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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Edward Lasker
New York Masters (1915), New York, NY USA, rd 8, Apr-29
Spanish Game: Open. Riga Variation (C80)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-30-04  Ernesto7: What i see is this 9.f3 Bc5 10.fxe4? (is a bad move since c3 wins the piece regardless) Bxd4+11.Kh1 0-0(11...dxe4?? 12.Rxe4+ Be6 13 Rxd4 and white loses a piece) 12.Bxc6 Be5(if bxc6 then Qxc4)13.Bxd5 and black loses......

the other option for black at move 9 is Qh4 with a strong attack...this migth be why white didnt play f3

does anyone see anything else??

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: <Ernesto7> Interesting that 9. f3 isn't in the database, perhaps because 9. Nxc6 is simpler and clearer. I agree that 9 ... Qh4!? gives Black attacking chances, but I'm unsure if it's really worth a piece. Note after 9. f3 Bc5 10. fxe4 Bxd4+ White could reply 11. Qxd4 if desired since the Nc6 is pinned (11 ... b5 12. Qxg7). Compare G Pallag vs Jan Hartl, 2000
Oct-31-04  refutor: after 9.f3 why not just 9. ...Bxh2

then if 10.Kxh2 black gets his draw

if 10.Kf1 Qf6 and black is okay

Premium Chessgames Member
  Willem Wallekers: <tomh72000: This game finished off the Riga Variation (6...exd4) for a long time. <Not what you would call a quiet middle game...> No, but incredibly it's all theory up until about move 15!> In fact 18.Kg3 was the first new move at the time. The variation got its name from a correspondence game between the cities of Berlin and Riga. Riga played 18. g5 and lost. After this Capa game the variation was comatic till 1980. Than Black started again to achieve some wins and draws, with moves like 18 ... b5 or 19 ... gxf5 iso h4+. Apparently Lasker was a bit too careless with kis kingside pawns.
Nov-26-06  ChessDude33: I recently won a nice game with an IM in simul with this opening. On moves 16 and 20 the IM instead played 16. Nd2 (no e2-d4 manuever) and 20. Kf4 (King can't help defend against passed pawn). I was able to win with surprising not much difficulty.

Apr-12-07  sanyas: <Monoceros: Edward Lasker tells the story of how, in 1915 at a tournament in New York, Ed. Lasker was scheduled to play Capablanca in the second round. Capablanca did not show up on time and Ed. Lasker waited, restless because he did not want to win the game by default. Finally, with ten minutes left, he tried to get Capablanca on the phone at his hotel. When Capablanca answered Ed. Lasker said, "Where are you? They are going to forfeit your game!" Capablanca answered, "I was just ready to leave. I'll be right over. Why did you call me? This makes me lose a minute!"

This would seem very rude of Capablanca but Ed. Lasker said, "He simply made a statement which he knew to be correct, and it would never have occurred to him that I or anyone else might misinterpret his attitude."

Of course Capablanca, despite having almost no time left on his clock, won.>

Alexander Alekhine

May-22-07  Whitehat1963: Awesome game, and great puzzle after 10...Qh4.
Jul-09-07  Method B: does 6...exd4 makes it the riga variation?
Sep-17-07  patzerboy: Very interesting endgame. White has a problem: he has to play without his King for quite a while (confined to the h-file by Black's Rook). Black has a dilemma: he needs his Rook to coordinate with his King, but he can't afford to let White's King loose. Makes for an interesting dynamic.
Jan-16-08  Clark Kent 35: The idea behind the Riga Variation of the Ruy Lopez is that Black has an easy draw or possible win if White plays in stereotype fashion.After 9.p-f3 Black could draw with 9...Q-h5 10.PxN Qxh2ch 11.Kf2 Q-h5ch.I believe this was the one of the lines given by the Berlin team.The brilliant idea that the Berlin team found was how to avoid the draw.After 9.NxN Bxh2ch 10.K-H1!! and then the game continuation.If white had played the stero type move 10.K-f1 Q-h4!11.Q-Q4 0-0(Threatening N-N6ch) or 11.Qf3 0-0(Threatening 12...B-g4)would give Black an overwhelming attack Analysis -Chess Secretes by Edward Lasker.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: A very attractive game, though forcing J.R. Capablanca to play a complex ending doesn't seem like the best strategy for Edward Lasker to adopt.

<method B> According to Tarrasch 8....Bd6 is the defining move of the Riga variation.

Apr-07-08  CapablancaFan: <keypusher: A very attractive game, though forcing J.R. Capablanca to play a complex ending doesn't seem like the best strategy for Edward Lasker to adopt.> LOL. No, exchanging pieces hoping to defeat Capa in the endgame was indeed, the height of folly.
Oct-07-08  drkodos: I play the Riga regularly. It is far from dead.

In fact, unprepared White players find themselves in positions that are often much worse for the White than most old tomes indicate.

Check out NIC YB 85 for greater details.

May-28-11  BobCrisp: <Of course Capablanca, despite having almost no time left on his clock, won.>

I'm not sure what time controls were in place, but his story sounds more than fishy. Does anyone know when FIDE introduced the one hour forfeit?

Premium Chessgames Member
  whittaker: drkodos: Speaking of old tomes, the book Chess Openings: Theory and Practice, by I.A. Horowitz, gives the position after 18. Kg3 as favoring White (p.157).

I tried playing this position with White against Crafty by setting up the position one move prior and making the move Kg3:

click for larger view


But I haven't had any luck. Can anyone else win this position, and if so, can you post the continuation?


Premium Chessgames Member
  whittaker: Sorry, link above didn't post properly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: "The Immortal Zero Tolerance Game"?

Here is a contemporary report from the <New York Herald> of April 30, 1915, the day after this game:

<"Despite the fact that he overslept himself at his hotel and arrived at the New York Athletic Club an hour and fifteen minutes late, long before which his chess clock had been set in motion, Jose. R. Capablanca easily made up for lost time, threaded the mazes of the dreaded Riga defence to the Ruy Lopez and eventually defeated Eduard Lasker after sixty-nine moves in the eighth round of the chess tournament.">

The first time control was 30 moves in two hours, so Capablanca had 45 minutes to make 30 moves. That would be sufficient time for him to play a respectable game.

By the way, this was a double round-robin tournament, and this game marked the beginning of the second cycle (the two players had met previously in round one). That may account for Lasker's "second round" comment.

Apr-20-12  RookFile: Lasker's 1..... e5? was a mistake. You don't play the Ruy Lopez against Capa, he had a terrific score with that. Lasker was a good tactician, he should have gone for something less classical.
Feb-06-13  master of defence: What happens if 11...Qxe4?
Feb-06-13  Jim Bartle: Just a guess, but maybe 12. Nd4+ followed by 13. Kxh2.
Jan-14-16  drkodos: Whittaker: Kg3 by Capablanca is a mistake. Black plays h5! and is better. and holds the draw.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Excellent play by Capablanca to neutralise Lasker's K-side pawn majority, before using his active Bishop and Knight to create a winning passed pawn on the c-file.
Jan-16-19  JimNorCal: One wonders what Capa was up to, that he "overslept".
Jan-16-19  Albion 1959: The rook sacrifice on move 11 is well known to theory, so anyone who gets the chance to play it cannot claim credit for finding this over the board. This is another fascinating and instructive endgame from Capa. I am surprised that it never made it into Chernev's Capablanca's best chess endings. This would have been a most welcome inclusion to one of the most instructive chess books I have ever read!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Lc0 and SF playing the same variation.

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