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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


Dec-14-19  zydeco: This game reminds me of Schlechter’s 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.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Capablanca was very "naughty" with the early g5. It is amazing to see this game of Capablanca I have to say!

There is a certain GM I play online who also does this Ne4 stuff and then starts attacking. Here it seems there is a kind of positional refutation with

John Homer Stapfer - Jose Raul Capablanca 0-1 10.0, American National 1913

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Analysis by Stockfish 15 - 3 threads max:

1. ⩲ (0.54): 14...Kh8 15.g4 Nxc3 16.bxc3 Ne4 17.f4 Be6 18.f5 Bc8 19.c4 f6 20.cxd5 cxd5 21.Bxe4 dxe4 22.Nc4 Qc7 23.Ba3

BUT it is the ONLY move for White for advantage. It is based on what i would consider "Dark square bishop amplification" - get rid of the opponents Dark square bishop at the cost of a pawn and then try and prove Black's dark square weaknesses were not worth g5 to try and open up the f-file against the White king. It is a very lucrative attacking idea indeed for Capablanca to play the move g5 - and it actually reminds me that some of my more dodgy variations online most of the time work - and for that reason they are dangerous as we play humans (hopefully!) and they do not always find the kind of "refutation" move. If White plays anything else apart from 14.Ne5, then Black gets the advantage from the ambitious g5. Ambitious moves often have "costs" associated with them. The cost here are the Dark square weaknesses. But it requires the virtual gambit Ne5 to expose them. White wasn't up to finding that - and Capablanca against weaker players can play with success in such an ambitious fashion and "get away with it" :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Further you can see why after Capablanca's g5, that Ne5 is kind of the "ONLY" move for advantage here:

John Homer Stapfer - Jose Raul Capablanca 0-1 10.0, American National 1913

click for larger view

Analysis by Stockfish 15 - 3 threads max:

1. ⩲ (0.58): 14.Ne5 Bxe5 15.dxe5 Qxe5 16.Ne2 Bf5 17.f4 gxf4 18.b3 Qd6 19.Bb2 a5 20.Rf3 Nh5 21.Nxf4 Nxf4 22.Rxf4 Bg6 23.Bxe4 Rxe4 24.Qf2 Rae8 25.Rf1 Rxf4 26.exf4

2. ⩱ (-0.47): 14.g4 h5 15.Ne5 hxg4 16.hxg4 Nxg4 17.f3 Bxe5 18.dxe5 Nxc3 19.fxg4 Ne4 20.Bxe4 dxe4 21.Qxe4 Be6 22.Qf3 Kg7 23.b3 Rad8 24.Re2 c5 25.e4 Rh8 26.Qe3 Kf8 27.Qxg5 Rd3

3. ⩱ (-0.64): 14.Nh2 g4 15.f3 gxf3 16.Nxf3 Nh5 17.Bxe4 dxe4 18.Nd2 f5 19.Nc4 Bg3 20.Rd1 Be6 21.b3 Rad8 22.Ne2 Bc7 23.Ne5 Qg7 24.Nf4 Nxf4 25.exf4 Qg3 26.Qf2 Qxf2+ 27.Kxf2 h5 28.Rg1 Kh7 29.g4 Bxe5 30.dxe5 fxg4 31.Rxd8 Rxd8 32.hxg4

4. ∓ (-0.83): 14.Bxe4 Nxe4 15.Ne5 f6 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Nc4 Bc7 18.b3 Qd8 19.Nd2 Bf5 20.f3 Qd6 21.f4 Bg6 22.Nb1 gxf4 23.Rxf4 Qe6 24.Rff1 Re7 25.Nc3 Rg7 26.Ne2 Bf5 27.Nf4 Bxf4

5. ∓ (-1.12): 14.a4 g4 15.hxg4 Bxg4 16.Ne5 Bxe5 17.dxe5 Qxe5 18.Ne2 Bxe2 19.Qxe2 Re6 20.b4 a5 21.Bb2 Qg5 22.f4 Qh5 23.Qxh5 Nxh5 24.f5 Ree8 25.b5 c5 26.g4 Nhg3 27.Rf3 c4 28.Bc2 c3 White is slightly better

(Gavriel, 04.05.2022)

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