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Emanuel Lasker vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"Havana Knights" (game of the day Oct-17-2008)
Lasker - Capablanca World Championship Match (1921), Havana CUB, rd 10, Apr-08
Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Rubinstein Variation (D61)  ·  0-1



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Given 65 times; par: 138 [what's this?]

Annotations by Jose Raul Capablanca.      [26 more games annotated by Capablanca]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-24-13  RedShield: <That original chess thinker and Stephen Hawking lookalike Gyula Breyer analysed a good alternative: 17.Bxf6. I don't know where to find Breyer's analysis but it may have continued like this:

Firstly, 17...Nxf6 seems to lose straight away to 18.Ng6. So black should play 18...Bxf6.

Now 18.Bxd5 exd5 19.Qf5>

According to <Calli> on page 1, Breyer's main line was indeed <17.Bxf6 Bxf6! 18. Bxd5 exd5 19. Qf5>, but according to Cecil Purdy, in an article, <The Steinitz-Lasker "Law" Exploded> (reprinted in the compilation, <The Search For Chess Perfection>), Breyer preferred 19.Ng4 with the line 19...Bg5 20.f4 Bxf4 21.Qf5 Bc7 22.Nxd5 Kh8 23.Nxh6 gxh6 24.Nf6 and wins. Purdy notes: <Breyer did not analyze 21...Bg5 22.Qxd5 a6 23.Qxb7 Qb4; however after 24.Nxb5 axb5 25.Re2 Black has a pawn - and virtually no compensation.>, which, frankly, I can't make sense of, but Purdy thinks White is winning.

Suffice to say that both Breyer and Purdy's analysis is shown by the computer to be incorrect; Black has equality after 19.Ng4 Bg5 20.f4 Bxf4 21.Qf5 Bg5.

The Steinitz-Lasker 'law' that Purdy's article is disputing is, apparently, <No combination without a considerable plus, no considerable plus without a combination.>, but where Lasker (basing himself on Steinitz) wrote of this isn't revealed.

Dec-11-14  yurikvelo: D=30
1. (0.37): 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Bxd5 exd5 19.Qf5 Bxe5

2. = (0.00): 17.Rc1 Rc7 18.Bxf6 Nxf6 19.Re3 Bc6

3. = (-0.14): 17.Qb1 Rxc3 18.Bxd5 Rc7 19.Bf3 Rd8

4. = (-0.18): 17.Bxd5 Nxd5 18.Bxe7 Nxe7 19.Qe4 Bc6

5. = (-0.24): 17.h3 Nxc3 18.bxc3 Rxc3 19.Qb1 Qb4

Full game analyze:

Jan-22-18  zanzibar:

click for larger view

Nobody has commented on 43.Nd1, but it seems to deactivate the knight and unprotect d4 (unlike, say, 43.Nb5). It then gets reinforced(?) by another weak move, 44.Ke2, putting the king on a forking square.

I'm not saying White isn't defending, but at least it's still a fight.

Jan-23-18  zanzibar: I should also mention that I like Black's knight maneuver, Nc6-d7-f5-d6-e4 (moves 46-50), transferring the knight from c6 to the very strong e4-square.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: <zanzibar>--Your diagram of the position after move 42 is incorrect--the white knight should be on e3, not c3. According to The Computer, white's best here was 43 Ng4, with an evaluation of only -0.66, but I suspect that Capablanca would have found a way to win anyway. Lasker played 43 Nd1 in an effort to lure Capablanca into the trap described in the note after move 43 ("Not Nb4...").
Jan-26-18  zanzibar: GSM yes, my mistake, apologies. I got the move wrong I think.

I believe the position I meant to display was just before the knight first was moved to d1, on move 40:

(White to move after 39...Ra2-c2)

click for larger view

Now, Black is better according to the engines, but 40.Nb5 is -1.06/36 whereas 40.Nd1 is about ~1/2-pawn worse. Not much, but without that move you don't get 44.Ke2 either.

Capablanca's superior technique likely would have won, but I'd be interested in a SF8-SF8 shootout from that position.

Anyways, my apologies for messing up the 1st time, let's hope the diagram is right this time! Thanks.

Feb-03-18  Grandma Sturleigh: One of the things I like here is the way that Capablanca doesn't touch his king for the first 20 moves of this endgame. Something that Chernev (who liked to annotate by the "rules") conspicuously fails to mention.
Aug-23-18  WDenayer: Whether it’s true or not – but I believe it because Capablanca was not interested in bragging – Capablanca gained master strength without ever opening an opening manual. He wasn’t solely interested in chess. He deplored that he hadn’t become a medical doctor or a musician. He was interested in baseball, he loved to cook and he was interested in culture in general. What would have had become of him without his troubles with his first wife and the disease that killed him? Chess didn’t make Capablanca insane or turned him into a maniac. What a difference with today. Worst of all, many try to emulate grandmasters of today, instead of having an idea of their own, however small, mistaken, modest or naive.
Aug-23-18  RookFile: You can see hints in this game of what made Lasker great. He was a dynamic player. Here he cheerfully accepts a doubled pawn in the hopes of getting an attack. He was past his prime, and Capa had a fantastic tactical insight, so it didn't work in this game. If only Lasker was somehow younger for this match....
Jun-16-20  waustad: Ah, so they sealed the move around move 30 in this game. It was typical around move 40 when I started paying attention to the game and learned more than how the pieces moved. Now adjournments don’t exist except for very rare tournaments. I remember one in the Netherlands where Anna Muzychuk didn’t really get the sealed idea, since she was so used to a post game discussion. It was a non rated tournament to show players about earlier eras if I recall.
Sep-30-20  C. Auguste Dupin: There are tactical players and then there are positional players. There are positional players and then there is Capablanca. I'm not saying that Capablanca was the greatest chess player ever nor am I saying that he was the greatest positional player ever, but there is a really unique beauty in his games, which is so deep and so hard to define.

His games pretty much serve the same purpose in chess as theorems serve in mathematics. His games are the concepts, simple, clear and amazingly powerful.

He showed that chess is not something complicated, you just need to understand it. It is very easy to complicate a game of chess. It is when you simplify something, that you come closest to the truth and your work is of real substance. Isaac Newton said something similar.

Capablanca's games stand out for their simplicity and clarity. If any player, of low to medium strength, wishes to truly understand chess and become a strong player, a careful study of Capablanca's games and his books will best serve his purpose.

Sep-30-20  sudoplatov: Black's attack on the White b3 Pawn is reminiscent of Marshall's procedure in this game. Marshall vs Capablanca, 1909

Marshall exploits things differently though. Still, the a-Pawn attack in the QGD is often a possibility.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: I video annotated this game a while back,

There was this comment about the general conditions of the match etc:

"Oissev Onos
1 year ago
For the record, everyone, Lasker and Capablanca were playing in the hot Havana climate, where Lasker was an older German accustomed to cooler climates. Lasker was also dissatisfied about playing in a casino, but the agreed upon rules meant he had to endure the experience, all the while Capablanca was in his element.

Not to say Capablanca didn’t work hard and play great chess, but Lasker was not in the right mood for the match. Lasker also planned on retiring the chess crown whether he won or lost to Capablanca anyway (yes, technically he had already given it up but officially no one considered Capablanca the Champion until the official match) so younger players could aim for it. Lasker and Capablanca drew 10 games, and Capablanca only won four where Lasker either blundered due to time trouble or made inaccuracies.

Their lifetime score was 6 Capablanca, 2 Lasker. Of Capablanca’s six wins, four were here in their 1921 match, one was in New York 1924 (though it is argued whether it counts as legitimate because it is believed Capablanca had a broken chess clock which ran slowly and thus gave him more time; the only loss Lasker took in that near-perfect tournament of his was during that round), and one in Moscow 1936, where Lasker played his second-to-last tournament ever, and it was the first time Capablanca came ahead of Lasker in a tournament.

Lasker’s wins were in St. Petersburg 1914 and Moscow 1935.

May we hopefully see more Lasker games by KC, soon! Lasker has had so few games and the ones listed in his game section aren’t even all his wins- some are his losses and others are either games by friends/ family or quotes. KC does well, but more winning Lasker games, please!


My own thoughts on revisiting this game and doing modern analysis .....

And it seems on technical analysis, White missed a major opportunity for an early Bxf6 at move 17. Okay it would involve giving black the bishop pair, but there was some dynamic compensation. Bb5 did weaken e6 and in some variations that becomes a dynamic factor.

As an example of being ground down without counterplay from the mismanagement of the IQP - it is a great game. But it can't be used to advertise the QGD as a killer weapon of choice especially when White has the IQP in my view. Chess just is too dynamic.

Cheers, K

Premium Chessgames Member
  0ZeR0: Hello, <kingscrusher>

I enjoyed watching your video annotation of this game and reading your comments. Thank you for sharing them. I am actually a longtime fan of yours and often watch your streams on Twitch. Keep up the great work!

My own personal analysis seems to concur with your thoughts regarding the possibility of 17.Bxf6. Perhaps something like, 17...Bxf6 18.Bxe5 dxe5 19.f4 could follow and now black has to contend with his own IQP.

As for the QGD being a killer weapon, I almost exclusively play 1.d4, and so naturally play the QG a lot. While I don't see this opening as something one should pull out of a bag of tricks in certain situations, I never minded playing with an IQP. The ideal situation as white is that you'll find greater activity for your pieces. Of course, if this doesn't happen you can get saddled with having to rather passively defend the IQP. And that particular case is not much fun (as in this game).

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: <0ZeR0> Many thanks :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: < kingscrusher:> that comment on your page was lacking in objectivity. For example, Capablanca himself said that he detest hot weather and liked the cold. He played in Russia several times.

The match was held at the best tourist time for Cuba, when the temperatures are not that hot and are quite pleasant:

"Of all the months to go to Cuba, March and April are perhaps the best, when the days are longer and sunnier (on average seven hours of sunshine), not too hot and humid, and there's little rainfall. Average temperatures in March and April are around 27–29ºC in the daytime and a balmy 19–21ºC at night."

Jan-13-21  RookFile: The defense employed by black could almost be a textbook example of blockade straight out of My System. The problem is, it doesn't work. These types of positions are really tricky and Lasker could have gotten a clear advantage on move 17.
Mar-26-21  Whitehat1963: Very small inaccuracies in the middle game are all Capablanca needed to seize the advantage and bring the point home. Actually a very well-played game by the soon-to-be champion.
Mar-26-21  Whitehat1963: Stockfish suggests the following: 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Bxd5 exd5 19. Ng4 Bg5 20. Qf5 Ba4 21. Nxa4 Qxa4 22. f4 g6 23. Qe5 Rfe8 24. Qxd5 Rxe1+ 25. Rxe1 Bxf4 26. Rf1 Rc1 27. Nxh6+ Bxh6 28. Qxf7+ Kh8 29. Qf6+ Kh7 30. Qe7+ Kg8 31. Qd8+ Kg7 32. Rxc1 Bxc1 33. Qc7+ Kg8 34. Qxc1 Qxd4+ 35. Kh1 b6 36. h3 Kh7 which finally leaves white a pawn up, with only queens and pawns on board, but it’s still not an easy win even from there.

Happy 100-year anniversary!

Sep-22-21  chavezo: In The Search for Chess Perfection (How to improve at chess: Combinations), Purdy seems to imply that after 16. ...Nbd5 the game continued 17. Bxf6 Nxf6? which is not the case.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: "HAVANA, Sunday. On the resumption today of the tenth game in the contest for the world’s chess championship between Senor Capablanca and Lasker, the latter resigned after sixty-eight moves had been made.

After Senor Capablanca had unsealed his sixty-fourth move from Saturday evening’s play, Dr. Lasker admitted that had lost the game. Dr. Lasker, however, did not resign, explaining that he and the chess public were anxious to know how Senor Capablanca would force the pieces, inasmuch as the position was very intricate. Dr. Lasker took. nearly fifty minutes before replying to Senor Capablanca’s sixty-fourth move.— Reuter."

[Pall Mall Gazette - Monday 11th April 1921]

Premium Chessgames Member
  LittleKibitzer: Opening Tip: must remember this variation for black in the Orthodox Queen's Gambit where black plays c5 instead of c6. There are some chances to give white an isolated pawn, kind of like a nice version of the Tarrasch for black. In this game, white's pawn is so easily restrained. It shows the justification for white to play 8 cxd5, the more popular line for white now. So if we get this variation of the Orthodox with white's 7 Qc2, c5 is a nice follow up. In general, playing c5 in various lines of the Orthodox is still, at least for me, a curious subject. It also seems to pop up in variations with 7 Bd3 for perhaps more obvious reasons.
Apr-30-23  SChesshevsky: <LittleKibitzer> Yes, the ...c6 vs. the ...c5 question. One that even Capablanca found interesting.

I've always viewed ...c6...Nbd7 without...h6 type lines as the Orthodox Capablanca version and anything related to ...Nf6 ...c5 as more in the Semi-Tarrasch realm. Though these characterizations may be incorrect officially.

Related to this game, what I would call a semi-tarrasch, feels like white went slightly wrong somewhere. Seems strangely down on tempo and gets hit with tempo loss a lot more than he should. In the semi-tarrasch, black can inflict the IQP but often white gets plenty of compensation with activity sometimes using the e4 light square. Here, Lasker gets the IQP but gets or goes for little activity.

Looks like ...c5 works out well against Laskers somewhat lethargic effort. But not sure can count on such easy black play from ...c5 all the time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  LittleKibitzer: <SChesshevsky> Great insights from an experienced Kibitzer! Thanks! I just started using this site, and already I'm learning from other users. I'll have to try the Semi-Tarrasch Defense perhaps as a safer option (though with less activity). Black does not accept an isolated pawn since recapturing with the knight is possible. Mihail Marin has a great promotion for the opening in the description of his video for ChessBase: "it is an excellent complement to the Nimzoindian Defence. Moreover, it is a viable way of escaping the strategic pressure in the Exchange Queen’s Gambit while also presenting a reliable weapon against the main Symmetrical English systems. The resulting structures are reminiscent of the dynamic Gruenfeld Defence, but play usually takes by far less forced contours allowing both sides to unfold their middlegame creativity more freely." Thanks and Cheers!
Sep-05-23  CapablancaDisciple: Thus Spake Capablanca
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