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Ossip Bernstein vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"Phi Beta Capa" (game of the day Nov-28-2014)
Moscow (1914), Moscow RUE, rd 1, Feb-04
Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Main Line (D63)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 7 OF 7 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-28-14  RookFile: Well, he thought of 29..... Qb1+ 30. Qf1 Rd1? 31. Rc8+, and he's the one exploiting the back rank. I guess that ...Qb2 is one of those moves, either you see it or you don't. Nothing major, just the fate of the entire game rests on that.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A great classic, punctuated by that final move. One of the greatest in history!!
Dec-01-14  visayanbraindoctor: <RookFile: Well, he thought of 29..... Qb1+ 30. Qf1 Rd1? 31. Rc8+, and he's the one exploiting the back rank. I guess that ...Qb2 is one of those moves, either you see it or you don't.>

You are right. Bernstein must have expected 29... Qb1+ after a series of tactical captures. Most chess players (including me) would. After all it is a check on the back rank, a move every chess player would think about. Then Capablanca, the machine that saw everything, floors him with a mouse slip Qb2.

We all have seen GMs miss these 'little' tactical shots in the internet live. But this young Capablanca literally saw everything, every tactic (and positional subtlety) in all positions, no matter how weird the move and how bizarre the position. It's one of the rarest things I have ever seen upon perusal of chess games, and a phenomenon I have seen approximated only in the 1969 to 1972 Fischer. As Euwe noted, the prime Capablanca's combinations are always correct.

Here are some Capa games that demonstrate this rare all seeing chess eye.

Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1927

20. Rb1 Qe5 21. g3 Qd5 22. b4 Bf8 23. Bb2 Qa2 (Who would believe that the a2 square as a point to attack in move 20?)

Capablanca vs Marshall, 1909

Who could have seen 26. Re3!! from move 23?

Capablanca vs Euwe, 1931

The move 19. Qb1!! from perhaps half a dozen moves back.

Marshall vs Capablanca, 1909

28... Be4! from three moves back must have been difficult to see. There was a better continuation as Capablanca notes, but moves such as these highlight Capa's ability to see weird tactical shots.

Tartakower vs Capablanca, 1924

9. Bb8 Nd5! is a kind of zwichenzug tactical shot that many chess players routinely miss, but that the prime Capablanca never did.

When the masters of his time tried to outcombine Capablanca, they had better be sure that their combinations were utterly correct, because the Cuban chess machine had already figured it out even before they embarked on the combination.

Dec-26-14  TheFocus: <Excellent! I will still be in time for the ballet! - (upon defeating Ossip Bernstein in the famous 29 move exhibition game played in Moscow in 1914, and before setting off to the Bolshoi Theatre by horse-drawn carriage) > - Capablanca.
Jan-17-15  1 2 3 4: probably the best game ever played between masters
Mar-24-15  sls: 22. Rxc4? Nc3!
Sep-15-15  chazsmiley: The final position in the game is the very first position in Lev Alburt's Chess Training pocket book, interestingly enough.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Video analysis of this game:
Jan-20-18  Whitehat1963: Stockfish suggests: 27.Nd4 Qf6 28.a3 g6 29.Qd3 Nf4 30.Qf1 Nd5 31.Qd3
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: I love weak back rank tricks of this kind. Of course, 30.Rc2 or 30.Rd3 is followed by 30...Qb1+.
Oct-30-19  zb2cr: 29. ... Qb2! exploits White's back rank.

If White plays 30. Rc2, Qb1+; 31. Qf1, Qxc2.

Meantime, the White Queen and Rook are both hanging.

Oct-30-19  Skewbrow: Happy to figure out that 29...Qb2 wins (rather than going for the back rank immediately).

The only defence I had to think about a bit was the counter 30.Rc8, threatening mate, pinning the black rook (and leaving c1 covered in the continuation 30...Rxc8 31.Qxb2). But then, with the white rook also hanging, black can go for the backrank, trade queens and capture c8.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: White's decisive mistake was the pawn grab 27. Nxc3? Nxc3 -+ (-5.03 @ 33 ply, Stockfish 10).

Instead, repeating moves with 27. Nd4 = (0.00 @ 31 ply, Stockfish 10) keeps the game fully level.

Oct-30-19  saturn2: I saw 29...Qb2 30. Rc2 Qb1+ winning a piece.
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Level 2: 35... ?
Salwe vs Rubinstein, 1907

click for larger view

Oct-30-19  areknames: A bit too well known for a puzzle perhaps, but good stuff nonetheless.
Oct-30-19  1stboard: Qb2 !!!

Too famous a game.

I find it ironic the two great players never provided a flight square for their King in this game. Otherwise Qb2 would never happen.

Premium Chessgames Member
  piltdown man: Way too famous!
Premium Chessgames Member
  malt: Well known game.
Oct-30-19  TheaN: Though sadly, this Capablanca gem is so well known that the key move is probably known to a lot of players. <Still>, working through the problems for White is still great.

After <29....Qb2> the main threat is <forking the queen and rook>. Additionally, Black scopes on another back rank square (a1) so if the defense <leaves the back rank> altogether Black mates. In fact, we can probably deduce the best move in <all> situations, considering White has at best 30 or so moves.

#1) Qxb2 and Qd1 allow <30....R(x)d1#>.

A) After a pawn move, a rook move not to c2, c8 or d3, Qd2 and Kh1 Black simply plays <30....QxQ> -+.

B) Qf3, Qg4, Qh5 abandons the back rank <30....Qb1+ 31.Rc1 Qxc1+ 32.Qd1 Rxd1#>.

C) Qc2 does so too but differently <30....Qa1+ 31.Qc1 Rd1+ 32.Qxd1 Qxd1#>.

D) Qc4, Qb5 and Qa6 allow <30....Rd1+ 31.Qf1 Rxf1+ 32.Kxf1 Qxc3 -+> and mate soon.

E) Rc2, Rc8 and Rd3 are tricky because White threatens to abuse Black's back rank, but now Black solves all threats with the rook to boot <30....Qb1+ 31.Qf1> else the queen just takes whatever interposes with mate <31....Qxf1+ 32.Kxf1 RxR -+>.

F) Qe1 tries to tie all knots, but fails because now the queen's way overworked <30....Qxc3 -+> if 31.Qxc3 Rd1+ 32.Qe1 Rxe1#.

G) Kf1 and Qf1 are probably the best moves by engine, as these are the only moves that 'force' Black to 'just' take the rook <30....Qxc3 -+>. Of course, Black will be able to simplify quickly.

Oct-30-19  eblunt: 30 Rd3 might have been worth an attempt for the swindle ...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diocletian: The best enjoyments of life are found in its festival of genius.
Oct-30-19  TheBish: Too famous. This is one of the first games I ever played over from a book. I believe it was one of Chernev's books, maybe The Golden Dozen.
Oct-30-19  boringplayer: TY < Visayanbraindoctor > for the links to those games.
Premium Chessgames Member
  doubledrooks: <agb2002>: 35...Qe1+ does the trick.

Thanks for the problem.

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