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Jose Raul Capablanca vs David Janowski
St. Petersburg (1914), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 9, May-03
Spanish Game: Exchange. Keres Variation (C68)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-05-04  ArchBishop: <chessfected> I had the same expression for that horrendous move (24.) Or was that move more or less forced? I can't see that.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Quote from Garry on this game: "Dry, tedious play sickened Janowski--back in the match with Lasker (Paris 1909), he played the Exchange Variation very badly, and this had obviously been taken into account by Capablanca." He makes similar hastening the end blunders in that match, as in this shellacking... Lasker vs Janowski, 1909
Aug-27-04  Whitehat1963: Capa plays the opening of the day.
Jan-26-06  karlth: Romanovskij said that black was lost after 11. Rb1.

"Capablanca understood the position completely after 9. ... 0-0-0 and the rest was essentially just calculations and variations."

"Capablanca's understanding of chess was complete. He sometimes blundered and made errors when calculating but his understanding was perfect."

May-14-07  micartouse: It's interesting that Capablanca let Black get rid of his Queenside weaknesses in order to attack. I guess he saw 0-0-0 combined with the pawns on a6 and c6 and felt he could just pop a pawn up there to b5 and pry it open.

11. Rb1! saves time. He can advance a4 and b4 in a single thrust.

Apr-19-09  adrk: this a scheme of attack in all similar positions!!

What a lesson!!!

Jan-08-12  DrGridlock: There has been discussion on the merits of Black's 24'th move ... Nf4. This move is clearly not Black's best, but Black is also lost by this stage. Komodo sees c5 coming in all lines (as <Calli> notes).

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit:

1. (1.54): 24...f5 25.c5 bxc5 26.dxc5 Qxc5+ 27.Qxc5 Nxc5 28.Rxc5 fxe4 29.Rdc1 Rhd8 30.Rxc7+ Rxc7 31.Rxc7+ Kb8 32.Rc5 a4 33.b6 a3 34.Ra5 a2 35.Nc3 Rd3 36.Nxa2 e3 37.Kf1 Kb7 38.Nb4 Rd2 39.Re5 Rf2+ 40.Kg1

2. (1.75): 24...Ng5 25.Re1 Rhd8 26.c5 Nxe4 27.cxd6 Nxc3 28.Rxc3 Rxd6 29.Nxc7 R8d7 30.Ne6 h5 31.Rb3 g5 32.Rb2 Rd5 33.Rbb1 f5 34.Kf2 f4 35.Kf3 Rf7 36.Re5 g4+ 37.Ke4

3. (1.77): 24...Re8 25.Rdc1 Rdd8 26.c5 bxc5 27.dxc5 Qxc5+ 28.Qxc5 Nxc5 29.Rxc5 Rxe4 30.Rxc7+ Kb8 31.Nb6 Rd1+ 32.Rxd1 Kxc7 33.Nd5+ Kb7 34.Rd3 a4 35.Kf2 Re5 36.Nc3 Rf5+ 37.Ke3 Re5+ 38.Kd4 a3 39.Kc4

4. (2.22): 24...Rhd8 25.c5 bxc5 26.dxc5 Qxc5+ 27.Qxc5 Nxc5 28.Rxc5 a4 29.Rdc1 Kb8 30.Kf2 a3 31.Ke3 f5 32.Nb4 Kb7 33.Rxf5 Rd1 34.Rfc5 Rxc1 35.Rxc1 Kb6 36.Nd5+ Kxb5 37.Ra1

5. (2.26): 24...Kb8 25.c5 Nxc5 26.dxc5 Qxc5+ 27.Qxc5 bxc5 28.Rxc5 Rhd8 29.Kf2 Re8 30.Rd4 Re5 31.Ke3 f5 32.Kf4 Rxe4+ 33.Rxe4 fxe4 34.Kxe4 Rf7 35.Rc2 Kb7 36.Ra2 Rf1 37.Ne3 Rh1

6. (2.46): 24...h5 25.c5 bxc5 26.dxc5 Qxc5+ 27.Qxc5 Nxc5 28.Rxc5 Re8 29.Rdc1 Rxe4 30.Rxc7+ Rxc7 31.Rxc7+ Kb8 32.Rxg7 Re1+ 33.Kf2 Rb1 34.b6 Rb5 35.Rd7 a4 36.Ke3 a3 37.Kd4 Rb2 38.g3 Rxh2 39.Ra7 a2 40.Nxf6

The question then becomes by which move Black's game became lost. Kododo also agrees with <Lawrence> and Junior that Black is in pretty deep trouble at move 21, and that ... Kd8 offers no better hope to Black than the game continuation of ... Kb7, and in fact Komodo rates it much worse.

Opening knowledge of the Exchange variation have changed much since 1914, which makes contemporary commentary on opening more difficult. (Who plays black and exchanges his bishops on e3 and f3 anymore)?

Komodo sees an advantage for Black at move 9, and sees o-o-o as very playable.

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit:

1. = (-0.24): 9...Nh6 10.h3 Bh5 11.Ne2 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 0-0-0 13.Qd2 f6 14.Ng3 Kb8 15.Raf1 Nf7 16.Nf5 Qf8 17.R3f2 Nd6 18.Qb4 Qf7 19.Qb3 Qxb3 20.axb3 Nxf5 21.Rxf5

2. = (-0.24): 9...f6 10.h3 Bh5 11.Qd2 Nh6 12.Ne2 Bxf3 13.Rxf3 0-0-0 14.Ng3 Nf7 15.Nf5 Qf8 16.Rf2 Kb8 17.Raf1 Nd6 18.Qb4 Qf7 19.Qb3 Qxb3 20.axb3 Nxf5 21.Rxf5

3. = (-0.16): 9...Nf6 10.h3 Bh5 11.Qe1 Bxf3 12.Rxf3 0-0-0 13.Qg3 Rhg8 14.Raf1 Kb8 15.a3 Rde8 16.Rf5 h5 17.Qg5 Qc5 18.Qg3 Re6 19.R5f3 Qe7

4. = (-0.07): 9...0-0-0 10.Rb1 Nf6 11.b4 h5 12.a4 h4 13.h3 Bxf3 14.Qxf3 Kb8 15.Rb3 Qd6 16.b5 cxb5 17.axb5 a5 18.Ra1 b6 19.Rf1 Qc5 20.Qe2 Qe7

Jan-08-12  DrGridlock: Black's move which no one has yet criticized in the discussion is 14 ... b6.

Komodo sees 14 ... Nd6 as very playable for Black:

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit:

1. = (0.18): 14...Nd6 15.b5 axb5 16.axb5 Nxb5 17.Nxb5 cxb5 18.Rxb5 b6 19.Qb1 Qa3 20.Rb3 Qc5 21.Qb2 Kb7 22.Rc3 Qd6 23.Rf1 Ra8 24.Qb3 Rhd8 25.Rb1 Kb8 26.Qf7 Qd7

But b6 instead of Nd6 cedes control of b5 to White:

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit:

1. ² (0.52): 15.b5 cxb5 16.axb5 Ng5 17.Rf2 a5 18.Nd5 Qd6 19.c4 Ne6 20.Qc3 Nc5 21.Qc2 Ne6 22.Rd2 Kb7 23.d4 h5 24.c5 bxc5 25.b6 c6 26.dxc5 Nxc5

Another move that has gone uncritiqued is Black's 21 ... Rd7. Komodo sees Black's game as still savable at this point after Rhe8, but Black loses half an evaluation point after Rd7:

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit:

1. ± (0.72): 20...Rhe8 21.Rd1 Qf8 22.Qc2 Kb7 23.d4 Qd6 24.Qc3 exd4 25.exd4 Ng5 26.c5 Nxe4 27.cxd6 Nxc3 28.Nxc3 Rxd6 29.Rf3 g6 30.Kf2 f5 31.Rh3 h5 32.Re3 Rdd8 33.Rc1 Rxe3 34.Kxe3

2. ± (1.05): 20...h6 21.Rd1 Qd6 22.d4 Ng5 23.c5 exd4 24.exd4 Nxe4 25.cxd6 Nxc3 26.Nxc3 Rxd6 27.Re2 f5 28.d5 g5 29.g3 f4 30.gxf4 gxf4 31.Kg2 Kb7 32.Kf3 Rf8 33.Re6 Rd7 34.Rde1

3. ± (1.07): 20...Rhf8 21.Rd1 Qd6 22.d4 Ng5 23.c5 exd4 24.exd4 Nxe4 25.cxd6 Nxc3 26.Nxc3 Rxd6 27.Re2 Rd7 28.d5 Kb7 29.Rd4 f5 30.Rc4 Rfd8 31.Rc6 g6 32.Rc4 Ra8 33.Re5

4. ± (1.07): 20...Kb7 21.Rd1 Qd6 22.d4 Ng5 23.c5 exd4 24.exd4 Nxe4 25.cxd6 Nxc3 26.Nxc3 Rxd6 27.Re2 Rhd8 28.d5 f5 29.Rd4 g6 30.Rc4 R6d7 31.Re3 Ra8 32.Re5 Rf8 33.Re6 Rfd8

5. ± (1.12): 20...Rd7 21.Rd1 Qd6 22.d4 Ng5 23.Qd3 exd4 24.exd4 Re8 25.Re1 Kb8 26.Rfe2 h6 27.Qc2 Rdd8 28.c5 bxc5 29.dxc5 Qe5 30.Qc4 Ne6 31.Ra2 Rxd5 32.Qxd5

In summary, 21 ... Kb7, 24 ... Nf4 and 9 o-o-o are not the losing moves for Black. Focus instead on 14 ... b6 and 20 ... Rd7.

Jan-08-12  King Death: The modern master learns from the old one in this game: Mecking vs Korchnoi, 1974.
Jan-08-12  DrGridlock: <King Death>
Romanovski's proposition, quoted by others on the board here, that after 9 Rb1 White's game is positionally won, has been powerful.

Your link quotes Gabriel Velasco's restatement of this proposition, "At this juncture, Mecking came up with a surprising and effective plan, involving a queenside pawn advance supported by an odd rook maneuver."

Modern engine analysis suggests that the proposition is, however, quite wrong.

Jan-08-12  DrGridlock: In "Modern Chess Strategy" John Watson writes:

"There is a great danger here for the student. He or she will pick up a book of annotated games by some world-class player and assume from such general descriptions that "this is the way the great way players think." In reality, most players are unconcerned with giving exact descriptions of their thought-processes; it is much easier to characterize a position generally, with hindsight, and ignore the gory details."

It's easy to pick a game like this one, and "reverse-engineer" commentary to suggest that if a game is won by a positional grandmaster, then every idea in it must be positionally correct.

The "gory details" are provided by Komodo, and suggest that at Black's move 11 after ... Rfh8, ... f5, or ... g5 it's Black's attack on the kingside that is in danger of breaking through before White can get b4 and a4 to break through on the queenside.

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit:

1. = (-0.24): 11...Rhf8 12.h3 Bh5 13.g4 Bg6 14.b4 Ng8 15.Qe1 f6 16.a4 h5 17.Nh4 Bf7 18.Nf5 Qd7 19.gxh5 Ne7 20.b5 Nxf5 21.exf5 axb5 22.axb5 Kb8 23.bxc6 Qxc6 24.Qd2 Rh8 25.Qg2 Qxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Rxh5

2. = (-0.18): 11...f5 12.h3 fxe4 13.Nxe4 Be6 14.a4 Nf5 15.Qe2 Ba2 16.Rbd1 Bd5 17.Nfd2 Rhf8 18.c4 Bxe4 19.dxe4 Nh6 20.Rxf8 Qxf8 21.Nf3 Rxd1+ 22.Qxd1 Nf7 23.Kh2 Qc5 24.Qd3 Qd6 25.Qc2

3. = (-0.18): 11...g5 12.Qe1 Rhf8 13.a4 f5 14.exf5 Nxf5 15.Ne4 Bxf3 16.Rxf3 g4 17.Rf1 h5 18.b4 Nd6 19.Nxd6+ Qxd6 20.Qc3 Kb8 21.Qc5 Qxc5 22.bxc5 Rxf1+ 23.Rxf1 Rd5 24.Rf5 Rxc5 25.Rxh5 Rxc2 26.Rxe5 Rd2 27.Re8+

Jan-08-12  King Death: <DrGridlock> If you noticed I didn't cite that and don't buy into the proposition that the game is "won" at move 9. My opinion without the benefit of engine analysis is that objectively, White had no more than a small edge but psychologically he got the kind of game that was uncomfortable for Janowski to play.

This is where I think computers are useful in getting away from these categorical statements of the old days. They help provide objective analysis and understanding of things as long as the user has some understanding and doesn't just throw out a bunch of numbers. If I want that I'll pull an accounting book off the shelf and read myself to sleep.

Jan-08-12  DrGridlock: <King Death>
If White had an edge from the opening, it was certainly a psychological one (getting to a position which Capablanca thought he could handle better than Janowski), rather than a positional one ("rest was essentially calculations and variations").

I agree that throwing out numbers can be a meaningless or confusing exercise. In this case, the numbers help us to change our understanding of the game.

Jan-09-12  Boomie: <DrGridlock>

Although it is true that engine evals can help us understand a position, they are meaningless without noting the depth. For all we know, your evals were for depth = 12. This is way too shallow for opening analysis. In fact, engines are not very helpful in the openings as the ideas in the position are usually well beyond the horizen. Use opening books to analyze openings.

Jan-09-12  DrGridlock: <Boomie>

I agree that depth of evaluation is important. I generally went to 20 moves (or more) in the analyses I posted. Not deep enough to be exhaustive, but deep enough to convince me that the idea that White's game is positionally won at move 11 is questionable.

Opening books can be useful, but also have their limitations. In many instances, they rely on the "general descriptions" that we wish to analyze or verify. In other instances, there are lines which are no longer analyzed or played.

As an example of the exchange variation used in this game, there are 2,800 games with the exchange variation in the database. Of these 2,800, 420 contain White's response 5 Nc3. Of these 420, only to contain Black's reply Bc5. Winnow down to 6 d3, Bg4, and you're down to 8 games. 7 Be3, and you're down to 3 games: none of which have been played since Capablanca/Jankowski in 1914. People simply don't play openings this way any more.

One way to double-check engine opening results is to look at the strategies behind the lines they propose. For black, there are two keys: Nd6 as a defensive resource to provide control of b5, and a king-side pawn storm to counter-act White's queen-side pawn storm. Both of these intuitively make sense to me as insights into black's resources in the position.

Which opening book are you going to use to analyze the position after White's 11 Rb1?

Jan-09-12  Boomie: <DrGridlock>

Using the OE sheds some light on this opening.

Notice that 5...Bc5 is unusual and has had poor results. Opening Explorer

Also 6...Bg4 is rare and has had miserable results. Opening Explorer

So by move 7 the position is already good for white. GMs today would probably never reach this position. Anything that happens after is purely academic.

Jan-10-12  petamin: Can anybody explain me Why is good the exchange in 9...;BxKf3?
Jan-10-12  Retireborn: <petamin> Assuming you mean 13...Bxf3, Black wants to play ...Ng5-e6 to move his knight to a better square where it helps to defend his king. However 13...Ng5 would allow 14.Nxg5 smashing Black's pawns, hence 13...Bxf3 first.

It is not easy to suggest a better move, as White already has a ready made attack with b5. In the event Janowski decided to play ...b6 and ...a5 before ...Ng5-e6 which only made his position worse.

Jan-10-12  DrGridlock: <Boomie>

Opening Explorer can be a useful tool, however in this case it has significant limitations. Of the 8 games in the database, only 2 have been played since 1916 (only 1 since 1955), and most are between players of unequal strength (Chigoran v Schiffers, Lasker v Tarrasch, Lasker v Gittins, Capablanca v Jankowski, and Mastrovasilis (2580) v Stevens (2020)).

In a small sample size (8 games), with unequal competitors and few modern games, do you interpert the 7-1 for white victory score as resulting from an opening positional advantage, or from White outplaying black in the middle and end games?

To sharpen the discussion, do you believe, with Romanovski (and others), that at move 9 White's game is positionally won, and that only "calculations and variations" are necessary to complete White's victory?

Jan-10-12  DrGridlock: <retireborn>

Looking at the engine analyses of the position, black has 2 key resources in the position: (i) moving his knight to d6 to control b5, and (ii) launching his own pawn-storm on the kingside.

The advantage to black in exchanging on f3 on move 13 is NOT to relocate his night to e6 (it's headed instead to d6), but to draw white's rook to f3 so that black can gain a tempo by attacking the rook when black pushes his own pawn to g4.

Jan-10-12  Boomie: <DrGridlock>

<Of the 8 games in the database, only 2 have been played since 1916>

This suggests to me that the line was abandoned because it doesn't work.

<do you believe, with Romanovski (and others), that at move 9 White's game is positionally won>

I don't know if it's winning but white does have the advantage. All timers like Capa, Alekhine, and Lasker looked into it and apparently didn't find anything for black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: 27.c6+ and the end is near.
Jan-11-12  petamin: To Retireborn and DrGridlock:
Thank you.
Jan-11-12  lost in space: I espacially like 10. Qe1.

It takes the queen out the pin from the Bg4 and out of the pin of the d-file, it protects e3 and it takes an eye on b4.

A truely multipurpose move

Feb-12-17  edubueno: Capablanca conocía muy bien a Janowski, un talentosísimo maestro de las posiciones agudas. Por eso la apertura, el medio juego y el casi final.
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