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Jose Raul Capablanca vs David Janowski
Rice Memorial (1916), New York, NY USA, rd 3, Jan-20
Slav Defense: Alekhine Variation (D15)  ·  1-0



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Jan-28-04  capanegra: Attention folks: in one of his endgame theory books, Averbach points out that Janowski made a wrong decision by abandoning since there was a draw, although it is extremely difficult to see. Averbach’s drawing line is: 83…♔f4!! 84.♗d4 ♔f3!! 85.♙b5 ♔e2!! 86.♔c6 ♔d3 87.♗b5 ♗g5 88.♔b7 ♔c4 89.♔a6 ♔b3!! 90.♗f2 ♗d8 91.♗e1 ♔a4!! and the king has arrived on time.
Feb-27-04  Lawrence: capanegra, it's 87.♗b6, right? Putting all this into Junior 8 it plays not 88.♔b7 but 88.♗a5 but it doesn't make any difference, the pawn can never advance to b6 or Black sacrifices his Bishop for it and it's a drawn game as Averbach says. That looks like a problem by Reti, what with the Black King coming down the board in the "wrong" direction.
Feb-27-04  capanegra: Lawrence, it is 87.♗b6 indeed, thank you for the correction. In his analysis, Averbach also considers 88.♗a5, though his main line is with 88.♔b7, which is claimed to be –by him- the most dangerous. As you say, it is a draw in any variation, and quite spectacular in my opinion. Yes, I think this could perfectly be considered a “Reti problem”.
Feb-27-04  Whitehat1963: Is 21...c4 just a blunder or did Janowski have something in mind with that?
Feb-28-04  Lawrence: Whitehat1963, 21...Rc4 (not 21...c4) must have been a blunder. Janowski should have exchanged Knights, eval -0.52, whereas the move he played gets +0.59 i.e. favorable to Capa. (Junior 8)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Here is a branch to the Averbakh drawing line that deserves to be posted: <83...Kf4> 84.Be5+ (instead of the 84.Bd4) Ke3 85.b5 Kd3 86.Kc6 Kc4 =
Nov-29-06  cizio2: I too have the book by Averbakh with the drawing line. Janowski didn't see the draw OTB, but after 83 moves, and great part of them in inferior position, one can at least wait to see the pawn in seventh rank before resigning.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Black Vampire: Capablanca blundered by playing 81.Bc3+, according to Nalimov Endgames Tablebases (you can find these tablebases in the following web site: He should have played 81.Be1 (mate in 35!), although 81.Bd2 (Bc5 or Bd6) are also winning. So Capablanca gave a chance to Janowsky to draw and Janowsky 'thanked' him by resigning!
Mar-15-07  RookFile: As I recall, Bobby Fischer knew about this technique to draw this ending, and employed it once himself to make a miracle save in one of his games.
Mar-15-07  outplayer: <Black Vampire> Thanks for the link for tablebases.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Black Vampire: <outplayer:Thanks for the link for tablebases> You're welcome.
Jul-11-08  4tmac: Black Vampire is correct about the tablebase draw. Ironically, Janowski defends this very difficult ending well by making "only moves". 81. Kxp wasn't too hard to find but 82. K-f5! (K-f7 loses) and now 83. ... K-f4!! 84. B-d4 K-f3!! 85. K-c6 K-e4 86. B-b6 B-g5 87. b5 K-d3!! 88. B-c7 B-e3 89.B-d6 K-c4!! and black draws by preventing white from making a "path" for his pawn.
Jan-17-09  WhiteRook48: yikes! Excellent endgame by Capablanca. Well, he's champion anyway...
Apr-12-10  misterio: On the 18th move Janowski missed a good opportunity: 18...Ba3 Ra3 20.Rc2 Nd5. Then it is possible b6, c5 or Nd5-b6-c4 and b6, c5. White hasnt any active plan. Recommendation of M.Euwe and L.Prins on 21st move for Black to play 21...Nc3 22.Bc3 b4 is incorrect: 23.ab Bb4? 24.b3. It seems that the best plan for Black to continue 21...R4a6 and then Bf6, Nb6, e5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <chessamateur: I don't see the win. Looks Study like to me.>

In his notes to this game:
Taimanov vs Fischer, 1960, in Taimanov’s Selected Games, by Mark Taimanov (translated by Ken Neat), Everyman Chess ©1995, at page 69, Taimanov gives the following drawing line from the final position: 83...Kf4! 84.Bd4 [84.Be5+ Ke3 85.b5 Kd3 86.Kc6 Kc4!=] 84...Kf3! 85.b5 Ke2! 86.Kc6 Kd3 87.Bb6 Bg5 88.Bc7 Be3 89.Bd6 Kc4=.

So, you were right to be skeptical of the win, <chessamateur>, but this is now standard theory, rather than a study.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: According to the Troy Northern Budget of January 23, 1916, this game took nearly 9 and a half hours to play.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: There may be more to the story.

Looking at the game as published in the February 1916 <American Chess Bulletin>, I noticed that it ended with Janowski playing <83...Be7>, then "Black resigns". Unusual, and why isn't that in our score?

Well, it seems there was an adjournament involved around the end of the game. The <New York Sun> reported on January 23, 1916:

<"After an additional session of over three hours and having recorded eighty-two moves in all, Jose R Capablanca of Havana and David Janowski of Paris again adjourned their game which they had started in the third round of the Rice Memorial masters' tournament.... Although the young Cuban master had not succeeded in gaining his point, he was confident in his ability to do so upon resumption of play.">

Unfortunately, I have not been able to discover who sealed the move. But a reasonable possibility is that Janowski sealed <83...Be7>, discovered the position was lost in adjournment analysis, and did not resume the game. Since the sealed move wasn't made on the board, it didn't find its way into the generally accepted score.

Janowski might have been encouraged to resign by the fact that he had two other adjourned games to play off on the same day (<Brooklyn Daily Eagle>, January 26, 1916).

Again, I have no confirmation of this, but if true it would explain a few mysteries. Specifically, Janowski didn't resign a drawn game; he resigned a lost one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Another update, from the <Brooklyn Daily Eagle>, Thursday, January 27, 1916:

<"Without resuming play, he> [Janowski] <resigned hopeless games both to Capablanca and Kupchik...">

The score is given, ending with "83.Kd5" and a blank space where Black's move should be, with "Resigns" underneath the blank space.

To my mind, it's still possible that Janowski sealed <83...Be7>, the move given in the <American Chess Bulletin>. The Eagle decided not to print the move since it was never actually played.

But, of course, it's possible that Capablanca sealed <83.Kd5>, Janowski didn't analyze the adjournemnt carefully (after all, Capablanca said it was a win for White, so it had to be), and I'm making too much of a typographical convention.

Dec-08-14  drunknite: what makes it the Alekhine variation? Also is 14...b4 (with idea of 15...Nb5) better?
May-15-16  Albion 1959: The loss that was not a loss! Why did Janowski resign in the first place? Surely he could have played on for a few more moves? Moral - You can't draw by resigning !!
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Albion 1959: The loss that was not a loss! Why did Janowski resign in the first place? Surely he could have played on for a few more moves? Moral - You can't draw by resigning>

See earlier comments.

Aug-21-17  The Kings Domain: Capablanca's mastery of the endgame in fine display. The sacrifice of material in order to smoothen his passed pawn's path to victory is impressive as it is instructive.
Jun-18-18  Omnipotent00001: 56...b6 is a draw.
Aug-02-18  jenspetersson: Does anyone know when it was first discovered that Janowski could have held a draw? Is it Averbach (born 1922) who first reported this in his fabulous books? Or did Janowski (+ 1927) learn about it before his death from someone else than Averbach?
Oct-29-19  pepechuy: 61... Bd8? loses (the position before that move is drawn). 62. Kd4 wins, instead Capablanca played 62. Kf4? 77... Bc5? loses again, Janowski could keep the draw with 77... Kg7 81. Bc3? is the final mistake by Capablanca, when he had four winning moves (Be1, Bd2, Bc5 and Bd6). And of course, Janowski's final mistake was resigning a drawn position, as several have already pointed out. Both played the ending extremely well, with very few mistakes.
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