but two(!) knights in the vicinity of the Black h3-pawn's h1-promotion square but he is utterly powerless(!) to prevent this passed pawn from promoting.

So great is the inability of knights to deal with passed rook pawns that in this position not even a pair of knights can stop one Black passed pawn, since it is a rook pawn.

<Knights hate rook pawns!>

Oct-12-06  Autoreparaturwerkbau: So true, <notyetagm>. Well pointed out.
Oct-12-06  CapablancaFan: <notyetagm> Everything you said is exactly correct. For Sergeant to even have played one more move would have been almost anti-climatic. As I pointed out in my previous post, Sergeant had a nasty choice, allow Cap to have a passed pawn or allow Capa to have a passed pawn! Lol.. He took the best course of action in this situation...resigned!
Jun-26-11  notyetagm: Game Collection: KNIGHTS *HATE* ROOK PAWNS!
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