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Jose Raul Capablanca vs George Alan Thomas
Hastings (1919), Hastings ENG, rd 4, Aug-14
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Hedgehog Variation (C66)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-09-02  drukenknight: why not simply 29 Qb5 Rxb8 30 Qxb8 Kg8
Nov-09-02  pawntificator: 30...Kg8 31 Qb3+

32...Rc2+ Ke1

Nov-09-02  drukenknight: I think pawntiff is correct on at least the the Kg8 line.

Have we considered this one: 29 Qb5 Rc1+ 30 Kf2 Rc2+

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: If 29.Qb5 Rc1+ 30.Kf2 Rc2+ then 31.Ke1

If 29.Qb5 Rc1+ 30.Kf2 c6 31.Rxe8 Qxe8 32.Qb8 Rc2+ then 33.Ke1 [The mate on the 8th line will follow soon...:)]

Dec-10-03  Lawrence: In "On My Great Predecessors" Garry Kasparov says that 29.....Rxa2 dashes White's hopes of winning though he would have a certain compensation for the pawn. He likes Drukenknight's Oct. 21st line 29.Rxe8 Qxe8 etc. and also Honza and Druk's line 29.Qb5 Rxb8 30.Qxb8 Rc1+ etc. and says that either of them would have led to a win by White.

Capa won the game but Garry uses it to show that Jose Raul was not as perfect as everybody thought, because his 29th move was really a mistake. (If only poor Sir George had known.)

Oct-21-05  DeepBlade: This game demonstrates the power of Doubled Rooks, and the pawn covering the escape squares of the King
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: First thing. What's the problem with 6. de ? White wins a pawn and I do not see any compensation for black.
Oct-21-05  who: <Mateo> - Maybe black's 5th and 6th move are transposed.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: I think it was Joseph Blackburne who first pointed out Capa's mistake in this game and showed how Thomas could have turned the tables on Capa with 29...Rxa2. He also suggested that white could have won with 29.Rxe8 Qxe8 30.Qa4!
Nov-24-06  Maatalkko: <chancho> No wonder that Blackburne didn't have such a high opinion of Capa's play. A very exact player like him probably wouldn't make such an error.
Nov-25-06  setebos: Who the hell is Blackburne? :)
Nov-26-06  Maatalkko: Him.
Jun-18-07  battleaxe: Maybe, my fellow players, Mr. Capablanca
knew this move was not the best for black, but it looks very intimidating therefor he might have decided to
flash bang his opponent with this move assuming he could not refute it, in time.

No one saw through it until at lest 50 years later.

Great players take risks.
Think twice.

Dec-05-07  Karpova:

Brian Harley: <‘Capablanca played Q-R8, and Thomas forthwith resigned, seeing no reply to the threat, RxR. Thereupon Capablanca walked out of the room, and a hubbub arose. A spectator had found something. Thomas could have carried on with RxRP, meeting RxR by RxQ, or QxR by RxR. A draw would be the legitimate result of either variation. Further and greater hubbub. Spectator No. 2 pointed out that Capablanca could have won offhand, in the position shown above [our diagram] by RxR, forcing the reply QxR, and then Q-R4. This move attacks both queen and rook, and must win a rook. QxQ allows R-Kt8 mate [sic]; if R-B8ch, simply K-B2, when Black is no better off. I had the temerity to indicate this series of accidents to Capablanca as he walked back into the hall, receiving in return a specimen of the look that I have described at the beginning of the chapter.’ [From page 1: ‘He pinches the tip of his aquiline nose in a musing way – a sign of puzzlement that he carried to his manhood.’]>

Bruce Hayden: <‘Among the most illustrious kibitzers of history is the great Joseph Henry Blackburne.

It was he who was responsible for demolishing Capablanca’s play in his famous ending against Thomas in the Hastings Victory Tournament of 1919. I have this on the authority of E.G. Sergeant, the veteran English player, who was present.’>

Capablanca: <‘I am not one of those foolish people who make excuses for everything; it was a complete oversight.’>

Jul-22-08  tbrown55: This position is included in Wilf Holloway's: "Winning Chess Psychology, Volume 1". I thought I'd check it out here at because I needed some clear-ification on some things. Just a note that the author had mixed up the colors of the players.

There's some really interesting piece relationship geometry going on in the final position.

Aug-01-09  Zzyw: I'm going to follow up on some really old discussion here but black did not resign in a won position: white can hold the draw.

After 29...♖xa2! 30. ♕xa2 ♖xb8 31. ♖xb8 ♕xb8 32. h4! white can prevent black from making progress by pushing h5 and keeping a perpetual mating threat on the back rank, rendering black's queen severely handicapped.

For example, 32...♕g8 33. ♕f7! c5 34. h5 c4 35. ♕c7 and black has no advantage.

This from Bouwmeester's "100 opzienbarende blunders" (translated: 100 sensational blunders).

Dec-22-09  Whitehat1963: For those who haven't seen the game, there's an excellent Wednesday/Thursday puzzle after 25...h6.
Dec-22-09  zanshin: <Whitehat1963: For those who haven't seen the game, there's an excellent Wednesday/Thursday puzzle after 25...h6.>

Strange that after all these years, I was unaware of such an amusing game. Apart from the historical significance already outlined by others, it gives an interesting case study for engine analysis.

In the position mentioned by <Whitehat1963>, <26.Ng6> jumps out to a human player because we can see that after the Knight exchange, the pawn on g6 is very restricting to Black. The value of the move becomes apparent to Rybka after several plies. Initially, she favors <26.Ne6>:

click for larger view

[+5.12] d=16 26.Ng6 (0:24.16) 280383kN

[+0.97] d=13 26.Ne6 Qg8 27.a4 Re7 28.a5 Kh7 29.R3b2 Rxb2 30.Rxb2 c6 31.Rb1 Rf7 32.h3 Qe8 (0:00.05) 666kN

Dec-22-09  zanshin: On move 28 for White, Rybka suggests <28.Qa4> before the move actually played, Rb8.

click for larger view

[+5.09] d=16 28.Qa4 c6 29.Rb8 Re8 30.Rxe8 Rxg2 31.Kxg2 Qxe8 32.Kf2 Qxg6 33.Qxc6 Qg4 34.Qc2 Qf4 35.Kg1 Qg4 36.Qg2 Qc8 37.a4 Qc7 38.Qf3 (0:00.10) 1742kN

However, after sliding forward, then back (to give Rybka a peek at the outcome), she changes her recommendation:

[+9.96] d=15 28.Rb8 (0:05.30) 90400kN
[+5.09] d=14 28.Qa4 c6 (0:01.18) 15536kN

This suggests Capa probably played the best move.

Dec-22-09  zanshin: Analysis of the last move shows where engines are strong. Rybka clearly finds the weakness in Capa's last move:

click for larger view

[+11.68] d=16 29.Qb5 (0:10.05) 209228kN

[-0.32] d=13 29.Qa8 Rxa2 30.Qxa2 Rxb8 31.Rxb8 Qxb8 32.Qe6 Qf8 33.Qd7 c5 34.Qe6 Qb8 35.Kf2 (0:00.16) 2462kN

<29.Qb5> doubles attack on the Rook. Black cannot prevent a back rank mate (e.g., 29.Qb5 Rd8 30.Rxd8 Qxd8 31.Qb8 and mate in 7) - again because of the strong pawn on g6.

May-29-13  Damianx: doesn,t 30 Qb7 win even after 29a8 and Ra2
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: <Damianx: doesn,t 30 Qb7 win even after 29a8 and Ra2>

No, Black is fine after 29...Rxa2 30.Qb7 Rxb8 31.Qxb8 Ra8.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Mating Net: I think Thomas' failure to find the saving 29...Rxa2! was largely due to Capa's growing reputation as a chess machine. If a lesser mortal would have had the White pieces, Thomas would have had a greater incentive to find the move. One caveat is the clock situation. Perhaps this played a big role in the final sequence of events.
Aug-30-14  panzerkampf: 28...Rc1?
Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: The New York Times, September 7, 1919, wrote this about the game: “Details of the encounter between Jose Capablanca and Sir George Thomas show that game to have been one of the most curious in the annals of chess play. Capablanca committed an oversight at his last turn, which laid him open to a draw, but he scored the game without further play in consequence of the immediate resignation of the baronet, who failed to see that he had at his command a continuation which would force a draw. Both of the moves overlooked by the two experts were of the nature of problem moves so-called, and escaped attention of the players, simply because they did not devote sufficient time to an examination of the position. When the Cuban made his last move, he did so with an air of finality that gave the impression that the game was practically decided, and Sir Thomas was under the same impression, as matters did look hopeless on the surface. When the game had been abandoned and scored to the credit of Capablanca, the onlookers took hold of the position and quickly demonstrated a draw for the Englishman. Upon having their attention drawn to it, both Capablanca and Sir Thomas acknowledged the correctness of the claim."
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