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Alexander Alekhine vs Jose Raul Capablanca
AVRO (1938), The Netherlands, rd 9, Nov-19
French Defense: Tarrasch. Closed Variation (C05)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  vonKrolock: <igiene> Yes, there's a rich historical background around this encounter, me - I could hardly add some new datum - Why Capablanca played 3...♘f6 instead of 3...c5 ... That's a good question. But Alekhine's choice of 10.♔f1 looks for me a sign that he wanted a complicated fight, not exchanges that could lead to a draw
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Capablanca might not have played 3...c5 because of what transpired two rounds previously in this game

Keres vs Capablanca, 1938

Jul-05-10  igiene: Probably Capa played 3..Nf6 because in earlier turn of same tournament he was defeated by Keres playng 3..c5. So he avoided isolated pawn in d5, but obtained a cramped position without hope of counterattack.
Premium Chessgames Member
  vonKrolock: <Benzol & igiene> Indeed! There's a clear link. Nevertheless, Capa could hope for something like Alekhine vs Kukovec, 1930
Jul-06-10  igiene: I read Kotov's delightful comments to this game on Alekhine's biography; according to Kotov,Capa never liked to play an opening from which arises a isolated pawn, for example Tarrasch's Defense.
Jul-06-10  ughaibu: He played the Tarrasch, in one of his most famous games. Hint, it was in 1911.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <vonKrolock> I'll see if I can find out if the Alyekhin game you linked to was a simultaneous encounter. If so it's not likely that Capablanca knew of its existence.
Jul-06-10  theagenbiteofoutwit: My mental picture of this game is one of Capablanca as a great painter, sitting down to begin work on a masterpiece. Then all of a sudden Alekhine walks by and kicks a hole in his canvas.
Jul-06-10  igiene: To my knowledge, Capablanca played very few games with Black pieces on Tarrasch Defense.Probably he don'n liked the isolani because considered it as a weakness in the endgame (it's only a hypothesis, of course)
Jul-07-10  igiene: Another good option in this variation of French Tarrasch seems to be (after ..f6, exf6, Nxf6) the Queen manouver Qb6-Qd8-Qe8, supporting the advance of e-pawn. So Black obtain an isolated pawn,like in 3..c5 lines, but without exchange too many pieces.
Jul-07-10  cunctatorg: You have to ask Korchnoi, Karpov and Kasparov about the probable considerations of the awesome opponents in this ... almost superhuman game! Will they answer the truth (their truth) though?
Jul-07-10  cunctatorg: Aside this remark, I point out that between move #9 and move #25 there wasn't a single capture, just mutual development plus strategical manoeuvres, prophylactic and/or restraining measures and the like... "theagenbiteogoutwit" (...) remark is interesting but it seems to me that both opponents were not fully dissatisfied with position arising, say from move 21...
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Photo of the game:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: The move Nf4 after f6 is dangerous (assuming that it doesn't matter if it is from a transposition as in the game I give see this game by a player <tpstar>

T Palmer vs W Surlow, 1998

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: But this game is more relevant to the Alekhine game

T Palmer vs K Noren, 1990

Feb-10-11  capanegra: As it was mentioned in the first two pages, this game was played the day of Capa's 50 birthday. What is not mentioned, is that ironically this was the second game they played on a November 19, since the first was number 27 of the 1927 match. I have the AVRO tournament book with me written by Euwe, were he says following (translated from Dutch to English with by best effort):

<This round was marked with the tribute to Capablanca, who celebrated his 50th birthday that day. It was a spicy coincidence that he had to play Alekhine on this day just like November 19 1927 in Buenos Aires. It was the 27th game of the world championship match, where Capablanca got a winning position that he let steal away from him thanks to a very stupid blunder. This also meant that he lost a good chance to save his title because Alekhine thus saved his two point lead. So, no pleasant memories for the Cuban, and one can assume that he looked upon this new birthday match with Alekhine with mixed feelings. Anyway, his third move confirmed the rule that one usually plays too sharp or too provocative when the soul is in "positional difficulties". This third move was too daring and because it always costs something challenging Alekhine, Capablanca may congratulate himself that he only had to pay with zero point! The world champion provided himself with a great territorial predominance, started a strong attack on the king's side and captured a piece. In this hopeless situation the person celebrating his jubilee exceeded his time limit.>

The other game Euwe mentions is the unfortunate Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1927

It's also interesting Euwe's psychological lecture of 3…Nf6.

Feb-10-11  BobCrisp: Ironically? What the hell are you talking about?
Feb-10-11  capanegra: <Bob> You're right. Bad use of the word. Something like "a curse of fate" would have been more appropriate.

Anyway, thanks for being so constructive (this time, I think it's correct to qualify my last sentence as ironic ;)).

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Thanks for the translation, <capanegra>. Very interesting.
Premium Chessgames Member

"On November 19, 1938, Jose R. Capablanca, former World Champion, will be entitled to light a birthday cake with fifty candles. We hope the strain of participation in the A.V.R.O. Tournament will not hinder his celebration of the joyous occasion. He has given the chess world some of its finest treats. Indeed if chess games could serve as candles to light birthday cakes, he could cull fifty brilliant lights with ease and have no trouble in finding extras for 'good luck.'

We are indebted to subscriber Dr. Antonio Barreras for new of his country's preparations to celebrate the occasion. The Cuban Government has designated November 19th as Capablanca Day. A plaque commemorating his achievements will be formally dedicated at his birthplace. The Cuban Government has agreed to issue a postage stamp with Capablanca's picture on it. Lectures on his games and achievements will be given in all the chess clubs and over the radio.

Capablanca must be deeply touched by this spontaneous tribute of his countrymen. It is truly a wonderful gesture."

November, 1938

"Psychology plays a great part in this game. Capablanca, a past master at putting each piece in its most effective position, shifts his pieces around like a tyro. Why? Because he is too anxious to win!" S.S.C.

Bruce Pandolfini: "The Best of Chess Life and Review, Volume 1, 1933-1960." Simon & Schuster INC, New York, 1988.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 11..Nf8?! seems slow; 11..a5 or 11..0-0 are alternatives. With 13..Nd8?! Capablanca hoped to play Bb5 but he never accomplished this; 13..Rc8 or 13..f5 both look better.

Alekhine on 14..a5?!:
"A very unfortunate manoeuvre but such moves are usually made in already compromised positions."

Alekhine on 21 h5!:
"Completely suppressing the threat of g7-g5. It is true that this move gives the black knight temporary use of g5, but on the other hand it secures the g6 square."

Given this quote I wonder if Capablanca could have played 20..g6!? weakening h6 but making it more difficult for Alekhine to play h5.

The alternative 23..Bxh4 24 gxf would have left the knight on e4 trapped but perhaps 23..0-0 was an improvement over Capablanca's 23..Kf7?!. 30 Kg3 at once would have been premature as after 30..Rc8 31 Rac1 (31 Kxg4..Rc4!)..Rc4! the knight is not sk clearly trapped.

May-26-17  SeanAzarin: R. N. Coles' late game observations:

[On Black's 27th move] "If 27... N-K5, 28 BxN PxB 29 N-N6 wins the Exchange."

[On Black's 28th move] "If instead 28... KxB, 29 Q-B2 ch K-N1 30 N-N6 wins the Exchange."

[On White's 31st move] "Now the [Black] material begins to fall, first the KNP and then the Knight which has no escape."

[On the final position] "Black lost on time, but he has no compensation for the lost material, and White is threatening 36 Q-QB2 followed by 37 N-N5."

Jan-10-18  Octavia: <strobane Why 10. Kf1?
Wha's wrong with 10. Bd2? >
He wanted to restrain black. If you swap pieces that's not so easy.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Another positional point of avoiding the exchange of White's bishop by 10.Kf1 is that, while it is bad now, that piece will be useful to defend the dark squares when the game is opened out.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: But then Alekhine himself praised 10.Bd2 as leading to a clearer advantage, when annotating Keres vs R Flores Alvarez, 1939 in his 107 Great Chess Battles, 1939-1945
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