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Nikolai Nikolaevich Riumin vs Jose Raul Capablanca
Moscow (1935), Moscow URS, rd 1, Feb-15
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Classical. Noa Variation (E37)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-27-04  Pterodactylus: Capablanca stumbles here in the very first round of the tournament (He finally finished fourth behind Flohr, Botvinnik and Lasker). 23. 0-0 was condemned by Lasker as giving away White’s advantage due to 23…a4 (preventing White fromplaying a4 himself). But I think he overlooks (as Riumin in the game) 24. Be5! Which seems to give White an overwhelming edge. Black's back rank is weak; White wants to play Qd3-d4-b6 without allowing black to play Bc8-d7 and connect his rooks. So: 24...f6 Otherwise White just carries on with the plan. 25.Bxd6 Nxd6 (25...Rxd6 If so, black can't play Bc8-d7 anymore because the b7 pawn is not defended by a knight on d6. 26.Qc4 g5 getting the Q back to the defense. 27.Ne2 Qf8 28.Nc3± White is nearly winning here. And we see here that ...a5-a4 also weakened that pawn.) 26.Qd4 Black can hardly move a piece and 27. Qb6 will come with crushing force. 26...g5 Hurrying the Black Q back to the defence. 27.Qb6 Qf8 28.Nh5± Again, with an ovewhelming advantage for White. After the timid 24. Ne2?!, most of White’s advantage has indeed melted away. Later 25… Ra5? Led Black into difficulties again. This is AFAIK the first game ever that Capablanca lost on time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: After 24.Be5, how about 24...Qg5 25.Qd4 Rd7 with the idea of Qd8. Not an easy defense by any means.

Little commented on is Capablanca's retirement in the 1930s. For five years 1930-1934, I think he played maybe 20 serious chess games. Maybe the rust is showing in this game.

Apr-27-04  Pterodactylus: Yes, 24... Qg5 is probably the best try, though after 25. Qd4 Rd7 26.b6! Black's position is not a cheerful one.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: I agree. A second look and probably 24...Qg5 25.Qd4 Qe7 immediately is better, followed by f6. A long and difficult defense to be sure.
Jan-07-06  WMD: I'm sure this game ended on move 29 with Capa in the act of playing ...h6.
Sep-07-07  paladin at large: <Maybe the rust is showing in this game> Maybe so, however Riumin was a first-rate opponent. This game was on February 15, 1935. Capa had concluded his most recent serious game at the 1934-1935 Hastings tournament on January 5, not such a long gap.

Capa was presumably less rusty in Moscow 1935 than at that Hastings tournament, his first serious play in nearly three and a half years; he lost to Thomas and Lilienthal at Hastings. He normally handled Thomas with ease and it was his first encounter with Lilienthal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Calli & Pterodactylus> Fritz found an even stronger continuation for White if 24.Be5! Qg5 had been played. Now White could play 25.Qc3!.

Here are a few possible continuations:

(2.90) (19 ply) 25...Bd7 26.Bxd6 Bxb5 27.h4 Qg4 28.e4 Rac8 29.Qe1 e5 30.Bxe5 and White is winning.

or 25...Rd7 26.b6 (2.10) (20 ply) 26...Qe7 27 Qb4 f6 28.Bc3; or (2.13) (20 ply) 26...Qd8 27.Qc5 Ra6 28.Rb1 Nf5; or (2.21) (20 ply) 26...Qf5 27.Qc5 Ne4 28.Bxe4 Qxe4 29.Qb5. In each of these variations Black has an extremely difficult position. Additional analysis would be required to determine if a sucessful defense for Black can be found.

After the game continuation 24.Ne2? Bd7 25.Nc3, Black can obtain an approximately equal position by playing (.33) (20 ply) 25...Qg5 26.f4 Qe7 27.Rfe1 Rac8 28.Nxa4 Bxb5 29.Qb3 Qc7 30.Qb4 (.15) (16 ply) 30...Ra8 31.Nc5 Bc6 32.e4 b6 33.Nb3 Ra4.

Other moves that may be playable for Black after 25.Nc3 include; 25...Rac8, 25...e5 and 25...Qh5.

The tournament book noted that 25...Ra5? was a serious error. <Up to here Capablanca has played very well, but now he embarks on a wrong path. He wins the b-pawn, but falls into a deadly pin on the d-file. Black can now consolidate the position, but his position is not yet ready for attacking maneuvers. Correct was 25...Rac8, or possibily even stronger 25...Qg5, bringing the Queen into play.>

At his 26th move, instead of (1.48) (19 ply) 26...Qg5 27.Qb4 b6 28.Rd2, a better defense was (.74) (19 ply) 26...Bxb5 27.Qb4 Rda8 28.Rfe1 Bc6 29.Bxc6 bxc6 30.Rxd6 c5 31.Qb6 Nxd6 32.Qxd6. White has winning chances in this ending, however, it would have been very interesting to see if Riumin could have found a win or if Capablanca could have found a way to draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <Pawn and Two> Yes, 25.Qc3 should win. Just a bad opening for Black.

<paladin at large> "Capa was presumably less rusty in Moscow 1935"

Hastings was only 9 games. Don't think that made up for 5 years of relative inactivity. IMHO, in 1935 he didn't play well at Hastings, Moscow or even Margate which followed. 5 losses in only 37 games. Compare with the next year, 1936, at Moscow, Nottingham and Margate , 1 loss in 41 games.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <Pawn and Two> I eventually found the original picture for New York 1893 with the key:

Also, you might find some other photos of interest in the album :=)

Sep-20-07  paladin at large: <Calli> The inactivity was from July, 1931 coming off the match win against Euwe until late December 1934 - but, looking at the 1935 results, I concede the point. By contrast, Capa was not only nearly unbeatable in 1936, he beat inter alia Riumin (twice), Ragozin, Lilienthal, Botvinnik, Lasker, Eliskases, Alekhine, Reshevsky.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Calli> Thanks for updated pictures. I note everybody is now identified for the New York 1893 International tournament. However, several games have yet to be added to the chessgames site. All of the games are available on other databases.

It is interesting to determine where Capablanca went wrong in this game.

Fritz shows that at move 17, Capablanca could obtain an equal game with 17...e5! (.00) (19 ply) 18.cxd5 Ngf6 19.f3 Bxh3 20.Bxh3 Qxh3 21. fxe4 Nxe4.

The tournament book stated that 17...Ngf6 was forced. <This retreat is forced. Very tempting is 17...e5, since the variations arising from this are favorable for Black, with the exception of one which decides the game in White's favor. Namely: 18.f3! Nxe3 19.fxe4 Nxf1 (No help either is 19...Bxh3 because of 20.Bxh3 Qxh3 21.Qxe3 Qg2 22.0-0-0!, and likewise also 19...Bg4 in view of 20.Qf2 Nxf1 21.Rxf1 with the treat 22.Qxf7+) 20.Nf2!! Ne3 21.exd5 after which Black has no hope.>

However, if 17...e5! (-.36) (19 ply) 18.f3? Nxe3 19.fxe4 Bg4 20.Qf2 d4 21.Bc1 Bxh3 22.Bxh3 Qxh3, if now, 22.Bxe3 dxe3 24.Qf5 Qxf5 25.exf5 Rc8, and it is Black that has the advantage!

After 17...Ngf6, White has some advantage. At move 19, best for Black was probably (.52) (18 ply) 19...Re8 20.Rc1. Black could now try 20...Bd7, or 20...dxc4, or 20...Bd7.

Instead, after (1.23) (18 ply), 19...dxc4 20.Qxc4, Black was at a serious disadavantage. After 20...Nd6 21.Qd3 (1.57) (16 ply), 21...Rd8, White's advantage increased.

Riumin then returned nearly all of his advantage with 24.Ne2? (see my earlier analysis). Capablanca then returned the favor and missed his last chances.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <P + 2> I started a NY 1893 collection but didn't finish it. As time permits. So who is playing Pillsbury in your avatar picture?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Calli> That is a good question. The photograph was included in "Hastings 1895", by Colin Crouch & Kean Haines and in, "Pillsbury's Chess Career", by P. W. Sergeant & W. H. Watts.

In "Hastings 1895", the authors state that the photograph is not from the Hastings 1895 tournament, but was taken from Chess Pie, 1922. A review of the Dover reprint of, "The Hastings Chess Tournament 1895", also gives indication that the picture is not from that tournament.

In "Pillsbury's Chess Career", The caption under the photograph states, <This photograph was kindly lent for reproduction by the Secretary of the Brighton Chess Club.>

This clue leads me to believe the photograh was taken either in Brighton or perhaps in nearby Hastings. Also, based on the photograph, I believe it was taken in the later part of Pillsbury's chess career.

A review of, "Harry Nelson Pillsbury - American Chess Champion", by Jacques Pope, shows that Pillsbury, in the later part of his career, conducted 2 blindfold exhibitions in Hastings, 05/01/02 and 04/22/03. There were also at least 3 consultation games in 1902 & 1903 in Hastings and Sussex county. These games are; Friedberger & Marshall vs Pillsbury & Womersley on 05/02/02 in Hastings, and Dobell & Pillsbury vs Blackburne & Chapman on 04/30/02 in Hastings, and Blackburne & Chapman vs Pillsbury & Dobell on 04/19/03 in Sussex county. Pillsbury and Dobell won both games against Blackburne & Chapman. Marshall & Friedberger won their game against Pillsbury & Womersley.

So, perhaps the photograph was taken at one of these events, or maybe Pillsbury was just enjoying a good cigar.

I would be interested to know if you find any additional information about this photograph.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <P+2> Sorry, I assumed you had seen the the full photograph in the 1893 album. It is from Fred Wilson's Picture History of chess and labeled 1893. Direct link:

Obviously its at the Manhattan CC.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Oops my bad! Thats a picture different from your avatar. Anyway I still don't know who he is playing, likely some club member.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Calli> In the photograph from the Manhattan CC 1893, with Mackenzie's and Steinitz's pictures in the background, I believe Pillsbury's opponent is Taubenhaus. However, the position on the board is not from their tournament game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Yes, you are right, its Taubenhaus. Thanks!
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: After the suggested <24.Be5!> Fritz 11 evaluates 24...g5 and 25...f6 as best moves. But sliding forwards only leads to desperate positions (again).
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Incapacitated.
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