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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 59 times; par: 138 [what's this?]

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

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: "The isolated pawn casts gloom over the entire chessboard."

~ Aaron Nimzowitsch

Mar-20-12  RookFile: In the 1920's, they figured that 17. Bxf6 would have given white an edge.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: The Chess Machine.
Jul-08-12  reti: Capablanca was not lazy. He expected the best from the public at large so that they, in turn, would appreciate his chess skills.
Sep-02-12  birthtimes: Capablanca wrote in "A Primer of Chess", after his 15th move, "This is a weak move which might have given Black a great deal of trouble. Black wanted to gain time in order to play ...Nbd5, the pivotal square of the whole position for Black. It was the wrong idea, however, as will soon be seen. The simple and logical move 15...Bc6, threatening ...Bd5, would have given Black an excellent game."
Nov-09-13  bkpov: Lasker and Alekhine were the greatest duo in modern chess. their game encompasses all aspect of chess. Kasaparov comes next.
Nov-09-13  RedShield: Modern? All their games are in black and white.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: "All these moves have a meaning, the student should carefully study them." !!

I actually played this over a couple of times: it is in the book that shows many of Capa's endings and I was inspired to win a game in the ending (not quite as accurately as this but the inspiration of Capablanca's games and this one helped a lot.)

Nov-22-13  Nicocobas: <all> Could anyone recommend a good book on openings for beginners? I'm looking for one that provides good explanations for the moves. Thanks.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Nicocobas>: Don't know whether John Nunn has written anything which is strictly for relative beginners, but if he has, it would be well worth it.

Even if you should chance upon some of Nunn's works for players of higher standard-all of which are worthwhile-the prose is concise and logical.

Nov-22-13  Boomie: <Nicocobas: <all> Could anyone recommend a good book on openings for beginners? I'm looking for one that provides good explanations for the moves. Thanks.>

Ask at this forum -
User: ChessBookForum.

Generally comments under games should be relevant to that game and the players.

Nov-23-13  Nicocobas: <perfidious> and <Boomie> Thanks!
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Capablanca said that he never had a lost position in this match.

After 16...Nbd5 it's a position similar to one of DeGroot's computer/GM comparison positions (as mentioned earlier in this thread):

click for larger view

Lasker played 17.Bxd5 which <here> is probably a mistake.

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:

click for larger view

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

click for larger view

Now 18.Bxd5 exd5 19.Qf5

click for larger view

... with 2 threats: 20.Nxd5 and 20.Ng4.
Black deals with the first threat by 19...Bc6 and white plays the other one, 20.Ng4

click for larger view

Black's best move here is probably 20...Bg5!
White plays 21.f4, and black would then have to find 21....g6!

click for larger view

If white now plays 22.Nf6+ Bxf6 23.Qxf6 then 23...Rce8 looks drawish.

click for larger view

It is easy to see that in practice black might have gone wrong. But Capablanca seems to have been right; rather like Carlsen in 2013, he never had a lost position during the match.

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 itís true or not Ė but I believe it because Capablanca was not interested in bragging Ė Capablanca gained master strength without ever opening an opening manual. He wasnít solely interested in chess. He deplored that he hadnít 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 didnít 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 donít exist except for very rare tournaments. I remember one in the Netherlands where Anna Muzychuk didnít 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.

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