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Frederick Forrest Lawrie Alexander vs George Alan Thomas
London-ch corr (1919) (correspondence), England
Queen's Gambit Declined: Cambridge Springs Variation (D52)  ·  0-1
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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-17-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Capablanca gave one of the most instructive commentaries ever to a game of chess to this game.

Anyone willing to transcribe it?

Jun-17-06  Maynard5: While I don't have access to Capablanca's notes, this is an interesting game, that features some good play by Sir George Thomas. The exchange with 7. Bxf6 is clearly unfavorable for White. But Black's blockading play over the next few moves is impressive. After 19. ... Bc5, White is completely hemmed in. Black's attack with 28. ... e3 looks a bit optimistic, since White can defend better with 29. f3. The thematic f5, preparing for g5 and f4, seems to guarantee an irresistable assault against White's kingside. After 29. f4? on the other hand Black's advantage is decisive. The tactical shot with 40. ... Rxc4! is a nice finish.
Jun-18-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It's been a long time since I read the master's notes to this game. I seem to remember a feeling of "I can't believe what I am seeing" coming through in his comments, mixed with incredulity that this game had won some sort of a prize, but with a nod that black finished the game quite well.
Jun-21-07  Karpova: Thomas' play impressed Capablanca indeed but he had a lot to criticize (which merely shows that Capablanca had a much better understanding of the game than Thomas). On 38.Nf4 black could answer 38...e2!! 39.Nxe2 Rxe2+ 40.Rxe2 Be4+!! 41.Bxe4 Rxf1 according to Capablanca. But then he advises the reader to examine 38.Nf4 Qh6 39.Qc2 (or another move of this kind) 39....Qh3+!!! All the exclamation marks come from Capablanca himself.
Jun-14-08  Lutwidge: Thomas seemed to consider this his best game. Sort of. :)

Jul-13-08  Ulhumbrus: <offramp: Capablanca gave one of the most instructive commentaries ever to a game of chess to this game. Anyone willing to transcribe it?>
Here it is, then. I have translated the descriptive notation used by Capablanca into algebraic. Personally I prefer the descriptive notation, but anyway, here you are: 25. A PLAYER'S MOTIVES CRITICISED IN A SPECIMEN GAME
Now that a few of my games with my notes have been given, I offer for close perusal and study a very fine game played by Sir George Thomas, one of England's foremost players, against Mr. F. F. L. Alexander, in the championship of the City of London Chess Club in the winter of 1919-1920. It has the interesting feature for the student that Sir George Thomas kindly wrote the notes to the game for me at my request, and with the understanding that I would make the comments on them that I considered appropriate. Sir George Thomas' notes are in brackets and these will be distinguished from my own comments. Example 55. Queen's Gambit Declined. White: Mr. F. F. L. Alexander. Black: Sir George Thomas. 1 d4 d4 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 Nbd7 5 Bg5 c6 6 e3 Qa5 ( One of the objects of Black's method of defence is to attack White's QKt doubly by Ne4, followed by dxc4.But 7 Nd2 is probably a strong way of meeting this threat.) There are, besides, two good reasons for this method of defence; first, that it is not as much played as some of the other defences and consequently not so well known, and second that it leaves Black with two bishops against B and N, which, in a general way, constitutes an advantage. 7 Bxf6 Nxf6 8 a3 Ne4 9 Qb3 Be7 This is not the logical place for the B which should have been posted at d6. In the opening, time is of great importance, and therefore the player should be extremely careful in his development and makes sure that he posts his pieces in the right places. 10 Bd3 Nxc3 11 bxc3 dxc4 12 Bxc4 Bf6 ( I did not want White's Kt to come to e5, from which I could not dislodge it by f6 without weakening my e pawn) The same result could be accomplished by playing Bd3. Incidentally, it bears out my previous statement that the B should have been originally played to d6. 13 0-0 ( The alternative was e4 followed by e5, and then 0-0. White would thereby assume the initiative but would weaken his pawn position considerably , and might be compelled to stake all on a violent attack against the King. This is a turning point in the game, and it is in such positions that the temperament and style of the player decides the course of the game. 130-0 14 e4 e5 15 d5 ( White might play 15 Rfd1, keeping the option of breaking up the centre later on. I wanted him to advance this P as there is now a fine post for my B at c5.) By this move White shows that he does not understand the true value of his position. His only advantage consisted in the undeveloped condition of Black's QB. He should therefore made a plan to prevent the B from coming out, or if that were not possible, then he should try to force Black to weaken his pawn position in order to come out with the B. There were three moves to consider: first, a4, on order to maintain the White B in the dominating position that it now occupies. This would have been met by Qc7; second, either of the Rooks to d1 in order to threaten 16 dxe5 Bxe5 17 Nxe5 Qxe5 18 Bxf7+. This would have been met by Bg4; and third, h3 to prevent Bg4 and by playing either Rook to d1, followed up as previously stated to force Black to play b5 , which would weaken his Queen's side pawns. Thus by playing h3 White would have attained the desired object. The text move blocks the action of the White B and facilitates Black's development. Hereafter White will act on the defensive, and the interest throughout the rest of the game will centre mainly on Black's play and the manner in which he carries out the attack. ( to be continued in my next post)
Jul-13-08  Ulhumbrus: ( continued from my previous post)
15Qc7 16 Bd3 ( This seems wrong, as it makes the development of Black's Queen wing easier. At present he cannot play b6 because of the reply dxc6 followed by Bd5.) 16b6 17 c4 Bb7 18 Rfc1 ( With the idea of Rab1 and c5. But it only compels Black to bring his B to c5, which he would do in any case.) 18Be7 19 Rc2 Bc5 20 Qb2 f6 ( It would have been better, probably, to play 20Rfe8, with the idea of f5 presently.) Black's play hereabout is poor; it lacks force, and there seems to be no well defined plan of attack. It is true that these are the most difficult positions to handle in a game. In such cases a player must conceive a plan on a large scale, which promises chances of success, and with it all, it must be a plan which can be carried out by the means at his disposal. From the look of the position it seems that Black's best chance would be to mass his forces for an attack against White's centre, to be followed by a direct attack against the King. He should, therefore, play Rfe8, threatening f5. If White is able to defeat this plan, or rather to prevent it, then, once he has fixed some of the White pieces on the King's side, he should quickly shift his attack to the Queen's side, and open a line for his Rooks, which, once they enter in action, should produce an advantage on account of the great power of the two bishops. 21 Rab1 Rad8 22 a4 Ba6 23 Rd1 ( White has clearly lost time with his Rook's moves.) 23Rfe8 24 Qb3 ( To bring his Queen across Nh4 and Be2.) 24Rd6 25 Nh4 g6 26 Be2 cxd5 ( I thought this exchange necessary here, as White is threatening to play his Bishop via g4 to e6. If he retook with the c pawn I intended to exchange bishops and rely on the two pawns to one on the Queens' wing. I did not expect him to retake it with the e pawn, which seemed to expose him to a violent King's side attack.) Black's judgment in this instance I believe to be faulty. Had White taken with the c pawn, as he expected, he would have had the worst of the pawn position, as White would have had a passed pawn well supported on the Queen's side. His only advantage would lie on his having a very well posted Bishop against a badly posted Knight, and on the fact that in such position as the above, the Bishop is invariably stronger than the Knight. He could and should have presented all that, by playing Bc8, as, had White replied with Qb3, he could then play cxd5, and White would not have been able to retake with the c pawn on account of Bxf2+ winning the exchange. ( to be continued in my next post)
Jul-13-08  Ulhumbrus: (continued from my previous post)
27 exd4 e4 28 g3 e3 I do not like this move. It would have been better to hold it in reserve and to have played f5, to be followed in due time by g5 and .f4, after having placed the Queen at d7, f7, or some other square as the occasion demanded. The text blocks the action of the powerful B at c5, and tends to make White's position safer than it should have been . The move in itself is a very strong attacking move, but it is isolated, and there is no effective continuation. Such advances as a rule should only be made when they can be followed by a concerted action of the pieces. 29 f4 Bc8 30 Nf3 Bf5 31 Rb2 Re4 32 Kg2 Qc8 33 Ng1 g5 ( If now 34 Bf3 gxf4 35 Bxe4 Bxe4+ with a winning attack) 34 fxg5 fxg5 35 Rf1 g4 Rh6 was the alternative. White's only move would have been Kh1. The position now is evidently won for Black, and it is only a question of finding the right course. The final attack is now carried out by Sir George Thomas in an irreproachable manner. 38 Bd3 Rf6 37 Ne2 Qf8 ( Again preventing Bxe4, by the masked attack on White's Rook. White therefore protects this Rook.) If 38 Nf4 e2! 39 Nxe2 Rxe2+ 40 Rxe2 Be4+!! 41 Bxe4 best 41Rxf1 and White is lost. If, however, against 38 Nf4, Black plays 38Qh6, and White 39 Qc2, I take pleasure in offering the position to my readers as a most beautiful and extraordinary win for Black, beginning with 39Qh3+!!! I leave the variations for the student to work out. 38 R2b1 Qh6 39 Qc2 ( Making a double attack on the Rook ( which still cannot be taken), and preparing to defend the h pawn) If either the Rook or Bishop are taken White would be mated in a few moves. 39Qh3+ 40 Kh1 Rxc4!! ( If 40Rh6 41 Ng1 Qxg3 42 Qg3. Black therefore tries to get the Queen away from the defence.) A very beautiful move, and the best way to carry in the attack. 41 Qxc4 ( The best defence was 41 Rxf5, but Black would emerge with Queen against Rook and Knight.) 41Bxd3 ( Again, not 41Rh6 because of 42 d6+) 42 Rxf6 Bxc4 43 Nf4 e2! ( The Queen has no escape, but White has no time to take it.) 44 Rg1 Qf1 White resigns. A very fine finish.

Jul-15-08  Lutwidge: Wow. You'd think Capa, given his job, would have been a little more, well, diplomatic in his comments. :)

Jul-17-08  Ulhumbrus: A correction to my previous message. Capablanca's comment on Sir George Thomas' fortieth move (40...Rxc4!!)should read "A very beautiful move, and the best way to carry on the attack."

In my previous message, I seem to have typed mistakenly the word "in" in place of the word "on"

Aug-28-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: According to Neil McDonald, 39...Qh3+!!! is refuted by 40 Nh3 gh3+ 41 Kh1 e2 42. Rbb1 ef1(Q)+ 43. Rf1 Bg6 44. Rc1 Re3 45. Bg6 hg6, after which Black may still draw but is hardly winning.
Sep-02-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Source: CN 2130 Edward Winter, "Kings, Commoners & Knaves", Russell Enterprises, 1999
Apr-13-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: Capa says that instead of 35...g4, 35...Rh6 36. Kh1 was the alternative. He then says "The position now is evidently won by Black, and it is only a question of finding the right course." So what is the right course for Black to win so easily? White threatens Bd3 next.

After 37...Qf8 Capa analyzes 38.Nf4 and shows 38...e2! is a win. He then analyzes 38...Qh6 instead of 38...e2. After 38.Nf4 Qh6, he looks at 39.Qc2? (39.Re2 should hold). Now he says 39...Qh3!!!, but I believe Capa missed a move, since Qh3 is not that good. It should be 39...Rxf4! first. Now after 40.Rxf4 comes 40...Qh3+ 41.Kh1 Be4+ 42.Bxe4 Rxf4 (threatening 43...Qf1 mate) 43.Qg2 Rf1+

In the game, it looks like 39.Qc2 is the losing move. White should try 39.Qb2 Qh3+ 40.Kh1 and White is OK.

Instead of 39...Qh3+, better may be 39...Rxc4 40.Rxf5 Rxc2 41.Bxc2 Qh3+ 42.Kg1 Rh6 and 43...Qxh2+

Instead of 41.Qxc4??, White can resist a little bit better with 41.Rxf5 Rxc2 42.Rxf6

May-01-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Ulhumbrus: <offramp: Capablanca gave one of the most instructive commentaries ever to a game of chess to this game. Anyone willing to transcribe it?> Here it is, then.>
Thanks! Even better than I remembered!
May-01-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <wwall: Capa says that instead of 35...g4, 35...Rh6 36. Kh1 was the alternative. He then says "The position now is evidently won by Black, and it is only a question of finding the right course." So what is the right course for Black to win so easily? White threatens Bd3 next. After 37...Qf8 Capa analyzes 38.Nf4 and shows 38...e2! is a win. He then analyzes 38...Qh6 instead of 38...e2. After 38.Nf4 Qh6, he looks at 39.Qc2? (39.Re2 should hold). Now he says 39...Qh3!!!, but I believe Capa missed a move, since Qh3 is not that good. It should be 39...Rxf4! first....>

This is the most interesting part of the game.
After 37...Qf8 black obviously has a very threatening position:


click for larger view

and Capablanca comments thuslywise:
<"Again preventing Bxe4, by the masked attack on White's Rook. White therefore protects this Rook.) If 38 Nf4 e2! 39 Nxe2 Rxe2+ 40 Rxe2 Be4+!! 41 Bxe4 best 41Rxf1 and White is lost. If, however, against 38 Nf4, Black plays 38Qh6, and White 39 Qc2, I take pleasure in offering the position to my readers as a most beautiful and extraordinary win for Black, beginning with 39Qh3+!!! I leave the variations for the student to work out."> (Thanks to <Ulhumbrus>!!)

Capablanca points out that after 38.Nf4 e2 wins. But then he ponders a possible alternative to 38...e2 in 38...Qh6. He says that if black did play that, and IF white replied 39.Qc2 (as in the game), giving this position,


click for larger view

then black would win with "39...Qh3!!!"


click for larger view

That move leads to this continuation:
40.Nxh3 gxh3+ 41.Kh1 e2


click for larger view

...where white has one move and one move only to stay on the board: 42.Rbb1!! which wins!


click for larger view

Did Capablanca miss this move - or did he accidentally omit 39...Rxf4 in his variation?

Here is a crucial clue: the move Rbb1 actually occurred in the game! White played 38.Rbb1 and Capa actually comments on this move, <"White therefore protects this Rook...">.

Bearing in mind that <Chess Fundamentals> had notation problems with a basic K+P ending earlier in the book, I am going to give my verdict.

VERDICT: Capablanca omitted a move in his analysis.

Dec-14-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Many thanks to Ulhumbrus for the transcription!
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