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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Aron Nimzowitsch
Bad Kissingen (1928), Bad Kissingen GER, rd 10, Aug-22
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Classical. Noa Variation (E34)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-09-05  Hesam7: So clock saves Capablanca, as far as I know this is the only game in which Nimzowitsch got a winning position againt Capablanca.
Apr-09-05  RookFile: We tend to look at guys like Nimzovich as being on the same level as Capablanca. They weren't: Capablanca was head and shoulders above Nimzo, he owned him throughout his career. This is the one game where Nimzo might have won, but Capablanca shows why, even more so than Karpov and Petrosian, he was the toughest man ever to beat.
Apr-09-05  THE pawn: I doubt capa was the strongest player to have ever existed, but he surely was stronger than Nimzo, though I prefer Nimzo's games.
Apr-09-05  RookFile: As far as that g4 move goes, yes,
it was a mistake, but let's not
be too hard on Capa. Petrosian would
very often make this g4 move, successfully. The idea is to take away the support of e4.
Jun-28-06  Maynard5: There is a rather interesting trap in this game, after 13. Qh6. If Black responds with 13. .. Kh8, intending Rg8 and Rg6, White has the following winning line: 14. Ne4, Be7, 15. Nfg5! fxg5 16. Nf6 Bxf6 17. Be4. Of course, Nimzovich avoided this with 13. ... Bxc3.
Apr-12-07  Ulhumbrus: 13...Bxc3? increases White's compensation for the pawn, by parting with the bishop pair and strengthening White's centre into the bargain. Instead of 15 Nd2, 15 g4! at once may give White enough for the pawn. It's easy to forget that White's positional compensation for the pawn is considerable.
Apr-12-07  BobbyBishop: As Kasparov said "AN's methods were deadly against weaker opposition, but they did not work against world champions".
Jun-18-07  notyetagm: <Benzol: 21...d5; 22.h3 f4; 23.e3 g5; 24.xe4 xf4 and it's game over 0-1. - Analysis by Alyekhin.>

Yes, Alekhine points out that Nimzowitsch would have won a miniature(!) over Capablanca(!) with the Black pieces(!) if he had found 21 ... ♘f6-d5!.

(VAR) Position after 21 ... ♘f6-d5!

click for larger view

Instead Nimzowitsch played the inferior 21 ... ♗f8xc5?! and only drew.

Dec-01-07  notyetagm: Capablanca vs Nimzowitsch, 1928

<Benzol: 21...Nd5; 22.Qh3 Nf4; 23.Qe3 Qg5; 24.Qxe4 Bxf4 and it's game over 0-1. - Analysis by Alyekhin.>

(VAR) Position after 21 ... ♘f6-d5! 22 ♕e3-h3 ♘d5-f4:

click for larger view

Weteschnik in his outstanding "Understanding Chess Tactics", page 48, in the chapter on <PINS> says:

*) Every attacked piece of yours (White g2-bishop) standing in front of another of your pieces (White g1-king) should be considered as pinned.

*) Two pieces of the same colour on a diagonal or file (White g2-bishop, White g1-king) should already be regarded as a precondition for a pin.

*) A piece (White g2-bishop) pinned against the king (White g1-king) is extremely vulnerable and often totally immobile. >

I have modified Weteschnik's writing with the parentheticals.

Keeping these three tactical points in mind, we see the winning idea that both Nimzowitsch and Capablanca missed.

22 ... ♘d5-f4 <GAINS TIME> on the White h3-queen to bring the Black f4-knight into contact with the White g2-bishop. As the White g2-bishop now satisfies the first two of the three <PINNING> conditions mentioned above, this position absolutely screams <PIN! PIN! PIN!>.

After the further 22 ♕h3-e3 ♕d8-g5 23 ♕e3xe4 ♗c8xf5, the <PIN> on the White g2-bishop with its concurrent mate threat against the g2-square, looks fatal.

(VAR) Position after 22 ♕h3-e3 ♕d8-g5 23 ♕e3xe4 ♗c8xf5:

click for larger view

Fritz 6 Light evaluates this position as -4.87, Nimzowitsch ahead by almost a full rook(!).

Simply amazing: Capablanca(!) almost loses a miniature(!) with the White(!) pieces because of a simple <PIN> against his king!!!

The power of <PINS> never ceases to amaze me.

Dec-01-07  notyetagm: Capablanca vs Nimzowitsch, 1928

<Benzol: 21...Nd5; 22.Qh3 Nf4; 23.Qe3 Qg5; 24.Qxe4 Bxf4 and it's game over 0-1. - Analysis by Alyekhin.>

click for larger view

Fritz 6 Light evaluates this position as -5.16 with principal variation 25 h2-h4 Qg5-g4 26 Qe4-f3 Rf8-g8 27 Qf3xg4 Rg8xg4 28 Kg1-f1 Rg4xg2 29 e2-e4, shown below:

Principal variation of Fritz 6 Light from previous diagram:

click for larger view

Black (Nimzowitsch) has harvested the <PINNED> White g2-bishop. Like Alekhine said, Capablanca would have been completely busted and could have resigned at move 25.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <BobbyBishop: As Kasparov said "AN's methods were deadly against weaker opposition, but they did not work against world champions".>

Well, Nimzo had positive scores against Lasker and Euwe.

And Nimzo also drew a minimatch with Alekhine in 1914 (all-Russian championship playoff) and kept a respectable score against Alekhine till the 1930s (+2 -2 =5 during the 1920's).

Dec-02-07  HOTDOG: strangely enough,the 5 Capablanca wins against Nimzo are obtained all with black pieces
Dec-02-07  notyetagm: <HOTDOG: strangely enough,the 5 Capablanca wins against Nimzo are obtained all with black pieces>

Capablanca was a -terror- with Black, not just against Nimzowitsch.

Capablanca's most famous game is possibly that 1914 game against Bernstein that ends with ... ♕b2!!, yet another Black Capablanca win.

If you combined White Kramnik with Black Capablanca you would probably have a 2900-rated player. :-)

Jan-09-08  Ulhumbrus: Instead of 20 g4 which could have lost after 20...Nf6 21 gf Nd5! 20 f3 may be better eg 20 f3 ef 21 Nxf3 and Black's King side pawn structure is a wreck.
Oct-21-08  JoergWalter: <BobbyBishop: As Kasparov said "AN's methods were deadly against weaker opposition, but they did not work against world champions".> Another Kasparov comment I don't like and don't agree with. These "weapons" were laid out in "My System" a book even later champions learned from (in particular Petrosjan said so - and have you looked up Kasparovs score against Petrosjan???). And did not Alekhine (Kasparov's hero) avoid meeting Nimzowitsch? (See Spielmann's famous open letter to Alekhine). To me, besides being a fantastic teacher Nimzowitsch is definitely the most underrated chess player. Definitely he is a favourite of mine together with Morphy, Steinitz, Pillsbury, Capablanca,Tal, Spassky, Fischer and Karpov. Anand and Shirov are the new links in that chain.
Dec-24-08  WhiteRook48: Wow. Two cool masters holding each other into a draw. Amazing Capa could get a draw when he was a Rook down.
Sep-10-09  WhiteRook48: although Nimzo could have beat him!!!
Sep-19-09  WhiteRook48: no, rather a White Kasparov with a Black Capablanca
Nov-10-09  Ulhumbrus: <JoergWalter: ...See Spielmann's famous open letter to Alekhine...> Can you provide a link to a website where one may read this letter?
Dec-24-09  Whitehat1963: The game is probably too well-known, but I think the position after 34...c2 would make for an excellent puzzle. Of course, you have to see all the way to the perpetual check. So, white to play and draw in five. I would rack my mind over the course of a weekend and never see it if it were my first time seeing the game.
Dec-24-09  parisattack: Probably the best shot Nimzo had against Capa. 30 in 2.5 - should have seen a couple of the moves mentioned above.

Capa perhaps 1-2 years past his very prime; Nimzo 1-2 years before his.

Apr-21-14  Poulsen: Game was adjouned at move 30.

"Nimzowitsch was the most unhappy man of the tournament. For the first time in his life he was winning against Capablanca.

When game was adjourned he was totally confused. He analyzed with Bogoljubow. Nimzowitsch was like a sick hen. He snapped at his best friends and was even crazier than usual. They had no food, but they concluded, that Capablanca was lost in all variations. Also for Bogoljubow it was important, that Capa lost. [...]

Game was resumed, and Capablanca played a continuation, that the 2 of them had not seen. [...] Nimzowitsch was never again the same happy boy."

- Jens Enevoldsen - "The Worlds Best Chess, vol. 2".

(my translations - with some editorial liberties)

May-20-14  whiteshark: According to the tournament book* (written by Dr. Tartakover) the draw has already been agreed after <36... Rxf5>.

*game #55

Feb-26-17  edubueno: Nimzowitsch era un buen jugador, talentoso, Capa era un genio.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: <21...♘d5; 22.♕h3 ♘f4; 23.♕e3 ♕g5; 24.♕xe4 ♗xf5 and it's game over 0-1 - Analysis by Alyekhin> Thank you for that.

<notyetagm> Great posts.

Note 24. Qe5+ f6 and White does not have time for 25. Qxd6? due to 25 ... Qxg2#.

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