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Paul Keres vs Jose Raul Capablanca
AVRO (1938), The Netherlands, rd 6, Nov-14
French Defense: Tarrasch Variation. Open System Main Line (C09)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 1 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-03-03  aulero: Almost all Capablanca's defeats are great games, and this one is very important: Keres was the only player having a plus score against Capablanca and it was due to this brilliant victory!

By the way, the 1938 AVRO tournament was the worst Capablanca's performance and a unique event in his career.

Feb-04-03  BLD9802: One source states that Capablanca was suffering from "angina pectoris" in 1938, which probably had a detrimental effect on his play. This was very unfortunate, however, since the winner of AVRO 1938 (Keres) was supposed to play Alekhine in the next World Championship match.
Feb-05-03  ughaibu: There is certainly more than one source that says Capablanca suffered a CVA during this tournament. There's a tendency to find excuses for any player getting a poor result but in the case of Capablanca it's likely that there'd be a non-chess reason.
Jun-09-03  Vacuum: <<Keres was the only player having a plus score against Capablanca and it was due to this brilliant victory!>>

Mir Sultan Khan also has a plus score against Capablnaca.

Jun-09-03  Shadout Mapes: As well as Botvinnik.
Jun-09-03  ughaibu: Shadout Mapes: I think that's untrue unless you're including the simul.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Just like his son, Capablanca's father died of heart problems in his early fifties. J.R. Capablanca's son also died of a heart condition. I believe he was about 60. You might speculate that there was a genetic predisposition.
Jun-09-03  tud: You can see : first part of the tournament Capa wins 2 games and draws the rest. Second part, he looses 4 games and draws the rest. Something happened in the middle, probably the stroke...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: You can see the decline in this game. His 25...Rb5?? is the kind of one move tactical blunder that he rarely committed. I don't read too much into Keres being 1 win with 4 draws against JRC. All of the games were played after 1936 when Capa was no longer Capa.
Jun-10-03  tud: No Calli. Go on at capablanca's games. After AVRO he comes second at Margate, wins Paris and gets gold medal at Buenos Aires ahead of Keres, Alekhine, Najdorf, Eliskases etc. And Alekhine once again avoids playing him. I don't think the guy took the break in all his life.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: His results look okay until you realize that he beat a Paris field with no top players by only a half a point. Margate was much the same. Keres was world class. Capa tied Flohr for 2-3. He couldn't really finish any lower than third in that field. I have played over all these games and the spark is gone.
Jun-11-03  tud: Personally I liked Capablanca - Czerniak and Enevoldsen - Capblanca in Buenos Aires. Especially first one is subtle chess. You sure he tied Flohr at Margate ? On that site is alone as #2. Anyway Botvinnik who said something bad about all top players found only one chess genius in his life : Capa.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Well, I like them too, but Czerniak and Enevoldsen are not exactly big time opposition. Harry Golombek even points out a move Czerniak missed for a probable draw. I was curious so I dug out the book.

Here are some of Golombek's comments in "Capablanca's Best Games":

"With the year 1937, Capablanca's chess career inclines downward"

Semmering-Baden - "Except for one fine game given here against Ragozin, his results in the Semmering-Baden tournament of this year were unrelievedly bad"

Paris- "against inferior opposition"

AVRO- "failed badly" , "few good games"
He includes one game against Flohr.

Margate- one game against himself (Golombek) " a neat calm game"

Olympiad - "some extremely good games" but no against "formidable opposition"

Jul-12-03  tud: I think it's exagerated to say Capa's career inclines when he scores best average in Buenos Aires. If you check his overall careeer, Capablanca's force shows in big tournaments with big competition (except AVRO, second half). Spasski won the best USSR chamionship in 1973 and what ? He wins there only against the last ranked players. Still everybody points out his big victory...
Jul-13-03  ughaibu: The problem with the Spassky comparison is that if he hadn't beaten them they may well not have finished at the bottom of the table. Surely this is what generally occurs in tournaments.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Exactly. An Olympiad is not a tournament. You play varying numbers of games. The team captain decides who plays on a given day. You can hide from the people who might beat you. I don't know the whole story of 1939. Why didn't Capa and Alekhine play?
Jul-13-03  tud: Alekhine was the team captain of the French team. It's from what I heard, not read that Capablanca had to play someone else (Vassaux or Tartakover)when France met Cuba. It's not a surprise, you know, looking back to Alekhine's strategy. Regarding Spasski, I admire him, and I have my own suspicions about the way he played Fisher in 1972. Spasski loved life more than chess but he was a huge natural talent.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: Keres comments on this game in "The Complete Games of Paul Keres". Keres is objective in his annotations in this game, as usual. At one point in the game, when Keres was up a pawn, Keres, to paraphrase, said that he still needed to be careful. Keres was not only a great chess player but also a great chess annotator.
Sep-03-04  InspiredByMorphy: Couldnt Capablanca have held onto the extra pawn with 8. ...Qb4 ?
Sep-30-04  Knezh: 8. ..Qb4 9.Nb3 what now?
Nov-02-04  Bobak Zahmat: Great game by Keres against Capablancas French Defense.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gambitfan: great game !
Jul-29-05  GoldenKnight: Hmm, I find it interesting that all three players named herein who have a plus score against Capablanca only have the plus score by one game. And none of them are his name contemporaries (Sultan Khan may have been a contemporary, but I don't think I would call him a "name" contemporary -- Capablanca himself called him a genius, but his career was too short-lived, and he had a sizeable minus score against Alekhine, three losses and a draw).
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: With mutiple games between them, only Keres had a + (2:1) score against Capa.

Botvinnik, Eliskases, Fine, Lilienthal, Reshevsky, Rubinstein, Samisch, and Spielmann managed lifetime draws.

Sultan Khan won their only encounter. (And maybe someone else?)

Rubinstein won in 1911, lost in 1928. Spielmann, who only with Rubinstein of these was of the same or earlier generaration as Capablanca, won two games in 1928 and 1929. Fritz Samisch won after Capa blundered (for possibly a private, marital-shock reason) in 1929. Rest of the loses against this group start about 1933 and their frequency increases after 1936.

The results are partly a testimonial to the strenght of the new generation (Keres, Botvinnik, Eliskases, Reshevsky, and Fine). But it also looks that Capablanca became latently infirm and aged rather quickly, at least from mid 1930's on. He may have started to loose his energy alredy sometime in the mid-to-late 1920's.

Tarrasch and Flohr came close to lifetime tying w. Capa. Tarrasch lost in 1928, when he was already quite frail, and Flohr in 1938, when he was a nerve wreck (because of the Nazi asault on Czechoslovakia).

Alekhine won 7 games from Capablanca; Marshall 4; Lasker, Spielmann and Keres 2; and that seems to be it for the multiple wins. (I do not seem to find anyone alse with multiple wins against him since Capa became a master.)

Jul-29-05  GoldenKnight: Yes, with Botvinnik, Gypsy's conclusion is correct counting only tournament games and not counting the simultaneous game when Botvinnik was just a boy.
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