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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Alexander Alekhine
"Phi Beta Capa" (game of the day Dec-14-2013)
Savorin Cup (1913), St Petersburg RUE, rd 1, Dec-14
Semi-Slav Defense: Quiet Variation (D30)  ·  1-0

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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Alexander Alekhine (1913) Phi Beta Capa


Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 11 OF 11 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Dec-14-14  TheFocus: Exhibition match game 1 played in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 14, 1913.

Capablanca would win by +2=0-0.

Sep-23-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: In that picture I think Alekhine looks like the lead singer of a failed British New Romantic band.
Nov-04-16  jsteward: Why 31......Re5?!
Nov-04-16  JimNorCal: offramp: < MarkFinan: <morfishine: I really don't know what to say about Capablanca. At least for me, its hard to get excited about his style.> ... There is one game of Capablanca's I love though ... This is the game: Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben, 1895

Sure, that's totally my fave Capa game too. Wait. What?

Jul-09-17  Lossmaster: Answering Penguincw's almost 4-year old question: <Even though the larger board displays the final position, what's the actual position on the chessboard?> From a high-quality large print of this photo in a book of mine, I can positively say that the position is after Capablanca's 18th move Be4 (even though, judging only from the players' attitudes, you would think that it's Capa's turn to play). It's the move of which he said: "This move I considered a very long time. It looks very simple and inoffensive, yet it is the foundation of the whole attack against Black's position." (You can read more Capa comment in birthtimes' kibitz of Sep-01-09.) By the way, the time displayed on the clocks is crystal clear: it's 4:14 on Alekhine's clock and 3:54 on Capa's side.
Jul-09-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Lossmaster>
Interesting. So this is a photo of the post-mortem?
Feb-02-21  Ulhumbrus: Amongst other things Capablanca says of the move 18 Be4 something like this < ...It would take <many lines> to explain this move properly and then I might not be clearly understood so I leave it up to the reader to work it out by himself> Perhaps a computer's analysis will provide some clues towards these <<many lines>>
Feb-02-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
(Rolls eyes) Then why not post a computer analysis yourself? Did you not know about the "request analysis" button on the site?

Anyway, I just did it, and the computer thinks both 18. Be4 and 18. Rfe1 give White only a slight advantage, but after 18. Be4 Black should reply <18...Ngf6> first, which leads to 18...Ngf6 19. Bb1 Bb5 20. Rfe1 Rac8.

After the actual game's 18...Bb5 19. Rfe1 <Ngf6> would now be too late, because White can reply 20. Bxd5 Nxd5 <21. Rc5> and the computer thinks White has a strong advantage. Besides hitting the bishop, white also threatens <22. Rxd5> exd5 23. Ng4 invading the kingside.

Feb-02-21  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus> (Rolls eyes) Then why not post a computer analysis yourself? Did you not know about the "request analysis" button on the site?>

No, I didn't. Having taken a look, there is an <analysis> button with greater analysis available to premium members.

However at the risk of repetition I do not say that Capablanca's explanation consists of such analysis, but that the analysis may provide clues as to what his explanation might be.

Feb-02-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
It's true, premium members get some extra powers, but even without that you should have access to the "engine" link below the game. But at move 18 this position is not super tactical, so I think what I posted above is enough.
Feb-02-21  SChesshevsky: <Amongst other things Capablanca says of the move 18. Be4 something like this...>

<...computer thinks...but after 18. Be4 Black should reply 18...Ngf6 first, which leads to 18...Ngf6 19. Bb1 Bb5 20. Rfe1 Rac8...>

Geez, Capablanca's not very helpful here. I mean come on. He can't give even a bit of thought on blacks most logical 18...Ngf6 reply? Putting a question to the B and trying to maintain the N outpost.

Have the feeling Capa wasn't thinking 19. Bb1 in reply. Seems to make 18. Be4 kind of useless as it doesn't look like it causes black weakness. So is the idea 18...Ngf6 19. Bxd5 Nxd5 and ...?

Unless see evidence otherwise, am going to assume Capablanca's analysis dodge is just a bailout rather than admit his 18. Be4 not great. And probably mainly worked out thanks to the seemingly inaccurate black reply.

Feb-04-21  Ulhumbrus: <SChesshevsky> Capablanca said that he thought about the move 18 Be4 ! for a very long time. On 18 Be4 Ngf6 the move 19 Bb1 seems inconsistent. Why has White played Be4 if not to play 19 Bxd5? On 18 Be4 Ngf6 19 Bxd5 Nxd5 20 Ng4 Black can't stop White's queen getting to the h6 square as he has displaced the N on g8 which has covered the h6 square.
Feb-04-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
After 18. Be4 Ngf6 19. Bxd5 Nxd5 20. Ng4 f6 21. Qh6+ Kh8, the computer eval shows a slight advantage to Black, as you would know if you'd <clicked on the "engine" link>, but I agree that was probably Capablanca's plan.

Capablanca might like the looks of White's position in that line, but that's more an issue of positional judgement than one of "many variations." The variations don't show any useful attack for White in the foreseeable future.

Feb-05-21  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> I did not click on the engine link for all of my analysis. Ng4 heading for h6 after the displacement of the N on g8 covering h6 was my idea. After After 18 Be4 Ngf6 19 Bxd5 Nxd5 20 Ng4 f6 Black has weakened his e6 and g6 pawns and this suggests 21 Re1 and 21 h4 respectively, although other alternatives are 21 Qh6 and 21 Ne3. 21 Re1 prepares 22 Ne3 and Nxd5 whereupon the e5 pawn is pinned
Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
The engine likes 20...f6 and isn't concerned about White's plays as you suggested above, but also simply 20...Rfc8 is playable.

After 18. Be4 Ngf6 19. Bxd5 Nxd5 20. Ng4 Rfc8 21. Qh6+ Kg8 22. Ng5 and only now 22...f6 23. Nf3 Qg7 24. Qd2 h5 25. Ne3 Bc6, the computer eval is exactly 0.0. Yes, Black has advanced his kingside pawns, but the area looks solidly defended and I see no serious winning attempt for White.


click for larger view

Feb-05-21  SChesshevsky: <... After 18. Be4 Ngf6 19. Bxd5 Nxd5 20. Ng4 Rfc8 21. Qh6+ Kg8 22. Ng5 and only now 22...f6 23. Nf3 Qg7 24. Qd2 h5 25. Ne3 Bc6, the computer eval is exactly 0.0...>

Yeah, unless there's mate or black has to give up something due to significant threats vs. the King, there's probably nothing for white in the Be4 toward Qh6 line. Hard to see a crushing attack without either white B though.

On the other side, Blacks outpost on d5 probably ensures equality and if there is no real white attack, the Qh6 looks a bit silly.

Don't have a problem with white playing the line but feel that Capablanca showed little analysis integrity with his dodge of "I leave it up to the reader to work it out" when looking at 18.Be4.

I mean the guy must've had some concept. And the position isn't exactly rocket science. I don't know the source of his analysis and quotes but unless he did provide some more concrete thoughts on 18.Be4 elsewhere, have to still believe that Capa went with the analytical swindle. Pretending he had something deep and far reaching rather than just admit 18.Be4 probably OK but really doesn't achieve much.

Feb-05-21  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant>
On 18...Ngf6 19 Bxd5 Nxd5 20 Ng4 Rfc8
one alternative to an immediate 21 Qh6+ is 21 Nfe5 eg 21...f6 22 Qh6+ Kh8 23 Nxg6+ winning <Don't have a problem with white playing the line but feel that Capablanca showed little analysis integrity with his dodge of "I leave it up to the reader to work it out" when looking at 18.Be4.

I mean the guy must've had some concept. And the position isn't exactly rocket science. I don't know the source of his analysis and quotes but unless he did provide some more concrete thoughts on 18.Be4 elsewhere, have to still believe that Capa went with the analytical swindle. Pretending he had something deep and far reaching rather than just admit 18.Be4 probably OK but really doesn't achieve much.> Capablanca said of 18 Be4 something like this <This move I thought about for a very long time...It would take a good many lines to explain the move properly and then I might not be clerly understood> One thing which this suggests to me is that Capablanca's thinking did not consist of just a few variations and that there was much more to his thoughts than just those variations.

Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
In your line with 21. Nfe5, Black does not have to blunder with your 22...Kh8? but simply 22...Kg8 and the computer eval is again 0.0.

<Capablanca's thinking did not consist of just a few variations> Evidently, what White can achieve is to force Black to play ...f6, which can be considered a slight concession.

Feb-05-21  SChesshevsky: Frankly, Capa's "analysis" of 18.Be4, <This move I thought about for a very long time...It would take a good many lines to explain the move properly and then I might not be clearly understood> is quite pathetic.

Maybe he could've provided a hint at what he was aiming for? Maybe a couple of possible continuations with some sort of conclusion? No. OK. But then the old "Oh, it's far too complicated and deep for me to explain." That's pretty sad.

Get the feeling that while most of the old masters where great players. With play deserving of respect equal to those greats today. Much of their published analysis appears weak and self serving. Not even close to the far more intellectually honest self-review in the modern era. Maybe starting with Botvinnik.

Weak old master analysis, That's OK too. Different time and different chess environment. But probably helpful, if not mandatory, for chess students to question seemingly trite analysis which does not appear to jive with position on the board.

Feb-06-21  Ulhumbrus: <SChesshevsky> In my last message the word <clerly> should have read <clearly>

This reminds me of a story I read once in the press about an encounter between some journalists and Kasparov.

When they asked him to explain his moves his answer was something like this:

He said that he couldn't explain his moves to them because their knowledge and skill was not advanced enough. In order to understand his explanation their own knowledge and skill would have had to reach a stage sufficiently near his own to enable them to understand the terms or references made in his explanation.

This may be analogous to saying that in order to understand the explanation of a scientist your own education has to have reached a level sufficiently near to that of the scientist to understand the terms or references made in his explanation.

Feb-06-21  SChesshevsky: <Ulhumbrus> The defense of Capa's 18. Be4 "analysis" appears as weak as his text.

Out of the few chess books I have, Fischer, Botvinnik, Petrosian, and even Kasparov all provide very useful and some fairly deep analysis. Haven't noticed any of them punting on especially key moments in the play. And much discussion on positions seemingly more complicated than 18. Be4 in this game.

Also didn't notice any warning label on the books that said for GM's only. Reminds me something GM Larry Evans said to me, referring to a copy of Fischer's MSMG's. Said, paraphrased, "If you want to get good, find every instance of a Fischer analytical conclusion, like "better", "with a bind", "with pull" etc., and if you can figure out how he came to that conclusion; you'll be good."

Good advice. But might be much more difficult to undertake when the analytical conclusion is as Capa prefers, "So I leave it up to the reader to work it out by himself."

For me, much of Capablanca's analysis has always looked a bit shoddy. But this particular bailout, in a key position, a position that isn't rocket science, seems too much. So I'll let the reader work it out for himself. Did Capablanca with 18. Be4, as he states, see something so deep that he couldn't possibly try to explain it? Or did Capablanca just not want to look into possible continuations because an alternative line, a logical candidate that he must've checked out, shows 18. Be4 not so great a move?

Feb-28-21  Ulhumbrus: <SChesshevsky> Here is one example of an answer.

Capablanca said that he had thought about the move for a very long time.

As 18...Ng8-f6 seems one of the obvious alternatives this suggests that Capablanca had considered it.

I suggest that after 18...Ng8-f6 the right procedure for White consists of moves that are so difficult as to appear senseless or incomprehensible to the ordinary player.

This suggests that from the point of view of the ordinary player after 18...Ng8-f6 the winning procedure consists of moves which are senseless or incomprehensible, moves which an ordinary player will therefore not consider.

That is one example of an answer. I do not say that it has to be the right answer.

Feb-28-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
The point is, until someone actually provides a concrete refutation of 18...Ngf6, this explanation can only remind one of the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes. <There is a wonderful winning line here, but only the superior players can understand it.>
Feb-28-21  sudoplatov: I ran chess.com 's computer for a while on move 18. It cannot decide between 18.Ng5 or 18.h4 or 18.g3 all leading to a small edge for White.

After 18.Be4 Ngf6, that computer prefers 19.Bb1 with 0.0 evaluation.

Perhaps Capablanca thought 18.Be4 would more likely to lead Black astray than perhaps 18.h4 or 18.Re1 (which would have been my choice after looking of the position for a few seconds.)

Mar-01-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <sudoplatov>
Or maybe Capablanca simply overestimated his position in one of the lines we discussed above.
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