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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Aron Nimzowitsch
New York (1927), New York, NY USA, rd 19, Mar-20
Queen's Indian Defense: Capablanca Variation (E16)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-17-05  Calli: ?? Its only 23 moves. He could hardly have proposed a draw after 19...g6? because he had a win at that point. Therefore they had to play a few more moves so the position was a drawn one.

Its weird thing. Capablanca became so bent on drawing the game, he refused to win. After Nimzo messed up, Capa was heard to say "Why must I win against this idiot?"

Alright, I made that last part up. :-)

Sep-17-05  ughaibu: Good one.
Sep-17-05  paladin at large: Thanks <Calli>
<Capablanca became so bent on drawing the game, he refused to win. After Nimzo messed up, Capa was heard to say "Why must I win against this idiot?>"

A new urban legend is born!

Sep-17-05  paladin at large: <Calli> How do you know you made it up - were you there?
Sep-17-05  RookFile: Well, he's taking Nimzo's famous
quote, and turning it back against him.... lol
Sep-17-05  fgh: <Calli>: Hehe good one :-)
Sep-17-05  Whitehat1963: So, then, what's best play after the last move? Which pawn, or is it the rook that takes the knight?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Whitehat1963>
<Which pawn, or is it the rook that takes the knight?> On 24. Rxd5 Re8 25. Rd7 Re7 seems to hold. On 24. exd5 f5 blocks the center.

So probably it is 24. cxd5. White can then try attacks on either the queenside or kingside, so it's hard to give a specific line. It does look like the sort of position where Capa would normally keep playing for a win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Whitehat1963> I probably will step into it, but world according to Gypsy is thus:

(1) The position and <24.exd5 f5> seems quite safe for Black.

(2) I would not dare to exchange rooks after <24.Rxd5>. Instead, I would strive to absorb and difuse White pressure by something like <24...Re8 25.Rd7 Re7 26.Rd8+ Re8 27.Rd5 Re6 28.Rd8+ Re8 29.Rd6 Ke7 30.Rd5 Ke6 31.g4 Re7 and 32...Rd7>. (No good is the try 32.Rd8 Rd7 33.Rh8(?) f6 and Black begins to be slightly better.)

(3) That leaves <24.cxd5>. A restrained defense by Black <24...Ke7 25.Kd3 Kd6 26.Kc4 a6 27.a4 Rc8 ...> seems fully adequate to hold, however.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <beatgiant> Sorry for posting a note so similar to yours. But my network was not responding when I had to leave a couple of hours ago. A shame to delete it though.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Gypsy> Understood, thanks for posting a concrete line to start this disucssion. To use the space advantage, White would look for a chance to open a new front on the kingside:

24. cxd5 Ke7 <25. g4> f6 26. h4 Kd6 27. Rh2 etc. I'm not claiming this wins, but at least it looks like White can subject Black to a significant amount of torture.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <beatgiant> (Not ignoring you; just my connection has been rather awful these last two days.)

I see it similarly from this angle: White has a clear space and structural advantage; Capablanca definitely converted smaller advantages than this in his career. Of course, his oponents usually had to help some, but that is chess.

Putting Black position under some stress on the K-side first is sound. Two natural moves are f4 and g4. The former has a bit more of a dynamic quality to it; the latter creates a bit more more of a structural pressure. I probed some into the f4 lines and found some dangerous tricks. It seems that Black could easily get under severe pressure just by a bit of careless, schematic chess:

24.cxd5 Ke7 <25. f4> f6 26.Rd3 Kd6 27.Ra3 Rd7 28.Ra6!? h5 29.a4!? ... and the threat of a5 looks quite unplesant, eg, 29...Rb7 30.a5 Kc7 31.Kd3 ...

Not the best moves for Black, but natural looking ones.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: By the way, isn't it a very serious violation of tournament rules for a player to suggest moves to his opponent during the game to arrive at a predetermined result? I'm surprised any arbiter would cooperate with such a request.
Sep-21-05  RookFile: The answer to your question, beatgiant, is yes, of course it is a violation. But, apparently, standards were different back then.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <RookFile>
<apparently, standards were different back then.> I find it hard to imagine how it could have ever been good sportsmanship for one player, during a game in progress, to make disparaging remarks about the opponent's play, threaten to win, and dictate his opponent's moves to force a draw.
Sep-24-05  RookFile: It sounds weird to me too. But,
Nimzo wasn't really doing that great
in the tournament, maybe he was happy Capa gave him a draw.
Sep-24-05  Calli: <beatgiant> "to make disparaging remarks about the opponent's play,"

You took my joke seriously? If not, what remarks?

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Calli>
From the first page of kibitzing: <Capablanca complained to the tournament director that unless Nimzowitsch played better, he (Capablanca) would be forced to win the game!> This behavior is patronizing, to say the least.

If he wanted to force a draw, why not do it the polite way with 21. Rd6 Kg7 22. Nd5 Nxd5 <23. Rxd5> (offer draw), since that position is at least not obviously lost for Black.

Sep-24-05  Calli: I was looking for a quote. How can we call them "disparaging" and "threats" without knowing exactly what was said. Many false things have been written about this incident including one story in which poor Mimzo was left in tears at the end of game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Calli>
Good point. You wrote above <The TD later comfirmed the story in print>, so maybe it's better to look at what that primary source says. Do you have a citation for it?
Sep-24-05  Calli: Searching the vast Calli archives.....

Aha! Chess Review (August 1949, page 225) Tournament Director Norbert Lederer commented:

"In fairness to Capa, it should be noted that he had already secured first prize since he had a three and a half point lead with only three games to play; these were against Alekhine, Nimzowitsch and Vidmar. Capa announced that, in order not to appear favoring one of the three, who were all in the running for second or third prize, he would play for a draw against each of them, and he so informed me as tournament director. Needless to say, I did not relish this attitude, but there was little I could do about it. During his game with Capablanca, Nimzowitsch indulged in some fancy play and found himself with a practically lost position. Capa then not only asked me to warn his opponent, but actually had to dictate the next four or five moves which Nimzowitsch played with great reluctance as he suspected a double-cross. However, he did follow instructions and a draw was reached four moves later."

No disparaging remarks reported by Lederer.

I don't condone Capablanca's behavior. Its not proper etiquette to suggest moves to an opponent. Still, the incident more weird than anything else. After all, he was giving away a half point. Capablanca somehow became so determined to draw the last three games, he flipped everything on its head. In this alternate reality, a win was bad and draw was better then a win.

Sep-24-05  RookFile: I think it shows that pride goes
before the fall. Capa found that
out a short time later against Alekhine.
Sep-25-05  paladin at large: <RookFile> Yes - and when you consider the adulation that was heaped on Capablanca after the New York 1927 tournament (one chronicler wrote, I believe: "The World Champion's name for the next ten years is Capablanca" - it is easy to grasp how he became overconfident.
Sep-25-05  Averageguy: Doesn't Capa have winning chances in this position?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Averageguy: Doesn't Capa have winning chances in this position?> Yes. See earlier kibitzing on <Sep-17-05> to <Sep-19-05>.
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