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Efim Bogoljubov vs Jose Raul Capablanca
New York (1924), New York, NY USA, rd 9, Mar-27
Rubinstein Opening: Bogoljubow Defense (D05)  ·  0-1



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Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: <offramp> this is a very good question-i had to show the book to several people and insist they play out the variation in front of me before i cd believe it-its amazing!! but remember nunn also tried to improve on bobbys analysis in fischer v bolbochan 1962 when he revised fischers memorable games for batsford-the upshot was he left a king in check for several moves. this was probably the worst analytical blunder by a gm in history-it is well archived and has been reported numerous times.

nunn has a huge reputation for accuracy so these instances are all the more puzzling!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: What is most puzzling is that Nunn is a known proponent of the computer as an analysis tool, for example in his book "Secrets of Pawnless and Pieceless Endgames" :-)

Yet here are two clear occasions - fairly recent occasions - where Nunn has most definitley *not* used a computer.

In fact, in the Fischer vs Julio Bolbochan, 1962 game he was not even using a computer as a vehicle to algebraicize the game - he couldn't have been, for otherwise the illegal move would simply not have been accepted by the computer!

Totally baffling!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: It is most puzzling in the view of the fact Nunn in his writings tends to be quite condescending to older players, analysts, or authors that let an error slip in.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eric Schiller: In my book, I simply noted that "22.Nc5! would have put up stiffer resistance. The knight would keep the c-file closed, unless Black loosens the queenside pawn structure with ...b6. 22...Nb5 is how Kasparov would have played. 23.Na4 might then hold things together."

I gave this game as an example of how Black should play against the Rubinstein Attack. I suggest White examine 12.c3!? carefully. I would have posted my complete notes to the game, but the CG website doesn't allow it, because it is too long.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Eric Schiller> You probably could break it up into multiple posts...
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: I think Nunn simply left out a move again.

22 Nc5 b6 23 Na4 Rc6 (protecting the b pawn)

23 Qd3 Nb5 and Black has an edge.

Although not good, this is not a gross error, just a slip. The GM forgets to include a forced move, just because it is so obvious to him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: that doesnt expalin nunns bolbochan blunder--i hear on the grapevine that batsford are considering suing nunn for comments made about them in his most recent book-cd be sheer rumour of course!
Dec-10-05  Calli: Nunn's revision of Golombek's Capablanca is another one of my DCPs. (Disappointing Chess Purchases) He starts out fine correcting many old annotation errors like those in Bernstein-Capa San Sebastien 1911. Then things begin to vary a bit and by the end, Nunn seems to have lost interest altogether. Then, on top of that, the binding of the book fell apart in my hands after very little use. :-(
Dec-10-05  WMD: Graham Burgess, not Nunn, was responsible for the mate that wasn't.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Ray Keene> "this was probably the worst analytical blunder by a gm". GM Keene is well known for his superlatives, but I think that Alekhine in New York 1924 claimed that the following was a draw by repetition:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.d4 b5 6.Bb3 Nxd4 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Qxd4 c5 9.Qd5 Be6 10.Qc6+ Bd7 11.Qd5 Line

But when this recommendation was copied in E Steiner vs Capablanca, 1929, Capa simply played 11...c4, the Noah's Ark Trap.

And Alekhine also made some howlers in the New York 1927 book due to his loss of objectivity concerning Capablanca, in Capablanca vs Vidmar, 1927 Alekhine claimed that 31. Bxb4 would also win, overlooking that Black forks with 31 ...Nd3+

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Bogoljubov's opening was not very enterprising and Capablanca equalized with little effort. 15 c3?! was very dubious exchanging a weak c3 square for a weak c3 pawn. Alekhine gave 15..a6 an ! but Kasparov felt that 15..Qa5 16 a4..Ne4 17 Bxe4..dxe 18 Ne5..Bd5 was a better continuation for black. 23 a4 is the final positional concession. Bogoljubov could have tried 23 Nd3 with the idea of Nc5 and Na4 though after 23..b6 white is still much worse.
Jul-21-08  ToTheDeath: <Bogoljubov could have tried 23 Nd3 with the idea of Nc5 and Na4 though after 23..b6 white is still much worse.>

I don't think White is worse at all. Rybka thinks White has a tiny edge after 23.Nd3 b6 24.a4.

17.f3 is not so bad-it's a perfectly logical move that keeps the knight out of e4 after the exchange of bishops. Still, 17.c4 was better.

Jul-21-08  Lutwidge: Yeah, I don't understand what's so terrible about 17. f3 either. On the hand, Bogo's subsequent moves were, well, erratic, but that's kind of par for the course with him. Of all the masters of that time, he seemed to be the one most capable of playing both brilliantly and incomprehensibly, often in the same game. Also, in Bogo's defense, many of his most bizarre blunders are in positions he already seems to consider lost and is trying alter by radical means.

Aug-29-10  fetonzio: holy @#$% what a combo
Oct-16-15  engmaged: not a puzzle yet?... I wonder why :)
Oct-16-15  engmaged: Newyork 1924 must had been the most exciting competitive chess event ever.
May-27-16  edubueno: The difference between Capablanca and Bogoljubow is a deep abis. However, Bogo played this game in a very bad way. 24 b4 was necessary in order to play 25 a5 and Ce5-Cd3-Cc5
Jul-01-18  mandor: Oh, 17.f3 an stereotyped move, actually from the point of view of a human, is perfectly logical. Bogoljubov wants to keep the knight as just pice of wood (no e4 neighter c4 and later on b5 points ). In spanish, there is a word called "abanicar" the knight (Julio Granda). In fact, this is the main motive of this game, and for this reason, Capa founds easy to sacrifice the knight in the first opportunity that he had (on move 31). The conclusion is that f3 in that moment, maybe was too premature.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Pachman in his book on strategy gives 8. Nbd2 a question mark. 8. a3 better (a3 is played often to stop Nb4) but then Capablanca's concept of Qe7 and Ba3 takes place. But it is not clear White can stop the plan of pressuring a3 or swapping there and using the weakness on White's Q-side.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: The combination is fairly obvious. Bogoljubow missed opportunities to get the advantage earlier.

Capablanca kept to his plan but after 16. ... Bb5 17. c4 leads to a good advantage for White as his Q-side is not weak and he has more space.

<engmaged: The difference between Capablanca and Bogoljubow is a deep abis.> You mean abyss. But it is not that great. It is well known that Bogoljubow was a good positional player but often overthought, but in his I think first match with Alekhine, Alekhine actually often had the worse positions but Bogoljubow got into time trouble. Also he allowed a draw in a winning position. So Alekhine's next game was psychology, playing on his opponent's set back as well as making what were quite weak "attacking" moves. It is only really after move 17 that things get bad for Bogoljubow. After that the plan is played well by Capablanca. As B is then defending it is understandable he makes errors.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: 23. Qe3 would have meant a much longer struggle. And earlier 17. f3 is an error, missing 17 c4. Otherwise Bogo played well!
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Oh man - crushing tactics and positional play here
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Alekhine has an error in his analysis based on a major symptom of the time - "Weakness of last move" underestimation - along with "Pawns don't go backwards" were for me the leading cause of losses.

<What for?! 'After 17.Bxb5 axb5 etc. the opening of the a-file would have conduced to the benefit of Black.' (Alekhine) But for some reason none of the commentators mentioned a move which nowadays would be made in a second by any master - 17.c4! Simple and into the centre! Yes, after 17..dxc4 18.bxc4 White has hanging pawns, but these are a double-edged weapon, and both sides have chances...>

The "nit-picking" problem with the above analysis is:


click for larger view

The bishop has a "weakness of last move" - weakening e4 - allowing Ne4!

click for larger view

BEHOLD - Black is crushing this even more accurately than Alekhine's analysis but funny enough:

In this position in Alekhine's analysis, f3 is also the Engine top move to prevent Ne4 in that move order

click for larger view

So anyway, the "What for" of Kasparov's analysis is linked to preventing Ne4

As Kasparov indicates, really White must accept the dynamics of Hanging pawns by playing c4:

click for larger view

It seems one of the few ways to navigate it for White with any glimpse of an advantage for White

So maybe "Underestimating pros and cons of dynamic structures" is another (more important to note) symptom of the time. For a long time apparently allowing the Maroczy bind was considered a big issue, but nowadays things like the accelerated dragon are played to quite high levels.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: <offramp>: "In today's London Times Ray Keene annotates this game. Hesays that Harry Golombek recommended 22.Nc5, and that Kasparov says that this is met by 22...Nb5.

He goes on to say that in the algebraicized cersion of Golombek's Capablanca's Best Games, John Nunn gives an unusual variation:

"...22.Nc5 b6 23.Na4 Nb5 'with an edge'. In this position, though, White simply wins material with 24.Nxb6 when Black can safely resign."

My comment to Keene's criticism of Nunn's alteration to Golombek's note in Capablanca's Best games is this: How did Nunn make such a mistake?"


The problem here is the same one as "Pawns don't go backwards". Books on chess, like Youtube videos are then in a hard-coded form and difficult to correct except in a later revision. The key thing for chess is to be able to update analysis - or thoroughly computer-check everything - but even then computers advance rendering past analysis inaccurate or completely incorrect.

The only solution is to have reversibility - online editable analysis - everyone is human :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <kingscrusher....For a long time apparently allowing the Maroczy bind was considered a big issue, but nowadays things like the accelerated dragon are played to quite high levels.>

Reading some of Reinfeld's output from the 1940s and fifties can be hilarious; he was known to give the omission of White to play 5.c4 in the Accelerated and put his opponent in the dreaded Maroczy Bind a '?'.

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