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|Nov-28-09|| ||FSR: <maxi> To the contrary, Capablanca said that this game was his best. Chernev quotes Capablanca's statement to Marshall: "I think my most finished and artistic game was the one I played against Dr. Bernstein on February 4, 1914." Chernev then wrote: "Here is the game" and gave the present game, ending with the famous 29...Qb2!! Chernev, The Chess Companion, p. 243.|
|Nov-28-09|| ||maxi: <FSR> In this case I am sure Chernev was victim of some sort of confusion. This misunderstanding strikes me as extremely peculiar, because these two games bear no comparison. The Moscow game, the one in this thread, is a rather insipid. True, it has the daring 15...c4, and the closing tactical finesse 29...Qb2 (as Capa would have put it), but Bernstein's defense stinks to high heaven, and he basically forces Capa to move his c Pawn forward. It is unlikely that Capa would have become attached to such an unnourishing meal. On the contrary the St. Petersburg game is interesting in its opening and strategy, and totally exceptional in its attack. It has been the object of never-ending analysis in the literature through the years.|
In his book <My Chess Career> Capa annotates both games. He does not make much of the Moscow game. Says that he lured Dr. Bernstein into a fatal trap, and, while giving 29...Qb2 an exclamation mark, makes no further comment. On the contrary, the annotations to the St. Petersburg game are lavish. He carefully comments the opening and profusely on the attack. Among other things he says: "I believe that this is one of the longest combinations on record, and that if the number of pieces involved, its many aspects and complications are all considered, it will be difficult to find one to match it." And ends saying: "I beg to be forgiven if I dwell too long on this game, but it appeals as much to my artistic sense as it complies the logical and analytical requirements which I deem essential in a masterpiece."
Capa also annotated the St. Petersburg game in the Capablanca-Magazine (as quoted by Edward Winter in his book <Capablanca>), and, among many interesting phrases, has the following two, that pertain very much to the present discussion: "21.Bh4 The beginning of one of the most profound and original combinations ever played." And: "This game is perhaps the best I have ever played." (p.78)
|Nov-29-09|| ||FSR: <maxi> I see your point, and agree with you that Bernstein played weakly. However, Winter also gives the same quote, and the source (not specified by Chernev) - Marshall's book "Chess Masterpieces," p. 24. http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail... When Marshall asked Capablanca what his best game was, Capablanca reportedly replied, "It is difficult to say; so much depends on the point of view. There are three possible types of best game – a fine attack, a brilliant defence, or a purely artistic treatment. ... I think my most finished and artistic game was the one I played against Dr Bernstein at Moscow on 4 February 1914."|
|Nov-29-09|| ||maxi: <FSR> If the source of the quote is Marshall, it is very likely that what happened was that Capa told him that he considered his best game to be the one against Bernstein, and Marshall, trying to be helpful, supplied the date of the one he was aware about. This type of evidence is what in a court of law would be called hearsay.|
On the other hand we have the obvious artistic gap between the two games, and the fact that we have in our possession Capa's own anotations of both games. In those he highly praises only the St. Petersburg one, and specifically says that it is likely that it is his best one.
|Nov-29-09|| ||MaczynskiPratten: Very interesting detail from <maxi>. I played through both games and was initially inclined to agree that it was the other Bernstein game that Capablanca was referring to as his favourite. Although I don't feel that Bernstein's play was particularly poor in this game - he was rightly trying to eliminate Black's passed pawn and overlooked all the ramifications of the tactical finesse at the end - the strategy is relatively straightforward, whereas in the other game both strategy and tactics are deep and complex. |
And yet, on the other hand ... if Marshall had accidentally selected the wrong game, since he published it in Chess Masterpieces, surely Capa would have noticed the error and made some comment to that effect? So maybe Capablanca considered the spectacular and problem-like last move made this game his favourite on the specific basis of artistic effect - as opposed to "a fine attack or brilliant defence" or a strategic positional masterpiece.
|Nov-29-09|| ||maxi: <MaczynskiPratten> Capa was a gold mint celebrity at a time when there were very few. Countless books and articles were written about him and his games. It is very unlikely he would have read/cared about Marshall's book. And if by any chance he had seen and read in this book about his game, why on earth would he have felt compelled to settle the record straight? He was oblivious to chess literature, anyway. He did not give a damn what people wrote, and said so several times.|
|Nov-29-09|| ||MaczynskiPratten: <maxi>; but bear in mind that the top masters all knew each other pretty well and mixed together socially (and for example travelled across oceans on boats together, this being long before the days of transoceanic air travel). For Marshall's book he states that he actually asked various fellow masters what they considered their best games. Yes, a misunderstanding is possible, but surely at some stage during the next 14 years the subject would have come up again, even if only in passing conversation, and the mistake would have been noticed. |
I suspect that among all his hard-fought, long-drawn-out gems of strategy, Capablanca also cherished this wonderful bolt from the blue which turns an apparently drawn position into an instant resignation situation. Beauty in chess comes in many forms.
|Nov-29-09|| ||MaczynskiPratten: As a matter of interest, I wonder what we might consider to be Capablanca's greatest achievement in the different forms which he mentioned? I'd suggest as a possibility:|
Fine attack - Capablanca vs O Bernstein, 1914 - see discussions above!
Brilliant defence - Capablanca vs Marshall, 1918 (the Marshall Gambit game), or maybe Marshall vs Capablanca, 1909 from their first match in 1909
Artistic impression - this game, still!
Positional strategy - Bogoljubov vs Capablanca, 1928.
|Nov-30-09|| ||FSR: <maxi <FSR> If the source of the quote is Marshall, it is very likely that what happened was that Capa told him that he considered his best game to be the one against Bernstein, and Marshall, trying to be helpful, supplied the date of the one he was aware about.> |
I don't think that is a reasonable supposition. Marshall quotes Capablanca as saying, "I think my most finished and artistic game was the one I played against Dr Bernstein at Moscow on 4 February 1914." This quote almost surely must have come from correspondence, not an oral statement - presumably Capablanca would not have remembered the date off the top of his head. The other Bernstein game was played at St. Petersburg, not Moscow, and of course on a different date.
It is also significant that Winter and Chernev both quote Marshall's statement without questioning it. Winter is the author of a biography of Capablanca and another book on chess champions, and a chess historian known for his punctiliousness. Chernev knew and revered Capablanca, had studied his games, wrote a book about his endgames, and considered him the greatest player of all time. I find it hard to believe that (a) Marshall would have misquoted Capablanca, making up a date and place that Capablanca had not said, (b) this error would not have come to light at some point in the 14 years between the publication of Marshall's book and Capablanca's death, (c) Chernev, if he had any doubts, would not have asked Capablanca whether Marshall's statement was accurate, and (d) Winter and Chernev, both of them authorities on Capablanca, would quote Marshall without suggesting that he was in error if they had any doubts about the veracity of the quote.
The present game is artistic precisely because Bernstein put up weak resistance, giving Capablanca a passed pawn and then naively capturing it, overlooking Capablanca's coup 29...Qb2!! Had Bernstein played better, Capablanca probably would not have won the game at all, and if he did win it surely would not have done so in such a memorable manner.
|Nov-30-09|| ||maxi: <MaczynskiPratten> Somehow I had missed this game till now: Marshall vs Capablanca, 1909 Wow, what a game!|
<FSR> If Capa had written the phrase to Marshall instead of orally expressing it, it makes no difference. When Marshall reported Capa's phrase, he, helpfully, added what he thought would be welcomed information to the reader. As to why nobody cleared up the point, well, there was no point to clear up. It simply never came up because Capa did not read Marshall's book. If somebody said, "Capa, so you think your best game is the one against Bernstein?", he would have answered "Yes". And if they had also used the date he would have probably answered Yes just the same. Who remembers the dates of his games?
If you are acquainted with Capa's writings, I believe you would agree that he always was more concerned with strategy than with tactics. (I think that is because tactics were basically trivial to him. Another point he was always concerned about, by the way, was the correctness of his overall early appreciation of a position.) I doubt that 29...Qb2 would have particularly trilled him. This type of combination based on the back-rank mate weakness is a rather common tactical theme.
|Dec-02-09|| ||MaczynskiPratten: <maxi>: Looks like we will have to agree to disagree on this one. Personally, although I try to be a strategic player, I find it very satisfying when I can produce a piece of elegant or startling tactics. I suspect that Capa, despite his preference for strategy, also enjoyed producing a quick and elegant shock finish like this.|
|Mar-04-10|| ||echector: I want to nominate one of my moves!|
|Aug-13-10|| ||sevenseaman: Its a great idea to suck out the White Q to an ineffective square. Win/Win.|
|Aug-13-10|| ||Marmot PFL: It would have been interesting to see how black would win if white just played to hold the position with 27 Nd4. The rook moves from 23-26 are such an obvious trap for the white knight (which he falls into). White should just ignore it and play h3 or g3, though Capa would most likely have won the game anyway in some sort of ending.|
|Jun-11-11|| ||Domdaniel: Does anyone know more about the conditions under which this game was played?|
Fox & James, in The Complete Chess Addict, describe it as an 'Exhibition Game', adding that "Capa's last move is one of the most famous in chess history".
|Jun-11-11|| ||Benzol: <Domdaniel>
The Unknown Capablanca says the following : "In September 1913 Capablanca was attached to the Cuban Foreign Office; his mission was to visit the capitals of Europe and, by his fame at chess, to put Cuba on the map. From October 1913 to March 1914 he went to London, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Riga, Leningrad, Moscow, Kiev, and Vienna. In these and other cities he demonstrated his astonishing skill at simultaneous chess - always with a record crowd of spectators - and he played twenty-four serious games against some of the best masters of Europe: Alekhine, Bernstein, Bogoljubow, Bohatirchuk, Levenfish, Duz Hotimirsky, Mieses, Nimzowitsch, Reti, Salwe, Tartakower, and others. He scored 19+ 1- 4=, or 87.5%, an outstanding result by any standards".
Dale Brandreth and David Hooper give the date of this game as the 4th of February 1914 but Rogelio Caparros gives it as 14th of February 1914. It was the first game of a two game match the second one was played two days later with a drawn result.
|Jun-12-11|| ||Domdaniel: <Benzol> Aha, *that* tour. Thanks.|
I may have to consult the CG Librarian now, for a little exercise in pedantry, viz: should such games be classified as 'Exhibition' or 'Classical'? As you say, these were 'serious' games, so were presumably played under something like tournament conditions, with appropriate time controls. Which is Classical, yet the occasion was clearly an Exhibition. Hmm ...
|Jun-12-11|| ||BobCrisp: Been meaning to get <The Unknown Capablanca> for a long time. Second hand copies are available for a few quid. The 1994 second edition is 'revised' (does that mean new material?) but, alas, it's still in standard notation.|
|Jun-12-11|| ||JoergWalter: Capablanca in "My Chess Career" on his game against Bernstein in San Sebastian 1911:(after move 28.)
"A careful analysis and proper comparison will show that this combination taken as a whole is one of the longest and most difficult ever played over the board. These were the reasons that prompted the Committee to award me the Rothschild brilliancy price."
About his game against Bernstein in St. Petersburg 1914 (after 30.h3):
"... Personally I do not think that this combination is of so difficult and high a character as the one I evolved at San Sebastian against the same Dr. Bernstein..."|
|Jun-12-11|| ||JoergWalter: on his game against Berstein in Moscow 1914 (after move 25.):
"Because I had first played R-B4, Dr. Berstein was lured into the fatal trap..."
Capablanca did not take particular pride in this game according to his annotations. seemingly it is for him of the same category as his famous game against Winter, Hastings 1919.
won by a trap that could have been avoided.|
|Nov-04-11|| ||1stboard: I find it amazing that neither player provided a flight square for his king in this game.|
|Dec-17-11|| ||ZeejDonnelly: Every time I revisit this gem, at black's 29th move, I hear a bomb going off somewhere.|
|Jan-18-12|| ||LIFE Master AJ: http://www.ajschess.com/lifemastera...|
My annotations of this game.
|Aug-28-12|| ||MATTYMONKEES: 29...Qb2!! and 15...c4! are awesome moves, but my favorite move in this game is 17...Bb4!. The way that stroke turns the tables is really something.|
|Aug-28-12|| ||DanielBryant: I believe White's 27th move is the only move that received a double question mark in the Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games (excepting variations).|
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