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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Boris Verlinsky
Moscow (1925), Moscow URS, rd 9, Nov-21
Queen Pawn Game: Stonewall Attack (D00)  ·  0-1



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Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Catfriend> Don't know if this fits in your collection -- Verlinsky missed 14...Bb5, trapping his great opponent's queen, then sacrificed his own!
Jun-25-10  WhiteRook48: oh i see it now.
Mar-06-12  Lambda: <In terms of longevity, Lasker's most amazing performance has to be Moscow 1935>

That wouldn't be the obvious choice if judging by Chessmetrics; it's a 2707 performance at the age of 66, while Korchnoi at Sarajevo 1998 has a 2761 performance at the age of 67. (Although of course he has many more "tries" at it.) The great age-outlying performance for Lasker would be New York 1924 with 2828 at the age of 55. I don't think there are any other 2800+ performances by anyone over 50.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Did Capa really give a simultaneous display the same day he played Verlinsky? I seem to recall reading somewhere that the day of the display he had been driven in a car for many hours. Does anybody know?
Mar-06-12  brankat: Capablanca must have had a pretty bad day :-) Verlinsky, on the other hand, played a fine game.
Mar-06-12  brankat: <They more or less kissed and made up at Saint Petersburg 1914, but then that idiot Gavrilo Princip went and did something that postponed the match another 7 years.>

Apparently "the idiot" was not concerned with the prospect of Lasker-Capa match. Just how selfish can one be?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <maxi> In "The Unknown Capablanca", by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth, they tell of the simultaneous exhibition you are asking about.

<On a free day during the Moscow 1925 tournament Capablanca travelled all the way to Leningrad to give a display against thirty first-category players; after a gruelling five and a half hours of play he scored +18 -4 =8, and then he travelled back.>

The date of the exhibition was Nov. 20, 1925, and one of Capablanca's losses, was to fourteen year old M.Botvinnik.

The next day in the Moscow tournament, Capablanca lost to Verlinski.

According to one site I checked, the distance between Leningrad (Now St. Petersburg), and Moscow is 370 some miles by air, and 390 some miles by road or rail.

Hooper and Brandreth did not indicate Capablanca's mode of travel, but my guess it would have been by rail.

Even today, many trains take 7 or 8 hours to make this trip. Perhaps Capablanca took an over-night train, at least on his way to Leningrad, but even that was probably not too restful of a ride.

The long trip, gruelling display, and then disasterous loss to Verlinski, should have been a reminder to Capablanca, that even he was subject to the need for rest and preparation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Dear <Pawn and Two>, thank you for the quotation. I don't have that book, but will try to get it. I don't know where I heard about the long journey. So he traveled for about 16 hours and played tough opponents for 5 1/2 hours. Some preparation for a tournament! But he could never figured it out, you know, he could never quite believe he was human. The realization, coming sometime near the end, must have been terrible and overwhelming. If it ever happened...
Mar-07-12  King Death: < Jonathan Sarfati: Capa's weak opening play is almost as horrible and inexplicable as White's in Chigorin vs Janowski, 1895>

This was the thought that went through my mind when playing this game out. Capa had a rare rough day.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Black just demolished white's queenside.
Apr-01-13  The Rocket: Capablanca- Greatest player of all time? Not quite...
Jul-25-13  Wyatt Gwyon: Capa was probably hungover in this game.
Jul-25-13  RookFile: Long tournament with a lot of tough guys. He was probably just tired. A guy like Rubinstein put up a minus score in this event - just one illustration of the strength of the field.
Aug-14-14  Albion 1959: To Kangaroo - Shadow 812 does not say or infer that Verlinsky or any other Russian masters were patzers. The simple statement was that this the worse game by Capablanca in tournament career. He got into a mess in the opening and should have lost as early as move 14! - This was a poor and weak effort from Capablanca, though I am of the opinion that his last round loss to Euwe in the 1938 Avro tournament, was his most weakest and feeble effort!
Aug-14-14  Maatalkko: <keypusher: I was as surprised as I expect anyone would be to find that Dr. Tarrasch never topped the list.>

I'm not surprised. What I find surprising/confusing is this often repeated idea that, at one point in the late 1890s or early 1900s, Tarrasch was stronger than Lasker and probably would have become World Champion, had they played at exactly that moment.

Is there any evidence supports this belief? Or is this just a counter-intuitive position that the would-be cognoscenti have echoed through the years?

It's true that Tarrasch won their first encounter at Hastings 1895, but Lasker won right back at Nuremberg 1896 and finished ahead of Tarrasch in both tournaments.

Their lifetime score of +18 -4 =8 is a massacre. It's true that their strength got more and more imbalanced over time, but that doesn't prove that Tarrasch was ever equal or better in post-1894 years.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Maatalkko: What I find surprising/confusing is this often repeated idea that, at one point in the late 1890s or early 1900s, Tarrasch was stronger than Lasker and probably would have become World Champion, had they played at exactly that moment.>

Never seen this view anywhere until now and it is difficult to believe that anyone but, as you put it, 'would-be cognoscenti' might see matters that way, in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The biggest mistake Tarrasch ever made was being born at a time when Lasker was his contemporary. In a non-Lasker universe Tarrasch would have had a long reign as World Champion, right after Steinitz. But it was not to be!

One pair of results I really like is the Marshall - Tarrasch (1905) match, where Tarrasch beat a top Master +8, -1 =8, and he rightly said that this was a great result. So Lasker, his amour propre maculated, also took on Marshall. He knew that he had to beat Marshall by a better score than Tarrasch, and he did. In Lasker - Marshall World Championship Match (1907) he defeated Marshall +8, =7.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I don't know what Capablanca would have done if Verlinsky had played 14...Ba6-b5!! in this game.

click for larger view

He was world champion and I don't think he would have resigned on the spot. He occasionally dropped pieces in the opening but played on right to the bitter end. But in this game, after the possible sequence 14... Bb5 15. cxb5 cxb5 16. dxc5 bxa4,

click for larger view

he would have had ♘♗ for ♕ and that would be too much of a disadvantage. It could've been one of the shortest losses ever by a world champion.

Apr-02-15  Howard: So, apparently your move would have won a lot quicker.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Howard: So, apparently your move would have won a lot quicker.>

It is not my move. I read it on the first page of this game's 3 pages of comments:

<Jan-16-04 Resignation Trap: Had Verlinsky played 14...Bb5, this game would have been much shorter.>

Followed by

<Jul-06-04 ughaibu: Yes, 14....Bb5, great move, I wonder how Capablanca would've reacted.>

Nov-20-15  Howard: Oops ! I didn't read that far back.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: WhiteRook48: "59 Rxc5??" (on page one)

What else does White play here:

click for larger view

The Knight is attacked, if it moves Bb4+ wins the Rook.

Much has been said about Verlinsky not playing the move 14...Bb5 here.

click for larger view

Winning the Queen.

He was certainly playing for the same idea, Black's previous move was 13...Rf8-b8 perhaps not planning on 14...Bb5 but 14...Rb4 (another very strong move nobody else appears to have mentioned).

He played 14....exd4 because 14....Rb4 (still very good) would have been an expensive Queen. If White had castled instead of 15.Nxd4 then we would have seen either 15...Bb5 or 15...Rb4. It's obvious Capa spotted both threats hence 15.Nxd4.

Which brings us here.(Black to play)

click for larger view

Black can still play the what I think was the original idea of Rb4 answering Qxc6 with Qe7+ and Bb7. Or go the way he chose in the game saccing his Queen for two Bishops and a Rook which certainly looks very attractive.

All those active Black pieces, an uncastled King and a Rook out of it on h1. Yes, this is the way to go. Capablanca did well to keep Black at bay for as long as he did.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Worst game ever by a reigning world champion? Ghastly. Capablanca, as White, had a large disadvantage after 5 moves, and the game only went downhill from there.

btw, where does chessgames get off calling this a Stonewall Attack? That requires an early f4. White didn't get around to playing f4 until move 26. And 5.dxc5? wasn't very Stonewall-y.

Dec-28-22  Granny O Doul: Certainly the worst I've seen of Capablanca. Luckily it didn't seem to affect his performance in Chess Fever.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <G O D> Thank goodness for that.
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