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Aron Nimzowitsch vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"Notes by Capablanca" (game of the day May-15-04)
Riga (1914)  ·  Italian Game: Giuoco Pianissimo. Canal Variation (C50)  ·  0-1
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Given 27 times; par: 139 [what's this?]

Annotations by Jose Raul Capablanca.      [26 more games annotated by Capablanca]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-29-11  Tigranny: I don't get the pun.
Jul-29-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: "It is one of the finest endings I ever played, and I have had very often the great pleasure of hearing my opponent pay tribute to the skill displayed by me in winning it."
Oct-21-11  arnakor: Capablanca probably made his comment <The ending is now won by force> one move too early !

After serious analyse it seems to me that <30.a4?> was the decisive mistake. With <30.♗b8> Nimzo would have had very good drawing chances.

I was stunned to see that neither Capablanca, nor Kasparov, nor Chernev, indicated this was the decisive mistake, or even said it was a dubious move.

Oct-21-11  AnalyzeThis: That's because 30. Bb8 doesn't work.
Oct-21-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Nope, doesn't even draw. Read <visayanbraindoctor>'s above post.

Show your analysis <anakor>, if you think it is drawish.

Oct-21-11  arnakor: Where is <visayanbraindoctor>'s analysis ?

Here is mine :
30. ♗b8 forcing black pawn to advance 30...a6

(30... a5 31. ♗d6 c4 32. ♗c7 a4 33. ♔e1 ♔e6 34. ♔d2 ♔d5 35. ♗b6 ♔e4 36. ♗d4 ♗f5 37. ♗g7 h5 38. ♗h6 g4 39. ♔e2 ♔d5 40. ♔e3 The c2 pawn is not useful, White has to block Black. 40...♗xc2 41. a3 ♔e5 42. ♗f4+ ♔f5 43. ♗c7 h4 44. ♗d8 g3 45. h3 ♗d3 46. ♗xh4 g2 47. ♔f2 =)

31. ♗a7 forcing another pawn to advance 31...c4 32. ♔e1 ♗f5 33. ♔d2 b5 34. ♗e3 ♔e6 35. ♗b6 ♔d5 36. ♔e3 ♗xc2 37. a3 ♗f5 38. ♗d8 and it seems Black can't win.


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Oct-21-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: 30.Bb8 a5 31.Bd6 b5 32. Bxc5 Bf5 and ...Bxc2, with an extra Pawn.

30.Bb8 a6 31.Ba7 (You say <forcing another pawn to advance>). I say, no, 31...b5 32.Bxc5 Bf5, with an extra Pawn.

If we follow your second line, 30.Bb8 a6 31.Ba7 c4 32.Ke1 Bf5 33.Kd2, I prefer 33...Ke6, instead of the weaker 33...b5. After that, Black’s King moves to e4 after ...Kd5. If Black tries to prevent this with 34. Ke3, then ...Bxc2. If, and, there are other lines, 34. Be3 Kd5 35. Bb6 Ke4, Black wins.

33...Kg6 could also be played, with the idea of ...Kg6-h5-g4-h3, advance the Pawns, and Black may be forced to give up the Bishop for the extra Pawn.

A very nice ending, but Bb8 is not convincing enough to save the draw for White.

Oct-22-11  arnakor: Sorry but you did not analyse the endgame : "with an extra pawn" means nothing, the question is "do Black win or not ?". And the answer really seems to be "no".

Did you read what I've written in my comment : <The c2 pawn is not useful, White has to block Black.> ? 2 times you end your variations with "and Bxc2 wins a pawn", winning c2 doesn't mean anything!

You said <30.Bb8 a5 31.Bd6 b5 32. Bxc5 Bf5 and ...Bxc2, with an extra Pawn.>

The white King goes to e3 and stays here. The white Bishop goes to the b8-h2 diagonal. If black King goes e6-f5-g4-h3, white simply answers Kf2 and it's a draw.

You said <30.Bb8 a6 31.Ba7 (You say forcing another pawn to advance). I say, no, 31...b5 32.Bxc5 Bf5, with an extra Pawn.>

Same position as above, with pawn on a6 instead of a5, it doesn't change anything. It's a draw.

You said <If we follow your second line, 30.Bb8 a6 31.Ba7 c4 32.Ke1 Bf5 33.Kd2, I prefer 33...Ke6, instead of the weaker 33...b5. After that, Black’s King moves to e4 after ...Kd5. If Black tries to prevent this with 34. Ke3, then ...Bxc2. If, and, there are other lines, 34. Be3 Kd5 35. Bb6 Ke4, Black wins. 33...Kg6 could also be played, with the idea of ...Kg6-h5-g4-h3, advance the Pawns, and Black may be forced to give up the Bishop for the extra Pawn.>

If you look at the line I suggested with 33...b5, Black win the c2 pawn but it's not useful to win the game. It's the same with your 33...Ke6 or 33...Kg6, I play Ke3, give you the c2 pawn, and draw.

Oct-26-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Did you read what I've written in my comment> <The c2 pawn is not useful, White has to block Black.>

The positions after ...Bxc5 and ...Bxc2 are not blockades. There is plenty of mobility and fight here, although drawish.

<The white Bishop goes to the b8-h2 diagonal. If black King goes e6-f5-g4-h3, white simply answers Kf2 and it's a draw.>

You are right. This is what happens when I analyze blindfold. I simply forgot about the Bishop being on the dark squares. Inexcusable.

<If you look at the line I suggested with 33...b5, Black win the c2 pawn but it's not useful to win the game. It's the same with your 33...Ke6 or 33...Kg6, I play Ke3, give you the c2 pawn, and draw.>

I said that 33...b5 is weaker than 33...Ke6 and I meant it. Black has much better lines at his disposal.

As an example, by not playing ...b5, I give myself some wiggle room on the Queenside. A sample: 30. Bb8 a6 31.Ba7 c4 32. Ke1 <Let me ask you something. Why play 32.Ke1 Bf5 33.Kd2 b5 (or my ...Ke6) 34.Ke3 Kd5, when you could have played 32.Kf2 and 33.Ke3, which is faster?> 32...Ke6 33.Kd2 Kd5 34.Ke3 Bxc2, and now the idea is to infiltrate on the Queenside with the King via c6-b5-a4. It is a harder struggle on the Queenside, but I have gained some tempi by not having moved ...b5 earlier.

I really liked studying this endgame over the weekend. It is a very uneasy affair, but I liked Black's chances on the Queenside. I think I am going to work on this some more. I did like how three Pawns blockade against five in your line, but your line is not forced (...b5 is not forced), and therefore, we cannot consider it an absolute draw. There is till a lot of play here.

Thank you for your suggestion on 30.Bb8. I am sure that someone somewhere has analyzed 30.Bb8 far better than me, and I am going to look at it further.

Oct-26-11  AnalyzeThis: It's probably the line Nimzo thought would draw, and he was certainly a strong GM.
Oct-26-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: I am sure that Nimzowitsch tried this 30. Bb8 out against Capablanca in their follow-up, but I am also sure Capablanca easily demonstrated it was futile. I think if there was a drawing line, Nimzowitsch would have stated it somewhere.
Oct-26-11  goldenbear: Capa fails to mention 4.Nxe4, which refutes 4.Bc4
Oct-26-11  AnalyzeThis: It's true that 4.... Nxe4 equalizes easily. On the other hand, Capa was interested in winning the game, so he kept it more complex. 4... Nxe4 5. Nxe4 d5 6. Bd3 dxe4 7. Bxe4 and Nimzo can hold a draw. Capa was out for the win.
Oct-31-11  arnakor: <AnalyzeThis> : it's not only egalization for black, it's an easier game too, maybe it's even a small edge. It's not possible to say <can hold a draw> after 7 moves and only 1 pawn and 1 piece exchanged :-)

Nowadays it would be the choice of all GM. It's well known that Capa was not searching for best moves in the opening.

<TheFocus> : I agree that Kf2-e3 is faster but there is no need to be faster because it's already a draw with this. I agree that not playing b5 is better but I think it's a draw anyway.

I did not analyze 100% (almost impossible!) but I'm 90% sure 30.Bb8 leads to a draw. I think it's possible that Nimzo and Capa did not analyze this move. I did not even find any analyze of this move in books or internet.

Oct-31-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <arnakor> It is very interesting suggestion. I have searched and not found it mentioned in any of my endgame books, nor do I have an engine to examine it.

I know, I am from the stone ages of chess!

Oct-31-11  AnalyzeThis: I've played it over the board, this fork trick is as old as the hills. Capa and Nimzo both knew about it, I'm sure.

A couple of wrong ways to play it with white are:

a) 4.... Nxe4 5. Bxf7+ Kxf7 and black will shortly have a dominating central position.

b) 4.... Nxe4 5. Nxe4 d5 6. Bb5 dxe4 7. Nxe5 Qd5 and black is better

Instead, white can play 4... Nxe4 5. Bd3 dxe4 6. Bd3 dxe4 7. Bxe4 and work diligently towards his draw. It's true that black might win anyway, but the simplified position offers less prospects of this win then the complex position after 4.... Bc5.

As I mentioned, 4.... Nxe4 equalizes easily, so there is certainly nothing wrong with it. Capa was interested in beating Nimzo, so he kept more pieces on the board. The same thing happens in tournament play these days when the stronger player has black.

Oct-31-11  Nilsson: I agree with Arnakor. It looks like a draw. (after 30.Bb8!) Forcing the black pawns to wrong colour on the queen-side, and the extrapawn on c2 has no function, the important one is on c3. I think they started analyzing one move to late after 30.a4 Ke6! (Fritz 13 give 1.77 for black,who care´s)
/JN
Oct-31-11  newton296: <I am astounded to read Capa's notes: <The ending is now won by force.>

He knew this ending was won even before he got into it, but how!?>

just because cap a says it doesn't make it true! remember, he had no tablebases or progs to analyze games with.

the fact is capa was simply wrong when he said the ending is now won by force. after move 29) the game is a classic (boc) draw, capa just didn't know it, and nimzo wasn't good enough to prove capa wrong.

houdini or any modern prog would draw this game.

Oct-31-11  Petrosianic: <"When asked by some admirer how many moves he saw in advance, Capa answered, 'Just one, but it's always the best!'">

I've heard that story about Lasker.

Nov-01-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: And Reti.

And Bogojubow.

Nov-01-11  Everett: <If a talented young chess player will arise in the near future who could intuitively discern such potential BOOC endings as winning, he could steer middlegames into such won endgames, and his opponents would not even know that they were already irrevocably lost- a powerful method of winning.>

The closest in recent times is Karpov. Of course it is not a fluke that the 4 modern players at the top have superb endgames <Anand, Aronian, Carlsen and Kramnik> nor is it strange that Lasker and Capablanca dominated chess for so long. Alekhine only matched them when he mastered the endgame.

Nov-02-11  Comejen: He makes it look so easy
Capablanca was a genius!!
Nov-02-11  bronkenstein: B. Ivkov gave this endgame 3 pages in his `School of Chess : Endgames` , with remark that `It is much more useful to study such endgames for hours than to play endless blitz`.

I remember having strong intuition that white must be able to draw somehow , but after hours of woodpushing , I had to admit that I am simply mistaken. I believe Capa took few seconds to evaluate the position right .

Feb-15-12  Chessmaster9001: One of the most memorable games of great Cuban! But still I`m curious why Capa never mentioned 21.g4? as a most serious mistake of white? This terrible move aside from weakening position also is limiting white`s flexibility in following sequence of moves. Normal moves like 21.Kf2 or even 21.a3 makes more sense IMHO.
Sep-02-14  SpiritedReposte: Ok that's not even a pun lol.
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