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John Homer Stapfer vs Jose Raul Capablanca
American National (1913), New York, NY USA, rd 10, Feb-01
Semi-Slav Defense: Normal Variation (D45)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-04-09  blacksburg: interesting kingside play by capablanca in the middlegame. 13...g5 seems rather counterintuitive to me, i probably wouldn't even consider it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: <blacksburg>13...g5 seems rather counterintuitive to me, i probably wouldn't even consider it.

Most "amateur" players seem to think of a move such as 13...g5 weakening (moves a pawn in front of the castled King), whereas a top player like Capablanca would see that the actual position, rather than a general principle, means that 13...g5 is the right move.

Jan-31-10  crwynn: It's not that simple though. For one thing moving ...g5 after ...0-0 in a Queen's Gambit usually isn't a good idea in the middlegame. If you had, for some strange reason, an ingrained refusal to play ...g5 in a Carlsbad structure it would probably not hurt your game that badly. For another, telling people to look at the "actual position" is pretty unhelpful advice - what did you think they were doing to begin with?

And as for general principles, when you have a knight plonked in your opponent's position like that you generally want to attack the king, and when you see a weakening move like 13.h3 (not that it was necessarily an error) the idea of ...g5-g4 should come to mind as a typical means of attacking such a target.

So 13...g5 may be attractive on general principles, but if you look at the actual position it may not be very good - after 14.Nd2 following with f3 in some lines it looks like White is OK because he exchanges a lot of pieces and plays f3. For instance 14.Nd2 Bf5 15.Bxe4 de? 16.f3 is possible because the bishop hangs on f5 - which it wouldn't have, after a solid positional move like 13...g6. Alekhine vs Maroczy, 1923 is an example of the same idea of meeting ...g5 with Nd2 and f3, this time in a much more favorable position for White.

Probably slow manuevering play would objectively be more dangerous to White, ...b6 and ...c5 after some preparation would give Black a nice hanging pawns position.

Jan-31-10  KingG: Horrible opening play from White, giving himself a Carlsbad structure with his dark-squared bishop locked in on c1.

What surprises me is to see the number of other people who have played like this, including Fred Reinfeld, F Reinfeld vs I A Horowitz, 1933. Of course, he got crushed. The only way you could attempt to justify it is by playing a quick e4 break, but I don't see how you get anything more than a less than optimal IQP position. The most White can hope for is equality.

Jul-31-12  justin2seo: It's in capablanca's best chess endings, Very good game played by Capablanca. -by Capablanca's Fan
Aug-28-12  LoveThatJoker: Two notes by Stockfish on the merits of Black's only move, 11...Ne4!

A) 12. Nxe4 dxe4

B) 12. Bxe4 dxe4 13. Ne5 Nxe5 14. dxe5 Qxe5 15. g3 Bf5 16. Qb3 Bg4 17. Qxb7 Rab8 18. Qxc6 Rxb2 19. Bc1 Rc2 20. Qa4 Rxc3 21. Bb2 Rec8 22. Bxc3 Qxc3 23. Qxe4 Bh3 24. Rd1 Bxf1 25. Kxf1 Qc6 26. Qd5 Qxd5 27. Rxd5 Rc6


Premium Chessgames Member
  zydeco: This game reminds me of Schlechterís play - the opening played with maximum tranquility and then, all of a sudden, P-KKt4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I looked at <crwynn>'s analysis (always a good idea). SF agreed with him that Capablanca's 13....g5 is not the strongest continuation. The engine comes up with a very surprising pawn sacrifice counter: 14.Ne5! and if 14....Bxe5 15.dxe5 Qxe5 16.Ne2! Bf5 (16....g4 17.f3! gxf3 Rxf3) 17.b3 Bg6 18.Ref1 Qd6 19.Bb2.

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White has strong converging pressure on the f-file and the long diagonal and a considerable advantage. SF's preferred lines for Black after 14.Ne5 are 14....g4 15.hxg4 Nxg4 16.Nxg4 Bxg4 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Bxe4 19.Qxe4 Rxe4 and 14....Nxc3 15.bxc3 Ne4 16.Bxe4 dxe4 17.f4, both of which are somewhere around equal.

If, after 13....g5, White plays 14.Nd2, Black can push forward with 14....g4!, since after 15.hxg4 Nxg4, ...Qh4 is a very strong threat. For example, 16.Bxe4 dxe4 17.g3 Nh2! wins the exchange, since 18.Kxh2 Qh4+ 19.Kg1 Bxg3 20.fxg3 Qxg3+ 21.Kh1 Qh3+ 22.Kh1 Kh8 mates.

At move 13 SF goes in for slow maneuvering as per <crwynn>'s prescription, with the main line running 13....Bf5 14.Ne2 Rac8 15.Nh4 Bd7 16.Nf3 c5 17.dxc5 Nxc5 18.Qb1 Nxd3 19.Qxd3 (-1.06, 41 ply/78 minutes).

Of course, the chances that your average weekend opponent is going to play like Stockfish aren't very good, especially if he's played the first thirteen moves like Stapfer. 13....g5 will work out beautifully more often than not, I would guess. But objectively speaking, it's not the best move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <crwynn.....For another, telling people to look at the "actual position" is pretty unhelpful advice - what did you think they were doing to begin with?>

One must, perforce, often look at positions concretely and assess them, a skill which requires experience and knowledge. The other side of the coin is that sitting at the board and using only general principles can set a player on the road to ruination.

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