Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing
Jose Raul Capablanca vs Emanuel Lasker
St. Petersburg (1914), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 5, Apr-28
Four Knights Game: Spanish. Symmetrical Variation (C49)  ·  1/2-1/2



explore this opening
find similar games 23 more Capablanca/Lasker games
PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

TIP: The tournament is found above the game. For the newest chess events, this information may be a link which takes you to the tournament page which includes other games, a crosstable, discussion, etc.

PGN Viewer:  What is this?
For help with this chess viewer, please see the Olga Chess Viewer Quickstart Guide.


Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-12-04  Bobak Zahmat: Very complicated game, with much stuff to think about.
Nov-12-05  tud: This game obsessed me for a while. Capablanca was already stronger than Lasker (my opinion). Is 40 Ba7 a stronger move ?
Nov-12-05  Averageguy: <tud> I don't think so, after 40.Bxa7 bc the Bishop has to defend c1 with 41.Be3. After 41...c2 the game looks drawn. If the Bishop moves of the c1-h6 diagonal then the Black Bishop Pawn will promote. If White tries to get the King over then he abandons his K-side Pawns and Nf6 will pick them off.
Nov-14-05  JYMMI: JYMMI: GOD! THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!CAPABLANCA HAD THE WIN ON HIS HANDS WITH 22_Rh1 BUT WITH A MAGIC LASKER DRAWS THE GAME! AH! I THINK IT WAS BETTER TO PLAY 42_Bg5+ SO 42... Ng5+ 43_ Ke3(no possibities of check on the next move) and if 43... Kf6 capablanca plays 44_a5 Kg6 45_b5 and if 45... axb5 capablanca can play 46_a6!
Nov-14-05  Stevens: STOP SHOUTING!!
Apr-29-08  pikket: "I THINK IT WAS BETTER TO PLAY 42_Bg5+ SO 42... Ng5+ 43_ Ke3(no possibities of check on the next move) and if 43... Kf6 capablanca plays 44_a5 Kg6 45_b5 and if 45... axb5 capablanca can play 46_a6!"

But if simply 43...Kd7 then Blk has time to stop a/b pawn with his king and his knight can keep the white king out. I think 42. Bg5+ just loses.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Here is a photo of the game:

Aug-04-13  malufet: 23) Bc4! is much more better than Bxc6
Jul-29-14  RookFile: I'm not sure. Tricky position. White hits the rook on g8, so black moves it somewhere, let's say 23.... Rd8. If I were black, I would consider a plan of trying to play ...Qg7 and ...Ne7 at some point. It hits the white queen, maybe at some point you can drop that knight into f4. I guess that Capa reasoned it would be good to get rid of that knight in a closed position.
Jul-29-14  john barleycorn: Tarrasch in "Das Grossmeisterturnier zu St. Petersburg 1914" (my translation of some points):


Now defense gets difficult. The symmetrical Bg4 is dubious, Ne7 is refuted;Qe7 with Nd8 is artificial. Lasker, seemingly unprepared in this often played opening, chooses a defense, which I used in Vienna 1898 against Janowski. Janowski vs Tarrasch, 1898
Janowski won brilliantly; however, he conducted the attack more resolute than Capablanca.


Completely wrong. The move may be made after the doubling of the rooks or the tripling of the heavy pieces on the h-file.


Lasker finds fault with Capablanca's play. Capablanca exchanges one bishop and is clueless what to do with the other and he conducts an attack with 2 pieces, queen and rook, against 4 pieces queen, rook, knight and king! He had to bring Bb5 into the game via d7 after d4-d5 and bring Bg3 to c3. Then push the f and g pawn and attack.

It seems that deep, broad plans are not the cuban's strength. He knows how to combine but not how to compose.

Jul-30-14  RookFile: Lasker's 41... Ke7 was very important. If the king was not close enough, the pawn sacrifice 43. a5 would have won for white.
Feb-12-17  edubueno: Primer encuentro Capablanca vs Lasker en partida seria. Capa jugó tranquilamente la apertura y no sacó un granito de ventaja frente al gran estilo de Emanuel Lasker que venía agrandado por ganar previamente a Rubinstein.
Apr-15-17  chessgame901: [Event "St Petersburg"]
[Site "St. Petersburg RUS"]
[Date "1914.04.28"]
[EventDate "1914.04.21"]
[Round "5"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[White "Jose Raul Capablanca"]
[Black "Emanuel Lasker"]
[ECO "C49"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "98"] the informations
Sep-26-19  Straclonoor: <23) Bc4! is much more better than Bxc6> Of course!

Analysis by Stockfish 260819 64 POPCNT:

+- (3.58): 23.Bc4 Rg7 24.Bd5 Qd8 25.Ke2 exd4 26.Be1 Qf8 27.Bb3 Ne7 28.Qe6 d5 29.cxd4 c6 30.Bb4 Qf7 31.Qd6 Ng6 32.exd5 cxd5 33.Kf2 Qd7 34.Qxd5 Qxd5 35.Bxd5 Rd7 36.Be4 Kg7 37.Ke3 Nhf8 38.c4 Kf7 39.g3 Ne7 40.d5 f5 41.Bc2 b5 42.Bb3 bxc4 43.Bxc4 f4+ 44.gxf4 Nf5+ 45.Kd3

I think advantage in final position of analysis enough for win for player like Capablanca.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Tarrasch sharply criticized 16.hxg5, saying that White should have played his heavy pieces to the h-file before opening it, so they could be unchallenged. In the game, Black could challenge the h-file with 18... ♖h7.
Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: In their second encounter (In St Petersburg) the h file was also an issue.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Jonathan Sarfati> See the post by <john barleycorn> from 2014 with the exact quote:


Completely wrong. The move may be made after the doubling of the rooks or the tripling of the heavy pieces on the h-file.>

But I am skeptical of this idea. In the time White triples heavy pieces on the h-file, Black can also triple heavy pieces on the 7th rank (e.g. rooks on h7 and g7, queen on e7) and then opening the h-file would still lead to nothing more than exchange of all heavy pieces.

Oct-20-19  SChesshevsky: The criticism of Capablanca's play is probably unfair. Especially given the circumstance. It seems it was the first time against the WC in a major tourney and it was a pretty big event and it was relatively early in the schedule. Capablanca being clearly better has most of the critics suggest some sort of uncompromising attack being the way to go. But there seems to be little analysis that shows that kind of win by force.

Even the Stockfish view above seems to go for a slow repositioning of the two B's counting on Black's helplessness and simply picking off a pawn with position. But that uses computer verification that Black has no successful counterplay during the time it takes to get the B's right. White with a bad Bishop and somewhat immobile Queen, probably can't be that assured OTB. Especially versus a WC.

Given the situation, Capablanca's 23. Bxc6 seems principled enough. Simplifies the position and gives Black another weakness. Probably eliminating any chances for Black counterplay but leaving some, though maybe slight, winning chances for White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <moronovich:> Actually their third game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: < SChesshevsky: > The English translation of the book, which has other annotations besides Tarrasch's, agrees with you. I think Tarrasch is still right about piling major pieces on a file before opening. But wrong about "He knows how to combine but not how to compose." Games both before and after showed that Capa was excellent at composing. This game 15 years later is a classic Capablanca vs K Treybal, 1929 This game played five years before shows that Capa piled on the majors on a file that Black opened so kindly Capablanca vs Marshall, 1909

So the editors of the book concluded that Capa just had an off day.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: In my opinion, the whole plan with 14. Qg4, 15. h4 and opening the h-file does not hold any promise of a real kingside attack, even if White would first triple the heavy pieces on the h-file before opening it. I posted above suggesting how Black can defend against that.

If White wanted to create an attack, I think the attention should have been directed toward the queenside, for example with 14. Qd1, to be followed eventually by f3, Bf2, Be2, and eventually queenside pawn pushes and heavy piece maneuvers. If Black tries to counter-attack on the kingside, it might lead to opening the game for White's bishop pair.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <beatgiant:> You have a point. Also, how exactly is White supposed to achieve tripling? Sure, if Black had no moves in between, f3, Kf2, Rh1, Rh5, Ra1 might be nice, but Black would have time to set up your defensive plan.

In any case, Capa would have been doing very well with 23.Bc4. Stockfish 8 assesses this as over +2, but takes a while to demonstrate a tangible material gain.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Jonathan Sarfati> The only thing I'm saying is that 14. Qg4, 15. h4 etc. are not aimed at setting up an h-file battery. They can still be good moves for another purpose.

In the continuation, we see White maneuvers the queen to the outpost on f5 and by move 23, has a great looking position with Black completely pinned down, as you pointed out above.

Jan-01-21  Stolzenberg: Playing 18. Kf2 White hurried up with an attack on the open h-file. Instead 18. Bf2, followed by Be3, would have brought the dead bishop back to life in order to pile up the pressure on Black's fortress and start a better prepared attack afterwards.

NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.
  8. Do not degrade Chessgames or any of it's staff/volunteers.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific game only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

This game is type: CLASSICAL. Please report incorrect or missing information by submitting a correction slip to help us improve the quality of our content.

Featured in the Following Game Collections[what is this?]
22.Rh1 looks like a Capa win, but the wily Lasker wriggles out.
from Lasker's Great Escapes by Calli
St Petersburg 1914
by Benzol
like it very much
from yorphy's favorite games by yorphy
On the shoulders of giants
by ughaibu
+0 -1 =2 vs. Lasker (St.Petersburg)
from Match Capablanca! by amadeus
Four Knights Spanish. Symmetrical (C49) 1/2- Black wriggles off
from Capa.blanca by fredthebear
by Sink
4 Cavalos
from SET de aberturas com bons jogos. by EvilForceTHC
Four Knights Spanish. Symmetrical (C49) 1/2- Black wriggles off
from -ER Lasker by fredthebear
brainiac9129's favorite games
by brainiac9129
St Petersburg 1914
by JoseTigranTalFischer
Four Knights Spanish. Symmetrical (C49) 1/2- Black wriggles off
from Emanuel Lasker Collection by hrannar
Their First Meeting in a Rivalry w/ Protracted Backstory
from Most Interesting Games by Francis P Monaco
June, p. 127 [Game 47 / 2767]
from American Chess Bulletin 1914 by Phony Benoni

Home | About | Login | Logout | F.A.Q. | Profile | Preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | New Kibitzing | Chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | Notable Games | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | Privacy Notice | Contact Us

Copyright 2001-2023, Chessgames Services LLC