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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Alexander Alekhine
Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship Match (1927), Buenos Aires ARG, rd 31, Nov-18
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern. Knight Defense (D51)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-17-02  Sabatini: Playing 37. a5 over 37. h4 could have cost JR Capablanca this game and his world championship.
Mar-30-03  Calli: 37. h4 looks better, but the real clunker is 40. Rc8? 40.Bd6 keeps up the pressure. A bad endgame at a critical moment by Capa.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Was 27...Qb7 a miscalculation? How about 27...Qa7 (so the knight won't get pinned in 28. Bxd5 Rxd5 29. Qxb4 Nxd4). I don't think Black has anything to fear in 27...Qa7 28. Bxb5, since White's queenside pawns are just as exposed as Black's. Did Black actually need to lose a pawn as with 27...Qb7?
Jul-29-04  acirce: That 37.a5 was a serious mistake has been thought for a long time but a certain Garry Kasparov begs to differ. From 'On My Great Predecessors' I:


Alekhine attaches a question mark to this move and recommends 37.h4, 'to disable the opposing kingside and then, with the necessary precautions, to bring the king to the queenside. This plan would have reduced Black's drawing chances to the minimum.'

The verdict of Levenfish and Romanovsky is no less severe: 'The pawn stood better at a4 than at a5, since now Black gains control of the b5-square, which is the key to the position. Correct was 37.Ke2 g5 38.h3 h5 39.Rc8 Rb7 40.Rb8 Rxb8 41.Bxb8 Ke7 42.Kd3 Kd7 43.Kc4 Kc6 44.b4! Nb6+ 45.Kb3 Kd5 46.b5 axb5 47.a5! Nd7 48.Be5 winning.'

However, in 1994(!) the Russian master Fridstein accomplished a complete revolution in the evaluation of this ending, beginning with a criticism of this last variation: 'The analysis was terminated too early: after 48..Nxe5! 49.dxe5 Kc5 the pawn ending is drawn! However, instead of 48.Be5? White wins by 48.Bc7! In turn, Black should not play 45..Kd5?! - after 45..g4 it is not at all easy to show that White has a win. But the main thing is that White has no reason to exchange his active rook for the opponent's passive rook! Instead of 39.Rc8?! it is not too late to transpose into a position from the game by 39.a5! The point is that 'the key to the position' is not the b5-square, but the b6-square!'

Perhaps 37.h4 was indeed simpler, since it would have deprived Black of any counterplay. However, the move in the game was not at all bad, as we shall see.>

Jul-29-04  acirce: <the real clunker is 40. Rc8? 40.Bd6 keeps up the pressure.> The winning move is 40.Rb6!! according to Fridstein and Kasparov.
Jul-29-04  Calli: Yes, 27...Qb7? is a mistake. Probably thought he would regain the pawn. Alekhine gives 27...Nbc3! 28.a3 Ne4 29.Qd3 a5 30.f3 Nd6 as equal but I am not sure about that either.
Jul-29-04  acirce: Let's listen to Kasparov again :-) He doesn't agree with Alekhine because

<firstly, there is a rather promising exchange sacrifice - 29.Rxe4!? fxe4 30.axb4 Ra8 31.Qg5 Rd7 32.b5 a5 33.Qg4, and secondly, White retains an enduring plus after 29.Qd3 a5 30.f3 Nd6 31.Bxd5 exd5 32.axb4 Qxb4 33.Re3 or 31.axb4 Nxc4 32.bxc4 Nxb4 33.Qb3.>

Apr-16-06  emolasker: I have got that book, very goog for reading while sitting on toilet.:-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: After 40.Rb6, which is better than 40.Rc8

click for larger view

Then play might go 40...Nxb6 41.axb6 Rb7 42.Bc7

click for larger view

Black's rook is stalemated. White's king can win the k-side pawns. Black could give back the exchange but then his king would be at c7 and white's would be at f4 and

click for larger view

white would win.

Mar-03-08  Knight13: I like Black better in the final position. He should trade on h3 and play on, since White's bishop can't touch Black's pawns and Black seems to have a pretty decent knight.
Jul-12-08  Alphastar: a pawn is a pawn, <Knight13>, and you would also agree to a draw if your opponent were Capablanca and you were leading the match by 1 point with 3 games remaining.
Aug-04-09  WhiteRook48: these guys drew too much
Feb-26-12  RookFile: <Alphastar: Alphastar: a pawn is a pawn, <Knight13>, and you would also agree to a draw if your opponent were Capablanca and you were leading the match by 1 point with 3 games remaining. >

There might have been 100 games remaining. You needed 6 wins to take this match, with no limit on the number of games. Capa was only down 4 to 3 here, but had no way of knowing he was about to lose 2 games soon.

Dec-02-13  Owl: Capablanca theorems RB superior to RN and Bishop stronger than Knight in the endgame are proven wrong here by Alekhine.

But if shows that if Capablanca had the other color Bishop he would of won

Nov-27-14  thegoodanarchist: No doubt that Capa preferred bishops to knights. At least, no doubt after seeing this game.
Oct-26-20  Caissanist: Looking at this lively debate with the benefit of 16 years of new technology, it's interesting to note that, per Stockfish, it was <Calli> rather than Kasparov who nailed it. The bot says that Bd6 brings home the win on either move 39 or 40.
May-02-21  SymphonicKnight: Yes, Bd6 on move 39 especially, but even on move 40, probably wins for Capablanca, and would have increased his chances of retaining the title, because the match would have been tied 4-4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I made a big clever comment about the possibility of 40. Rb6. Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1927 (kibitz #9).

There was another comment, by the great <Acirce>:
<acirce: ... The winning move is 40.Rb6!! according to Fridstein and Kasparov.>

Many GMs thought about 37. a5: Kasparov, Levenvisch, Romanovsky and Fridstein.

BUT all of the comments were pre-empted nearly 20 years ago:

<Mar-30-03 <Calli:> 37. h4 looks better, but the real clunker is 40. Rc8? 40.Bd6 keeps up the pressure. A bad endgame at a critical moment by Capa.>

<Calli>'s verbal machete ploughed through all these pointless variations. Everyone missed it, and so did Alekhine and, apparently Capablanca.

Fascinating stuff.

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