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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Efim Bogoljubov
Karlsbad (1929), Karlsbad CSR, rd 4, Aug-04
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation. Immediate Fianchetto (E60)  ·  1/2-1/2

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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-01-05  RookFile: This is a really sharp, modern looking game. Bogo deserves credit for pulling out a draw here. Capa had beaten him 5 straight times before this game, and looked well on his way to #6.
Jun-27-06  ChessDude33: Capablanca missed 9. b4! If 9...Ncxe4 then 10. f3! traps the knights. Bogo thought he could get away with Nc5 without a5...and he did.
Jun-27-06  CapablancaFan: <ChessDude33><Capablanca missed 9. b4! If 9...Ncxe4 then 10. f3! traps the knights.> I think Capa was probably more concerned with his development than making black lose time retreating his knight after 9.b4. But all in all a good point you raise because if that move were made black would have to waste time (and a tempo) moving his knight.
Jun-19-16  edubueno: Capa was distracted at the start up of the Congress.
Feb-03-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Interestingly, SF11 doesn't see 9.b4 as particularly advantageous for White: 9.b4 Ncd7 10.a4?! a5 is -(0.17) at 38 ply. In contrast to the famous Kramnik vs Kasparov, 1997 and similar games where the engine sees 9.b4 as very strong. The key difference presumably is Bogo's knight is much better placed on d7 than Kasparov's is on e7 to deal with the pawn rush. It's probably also better to have the white KB on e2 rather than g2.

A line I'd never see: 9.b4 Ncd7 10.a3 a5 11.Bb2 c5! 12.dxc6?! bxc6 13.Qxd6 Ba6 14.Nd2 Nb6 15.Bxe5 Nxc4 16.Nxc4 Bxc4 17.Rfe1 Ng4 18.Qxd8 Rfxd8 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 (0.00, 42 ply).

Feb-04-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Some superficial further observations courtesy of SF.

b2-b4 was stronger when Capa played it on move 13 than it would have been on move 9.

Unsurprisingly, the engine doesn't like 16.b5, but Bogo slipped up in turn with the aggressive 17....f5, allowing Capablanca's fine pawn sacrifice 18.Bxc5 dxc5 (18....bxc5 19.b6) 19.d6! Qxd6 20.Rd1 Qe6?


click for larger view

21.ef threatening Bd5 was tempting, but stronger was 21.Qxc7. Now if 21....f4 22.g4! Nf6 (22....f3 23.Bxf3 Rxf3 24.Rd8+ Rf8 25.gxh5 Rxd8 26.Qxd8+ Bf8 27.Nd5 with a decisive positional advantage) 23.Rd8 Rxd8+ 24.Qxd8+ Ne8 25.Nd5.

A funny variation is 21....fxe4 22.Nxe4 Qxc4 23.Rd8 Be6 24.N2c3 and Black has no good answer to 25.Bf1.

As the game went, White was still a little better but wound up with a very drafty kingside. But 26....h5


click for larger view

...was a blunder that could have been answered by the bizarre 27.Kf1!!. For example, 27....hg 28.Rd6 Qh4 (28....Be6 29.Rxe6) 29.Rxg6 Qxh3+ 30.Kg1 Qh7 31.fxg4 Be6 32.Ng3 threatening 33.Nh5 -- if 32....Bf7 33.Nf5 Qxg6 34.Ne7+ +-.

The really striking line is 27....Qh4 28.Kg2 -- White has just lost a tempo compared to the game. But that lost tempo saves the win! With the white rook still on the first rank, the sacrifice that Bogoljubov played to pull out the draw wouldn't have worked: 27....Qh4 28.Kg2 hxg4 29.hxg4 Bxg4 30.Bd5+ Kh7 31.Rh1 +-.

An amazing game.

Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  fabelhaft: <could have been answered by the bizarre 27.Kf1!!>

Capa was lucky that there were no live transmissions in his time, otherwise they would have been filled with comments about it being unbelievable that he missed Kf1, a move Winawer would have played in blindfold bullet back in the days when the players still had talent.

Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <fabelhaft: <could have been answered by the bizarre 27.Kf1!!> Capa was lucky that there were no live transmissions in his time, otherwise they would have been filled with comments about it being unbelievable that he missed Kf1, a move Winawer would have played in blindfold bullet back in the days when the players still had talent.>

I did note that the move was bizarre, but should have said expressly that there's no way in hell you can expect a human, even Capablanca, to find 27.Kf1. I also should have checked for some less outlandish way to take advantage of 26....h5.

Oh well. I did say they were <superficial observations>. :-)

Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  fabelhaft: <keypusher> Nothing wrong with anything you wrote, but it is fun to follow live commentary nowadays and see the common references to Capablanca and Morphy etc as soon as someone fails to find something difficult in time trouble in a rapid game :-)
Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  fabelhaft: It’s an interesting subject in itself, how the modern players often are seen as weaker than those of the past. At chess.com there have been numerous discussions and the majority answer has always been that the players of the past played on a higher level. No engine studies will ever change that.

Some will say that Morphy might need to look through opening theory for a month or two, but after doing that he would be just as head and shoulders above the competition today as he was back in his day. Even without all the professional training with top coaches, tournament circuits, resources, studying every day since childhood etc that the modern players have.

Sometimes Fischer is referred when saying that Morphy just as he was would be #1 also a century later, sometimes Bronstein when saying that the top players of the past centuries would have the same position today if they could look through some opening books. There is much romanticization of past greats. GM Smerdon said that Nakamura would lose 0-6 to Fischer if the latter just had a day to catch up on theory, GM Akopian said that Alekhine’s analysis always was right, unlike modern analysis, etc.

Someone asked why the best players of our time make so many more mistakes than the best players of the past. This probably has to do with that there were no live transmissions in the past. When engines can point out that a suboptimal move was played in some speed chess game today, it is often concluded that this means that better chess was played by Rubinstein :-)

Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <At chess.com there have been numerous discussions and the majority answer has always been that the players of the past played on a higher level. >

I think it's the other way around on this site, though as a proponent of the moderns I'm probably a little biased. There's Nunn's famous argument that Suechting, who finished near the middle of the great Carlsbad 1911 tournament, was probably around a 2100 in modern terms. More generally, he argued that top masters back then often picked bad plans and made a high number of blunders. On the other hand <bridgeburner> did computer analysis suggesting that Lasker - Schlechter World Championship Match (1910) was played at a very high level.

Anyway, compared to chess.com, this is by its nature a history-centric site, so I think people here on average probably have a better grasp on how chess was actually played 100 or 150 years ago.

<GM Akopian said that Alekhine’s analysis always was right>. Amateurs are one thing, but it blows my mind when grandmasters say nonsense like this. Even without computers...back in the 1980s, Andy Soltis wrote a column about going through a bunch of Alekhine's notes and finding error after error (Soltis rightly stressed that Alekhine was a great analyst and you could do that to anyone).

<Even without all the professional training with top coaches, tournament circuits, resources, studying every day since childhood etc that the modern players have.>

Well, yes, exactly. Also, an older GM attending a recent (but pre-Covid) tournament made a funny observation -- after a day's play, he noted, the top players were all huddled over their laptops getting ready for the next day. In the 70s, he said, you would have found them all at the bar. (Not Fischer, presumably -- maybe that was his secret.)

Feb-05-21  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi K.P.

I agree, the modern master has to be stronger than the old masters, chess is going forward, today's lot are standing on their shoulders which is how it should be.

Seen a comment somewhere on here about endgame blunders being more common today.

They seem to forget back then players adjourned around about move 40 and could look at what was coming in depth and catch a nights sleep (and even then you got blunders)

These days at move 40 (or what ever) you get a few more minutes on your clock and told to get on with it. You do not even get a five minute break.

Also due to the lack of publicity and the media etc a TN could be used time and time again for a few months. (recall Geller winning 3 games with the same trick shot in the 70's) Today one game only. The world has it logged within minutes.

Great players the past masters, we must never forget that and going over their games can bring just as much pleasure as a modern effort (even more so to me - I understand the old games better) but they are the past.

***

Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  fabelhaft: <Amateurs are one thing, but it blows my mind when grandmasters say nonsense like this>

Yes, it really is surprising. Many of them are sure far from as objective as one would think. One of the things Akopian said was:

<in the past chess players played better than they do today. And I mean played, rather than reeling off computer moves with machine-gun speed. Their chess understanding was superior. Alekhine, Capablanca, Spassky, Petrosian, never mind Fischer. In my view you simply can’t arbitrarily say that Alekhine or Fischer was mistaken. It’s just not possible>

In his ranking of the best players he had Spassky ahead of Karpov, which also is at least a bit surprising. His top two was Fischer and Alekhine.

Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  fabelhaft: <They seem to forget back then players adjourned around about move 40 and could look at what was coming in depth and catch a nights sleep (and even then you got blunders)>

Indeed, also Akopian singled out endgames as one of the big differences between the top players of the past and those today. He meant that the modern top players misplay the endgames in ways the old masters never would even consider. And specifically criticised "some young players that nowadays are considered stars". Not difficult to understand who he was referring to, given that he stated that the best players were Anand, Topalov and Aronian during a year when Carlsen was #1 and won lots of super tournaments :-)

Maybe it's just that some don't like the idea of younger players being better than the old heroes. I once looked through some Carlsen endgames in rapid, where he with very little time on the clock played flawlessly. He probably misplayed a fair bunch as well, but given that he in his games has so much less time than Alekhine et al had, I find it surprising that he (and other modern players) get so criticised.

Then it's another thing that the old masters obviously were great players. For example Alekhine has been quite praised by not only Akopian, but (of course) Kasparov, while Aronian has called him the greatest ever, and Carlsen has singled him out as his favourite player (apart from himself) etc.

Feb-05-21  metatron2: <fabelhaft: GM Smerdon said that Nakamura would lose 0-6 to Fischer if the latter just had a day to catch up on theory>

Without any opening prep (from both sides) I would bet on Fischer beating Naka when both were on their primes. Not 0-6, but I think he would have won such a match.

With due respect to Naka's advantage on opening theory, training tools, engines, number of games played (online), the fact that he is "standing on the shoulders" of Fischer and his successors, chess progress and all that:

Fischer simply had much better chess understanding than Naka. And I don't think that chess progressed enough since then, to compensate for that gap.

I'm pretty sure Carlsen would have won such theoretical match vs Fischer, thanks to the huge progress in chess And his chess understanding. But relatively speaking I would still give Fischer the edge (although it is quite close).

Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  fabelhaft: <Without any opening prep (from both sides) I would bet on Fischer beating Naka when both were on their primes. Not 0-6, but I think he would have won such a match>

Yes, it’s more the 6-0 in spite of all Nakamura’s advantages in the hypothetical scenario I find a surprising assessment from a GM. Nakamura has plus scores against Anand and Kramnik, and even if Carlsen is his worst opponent by far, the latter has only won two of the last ten they played.

In spite of Fischer having a huge disadvantage compared to Carlsen, Anand and Kramnik (only one day of modern opening prep), he is still predicted to win every game against Nakamura. Such assessments are probably affected a bit by wishful thinking and nostalgia.

Feb-05-21  Boomie: To compare anything with counterparts in the past is an amusing but largely profitless activity. One confusion seems to be caused by equating the players' natural talents with their games. There should be little doubt that people in the past were every bit as intelligent as people today. How many Socrates or Newton minds are there today? Somewhere near zero, I'd guess.

The reason world champions praise Morphy and Capa is they are a little jealous of their talents, which were spooky. For example, at the great "Grandmaster" tournament in St. Petersburg (1914), Alekhine said that Capa was beating everybody at 5 to 1 odds. Imagine a player doing that to the world champion. Such talent comes along once in a generation or so. The longest Morphy was recorded as taking was 12 minutes for his wonderful queen sacrifice against Paulsen. (Paulsen vs Morphy, 1857) Although they didn't use clocks in Morphy's day, many spectators brought stop watches and recorded the time taken for each move.

The chess mind is composed of many different aspects. Most of these are familiar to us but some have not been fully discovered and are little understood. As Katherine Hepburn put it: "I don't know what <IT> is but I've got it."

Feb-05-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Boomie: To compare anything with counterparts in the past is an amusing but largely profitless activity. One confusion seems to be caused by equating the players' natural talents with their games.>

Hardly anyone does that. Comparisons between old-time and current masters are unfair, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interesting.

< There should be little doubt that people in the past were every bit as intelligent as people today. How many Socrates or Newton minds are there today? Somewhere near zero, I'd guess.>

That seems unlikely to me, but it’s impossible to tell. If there were a Newton now I wouldn’t understand what he was doing. Anyway, you can only invent the calculus once — twice, tops.

People run faster and jump higher than they did 100 years ago. It would be weird if they couldn’t play chess better, given all the advantages they have and how much deeper the talent pool is than in Morphy or Capablanca’s time.

<The reason world champions praise Morphy and Capa is they are a little jealous of their talents, which were spooky. For example, at the great "Grandmaster" tournament in St. Petersburg (1914), Alekhine said that Capa was beating everybody at 5 to 1 odds.>

How many points did Capa win the tournament by?

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