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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Juan Corzo
Capablanca - Corzo (1901), Habana CUB, rd 1, Nov-17
Scotch Game: Schmidt Variation (C45)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-08-05  DevinPFelter: From what little I've read of Capablanca, it seems that he cared little for opening theory - at least early on in his chess playing days. Granted, he is only 12 or 13 in this game against Corzo, so how much book material could one expect him to know? The first moment of difficulty comes as a result of 8.Bd2 in the opening. 8.f2-f3 seems like a viable alternative. 11.Bc3-e5 is forced - the only move to save the Queen. Corzo could have played an in-between 11...d7-d5, but f7-f6 gets the job done. 16.Rh1-e1 looks better than the text move, Qe4-f5. Note that black would be punished for the greedy 16...Qh6xh2: 17.Re1-h1 d7-d5 18.c4xd5 c6xd5 19.Qe4-b4 Qh2-f4 20.Bd3xh7 Kg8-f7 21.Qb4xb7 Qf4-c4 22.Rd1-d5 Ra8-d8 23.Rd5xd8 Re8xd8, and white is up a bishop. After the text move by white, 16...d7-d5 is a nice central shot, and after the weak 17.g2-g4, the rest of the game is merely a matter of technique for Corzo. Not the finest game of chess, but a game nonetheless.
Mar-08-05  Whitehat1963: Corzo put up an excellent defense, clearly outplaying young Capa in this game, but not in the match.
Aug-27-05  LeSwamp: A) As DevinPFelter points out, instead of 8.Bd2?, 8.f3 leads to a balanced position.

B) Instead of 11...f6?! which is too eager to get back the material, there was 11...d5! 12.Qe3 f6 13.0-0-0 fxe5 with a big advantage.

C) Instead of 16.Qf5?!, several alternatives appear better : 16.Rhe1 (as given by DevinPFelter) Rab8 (16...d5 17.Qe3 and Black only has a slight advantage) 17.f3 with a small advantage for Black, it seems ; also better than the text move, it seems : 16.f3 a move which often shows up ; 16.Rhf1!?. Obviously, when playing the text move, Capablanca underestimated the strong 16...d5!

C) 17.g4? Bc8 (as noted by DevinPFelter) loses the game while, in any case, Corzo now had a remarkable advantage, anyway. Alternatives where 17.Qg4 e4 18.Bc2 ; 17.Bc2 now ; or even 17.Be2.

D) Other weak moves by Capablanca : 21.Bf1?! (21.Bc2 was better) ; 24.Kc2?! (should have considered moves like 24.Bh3, 24.Rc2 or 24.Re1) ; 26.Re1?! (26.Kd2 Raf8 27.Ke1 would have lasted a longer) ; 27.Rxe4?! (27.Kb3 d3! 28.Kc3 Rxf2 29.Rxf2 Rxf2 30.Bxd3 exd3 31.Kxd3 would not have saved anything but was better.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: I knew Capa couldn't handle his Scotch (opening :-)
Jul-15-07  Karpova: <Though not in accord with the dictum of two or three stubborn old journalists who pose as chess critics, I have always had a very vivid imagination, which I have, after a long struggle, partly succeeded in controlling in order to use it to better purpose, according to the requirements of the occasion. The effect of Pillsbury’s displays was immediate. They electrified me, and with the consent of my parents I began to visit the Havana Chess Club. By leaps and bounds I reached the top class in three months, and I was not over 12 when I defeated the champion of Cuba in a set match. The match was somewhat dramatic; the victor was to be the player who first scored four wins. I began by losing the first two games. On account of my age, I had the sympathy of the vast majority of the chessplayers and the public in general, and their disappointment after such a disastrous start can be readily conceived. With practically but one exception, that of my lamented friend A. Fiol, all the amateurs and experts gave me up for lost. The consensus of opinion was that I was outclassed by the champion. I must confess that I had very similar feelings, and that I was overawed by the vast technical knowledge of my adversary. I had nothing to oppose to his experience but my clear imagination and an ability, already evident, of playing the last part of the game with considerable accuracy. My friend Fiol encouraged me in my determination to do better. As matters turned out, I was able to win four games before my opponent could add one single point to his score.>

Jose Raul Capablanca
Championship Chess: Incidents and Reminiscences’ from pages 86-89 of the Windsor Magazine, December 1922

Jul-01-14  senojes: Cyrus Lakdawala in his book, "Capablanca: Move by Move" (2012) claims that his rating improved by nearly 50 points from studying Capablanca's games. So I (lowly rating 1766) have embarked on a project of analysing with the help of Houdini, every one of Capablanca's formal (i.e. tournament and match) games, wins, draws and loses. I consider Capablanca the greatest chess player who ever lived, certainly the greatest natural talent. No World Chess Champion ever said of any other contemporary, what Emmanuel Lasker said of Capablanca: "I have known many chess players, but among them there has been only one genius - Capablanca!"

In this game the still 12 year-old (he turned 13 two days later) Capablanca's inexperience in the openings led him to play the plausible but bad 7.Qd3. It was plausible because it seemed to protect his e4 pawn and prevent him being saddled with double isolated c-pawns. But it was bad because it brought his Q out too early at the expense of developing his KB and castling quickly in an open position. And 7. Qd3 didn't really protect from both threats because Capablanca's Q became an overworked piece.

However, when the loss of a piece was inevitable, the 12 year-old prodigy chose to lose it in the way which promised him the most counterplay. I read somewhere that Capablanca never gave any of his opponents a cheap point and he didn't here in his first recorded formal game.

There was no fairytale result. The 12 year-old eventually lost to the 28 year-old Cuban champion but the game was hard-fought and the schoolboy genius was far from having been disgraced! Those who study only Capablanca's wins miss those games where Capablanca best showed his fighting qualities: his losses and draws.

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