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Richard Reti vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"Y'all Reti for This?" (game of the day Apr-08-2014)
Berlin (1928), Berlin GER, rd 14, Oct-29
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Modern Steinitz Defense Siesta Variation (C74)  ·  0-1



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Given 144 times; par: 14 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-09-15  Bycotron: Move 15, black to move.

This position makes a pretty impression on me. White has sacrificed a piece and may boast that his Bishop attacks black's Rook, his Queen holds a threatening post and black's King is still in the center.

However, black's minor pieces are all developed while white's Knight sits at home blocking in his a1 Rook!

One attractive idea for black is to play Na5, uncovering at attack on the Qd5 and, after she moves, the pawn on g2. This is especially attractive because the g file is open so if black can use another piece to attack g2, then play the discovery Na5, he will have a strong attack!

The immediate 15...Rg8 fails simply to Qxg8+ so let's play the only other move that accomplishes our aim. 15...Qg4 and black threatens Qxg7 and Na5. It looks like white can immediately resign.

16.f3/g3 Qxg7 0-1

16.Bxh8 Na5 17.f3! Oops! That didn't work after all.

Well back to the drawing board. There is one other 15th move for black that is thematic with attacking g2 and that is 15...0-0-0, this has the dual purpose of defending the Bb7 (now Ne5 is possible when Nf3 mating ideas will become a factor) and giving the Queen's Rook access to g8.

I always solve these at work where I can't set up a board or move any pieces on the board so I just have to visualize it. It's rather complex after 0-0-0 so I surely can't see everything, but I will give a sample line.

16.Bxh8 is forced, else white is down a piece and way behind in development and can immediately resign. 16...Ne5 (improvement over Na5 in previous line)
17.Qd1 and Nf3+! immediately looks like a winner.

18.Qxf3 Bxf3 loses too much material.

18.gxf3 Rg8+ 19.Kh1 Qh3 20.Rg1 Rxg1+ 21.Qxg1 Bxf3+ 0-1

18.Kh1 is giving me the hardest time...
18...Rxh8 is surely not best, but in a game I could put that in my pocket and play until my 18th move then have another think and try to find an improvement. :) In any case, I believe 15...0-0-0 is black's best.

Jan-09-15  Bycotron: I put the wrong piece on f3! Well played Capablanca, well played sir.
Jan-09-15  kevin86: After castling, comes the counterattack.
Jan-09-15  Lambda: I think this puzzle is problematic in that 0-0-0 is obviously a good move even if you don't see anything clever. So you don't need to solve the puzzle at all in order to play the best move. You can wait a move to think about things.
Jan-09-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: Black is up a bishop, but white threatens 16.Bxh8 taking the lead. My first candidate 15... Qg4(??) looked really strong in view of 16.Bxh8 Na5 apparently winning the pinned queen in view of the mate threat on g2, but white can destroy this illusion with 17.f3!. Also unsatisfactory is 17... Nd8?? 18.Qh5+ Nf7 19.Bxh8.

But black does have an efficient and effective way to return material and still mobilize a winning attack against the white king.

17... O-O-O! (the natural move) 18.Bxh8 (otherwise white stays a piece down) Ne5! puts a difficult question to the white queen:

A) 18.Qd2? Nf3+! 19.gxf3 Rg8+ 20.Bg7 Rxg7+ 21.Kh1 Bxf3#

B) 18.Qd4? Nf3+ 19.gxf3 Rg8+ 20.Qg4 (Kh1 Bxf3#) Qxg4+ 21.fxg4 Rxg4#

C) 18.Qd1 Qh3!! 19.gxh3 (f3 Rg8! 20.Rf2 Nxf3+) Rg8+ 20.Qg4 Nxg4 21.f3 (hxg4 Rxg4#) Ne3+ 22.Kf2 Nc2 nets a piece for black

D) 18.Qa5 Qh3! 19.f3 (gxh3+ Rg8+ forces mate) Rg8 20.g3 Rxg3+! 21.hxg3 Qxg3+ 22.Kh1 Nxf3 23.Rxf3 (there is nothing better) Bxf3#

Time for review...

Jan-09-15  TheaN: 9 January 2015 <15....?>

For this Friday puzzle, black has only reasonable move in the position at hand. I guess the puzzle started here because it would be tempting for Black to just resign this position, considering there is no other sensible move but <15....O-O-O>. Black has the freedom to sacrifice Rh8 as he is already a piece up. To the queenside castle, white has only one reasonable reply to not go a piece down, which is <16.Bxh8>. Now the actual combination starts.

<16....Ne5!> is the point. Black controls all critical squares around the white queen: b3-g8 is completely shut off, after <17.Qd2/Qd4? Nf3+! 18.gxf3 (else NxQ) Rg8+ with mate 0-1<>> white is shown exactly why Black is ok sacrificing the rook on h8. This leaves only d1 or a5 for the queen: a5 looking passive in this position, <17.Qd1>. The bonus of this move is that it covers f3 and g4, which can be crucial to defend. Black simply doesn't care and still plays <17....Nf3+! 18.Kh1 (gxf3 Rg8+ 19.Kh1 Qh3 and mate soon ) Rg8> black continues his expansion by stressing the g-file, now he is forced to do so indirectly.

If white cannot develop a piece now, he'll lose. <20.g3? Qh3 with Qxh2# 0-1<>>, or <20.Rg1? Nxg1 <>> does not help white's position. <20.Nd2>, however, the sad truth for white is that the position is already falling apart. After the simple <20....Nxd2> the knight is immune because of <21.Qxd2 Bxg2+ 22.Kg1 Bf3+ 23.Bg7 Rxg7 24.Qg4 Rxg4# 0-> but white doesn't have better.

Jan-09-15  TheaN: Well would you know, <17....Nf3+> wins in a similar fashion as the perhaps more forcing 17....Bf3!. Strikingly, it seems I was the first to finish this line. Bycotron played it but missed <18....Rg8! >.

The key after Rg8, which I did actually not mention, is that if white 'passes' after black can simply play <19....Rxg2!> followed by Qg4+ if captured, otherwise mating on h2.

Jan-09-15  TheaN: Amusing sideline that is slightly better for black in the Nf3 variation is <17....Nf3+ 18.Kh1 Rg8 19.Nd2 Nh4! 20.f3 Rxg2 21.Rg1 Qh3! 22.Nf1>. Now it's a bit of a shame that 22....Rxg1+ is mate in two, because in the position after <22....Bxf3>:

click for larger view

I'd have a hunch white is lost.

Jan-09-15  ehackett: How about

17 .... h3?

If it works a more spectacular ending...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Hmm. When I saw this game, I noticed the link was purple, so I thought really hard about this, but never even considered queenside castling.

FTR: I last visited this game on November 1st. :|

Jan-09-15  ToTheDeath: Yes, Capa was a genius.
Jan-09-15  Rookiepawn: This is how you beat "positional" players: with a maelstrom of tactics, sacs, unbalanced positions.

Too bad for Reti, Capablanca was not a "positional" player.

Jan-09-15  visayanbraindoctor: <Capablanca was not a "positional" player.>

It goes against the usual stereotype but in my firm belief, Capablanca was the best tactician of his era, even better than Alekhine. He just did not go for tactical double edged positions. His style was to try to find the objectively best moves most of the time. Whenever AAA, Marshall, Bogolyubov got him into a tactical melee, Capablanca usually out tacticked them. AAA, Marshall, and Bogolyubov on the other hand purposely often tried to complicate the game. It's a matter of chess style.

I my post above Reti vs Capablanca, 1928

<Somehow this game reminds me of

Reti vs Euwe, 1920


Euwe vs Reti, 1920

The above games, featuring the rare double rook sac, were both played against a future world champion in the same year. Reti had astounding combination chess vision as well.

So contrary to what this game at first glance may imply to some kibitzers, Reti was no push-over. I regard him as a Candidates-strength chess master>

My guess is that Reti, falling for an illusion, assessed the position after 11. Nxf6 as being advantageous for White. There are open lines to the Black King, which is momentarily stranded in the center and cannot castle Kingside. Black's pieces are all in his first three ranks. White has four pieces out and is ready to castle. Reti must have been dreaming of concocting an attack similar to his Euwe classic crushes. My guess is that many masters in all eras, including today, would fall for this illusion too.

I think the main reason why Capablanca assessed the position correctly as advantageous to him is because of concrete calculations, possible up to the point of the 17. Bf3 sacrifice. I believe he had already seen the outlines of this position when he played 11... gxf6 which destroyed his Kingside pawn structure but gave him an open g-file into White's Kingside.

If one allows one's pawn structure to be destroyed, you have better have concrete tactical options before the endgame.

Jan-09-15  Cheapo by the Dozen: I thought ... O-O-O was a pretty obvious first move, in that it protected both the h8 rook and the b7 bishop, and also developed the other rook that could perhaps be brought to the half-open g-file.

Seeing the ... Bf3 shot was harder. I have no idea whether it would have occurred to me over the board when I needed to figure it out, one move later than the puzzle position.

Jan-09-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: The following link allows you to play the game position after white's 17th move against the Crafty engine. Colors are reversed (i.e. you are playing the black position with the white pieces) because using this particular interface requires white to have the first move.

I set this up to verify that 17... Qh3 would also have won handily against best defense - and it does.

May-03-16  solskytz: What a disaster!
That pawn sacrifice in the opening (on e4) really didn't go so well for Reti...

The machine (Capablanca) just never lets Reti recover that pawn in peace. Things climax when he (Reti) feels obliged to capture that pawn (on d4) with his queen - after ...a6 was already played, and so losing a piece and with it - all hope, as early as move TEN.

The rest was simply tragedy. Of course black can gladly afford to give back the exchange in order to properly develop - but ...Bf3!! is an amazing stroke of genius. Reti just can't afford to go on the defensive being down material, with his Q-side undeveloped...

probably 18. Qd4 would extend the game a bit - but who wants to play this position as white.

Jan-11-20  Albion 1959: I wonder why Reti played e4 instead of his usual Nf3 Reti opening system ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Albion 1959: I wonder why Reti played e4 instead of his usual Nf3 Reti opening system>

Reti played 1.e4 more than all other opening moves combined according to OE.

Jan-12-20  Retireborn: <keypusher> Reti had a period 1925-1927 in which he hardly ever played 1.e4, but in 1928 he renewed his interest in it, playing 14 games that I know of. Here is another disaster from that year:-

Reti vs L Steiner, 1928

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Retireborn: <keypusher> Reti had a period 1925-1927 in which he hardly ever played 1.e4, but in 1928 he renewed his interest in it, playing 14 games that I know of. Here is another disaster from that year:->

Honestly I was reacting more to the comment < Albion 1959: I wonder why Reti played e4 instead of his usual Nf3 Reti opening>

In fact every other game he had White in this tournament he played 1.d4 and followed with something more or less conventional. He didn’t play 1.Nf3 very often. The openings that masters are famous for aren’t necessarily the ones they play day in and day out.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Larsen was, of course, known for his advocacy of 1.b3, played it for a time, but used a broad repertoire, even essaying the white side of Open Sicilians now and again; I recall a piece he wrote for CL&R in the mid 1970s in which he drolly commented (might have been a win over Kavalek at Manila) that, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 ~ 3.d4 cxd4 etc that, despite his objections to giving up a centre pawn so easily, he had somehow managed to make a very good score.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <perfidious: Larsen was, of course, known for his advocacy of 1.b3, played it for a time, but used a broad repertoire, even essaying the white side of Open Sicilians now and again>

I was surprised (again according to OE) that he played 1.g3 more than twice as often as he played 1.b3.

Jan-13-20  Retireborn: <keypusher> Yes, Reti was constantly revising his ideas about how White should play the opening, so 1.Nf3 would only have been his *usual* move in the years 1923 and 1924, perhaps.

I like to think that, if he'd lived into the 1930s, he'd have gone back to playing the good old King's Gambit, like a slugger :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: I video annotated this game back in 2013:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: Enjoyed your video, <kingscrusher>!
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