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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Siegbert Tarrasch
"Misfortune Seldom Comes Alone" (game of the day Jun-24-2022)
St. Petersburg (1914), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 8, May-19
Four Knights Game: Spanish Variation (C49)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Dec-19-11  King Death: <FSR> You don't remember? What good are you then?

What <stanleys> said looks like a case of The Wrong Rook. Capa's mind was still fogged from his long nightmare of Lasker followed by trying to forget about it.

Dec-19-11  AnalyzeThis: A rare Capablanca loss.
Aug-19-16  zanzibar: From <CSM 1914-06-15 p16> coverage of the match:

<The keen interest of the last fortnight centered in t h e race between Lasker and
Capablanca. The latter started on the
final with a lead of 1% points—would he
keep it to the finish? His game with
Lasker in the preliminary had been a
draw, so was his first game with Lasker
in the final. Lasker picked up half a
point by beating Alechin, and when the
remaining games numbered but four,
Capablanca had s t i l l a point in hand.
Lasker Won in Seventh Round
In the seventh round they met again,
and, for the first time, Lasker had the
move. Somehow, the experts are still
trying to find out how it was, but none
of them can point to the losing move—
somehow Lasker got his opponent in an
iron grip wThich never relaxed, move after
move remorselessly tightened the pressure,
until the Cuban saw no further
hope and resigned. Scores were equal,
w i t h three games to play. Then came
the tragi-comedy of the tournament.
Playing Tarrasch, with position superior
and material gain in sight, Capablanca
moved the wrong Rook! Instead
of winning a Pawn, by that unfortunate
incident he lost a piece, and though he
struggled against odds for 83 moves, the
burden was too great, and the game
was scored against him. But for that,
Lasker would have been, not first, but
second, for winning his remaining games
while Lasker drew one, Capablanca made
up still another half point of his deficit.
But the moral needs no pointing; m
the public eye, these two great experts
come out of the long ordeal on the same
high pinnacle, and the question of priori
t y ought to be settled once for all.>

Yeah, I could spend some time typing in all the corrections, and better format it. But I'm not in the mood at the moment, tant pis.

Nov-21-16  Fanacas: This must have ben quite shattering for Capablanca losing two games after each other and not getting first in the tournament.
Nov-22-16  RookFile: Great game by a past his prime Tarrasch. Brave middle game play, and he hung on doggedly in the endgame against Capa giving out of this world resistance.
Aug-08-19  estrick: The chess engine says that Capa's mistake was not moving the wrong rook on his 13th move, but the blunder he made on move 14. Instead of 14. Qg3?

He should have played
14. Rd6 Bxf3
15. Rxf6 gxf6
16. Bxe5 Bxe4
17. Bd4 Bxc2
18. f3
which would have given White a small advantage.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <stanleys (+ FSR)> "13.♖ad1 was correct"

A lot of annotators have said that, but computer analysis just doesn't support it. Sure, it rules out that 15... ♕d2 trick as in the game, but Black doesn't have to play the same way. After 13.♖ad1 ♗g4 14.♕g3, Black doesn't need to play 14... ♗xd1 but just plays 14...♕e6! 15.♗xe5 ♘xe4 16.♕f4 ♗xd1 17.♖xd1 f5 18.♗xc7 ♘xc3, and Black has whatever tiny advantage is there (-0.3). And even 14... ♗xd1 would not be that terrible for Black despite the lack of the 14... Qd2 trick, hardly winning for White, e.g. 14...♗xd1 15.♗xe5 ♘h5 16.♗xd6 ♘xg3 17.♗xg3 ♗xc2 ⩲ (+0.5).

As <estrick> says, there was nothing wrong with 13.♖fd1, just with combining it with 14.♕g3.

Dec-28-21  probabilitytheorist: 14. Qg3? was a rare lapse of judgement by Capablanca.
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: After the 18th move black was a piece up. And yet the game lasted another 45 moves.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Anyone else play through it and just <know> with Black you'd forget about the wrong colored Bishop somewhere along the way?
Jun-24-22  newzild: <ProbabilityTheorist>

More like a rare lapse of calculation:

14.Rxd6 Bxf3
15.Rxf6 gxf6
16.Bxe5 fxe5
17.gxf3 Rb8 about equal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: The pun is evidently an oblique reference to the circumstances of this game. The tournament featured a race for first between Lasker and Capablanca. Capablanca had a huge lead in that race, since the tournament was played in two parts: the preliminary tournament, which determined the five finalists; and the tournament among the five finalists. The results of the preliminary tournament were counted in the point total, and Capablanca had scored 1.5 points more than Lasker in the preliminaries.

In Round 7 of the finals, on May 18, Lasker destroyed Capablanca in the immortal game Lasker vs Capablanca, 1914. But it was only Capablanca's loss to Tarrasch in this game, played the following day, that allowed Lasker to ultimately finish ahead of Capablanca. Those were Capa's only two losses in the entirety of St. Petersburg (1914). He surrendered only four draws in the preliminaries (Lasker had five draws, and a loss to Bernstein). In the final, he gave up these two losses and two draws, while Lasker allowed only two draws.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <FSR>, see the 2007 kibitz of <Dr Siggy>, in which Tarrasch writes of the 'misfortune'.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LRLeighton: This reminds me of Larsen's comment that some games earn more than a point.
Jun-24-22  spingo: I was thinking of a much <MUCH> fruitier pun based on the name of Ruth Sheldon.
Jun-24-22  goodevans: Quite remarkable that Capa lasted nearly 70 moves a piece down.

<CapablancaFan: [...] Capa wasn't fighting for a win, he was fighting for a draw. He had hoped (maybe naively) that if he could eliminate blacks a pawn then somehow exchange rooks then it's an automatic draw.>

Eliminating the a-pawn wasn't necessary, just the exchange of rooks since Black's B was 'the wrong colour' which is why Black can't just take White's last pawn on move 65:

click for larger view

65...Rxc4? 66.Rc3 ½-½

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <probabilitytheorist: 14. Qg3? was a rare lapse of judgement by Capablanca.>

Capa apparently missed 15...Qd2 with threatening mate on the weak back rank. He was just a human after all.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <FSR> <Lasker also finished ahead of Capablanca at New York 1924, Moscow 1925, and Moscow 1935. But Capablanca did finally finish ahead of him at Moscow 1936 and Nottingham 1936, when Lasker was 67 years old. Bravo, Capablanca, you're the greatest! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!>

Capa was a great pleayer but he was not for sure the most effective tournament player. Not only Lasker was regularly ahead of him but also Bogolyubov in Moscow 1925 and in Bad Kissingen in 1928 left him twice behind. But Capa's personal score in games with both of them shows quite clearly his predominance.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Honza Cervenka> Capablanca's score against Lasker in classical games was +6 -2 =16. That +4 can be entirely blamed on their 1921 world championship match, which was a disaster for Lasker (10 draws, 4 losses).

With the exception of Alekhine (who thanks to WWII managed to die as champion), and Fischer (who quit), every champion eventually loses to a younger challenger. So what? No one claims that Kramnik is greater than Kasparov. One would have expected Capa, almost 20 years Lasker's junior, to thoroughly dominate him in their later years. He emphatically did not do so. By any sensible reckoning, Lasker is a much greater player.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <FSR> Of course, Lasker was twenty years older than Capablanca. But in his heydays he had also a few less stellar moments, where his dominance over the rest of the world could have been in doubt. His third place in Hastings 1895 and split second place in Cambridge Springs 1904 remind Capablanca's New York 1924 and Moscow 1925. And on the other side Lasker's best performances like London 1899, Paris 1900 or St. Petersburg 1895 are not more impressive than Capa's London 1922 or New York 1927. Lasker's career was much longer but so was his life. As a tournament player he was more effective than Capa, and in four of just six tournaments, where they met each other, he finished ahead of him (St. Petersburg 1914, New York 1924, Moscow 1925 and Moscow 1935, Lasker was behind Capablanca only in Moscow 1936 and Nottingham 1936 when he was already 68 years old) but since his win over Capa in the final stage of St. Petersburg 1914 tournament he did not win a game against him until Moscow 1935, losing five from seventeen games played between 1921 and 1925. Putting aside their WCh match Capa beat Lasker in their encounter during New York 1924, where Lasker took the first place ahead of Capablanca and Alekhine.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Honza Cervenka> Both Lasker's tournament and match results were far superior to Capablanca's. This is indisputable. Compare with and with

I admit that Lasker, after almost dying of typhus, only finished third at the great Hastings 1895 tournament. How about after that? Lasker won OUTRIGHT EVERY tournament from St. Petersburg 1895/96 through New York 1924 except for Cambridge Springs 1904 (Marshall's great triumph; Lasker tied for second) and St. Petersburg 1909 ("only" tying for first with Rubinstein). OVER 28 YEARS. He won New York 1924 at age 55, 1.5 points ahead of Capablanca, scoring 80% against the world's top players. How did Capablanca play at age 55? Oh sorry, he was pushing up daisies. Even at age 66, at Moscow 1935, Lasker was undefeated, half a point out of first, behind the joint winners Botvinnik and Flohr. Botvinnik was a little over a third of Lasker's age. Lasker beat Capablanca in their individual game.

Compare Capablanca's tournament results in the 1930s, when Capa was in his forties. These included second at Hastings 1930-31, 4th at Hastings 1934-35, fourth at the aforementioned Moscow 1935, second at Margate 1935, second at Margate 1936, equal third at Semmering 1937, seventh at AVRO 1938.

How about matches? Lasker was world champion for a record 27 years. He destroyed Steinitz (twice), Tarrasch, Marshall, and Janowski in matches, winning each of those matches by either five points or eight points. And yes, he only drew Schlechter. Capablanca waited six years before defending his title. He failed in that endeavor, losing to Alekhine.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <FSR> Yes, Lasker's performances since 1890s to 1920s were impressive including Moravská Ostrava 1923, New York 1924 and Moscow 1925. And even in 1930s after almost ten years long pause he was still near the top. But Capa demolished Marshall in their match from 1909 with similar ease and similar score like Lasker two years before, he wiped out Bora Kostic with score 5-0 in 1919, then he beat Lasker in their match without loss of a single game, and in all tournaments since 1911 to 1930 he was never worse than the second. In 1931 he beat Euwe in a match again without losing a game. Yes, later in 1930s there was quite apparent decline in his play and especially in stability of his results, though with exception of 1938 AVRO tournament, which was the only tournament, where Capa had a negative score, his results were still quite good, and wins in Margate 1936 and especially in Moscow 1936 and joint first place with Botvinnik in Nottingham 1936 show that Capa was still a major force. AVRO was a failure but the difference between his result and both winners was mere 2.5 points. At Buenos Aires Olympiad he ended his career with score +7=9-0, which is not bad for a player turning his 50s.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Honza Cervenka> You're impressed by Capablanca's record against Euwe? Capablanca's lifetime score against Euwe was +3 in 18 games. Lasker's lifetime score was also +3, but in 3 games!

Similarly, Capablanca eked out a lifetime +2 score against Alekhine, in 49 games. Lasker also had a +2 lifetime score against Alekhine, but in just 8 games!

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Here's a nice song about Lasker:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <FSR> This is not much fair comparison. Of course 3-0 from three tournament games played in the span of 13 years against Max Euwe is good for Lasker, and his win from Zurich 1934 was a brilliancy, but it is not very representative sample for serious research, not to mention the fact, that Nottingham 1936 game was decided by atrocious blunder of Euwe losing a piece in slightly better ending of N + B vs N + B. And of course, their game from 1923 tournament in Moravská Ostrava was an interesting encounter with several twists and turns, where Lasker with white pieces fought back from clearly worse position after the opening but where Euwe in the end messed up an ending, which he could drew quite easily. This is not comparable to the match of Capablanca with Euwe.

As for Alekhine, Lasker's but also Capablanca's +2 scores are based on games played in St. Petersburg before the WWI, when Alekhine was yet by far not in the same league with both of them.

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