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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Efim Bogoljubov
New York (1924), New York, NY USA, rd 22, Apr-17
French Defense: McCutcheon. Exchange Variation (C12)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-19-10  safar: I remember an incident quoted in an article in "Capablanca's Greatest Chess Games" by Horowitz I think, where a group of players were analysing an endgame. Capablanca happened to walk past and the players sought his input. Capa did not analyse the position or suggest moves. He just moved the pieces around and said: "This is the ideal position for White. From here White will win. So it is just a matter of manouvering to this position." This is the kind of positional insight that Capa had and this is what made him one of the greats and made his chess look so simple - he just "saw" it!!
Jan-19-10  sleepyirv: <visayanbraindoctor> Didn't Fischer say something similar about Capablanca? I vaguely remember Fischer suggesting that the Cuban played so hard in the middlegame and endgame because he got so little out of the opening.
Jan-19-10  visayanbraindoctor: <sleepyirv>

Capablanca was among the greatest of chess players, but not because of his endgame. His trick was to keep his openings simple, and then play with such brilliance in the middlegame that the game was decided - even though his opponent didn't always know it - before they arrived at the ending. - Robert Fischer

Capablanca never really devoted himself to chess, seldom made match preperations. His simplicity is a myth. His almost complete lack of book knowledge forced him to push harder to squeeze the utmost out of every position. Every move he made had to be super-sharp so as to make something out of nothing. His play was forced. He had to try harder than anybody else because he had so little to begin with. - Robert Fischer

I understand what Fischer is talking about. If you look at Capa's games, for the most part he does not get any clear advantage in the opening at all. Occasionally, his opponent plays a dubious opening variation, and Capa would slam him, but even then, Capa looked as though he were improvising OTB. He was just so chess perceptive that he could immediately recognize dubious lines and refute them over the board.

Practically all of his won games were won in the middlegame, middlegame to endgame transition, and the endgame.

Here is another example of a bad opening by Capablanca. Brilliant middlegame play saved his behind.

Capablanca vs T Van Scheltinga, 1939

Unfortunately for him, during the latter period of his career, such consistent brilliance was often lacking. During his prime though, he could just show up in a tournament without any preparation at all, and like a coldly calculating computer, still terrorize the field with nearly perfect middlegame and endgame play. This is actually how computers crush super GMs; the machine wins not because of kick-ass opening play, but because of highly accurate tactics in the middlegame.

Capa of course did not play exactly like a computer; but he played so accurately that of all humans, it is probably he who has come closest. This peculiarity of his middlegame play is discernible even to present-day computer analysis, and to his contemporaries as well; which is why he got nicknamed the chess machine.

Jan-19-10  veigaman: Capablanca was a master making and executing plans. He was a killer dividing a problem in mini problems to get what he was fishing.
Jan-31-10  KingG: Is it clear the rook endgame after 38...Bxe3 is lost? At the very least doesn't it deserve a mention? I don't know what Bogo was doing playing 33...e3 in the first place though.
Feb-02-10  visayanbraindoctor: <maxi>

The pawn push by Bogo was a mistake in a drawish position. However, IMO it was not a mistake in the sense that Bogo overlooked that Capa could capture it. Even a child could see that it could be easily captured, merely by surrounding it. If you would recall, during WW1 after their arrest in Germany, Bogo and AAA spent their days, for lack of anything better to do, playing blindfold chess. A man like Bogolyubov who had the ability to play a game of chess without sight of board or man certainly would have the ability to see in his mind's eye that his pawn would be surrounded and captured within a few moves. What happened I think is that he misjudged the the resulting endgame as one in which his active Rook and Bishop would give him adequate compensation for the pawn and even chances to win. He saw this resulting position


click for larger view

and thought it perfectly playable for Black.

Feb-02-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Yes, <visa>, I agree. Bogo fell into a trap of his own device. He clearly had seen the loss of the Pawn but misjudged the ensuing position.
Feb-02-10  KingG: Does anyone want to comment on the possibe rook ending I mentioned a couple of posts ago? It looks difficult, but does White have a clear winning plan? Black's rook is quite active. Maybe someone could give a computer evaluation by an engine that's good in endgames.
Feb-02-10  hms123: <KingG> The plan is to cut off the BK and walk the c-pawn down to <c8>. Here's a line starting after <38...Bxe3>. It is mostly 20 ply, move by move:


click for larger view

1. Kxe3 Kc7 2. g5 Kd6 3. Rd2+ Ke7 4. Rd4 Rg1 5.
Rb4 b5 6. f4 Kd6 7. a4 Kc5 8. Rd4 Kc6 9. Kf2 Rg4 10. Kf3 Rg1 11. axb5+ axb5 12. Rd2 e5 13. Rg2 Rf1+ 14. Rf2 Rg1 15. Ke4 exf4 16. Kxf4 Kd7 17. Kf5 Re1 18. Kf6 Ke8 19. Rf4 Re6+ 20. Kf5 Rd6 21. Re4+ Kf8 22. Re5 b4 23. cxb4 Rd2 24. b3 Rd3 25. b5 Rxb3 26. Ke4 Kg7 27. Kd4 Rb4+ 28. Kc5 Rb1 29. b6 Kf8 30. Kc6 Rb2 31. b7


click for larger view

Feb-03-10  AnalyzeThis: I'm sure there are a lot of variations. My experience tells me that it's sufficient for white, temporarily at least, to put his rook on f2 and move the king over to assist the queenside pawns. This means white is up a pure pawn, and white can improve his position, while black really can't - black's rook is at maximum effectiveness, and everything of white's is protected. This usallly means death for the defender.
Feb-03-10  crwynn: <visayanbraindoctor: <maxi>

The pawn push by Bogo was a mistake in a drawish position. However, IMO it was not a mistake in the sense that Bogo overlooked that Capa could capture it. Even a child could see that it could be easily captured, merely by surrounding it. If you would recall, during WW1 after their arrest in Germany, Bogo and AAA spent their days, for lack of anything better to do, playing blindfold chess. A man like Bogolyubov who had the ability to play a game of chess without sight of board or man certainly would have the ability to see in his mind's eye that his pawn would be surrounded and captured within a few moves. What happened I think is that he misjudged the the resulting endgame as one in which his active Rook and Bishop would give him adequate compensation for the pawn and even chances to win.>

That is a wildly outlandish theory. After 33...ef+ he would have exactly the same sort of endgame as he got, but with White missing the f3 pawn. There is no possibility except that Bogoljubov miscalculated something very badly, at a guess I would say he assumed White would play 37.Nxf7, with the clever idea 37...Rc1 38.Kd3 Rd1+ 39.Kc2 Rf1...and Black is still in big trouble. No I have no idea what Bogoljubov was thinking, only that it wasn't very smart.

Feb-03-10  crwynn: It's a pity because he seemed to play rather well up to that, Capablanca had to defend precisely for quite awhile. Maybe seeing a good position turn into a likely draw (though I would still rather be Black after 33...ef+) caused him to lose his head.
Oct-25-11  Everett: <He just moved the pieces around and said: "This is the ideal position for White. From here White will win. So it is just a matter of manouvering to this position>

Ahh, the art of schematic thinking, the heart of great endgame play.

Feb-11-13  ColdSong: A lot to think about this game.9.a3 and 10.Rd1,as suggested by Alekhine, seems indeed better than the curious 9.Nc1.The position just after 12...Be7 deserves,in my opinion,a careful study:what can be precisely done to counter the danger of a better ending for black? Capa finds Nc5,which seems correct but loses time,and has a somewhat pitiful position after only 17 moves after 17...c5!? Now imagine what could happen if black was given to a more careful and powerful player than Bogo like,say,Kramnik or Carlsen in a good day.33...e3 seems indeed pretty stupid.I don't know if the rook ending after 38...Be3 is winning but one thing is clear:after 39.g5(Good move, no doubt) and the appealing 40.Nf1 with strong square on e4 some annoying moments await black.Capa's choice to play 41.a4 before 41.Rg4,allowing 42...a3, is curious and interesting and was certainly done to complicate the game.Finally, the way the rook comes to the f7 pawn by c6,a6,a8 and f8 and how all the last variations prove that the passed g pawn is too strong make the whole game appealing.But well, that was the kind of game, and far from being the only,which certainly gave Alekhine some good reasons to be confident before the 1927 World Championship.
Feb-11-13  JimNorCal: Bogo played some stupendous games and was clearly a talent. Still, history shows him to be an inadequate match at the level of Alekhine and Capablanca. Yet he played 2 matches for the world title whereas some truly able players never got a chance. Does anyone happen to know how Bogo was able to raise funds? Clearly someone (incorrectly) believed in Bogo's talent enough to put funds forward.
Feb-11-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <JimNorCal> Now you mention it, no idea how Bogo managed to get his capital. Maybe the DSB helped him along-by the late twenties, things were starting to look up in the Weimar Republic. Krupp and Thyssen were rolling in dough, if no-one else.

Here's a thread with some discussion of other aspirants of the time: Mrs. Alekhine chessforum

Feb-11-13  JimNorCal: Apparently Alekhine was confident enough in his ability to defeat Bogo that he was able to offer a discount :) Also, it probably took pressure off Alekhine to play other, more dangerous foes (Capa). But the money had to come from somewhere, FIDE did not own the title at the time, I believe.

Thanks for the link, fascinating stuff!

Feb-12-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <JimNorCal> FIDE only assumed control over the WC title after Alekhine's death.
Feb-24-15  Ulhumbrus: <crwynn> : How about this: Bogoljubov saw too late an answer to a difficulty in the way of an answer to a difficulty in the way of White's ability to win the e pawn after ...e3 with the result that White was able to win the e3 pawn after all. eg One difficulty in the way of winning the e3 pawn was that White could not play Nd5. The answer was to play the N to c4 via e5 instead. A difficulty in the way of this answer was presented by ...Bd4 covering e5 and an answer to that difficulty was c3 displacing the bishop from its cover of e5.
May-21-15  Howard: Am I overlooking something in the preceding comments, or is no one aware that in Alekhine's book, he states that Capablanca should have LOST this game ?
May-27-16  edubueno: Capa makes me happy!
May-27-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Whoa, wait, Capa won with White in the early 1920s??? I am shocked. Simply shocked...
May-27-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: OK, now I have reviewed the game and this is a phenomenally deep ending by Capa.

Tis a shame he didn't get a rematch with Alekhine. In his prime, I am not sure anyone could have beaten Capa. What a chess machine he was...

I can think of only 3 or 4 who had a good chance....

Sep-14-17  Olavi: Alekhine implies that 30...Bxf2+ should be very good for black, perhaps winning. 31.Ke2 Bd4, or the captures on f2 and fxg4, white wouldn't get the g4-pawn. Later 35...Ba7 36. Ne5 Rh1 37. Nc4 Rb1 with a draw.

What do Stockfish & Co say.

Sep-15-17  RookFile: Bogo made a very good opening choice for this game.
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