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Alexander Alekhine vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"Capa Asada" (game of the day Apr-22-2015)
Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship Match (1927), Buenos Aires ARG, rd 32, Nov-22
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern. Knight Defense (D51)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-22-15  celtrusco: <mrknightly : Uno de los más grandes juegos de palabras nunca! Juega en español "carne asada", que significa carne asada. Así, "asada Capa", es decir Capa (conseguido) asado!>Moreover this World Championship Match was in Argentina, where the most popular food is the "asado". I think it's probably the sense of the pun.
Apr-22-15  RookFile: I guess the key position in the game is this:

click for larger view

Folks questioned Capa giving up the pawn. Obviously he saw this position coming and figured his active rook would allow him to hold the draw. I'm just looking at it and thinking I would think the same too, hacker that I am. At some point you just have to tip your hat to Alekhine and say that the guy played a magnificent game, in all 3 phases, to win this.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ToTheDeath: It is true what they say, to beat a world champion you must beat him three times- first in the opening, then in the middlegame, then in the ending!

Capa was no exception!

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Alekhine wins this one in a surprise...
Apr-24-15  not not: Sliwa vs Fischer, 1962

my point was that Capa should have done what Fisher did: at critical point of game refusing to castle short, exchange pieces and castle long; then try to outplay his opponent in middle game

Capa had no plan in this game, unlike Fisher in the game above

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: After this defeat Capablanca gave up. He drew the next game as white, game 33, in only 18 moves. He tried hard in game 34 but I think he knew the jig was up. It was this game, game 32, where he realised that Alekhine was better than he and that the torch was passing.
Jun-03-15  SpiritedReposte: They both queen, but Qa8+ wins it back before she can even say hello.
Sep-05-15  Ulhumbrus: Can one suggest a justification for the attack 10 h4? One justification is that Black has undeveloped his king's knight by 9...Ne8. If 10 Nf5 counts as a threat one alternative is 9...Re8 10 Nf5 Bf8. A second alternative is 8...Ne4. A third alternative is 8...Nb6 9 Ng3 Nc4 10 Rb1 Nd6 guarding the square f5
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: In the <book of u>, one should never move a piece twice in the opening, and certainly never touch a flank pawn--such extraordinary measures shall surely be followed by retribution swift and sure.
Sep-07-16  Demna: How about a Black moove 48?
Sep-07-16  PJs Studio: If you mean, why didn't black play 48...Rxe4? Black loses instantly too 49.Kf3 Rc4 50.Re5+ picking up the Bishop. I must admit, I didn't see it at first myself. ((Easy to fall asleep, make this faulty capture and lose immediately on the third day of a holiday weekend Swiss. Oy!!))
Sep-07-16  PJs Studio: Oh and by the way...this what a patient & beautifully played game by Alekhine.
Sep-07-16  ZonszeinP: This worthy win mainly proves that Alekhine was better prepared including from the psychological point of view. Capablanca wanted his revenge (which was never granted) exactly because he knew that Alekhine wasn't better than him!
Sep-07-16  vasja: I am sorrry, I do not understand why not 55.Bxa5! and black has no compensation for lost piece. On 55.... Rc5+ simple Kg6 protects the bishop.
Sep-07-16  varishnakov: <vasja>

55.Bxa5?? Rc5+
56.Kg6 Rxh5

and if

57.Kxh5 h3

and the pawn queens

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <vasja> 55. Bxa5 is winning, but 55...Rc5+ 56. Kg6 loses to 56...h3 and the Pawn can't be stopped. Probably the best line for White is:

55. Bxa5 Rc5+ 56. e5 Rxa5 57. Kf6 escorting the Pawns home.

click for larger view

Essentially the same line as the game, but the game has the advantage of shoving the Black King over to the Queenside.

Sep-08-16  Petrosianic: <Once> <Fritzie reckons that 16...Nxg4 would have led to a level game - but that's just silicon talking. Which carbon-based life form would like a half open file against their king with Alekhine sitting in the chair opposite?>

Especially when that evaluation is totally unreliable in a position like this. All it means is that no advantage for White exists within Fritz's horizon.

Nov-14-18  CharlesSullivan: < Alekhine wins the game but fails as an analyst, part 1 >

It appears that Alekhine spent very little time analyzing the 1927 championship match -- "On the Road to the World Championship" is valuable for the insights of what he may have been thinking during the games, but he did much better analytical work in other books.

< 16.g4 >
"Decisive," Alekhine writes of 16.g4. "Black now has nothing better than to sacrifice a pawn to bring about an ending, although it should prove untenable in the long run." But Black could have essentially equalized four moves later with 20...Re8 <+0.09, depth 54>, says Stockfish 9.

< 23.Kg2 >
At move 23, Stockfish identifies the best move as 23.f3 <+0.77, depth 61>, but Alekhine dismisses it: "The obvious 23 f3 was tempting but incorrect because of 23...Rc2 24 Rh2 Rxh2 25 Bxh2 f6! 26 g6 (26 gxf6 Rxf6 and ...Rc6) 26...Rc8

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27 Re1 f5 followed by ...Rc6." Overlooking the fact that Alekhine has not given an accurate variation, he missed a killer for White -- from the diagram: 27.e4!! <+3.26, depth 53> wins; for example: 27...dxe4 28.fxe4 Rc4 29.Bf4! Rxd4 30.Rc1 and Black's positional weaknesses spell doom.

< 32.Rc1 >
Alekhine, in the belief that he was winning, says that 32.Rc1 was an "unnecessary pawn sacrifice, which seriously jeopardises the win." Pachman, writing 45 years later, also calls this an "unnecessary sacrifice, which leaves White with only slight winning chances." Kasparov says that this "gave the opponent an excellent drawing chance."

The winning variation, according to Alekhine, was 32.b4 g5 33.hxg5 Bxg5 34.Bxg5 Kxg5 35.f4+ Kf5 36.Kf3 Rh2 37.Rg1 which "would have won easily."

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But 37...Rh3+ 38.Rg3 (there is nothing better) 38...Rxg3+ 39.Kxg3 a6!!

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is a drawn position.

< 34...Bxd4 >
Kasparov says that Capablanca "took the wrong pawn!" Alekhine, still believing that White is winning, says that the "main variation given by most commentators after 34...dxe4 is unsound." Alekhine then proceeds to himself give a very unsound variation which has not one, but two, losing moves for Black: 35.d5+ Kf5 36.d6+ Ke6 37.fxe4 Rb3+ 38.Kg2 Rb2+ 39.Kh3 Rb4 40.Rc8

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40...Rxe4?? (40...a6 is one move that holds) 41.Re8+ Kd5 42.Rxe4 Kxe4 43.Bg5 Bc3 44.a6 bxa6?? (44...b5!! draws) 45.d7 Ba5 46.Kg2! (at least Alekhine was correct that 46.Kg2 wins).

Nov-15-18  CharlesSullivan: < slight 34...Bxd4 correction -- see above >

... Alekhine himself then proceeds to give an unsound variation: 35.d5+ Kf5 36.d6+ Ke6 37.fxe4 Rb3+ 38.Kg2 Rb2+ 39.Kh3 Rb4 40.Rc8 Rxe4 41.Re8+ Kd5 42.Rxe4 Kxe4 43.Bg5 Bc3 44.a6 bxa6?? (Alekhine should have pointed out that 44...b5!! 45.d7 Ba5 46.d8=Q Bxd8 47.Bxd8

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47...b4 draws)
45.d7 Ba5 Kg2! (at least Alekhine was correct that 46.Kg2 wins).

Nov-15-18  CharlesSullivan: < 36...a6 >

Alekhine claims that 36...b5 "would hardly be satisfactory for Black." But Capablanca's 36...a6 is an error that White could have exploited. Necessary was, in fact, 36...b5! <+0.07, depth 58, 2 hour search>.

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and the Black's passed b-pawn is enough of a distraction to hold the position.

< 38.Kg4 >

Neither Alekhine nor Pachman make any comment about this move, but White has a winning game after 38.Kf4!! Alekhine's move allows the White king to be confined at the edge of the board -- the king needs to get to the center. After 38.Kf4 <+3.10, depth 52, 71 minutes> 38...Rg2 39.Ke3 Rc2 40.Bd8 Bd2+ 41.Kd4 Bf4 42.Rf5 White's position is winning.

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< 47...Rc4 >

At least Alekhine identified 47...Rc4 as inferior. However, rather than give a thorough analysis, he provides some rather offhand comments: "After this White once again has a pleasant and easy task. At any rate, 47...Bg3 was preferable, although even then White would still have had excellent chances of winning after 48 Re5+ Kd6 49 Rg5, or 48...Kf7 49 h5."

It turns out that both 47...Bc3 <+0.00, depth 59> and 47...Bg3 48.Re5+ Kd7!! <+0.00, depth 80, 9 hours> would have drawn (Alekhine's suggested 48...Kd6 is a loser). The following variation is rather interesting: 47...Bg3 48.Re5+ Kd7 49.Rg5 Bxf4! 50.Rxg7+ Ke6!! 51.Rxb7 Re2 52.Ra7 Rxe4 53.Rxa6 Kf5! 54.Ra8 Kg4 55.a6 Kf3

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56.Kf1 Ra4 57.Bf2 Ra1+ 58.Be1 Bd2 59.Rf8+ Kg4 60.Rg8+ Kf4 61.a7 Bxe1! 62.a8=Q Rxa8 63.Rxa8 Bxh4 DRAW.

One final point: Alekhine's variation of 47...Bg3 48.Re5+ Kd6 49.Rg5 which supposedly gives White "excellent chances of winning," is drawn after 49...Bxf4! 50.Rxg7 Ke6 51.Rxb7 Re2 52.Ra7 Rxe4 53.Rxa6 Kf5 54.Bf2 Ra4 55.h5 Kg4 56.h6 Bxh6 57.Rxh6 Rxa5:

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May-16-20  Albion 1959: This was almost certainly the game that finally "broke" Capablanca. A limp draw in the next game, before steeling himself for one last hurrah in the 34th game. He must have known before then, his title would be lost. This was a fascinating and hard-fought game between these two chess titans. It does not appear to be absolutely clear as which was Capa's losing move. He gradually drifted into an inferior ending. There is plenty of analysis from earlier contributors, so now it is my turn, waiting to see if I will be shot down. This is done without a computer or a high-powered search engine! All by myself. To me, Capablanca erred on move 51 with h4. This allowed Alekhine's king to access the g4 square, from here it was able to assist in the advance of the f-pawn. Better on move 51 to play Rb3+ forcing the king back and wait for Alekhine to find a winning plan and then show his hand. After 54. Bxa5, Capablanca was clearly lost. Am I right about Rc3+ as the right move?
Aug-04-20  CharlesSullivan: <Albion1959>: Stockfish-11 creates this in response to 51...Rc3+: 52.Ke2 Bg3 53.Rd5+ Ke8 54.f5 Rc1 55.Rd8+ Kf7 56.Rd7+ Ke8 57.Rh7 h4 58.Bd4 Re1+ 59.Kd3 Bf4 60.Kc4 Kf8 61.f6 Rc1+ 62.Kd5 and it is mate-in-14.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <CharlesSullivan> Check out Fischer vs Stein, 1967
Aug-27-20  Albion 1959: To Charles Sullivan. The Stockfish analysis is interesting and it injects fresh possibilities for white. I don't have Stockfish, nor do I claim to able to have anything like it's analytical power, but I suspect it's analysis could be flawed? Move 54: Rc1 allows the white king access to a more active role. 59: Kd3 and the white king is free to assist in a winning attempt, which would be more difficult confined to the 2nd rank. Following the Stockfish analysis, white easily becomes active, is able to get the e & f pawns moving, while being able to restrain the black h-pawn. This is winning for white, but only because the white king is allowed to become active. The rook and bishop work well together, but without the king, white still has work to do. As good as Stockfish, I am still not 100% convinced it is correct here:
Aug-27-20  SChesshevsky: < Albion 1959: ... This is winning for white, but only because the white king is allowed to become active. The rook and bishop work well together, but without the king, white still has work to do...>

Yeah, that's why 47...Rc4 was surprising. Figuring most Master's, forget about end game specialists, first inclination is to try to keep the white king on the first rank. Maybe it's still winning for white? Pawn up and the passed pawn pretty well advanced, plus a good active rook. But at least the King won't be joining the party for awhile.

Would've guessed that Capablanca wouldn't have went with 47...Rc4 unless he saw something concrete that equalized or nearly equalized but ended up missing a refuting white response along the way.

But I also get the feeling that Capablanca might've felt lost after all the exchanges moves 32-36 and became a little panicky in the endgame. All those rook moves and the up close perpetual tries feel similar to the desperation I've had in some of my lost endgames. Could be 47...Rc4 was just a hint of desperate counter play?

Either way, white's win does seem to get a lot easier once his King is able to move up the board and get active.

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