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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Emanuel Lasker
St Petersburg (1914)  ·  Spanish Game: Open. Bernstein Variation (C80)  ·  1/2-1/2
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-19-04  totoma: On move 77, I think Nxg7. Rxd4+ 78)Kxd4. Kxg7 79)Ke5 ... then Lasker would be winning. If i'm wrong please tell me...
Feb-19-04  karlzen: <totoma>, I think you meant to say "then Capablanca would be winning", right? Well, anyway, white, Capa, wouldn't be able to win that one I'm afraid. If you do not know this one by heart already, you must study it in detail.In your line, 79...Kf7 holds the draw, but it is also the only move that makes it. The point is that black needs to stop white's king for getting in front of the passed pawn. If white got to e6 or f6 then he could force his way to the next to last rank, helping the pawn on its heroic trip to queening. If black's king is on f7, it's impossible to force matters into white's favour: 80.f6 Kf8 - again the only move - it's important to stay in front of the pawn... 81.Ke6 Ke8! and gain the opposition. Now white's only course is 82.f7+ but then black simply answers 82...Kf8 when white is forced to play 83.Kf6 and we have a stalemate, a position where black has no moves.
Feb-19-04  totoma: I meant Capa of course (and sorry) thanks for that...
Feb-19-04  aulero: I don't like 47.h4 because it closes a path to White King. My general idea is trying to put the White King in h5 and dislodge the Black King from f7 square in order to occupy the g6 square. This can possibly combined with other treats like giving a minor piece for two pawn (I figured out for example h4 and then Nxg7-Kxg7 Bxh6+ followed by g5).

I'm only providing ideas, not forcing lines. In particular I'm not saying that White wins, but only that "I don't like 47.h4" and why.

Feb-19-04  Cyphelium: <aulero> I like your idea, but how do you get the king to h5?
Feb-19-04  aulero: One possibility is putting the B in f4, the N in e6 and then moving the K via g3-h4. If Black keeps the R on the third row, then I will put the K in g2 and the B in g3 followed by K-h3-h4.
Feb-19-04  Cyphelium: It looks interesting. It is hard to see what black should do. One idea is playing g7-g6 when the knight is on e6, but it doesn't look like much.
Feb-19-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <aulero> I don't think you can get there. With the B at f4 and at some point you move Kg3-Kh4, then g5+ forks the K and B. White can take e.p. at g6, but then Kxe6. I don't see where you can place the Bishop since the white rook can chase it around.
Feb-19-04  aulero: Well, <Calli> you may be right, but it depends on the exact position.

To be honest, I initially thought to put the N in g6 in order to avoid g7-g6 or g7-g5, then the B in f4. But I changed my mind because it seemed more diffcult to reach.

As I did not calculate any variants and I don't calculate them now, I cannot be sure of the feasibility. My feelings are that, playing h4, Capablanca gave away a possible victory.

Feb-19-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Up to you to prove it! :-)

The big debate in this game was earlier in the play. Everybody praises Capa's 19.Nd2-e4! as conferring the initiative. Tarrasch, in the tournament book, claimed that he should have continued with 22.g4 Rxf3 23.Kg2 Rb3. Colin Crouch's modern analysis failed to find a win for white in this line, however.

May-07-04  mtatewaki: can sb tell me why Fritz 8 gives +2.5 in the end postion?
May-07-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Read Karlzen's post on this page. Try playing the position as black against the computer following his advice. White is up material but can't win.
May-07-04  Lawrence: Evaluations of end position:

Crafty 19.11 +3.18
Fritz 8 +2.50
Chess Tiger 14 +2.45
Shredder 7.04 +2.36
Hiarcs 9 +1.91
Rebel 12 +1.23
Junior 8 +0.28

May-07-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <Lawrence> And what does that tell us?

:-)

May-07-04  Lawrence: <Calli>, well, I don't like to boast or anything...hum, hum....well....don't want to say it but....oh please twist my arm just a bit more....well, if you insist....you know which engine I always use. (My son on the contrary is convinced that Hiarcs is not stronger but gives a better evaluation than Junior.)
May-07-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: I will chime in with my $0.02: The key to this type of endgame is that the corner lacks the space the trio {K,B,N} needs to co-ordinate its attack against the base of Black P-chain. Thus Lasker just keeps the base of his chain at Pg7 and side snipes White with his R. The more up-the-board and toward-the-center Black pawns are, the better are the chances for White. (Also a pawn-split would have helped.) Same as <aulero>, I dislike h4 and would have marched my king ahead of its pawns. But draw is a draw, and Lasker would not let it slip.
May-08-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Advancing the king is the intuitive plan, but having revisited this game a few times, I don't think it works. The game appears to be drawn at that point, IMHO. If thats true at move 47, then, in fact, it has been headed toward a draw for many moves. Quite amazing considering the length of the game that no annotator can find a winning line in last 75 moves!

Did Capa miss the win? I believe he did. One has to go all the way back to 23.Be3. Its impossible to criticize this plan because he does eventually wins material and who could see that it was not sufficient to win? However, Colin Crouch suggested 23.Nd6 Bxd6 24.Rxd6 as a possibility. I believe that it wins. There are way too many variations to post but basically, black's B pawn is dead. The endgame is always won for White in the lines I have tried. Of course, I am not Lasker and who knows what trick he would come with.

Nov-12-04  Bobak Zahmat: After 77.Bxg7 would lead to a faster draw. But it is a great job of Lasker to draw this match, in which he has desicive material disadvantage.
Nov-13-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <Bobak Zahmat> As the B is pinned, <77.Bxg7> is an illegal move. I think you must mean something like:

<78.Bxg7> Re1+ 79.Kd5 Rf1 80.Ke5 Re1+ 81.Kd6 Rf1 82.Bd4 Rxf5. I think Ossip Bernstein originally found this.

<totoma> Your idea of 77.Nxg7 Rxd4+(!) 78.Kxd4 Kxg7 79.Ke5 <then Lasker would be winning> is a draw after <79...Kf7> as he has the opposition.

Dec-16-07  Duck McCluck: I have analyzed this game extensively and without engines. I for one would love to see what some other people think on this game, since I for one would like to believe a winning line exists somewhere out of all these moves.
Jun-08-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <karlzen: <totoma>, I think you meant to say "then Capablanca would be winning", right? Well, anyway, white, Capa, wouldn't be able to win that one I'm afraid. If you do not know this one by heart already, you must study it in detail.In your line, 79...Kf7 holds the draw, but it is also the only move that makes it. The point is that black needs to stop white's king for getting in front of the passed pawn. If white got to e6 or f6 then he could force his way to the next to last rank, helping the pawn on its heroic trip to queening. If black's king is on f7, it's impossible to force matters into white's favour: 80.f6 Kf8 - again the only move - it's important to stay in front of the pawn... 81.Ke6 Ke8! and gain the opposition. Now white's only course is 82.f7+ but then black simply answers 82...Kf8 when white is forced to play 83.Kf6 and we have a stalemate, a position where black has no moves.>

It seems that both players were completely aware of the nuances of the endgame. Lasker knew exactly how to draw, and Capablanca knew that Lasker knew. And this was 1914! Before this game, what did endgame theory say about it? Or did these two just make endgame theory?

Aug-31-09  WhiteRook48: Lasker, the other Marshall
Nov-15-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <visayanbraindoctor: ... It seems that both players were completely aware of the nuances of the endgame. Lasker knew exactly how to draw, and Capablanca knew that Lasker knew. And this was 1914! Before this game, what did endgame theory say about it? Or did these two just make endgame theory?>

I very much doubt that there was any theory on this ending before this game (or, if so, that the players knew of it). Fine's <Basic Chess Endings> didn't come out until 1941, and I think that endgame theory was pretty much in its infancy in 1914. I remember reading Dvoretsky's annotations to Romanishin vs M Dvoretsky, 1974. Dvoretsky had to defend the same ending, and successfully did so, expressly relying on his study of Lasker's technique in this game. (They had adjournments back in those days.)

Lasker was a giant, and extraordinarily good at defending difficult, seemingly lost endgames. See also his miraculous save in Lasker vs Ed Lasker, 1924, in which the spectators (including Bogolyubow, who prematurely congratulated Edward Lasker on winning) thought he was lost. Writing about that game, Dvoretsky on the last page of <Dvoretsky's Analytical Manual> offers the highest praise:

<What inspires me the most is Lasker's fantastic defense in the endgame. After his opponent's missed win (72...Rh8? instead of 72...Rd7+!), the former world champion spent 30 moves holding on to a most difficult position. Many hours of analysis, aided by computers, have established that in this endgame, Lasker made only one subtle mistake (75.Ke4?, instead of 75.Kc3!) in contrast to the annotators (among them, two world champions) who, working at their leisure, and able to move the pieces on the board, erred repeatedly. Meanwhile, Lasker's best years were already long past (55 years old is a more than respectable age for serious work at the chessboard). He was also exhausted and undoubtedly disappointed at the unfortunate turn this game had taken for him. But his iron will and superb chess mastery overcame all obstacles. I doubt that any modern grandmaster would be capable of such exploits!>

The mis-analyzing grandmasters to whom Dvoretsky refers include Kasparov (Dvoretsky is extremely critical of his analysis of the ending), Alekhine, and Averbakh, who erroneously analyzed the ending in one of his series of books on the endgame.

Nov-15-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: A worthy contribution, <FSR>. I am gonna check in detail the reference games.
Nov-15-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Thanks, <maxi>.
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