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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Roy Turnbull Black
Rice Memorial (1916), New York, NY USA, rd 1, Jan-17
Spanish Game: Closed. Averbakh Variation (C87)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-24-05  cracky90: Great queen hunt by Capablanca and a stunning display of technique in the ensuing Queen and Knight versus Rook, Bishop and 2 pawns. This game, and particulary the ending, is annotated in Irving Chernev's "Capablanca's Best Endings".
Feb-18-06  Whitehat1963: A superb fight both sides of the board. I'm surprised there isn't more commentary. Are there some mistakes here, missed opportunities?
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: What was Black thinking of with 38...♔f8?, 39..♔e7? & 40...♔f6?. The King was safe in its castled position.

The exposed King is now in a mating net. If 43...♘f4 44.♘f4 ef4 45.♕b2# - all due to the unforced King march.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Capablanca was the first to state that Queen and Knight are an advantageous tandem in endings. Here he proves it.

<cracky90: Great queen hunt by Capablanca and a stunning display of technique in the ensuing Queen and Knight versus Rook, Bishop and 2 pawns.>

First time I have seen this game. I concur.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: This was the young Capablanca in his invincible years, the closest that a human being ever got to be a chess computer. This game from White's perspective looks as if it had been genuinely played at a higher level than most humans can hope to achieve.

The position after 33... Nb8 looks quite like a solid fortress for Black. All the pawns are on one side. I believe that in most games even among top GMs this would have ended in a draw.

It's interesting how Capa cracked the fortress.

With 43. f4! Be4 44. g5! he sacks two pawns in order to expose the Black King to checks and harassment by his Queen. Who could even think of these moves? They look like computer moves. The ensuing series of tactics look like they come from a computer game.

Note the amazing position at 49.. Rxc6. He only has a Queen and Knight versus all those mass of Black pieces. Yet he undoubtedly saw all the nuances in the ongoing tactical series of moves with the aim of getting the kind of ending that he wanted.

Capa deliberately aimed for a Queen and Knight ending with an exposed hostile King. I think all the tactics were aimed for that purpose. Accurate as always, he soon makes short work of the Black King, his technique working his Queen and Knight proficiently through the holes of black's jumbled up pieces. It's as if they were an illusion that did not exist.

Thus we see how Capablanca proves his own assertion of the strength of the Queen and Knight duo in endings.

It is games like these from which we can learn fundamental things about endings. And wonder at how a human being can play like a silicon beast.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: I have been putting myself in Capablanca's shoes. This game almost defies belief. If I were to play 43. f4 at move 43, in a position that carries no risk at all to me and that most likely would have ended in a draw without any further fireworks, I had better be sure that the ensuing fire would not engulf my own position. That means I would have to calculate and see clearly in my chess eye the position at 49.. Rxc6.

But in this position White only has a Queen and Knight against R + B + N + three pawns! I would have to find a way to regain some material quickly. Easy enough to calculate if I am already at the position at move 49 over the board, 50. Qxg7 Kh5 51. Qh7 Kg5 52. Qxe4 regains some material. But remember that I am still in move 43, and move 49 is still a non existent vision in my chess eye.

Furthermore, the position after 49.. Rxc6 isn't the only potential position after 43. f4. There are dozens of others that can reasonably be expected to occur, and I have to analyze and judge all these potential positions and every other reasonable position from move 43 to 49. The analysis tree branches resemble a dense unnavigable forest. All of these potential branches have to be pictured accurately in my chess eye.

I would not play 43. f4 at all if I thought I would be risking a loss in the ensuing complications. If Capablanca did so, then he must have seen the exact position at 49.. Rxc6, and correctly analyzed and evaluated it as winning for White. And he must have seen at least dozens of other positions and correctly evaluated them as not losing for White at the very least.

The number of chess positions that flashed in and out of Capa's mind must have been staggeringly huge, and he had to correctly evaluate each one of them.

A further scenario. Suppose a computer is limited to analyzing accurately only up to 7 moves. How will it evaluate a position in which it only has a Q and N against R + B + N + three pawns, which is the position at move 49? Even a 'slow' computer might not have seen this line as winning for White. The problem is similar to what computers sometimes experience in the Capablanca vs Tartakover 1924 ending. Some computers initially assess Tartakover's position to be better than Capablanca's, simply because Capa had given away too much material with the win still far in the invisible horizon.

The above considerations are what I have in mind when I said that this game from White's perspective might genuinely have been played at a higher level than what most humans can hope to achieve.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: To give illustrations to this remarkable game:

click for larger view

Black (who played black) has attained a fortress like position. Capablanca attempts to crack it with 43 f4. Thereafter the game explodes in a series of tactics that ends with 49.. Rxc6

click for larger view

Capablanca must have seen this and probably at least a dozen other potential positions in his mind's eye when he initiated tactics with 43. f4. As a chess player, it flabbergasts me how he could have analyzed all these tactics and potential positions (from move 43 to 49), and still judge the end position above as good or winning for him, in spite of the fact he only has three pieces to Black's seven. I believe that if a computer only had a 6 move range, the computer would get flabbergasted as well.

Capabalanca may have analyzed all the tactics and potential positions until 53. Qxe4 in his mind's eye beginning at move 43. It's clear by now that he has at least a draw in the bag.

click for larger view

I believe that Capablanca was seeing, analyzing, and judging nearly every significant tactic and potential position at a 6 to 10 move range in a tremendously complicated game, and doing so with an accuracy effectively close to that of a computer. It's why this game lends credit to the often abused kibitzer comment <he played at a higher level, or he is playing at a level of his own>. In this case, this comment may be quite true.

Sep-13-16  schachtourist: Maybe he went into complications trusting his luck. But then I think he said that the better player is always lucky, or something like that.
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