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Norman Tweed Whitaker vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"Cons and Pros" (game of the day Jan-09-2014)
American National (1913), New York, NY USA, rd 2, Jan-21
Indian Game: Wade-Tartakower Defense (A46)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Oct-27-05  who: What 3...d5 shows is that (at least in Capa's opinion) the Verisov attack is enormously weak, and he's even willing to go into that opening as black down a tempo. How many openings like that are there? Also see Znosko-Borovsky vs Nimzowitsch, 1907
Premium Chessgames Member
  waddayaplay: Although Sam Sloan on his chesspage calls Bxc4 a trap, it is not so clear that Capa made a mistake. Although it is clear that Capa can't keep the pawn, the position after 14...Na4 is not to black's disadvantage.
Oct-21-11  Ulhumbrus: On 45...h4+ 46 Qxh4 Qg1+ 47 Kf4 Rxg5! 48 Qxg5 Qxf2+ begins a King hunt: 49 Kg4 Be6+ 50 Kh5 Qf3+ 51 Kg6 Bf7 mate
Oct-21-11  AnalyzeThis: Whitaker played very well in this game against a super GM.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: From the <Pittsburgh Gazette Times>, January 26, 1913,

<"By defeating Norman T. Whitaker, former chess champion of the University of Pennsylvania, in the postponed game from the second round of the national masters' tournament at the Cafe Boulevard Jose R. Capablanca of Havana assumed the lead with a clean score of three straight victories to his credit.

"The result of this encounter was wholly contrary to general expectations, inasmuch as Whitaker, who had played really brililant chess in the early stages of the game on Tuesday> [January 21], <was considered to have at least a draw in the adjourned position, with some chances even of winning. After resumption of play, however, he played indifferently, though it must be said for him that the position was an exceedingly difficult one to handle. It could be seen that he was eager to establish an advantage, and this led him to neglect providing a proper defense for his king. Capablanca had sealed his fifty-first move...">

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<"...and this turned out to be B-Q4. At this fifty-sixth turn...">

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<"...he studied for 20 minutes, an indication that he, too, found the position one worthy of careful study. Finally he appeared to have made up his mind and placed his queen on QB6, without, however, relinquishing his hold on the piece. Suddenly he switched away from that square and played the queen back to KKt8.

"Whether this maneuver served to distract his opponent in any way did not appear, but Whitaker nevertheless made a move which enabled the Cuban to win an important pawn through a check by discovery. This was inexplicable for the bystanders, who accepted it as a case of sheer nervousness. Later Capablanca won the other of Whitaker's center pawns and then getting out his rook, which had been bottled up for a long time, the Cuban soon had the game well in hand.

"Whitaker resigned after 66 moves, when the black king's rook pawn had been advanced to the seventh row and could not be stopped from queening. Thus was spoiled in the last dozen moves what otherwise might have ranked as a real masterpiece in the annals of the game.">

A little maneuver I might have expected from Whitaker rather than Capablanca!

Apr-06-12  Ulhumbrus: If instead of 57 d5 White obstructs the g file by 57 Qg3 in order to prevent the discovered check 57...Bxd5, 57...Qc1 forks the rook on b2 and the g5 pawn
Apr-06-12  pawnofdeath: 22. ...Nd2 would have ended the game quicker, being up a rook
Apr-06-12  Gambit86: After 22...Nd2 23.Qxd5+ and all variations favor white greatly
Apr-10-12  pawnofdeath: <Gambit86> i didn't see the variation and you're right...noob mistake.
Jan-09-14  paavoh: Great pun! I hope it is not too early in the year to do well in the later voting for the Best Pun...
Jan-09-14  morfishine: Ingenious squirming by White


Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Yet another instance in which opposite bishops gave the attacking side, for all practical purposes, virtually an extra piece, as Black kept considerable chances of saving the game throughout the latter stages, despite his pawn down.
Jan-09-14  Wyatt Gwyon: Whitaker appears to have been pretty strong. I'd never played through any of his games before today.
Jan-09-14  Castleinthesky: Chess is a harder "con" when you play a consummate "pro." Whitaker was almost as colorful a character as Capablanca, scheming to the end.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: It looks like Capa toyed with the rookie,then turned to stone.
Jan-09-14  chessbug2: After reading about Whitaker, I say "Chapeau" for a fantastic pun.
Jan-09-14  yureesystem: Whitaker played brilliant against Capablanca. 11.Nd2! set a trap and Capablanca is asleep and fall for it. 11...Nxc3 is probably best. (11...Qxc3?? 12.Nxe4! Qxe1 13.Nd6+ and wins a piece.) 12.Bxc4 brilliant move by Whitaker. 12...dxc4? 13.Ne4! wins back the piece.

Capablanca was careless in the opening and someone in his caliber should not of played 7...c4?, it release the tension in the center and did not develop his pieces, it is a lesson to eveyone to follow chess principle.

But to beat Capa is hard thing and requires GM strength!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: A very complicated game and exciting to the end.
Jan-09-14  zweigeltrebe: Whitaker overlooked an easy draw towards the end: 63.Qxh3+!
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <kevin86: It looks like Capa toyed with the rookie,then turned to stone.>

Me from forign. You explan?

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: It was a movie quote pertaining to Hannibal Lector-some see Capablanca as a similar personality.
May-10-18  Howard: When Whitaker died, in 1975, CL&R gave the moves of one of his games---this one! Even though Whitaker LOST it, the game apparently had an effect on his future play, according to the magazine. Whitaker, reportedly, had had "the better of it" throughout most of the encounter, only to botch it at the end.

As a result, Whitaker started studying endgames more carefully.

Jul-02-18  AlbertoDominguez: <Whitaker overlooked an easy draw towards the end: 63.Qxh3+!>

According to Chess Stars, this draw was not there because Capa's previous move was 62....Bf5, rather than 62....Bc4 given above.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: This game gives me a headache. The move 6...c5 seems justified, but not the ones Capa played afterwards. White's counterattack should give him the initiative for a long time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: In my view Capablanca was completely busted here early on. Qa5 was far too optimistic. Bxc4 from White was a brilliant move.

White should have just used their semi-open g-file but instead makes the h1-a8 road important by a silly pawn grab. But trouble starts with Nc5 - the position is about +3 for White if just Rg1:

Norman Tweed Whitaker - Jose Raul Capablanca 0-1 2.0, American National 1913

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Analysis by Stockfish 15 - 3 threads max:

1. +- (2.96): 21...Rf7 22.Nc5 b6 23.Nd3 Ba6 24.Rg2 Nd6 25.Rag1 Ne8 26.Qh3 Bxd3 27.cxd3 Qe6 28.Bh5 Re7 29.Rg5 Nb4 30.Be2 Nxa2 31.Rxf5

The issue here is not so much Whitaker's endgames but rather middlegame and in particular the notion that "Pawns are the fundamental constraint of the pieces". You can see that black is constrained and the whole Qf3 business liberated black's position.

I do like Capablanca a lot but feel he was VERY lucky in this one :)

White has a decisive advantage

(Gavriel, 02.05.2022)

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