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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Alexander Alekhine
Nottingham (1936), Nottingham ENG, rd 2, Aug-11
Dutch Defense: Alekhine Variation (A92)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 6 OF 6 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-06-14  SChesshevsky: <"I think this game is way over our heads.">

Certainly a great game. Maybe the best way to view is open lines and mobility.

I'm not sure what Alekhine's plan was but it looks likes Capablanca's plan was something like...

Around 7. Qb3 he wants to control the White squares while Black's QB is stuck, especially eying the a2 diagonal with a tempo check on the King.

Around 16. Nfd4, maybe he's attempting d4 control which might be important to Black especially the KB. It also opens the h1 white diagonal if needed.

19. Be3, now the fights definitely on for d4, thinking if he can get rid of Black's KB that weaken's Black on the dark squares as well.

24. Rd3, it appears Capablanca has already seen the following combinations and saw that getting rid of the two B's without open files for the Rooks to work on is better for him.

35. the exchange of Q's pretty much defuses any Black chances. Then it's just close up the Qside and open lines for the B's and make sure the open files are well covered.

For a good example of Capablanca's positional feel, at the final position count the number of useful squares each side has in enemy territory within a couple of moves.

Feb-06-14  morfishine: Whats interesting is what the players were thinking and how they assessed the position as the game progressed. As born out in the notes, Capablanca was unhappy with his opening play. Alekhine, though not admitting outright that his play was too passive, gives Black a slight edge on or about move 23. Fair enough

But Alekhine ventures into a line that is in effect, too transparent, which in turn, plays into Capablanca's greatest strengths: calculating and positional play. This miscalculation is somewhat odd since its not terribly deep or complex, the net effect being that Capablanca's task is eased and simplified.

One sees that both players were not thrilled about the opening. A draw was most likely when Alekhine decided to play for a win.

An excellent example of successful positional play emanating from a dry and inaccurate opening.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Everett: I've come too a loose conclusion based on the stories and results of Lasker, Capablanca, and Alekhine, and they are this: Lasker was the most professional, Capablanca the most talented, and Alekhine the most chess-obsessed.

Discuss ;-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett> In support of your view on Alekhine, while he and Capablanca were at London (1922), a patron took them to a show.

The way the account went, Capa never took his eyes off the girls, while Alekhine never removed his from his pocket set!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi perfidious:

I'm thinking as Everett mentions all three we have to take Lasker to the theatre as well.

So... Alekhine's eyes never his pocket chess set, Capablanca's eyes never leaves the dancing girls what would Lasker be doing if he was there?

Taking an occasional peep at what opening variations Alekhine was looking at and then studying the dancing girls to see if a mathematical formulae could be applied to dance choreography.

This is fun. Let's take them to the beach.

Capablanca randomly kicks some sand about and suddenly this beautiful sandcastle appears.

Lasker builds one of the most intricate and complex sandcastles ever seen complete with a moving drawbridge powered by a waterwheel that also supplies the electricity for the rampart search lights.

Alekhine builds a sand chess set.


Mar-07-14  Whitehat1963: What's the finish?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Whitehat1963> See Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1936 and have a look at <Calli>'s comments.
Nov-02-14  erniecohen: Where is the win after 27...♘a4? (Lasker and Capablanca seem to agree that Black's mistake was in winning the exchange.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: A very strange game - neither player played up to their usual standards.

Capablanca's opening was very unsuccessful and he did not play the early part of the middle game well either. Had Alekhine played 24..Ba4 25 Qd2..Ne4 26 Qe1..g5 he would have had a large advantage. After 24..f4? his advantage was gone and after 27..c5? he was lost.

The game was adjourned and winning plan is described in several places here (ie. near the top of page 2).

May-24-15  Hesam7: 22 b4 was the losing move but Alekhine did not find the win which would have followed after 22...g5!

click for larger view

The following line is now more or less forced: 23 Nf3 f4 24 gf4 gf4 25 Bf4 Qg7 25 Bg3 Bf5 26 Qb3 Nc3 27 Rc3 Bc3

click for larger view

White is an exchange down but Black's threats are not over yet. e2 needs to be defended: 28 e3 Kh8 and now White has to deal with ...Bg4 & ...Be4.

Aug-16-16  sudoplatov: One reason that three Minor Pieces generally have an advantage over two Rooks is that the side with two Rooks cannot usually sacrifice the Exchange. This would yield a two Minor Piece vs Rook material. Of course BBN vs RR is more advantages (in general) than BNN vs RR; the RR side could sacrifice for the Bishop and perhaps do well.

Three Minor Pieces do not fight so well against the Queen as the Queen can mount her own mating attack or multiple attack on various points. The three Minors need anchors.

Similarly with RR vs Q, the Rooks generally have to guard against the Queen's possibility of multiple attacks or mating attacks. Again the Queens side cannot sacrifice a piece (at least not if these are the only pieces left.)

Many years ago, I had to go through a bunch of these analyses to write the evaluation function for a chess program. (LACHEX, we ran out of money and had to quit.)

Aug-16-16  whiteshark: <sudoplatov: <(LACHEX, we ran out of money and had to quit.)>> --> Lachex
Oct-25-17  Toribio3: The 2 rooks of Alekhine are useless, they have no room to maneuver.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Obvious to Capa and Alekhine, but how the three pieces dominate 2 rooks is worth study

1) +3.00 (28 ply) 38...Kf6 39.Bc3+ Kg6 40.h4 Rc7 41.Kg1 Re7 42.Kg2 Kh6 43.Nf1 Rg8+ 44.Kh2 Rge8 45.Bc6 Rb8 46.Ne3 Kg6 47.Kg2 Rf7 48.Bd5 Rff8 49.h5+ Kxh5 50.Bg7 Kg6 51.Bxf8 Rxf8 52.Be6 h5 53.Nd5 Rb8 54.Kg3 Re8 55.Bd7 Re2 56.Nxb6

May-17-20  pepechuy: The position after black's 30th move appears in Fine's "Basic chess endings", but with white's pawn on a3 (instead of a2). It seems there is diagram typo there, but after 31. Nd2 he provides the variation 31... cb4 42. ab4, so he really has the pawn on a3. This appears in the revised edition by Pal Benko (I would expect such a mistake to have been corrected). I do not find any full game score that supports Fine's diagram (I checked the books on Capablanca by Panov, and by Caparros).
Aug-05-20  Chesgambit: Capblanca beats Alekhine again
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Was Alekhine drunk when he played this ?
Feb-27-21  Gaito: The position after 27.exd3 seems worthy of some post-mortem analysis (see diagram below):

click for larger view

In the comments above many kibitzers have already had a lot to say about this position, so it would be pointless to add more commentary; but what about the chess engines? What do they have to say about this critical position? Alekhine played 27...c5? but the engines don't seem to like that move at all. SF13 in depth 44 suggests 27...Na4 with equality (computer evaluation: 0.00). LcZero in depth 28 also plays 27...Na4 and gives an evaluation of +0.03. Ethereal 12.75 in depth 38 plays also 27...Na4 with an evaluation of -0.37. So we may take it for granted that 27...Na4 was Black's correct move in the diagrammed position. A sample variation (White: SF13, Black: LcZero, 30 seconds per move): 27...Na4 28.Ng5 h6 29.Bc6 hxg5 30.fxg5 Bb2 31.Rc2 (depth 52) b5 32.Bd5+ Kh8 33.Qe2 (depth 40). See diagram below:

click for larger view

The evaluation of the computer (SF13) is +0.62, which means a very tiny advantage to White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kbob: Alekhine wrote a book on this tournament. From childhood I seem to recall him annotating that he started a combination, and then persisted in it, under the "hallucination" that he was winning two exchanges, but instead gave up three pieces for two rooks.
Jun-03-21  N.O.F. NAJDORF: Please allow me to clear up the matter of Alekhine's antisemitism.

Although he denied - after the war -
writing the anti-Semitic articles that had appeared under his name, and claimed that the Nazis had deceitfully attributed them to him, Alekhine had admitted their authorship in an interview with a Spanish newspaper during the war.

The fact that Alekhine was a personal friend of Hans Frank, who was hanged at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity, tends to support the claims that there was indeed something deeply unpleasant about him.

The curious thing is that, in order to diminish Capablanca's abilities, he had years before compared him unfavourably with a number of Jewish grandmasters.

Euwe reported that following his win over Lasker at Zurich 1934, Alekhine exclaimed: 'The Jew has been taught another lesson.'

It was in fact the only time Lasker lost to Alekhine.

Jun-03-21  sudoplatov: The local Stockfish computes that 24...f4 is Black's best chance.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <tjipa: I agree to the previous RookFile's remark. I fed the final position to my Fritz (after 37...Kg6), it gave +2.68 for white, and still in the line it supports the white do NOT get through, they are obviously better (hence the +), yet the position remains closed, therefore a draw.>

I kept scrolling down looking for a comment like this to verify I am not crazy. Yes, white has clear advantage. BUT there is no way to break through. Not even a way to win a pawn. It's draw by perpetual static advantage.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Fusilli> White does have active ways to break through.

For example, maneuver the bishops to c6 and c3 and the knight to d5, and then prepare the d4 push. For purpose of illustration:

click for larger view

Now there will be a pawn trade in the center. If 1...cxd4 2. Bxd4 winning the b-pawn, or 1...Ra7 2. dxc5 and now 2...dxc5 3. Be5 drives off the rook and wins the b-pawn, or 2...bxc5 3. b6 Ra6 4. Bb5 Ra8 5. Nc7 traps the rook and wins the exchange.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <beatgiant> Interesting. When I let the engine run from the final position, it can't find a way to make it work. It shuffles pieces around for 20 moves, always calling it a +3 or so, but doesn't make progress. But here's the catch: The computer doesn't try to get the knight to d5.

In the final position:

click for larger view

After 38...Kh6 39.Ne2 (not even one of the three preferred moves by the engine) Rg7 40.Nc3 (the computer calls this move dubious) Rfg8, now the computer insists that white needs to bring the knight back to e2, apparently concerned about Rg1+. When I play 41.Nd5 anyway, it continues 41...Rg1+ 42.Ke2 Ra1 43.Nxb6 Re8+ 44.Be3 Ra2+ 45.Kf1 Ra1+ 46.Kg2 Rb8 47.Nd5 Rxa4

click for larger view

And the evaluation is +2.42.

(I'm using Stockfish 11, depth=22, on

From then on, I kept playing with the position and variations, and white keeps the advantage, and looks scary, though I didn't reach a winning position. (But, disclaimer, I gave up!)

In short, it looks like the opening up of the position is what white should go for if he wants to win. Sending the knight to d5 as you suggested is a good plan! But I could not find a way to produce the position set up you offered in your diagram. There is no way to send the knight to d5 without allowing black some counterplay.

May-18-23  DouglasGomes: <Fusili> Bc3 and d4 is enough...

38... Kh6 39. Bc3 Kg6 40. d4 (... cxd4 41. Bxd4 Rc8 42. Bh5+ Kh6 43. Bf6 Re8 44. Bg5+ Kg7 45. Nxf5+ Kf8 46. Ne3) Rc7 41. dxc5 (...Rxc5 43. Be2) dxc5 42. h4 Rd7 43. h5+ (this helps too to embarass the Black king) Kh6 44. Bd5 cannot be held by Black

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