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Edward Lasker vs Jose Raul Capablanca
New York Masters (1915), New York, NY USA, rd 1, Apr-19
Queen's Gambit Declined: Westphalian Variation (D51)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-27-05  hayton3: <You>
Repertoire Selection

Ruy Lopez
Bb5 Sicilian
Taimanov/Kan Sicilian
French Tarrasch
Caro-Kann Exchange
Pirc Classical

Stick to the above as they are mostly positional openings/responses and they are all SOLID. Which means time spent on these openings will never be wasted. They will also give you a good feel for what's important in the opening. Most of your time will be spent on the Ruy.

Study Plan

1. Using an opening book or Fritz opening book go through the above openings.

2. Don't commit the moves to memory but analyse them and try to understand the reasons behind them for yourself. Do this for the main lines till around move 7/8.

3. Start playing lots of Blitz games with these openings (5+5 minimum) and expect to lose the majority (because you're not trying to win - you're trying to understand how the opening works)

4. Analyse those games trying to pinpoint where you/you're opponent went wrong in the opening - check this against the book lines. You'll slowly appreciate why main lines are main lines!

5. As the patterns of the opening form in your mind create your own playbook noting down your stock responses to the main lines and variations. This is a continual processes.

6. Always bear in mind what you and your opponent are aiming to achieve in the opening with regard to - CONTROL OF CENTRE, DEVELOPMENT, KING SAFETY, CREATION OF IMBALANCES (i.e Bxc6 - losing the bishop pair but gaining compensatory pawn structure advantage)

7. Look at complete games of Grandmaster's employing these openings (Ruy - Fischer, French Tarrasch - Karpov etc..) and get a feel for the middlegame plans that these openings lead into - THIS IS CRUCIAL.

8. Study the endgame - particularly the effect pawn structures have in rook, bishops of same colour, bishops of opposite colour, bishop versus knight endgames.


1. Spend an equal amount of time figuring out how your opponent can effectively deploy his pieces. You might then get ideas that will set him problems in achieving his ideal piece set up = prophylactic opening play

2. Castling early is not necessarily a good thing.

3. Pawn moves cannot be undone and often have a direct bearing on the outcome of the endgame.

4. Get to grips with the concept of dynamics versus statics (i.e if the dynamics don't win in the middlegame the statics will prevail in the endgame!)

5. Study often - but only for a short while and SLOWLY build up your repertoire in DEPTH not BREADTH

Oct-27-05  you vs yourself: <hayton3> Thank you very much for your time and effort. I'll start understanding openings one at a time.
Oct-27-05  KingG: <hayton3>: <Classic Capablanca with the black pieces:-

Step 1. Equalise (moves 1-7)> Isn't this a bit optimistic? I know opening theory wasn't that developed in Capablanca's day, but equalizing within the first seven moves would difficult against any reasonably strong player.

Oct-27-05  hayton3: <KingG> While not quite equal (due to non-development of the queen bishop) black has a dynamic position after 7 moves. So in this particular game I think Capablanca has done well and just about equalised at this juncture.
Premium Chessgames Member
  James Demery: I really admire Edward Lasker. An engineer by profession he played some of the greatest players of all time including Lasker , Capa , and Alekhine. Although he was not as good as them he played them and was competitive.
Oct-27-05  KingG: <hayton3> Sorry, i thought you were talking about Capablanca's games in general and not specifically about this one. I agree that in this game he has just about equalised after seven moves.
Sep-17-07  patzerboy: Terrific program, Hayton3.

If White had been able to keep his queenside pawns unseparated, he would have had better drawing chances. Was 22.Rfc1 his best choice? I know he has to keep the Black Rook from his second rank, and he is weak on c2 and e2 because of the Black Bishop. Would taking the a-pawn back immediately (22.Nxa5) have given him better chances?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: 36.f4? quickly led to a lost ending.

Pal Benko is of the opinion that White could still draw by playing 36.h5. Benko indicates the following continuation: 36...Ke6 37.h6 f5+ 38.gxf5+ gxf5+ 39.Kd3 Kd6 40.Kc2 Kc6 41.Kb3 e4 42.fxe4 fxe4 43.Kc3 Kc5 44.a3 b6 45.a4 e3, and the ending will be a draw.

Can anyone find a win for Black after 36.h5?

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Pawn and Two>
Don't have time to analyze in depth, but at first glance, 36. h5 Kc5 37. Kd3 Kb4 looks like Black will soon put White in zugzwang and win a pawn. What am I missing?
Nov-18-07  Calli: <beat> White would attack k-side 36. h5 Kc5 37. hxg6 hxg6 38. g5 etc
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Calli>
Good point.

My second thought was 36. h5 f5+ 37. gxf5 gxh5 to get outside passed h-pawns, but then White's queenside attack is fast enough after 38. f4 exf4 39. Kxf4 h4 40. a4 h3 41. Kg3 Ke5 42. a5 Kxf5 43. c5 Ke6 44. c6, etc.

Pal Benko is a great source for these things. Maybe he was right.

Nov-18-07  CapablancaFan: <hayton3: Classic Capablanca with the black pieces:-

Step 1. Equalise (moves 1-7)
Step 2. Achieve small endgame advantage (moves 8-12) Step 3. Trade pieces and simplify (moves 13-19)
Step 4. Outplay the opponent in the endgame (moves 20-34) Step 5. Objective Zugzwang (moves 35-40) Step 6. Await opponent's resignation>

Once only available to masters in the early 20th century, now YOU can order the "Capablanca Strike Plan" for only 3 installments of $19.95! And wait! If you order in the next 30 mins. we'll throw in a Capablanca rook/pawn endgame guide for free! If not completely satisfied, just return within 30 days for a full refund. Keep the rook/pawn endgame guide free as our gift to you. Make all checks payable to <hayton3>. Call and order, get your "Capablanca Strike Plan" now!

Nov-18-07  Calli: Benko looks right on 36.h5. Another question is whether Capa played the pawns correctly before. Pal probably would have mentioned it if he hadn't.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <beatgiant> After 36.h5 Kc5, Fritz shows the following variations leading to a draw: (.00) (24 ply) 37.g5 fxg5 38.h6 Kxc4 39.Kxe5 Kd3 40.Kf6 Ke2 41.Kg7 Kxf3 42.Kxh7 g4 43.Kxg6 g3 44.h7 g2; or (.00) (24 ply) 37.hxg6 hxg6 38.g5 fxg5 39.Kxe5 Kxc4 40.Kf6 Kd4 41.Kxg6 Ke3 42.Kxg5 Kxf3 43.Kf5 Ke3 44.Ke5 Kd3 45.Kd5 b6 46.a4, and it is a draw.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <beatgiant> In your second variation, 36.h5 f5+, White even gains the advantage after 37.gxf5 gxh5 38.c5+ Kxc5 39.Kxe5 Kc6 40.Ke6 h4 41.f6 h3 42.f7 h2 43.f8(Q) h1(Q). This ending is probably a draw, but the White f-pawn will need careful watching.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Calli>
<whether Capa played the pawns correctly before> Again at first glance, 34...Kb4 looks winning. But as you said, <Pal probably would have mentioned it> so I wonder what I'm missing this time....
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <beatgiant & calli> Another interesting try for Black is 36.h5 gxh5. However, this leads to the same position as Benko gave after 37.gxh5 Ke6 38.h6 f5+ 39.Kd3.

The position does appear to be drawn after 36.h5, if one follows Benko's suggested continuation.

Benko pointed out the previous analysis of the move 36.h5 had been, 36.h5 Ke6 37.h6 f5+ 38.gxf5+ gxf5+ 39.Kd3 Kd6, with the opinion Black then wins after Kc5. It is at this point, Benko indicates White can draw by playing 40.Kc2, while after 40.Kc3, Black will win by playing 40...Kc5.

The above analysis by Benko is from his Endgame Lab column in the September 2004 issue of Chess Life. Pal closes the article by saying, <"Well, pawn endgames are not as easy as they look".>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <beatgiant & calli> After 34...Kb4, Fritz indicates: (-.04) (20 ply) 35.Ke4 Kxc4 36.g5 b5 37.gxf6 gxf6 38.Kf5 b4 39.Kxf6 Kc3 40.Kxe5 Kb2 41.f4 Kxa2 42.f5 b3 43.f6 b2 44.f7 b1(Q) 45.f8(Q), and the Nalimov tables show this position to be a draw.
Nov-18-07  Calli: Good stuff by Benko, correcting a long standing error in analysis. I had some strange moves in my database (apparently someone trying to understand the ending!), but can confirm that the CG score matches the original as given in ACB of May-June, 1915.

ACB points out 8...b5!, winning a piece for 3 pawns. Also, Capablanca said after the game that he should have played 13...Be7 14.Nf3 dxe3.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <beatgiant & calli> Here is a correction. In reviewing Benko's article, I note that while Benko agrees with the analysis given for this game, he credits the analysis to Joe Faucher, who he refers to as their specialist.

<calli> Regarding your question as to whether Black could have improved his play earlier. Benko's article starts with Black to play his 32nd move. As the pawn endgame started with 31.bxc4, the 32nd move appears to be a good place to start the analysis of this pawn endgame.

Benko did note, not Faucher's analysis, the tempting 32...Kb4 33.Kd4 Ka3 looked drawish to him, after 34.c5 Kxa2 35.c6 bxc6 36.Kc5 Kb3 37.Kxc6 Kc4 38.Kd6 Kd4 39.Ke7. Fritz confirms this line is a draw.

Some additional anaylsis was needed for this line, after 32...Kb4 33.Kd4 Ka3 34.c5 Kxa2 35.c6 bxc6 36.Kc5 Kb3 37.Kxc6, Fritz indicated (-.18) (22 ply), but after 37...e5 38.Kd5 f6 39.h4 Kc3 40.h5 Kd2 41.Ke6 Kd3 42.h6 gxh6 43.Kxf6 Kd4 44.Kf5, the position is a clear draw.

Benko concluded that Edward Lasker had missed a draw against his famous opponent.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Brooklyn Daily Eagle>, Wednesday, April 21, 1915

<"On the opening day, a framed photograph of Capablanca came crashing to the floor at the Manhattan Chess Club, directly next to where the great Cuban sat. For the superstitious this might have betokened something. It would surely have been accepted as an omen.">

Hey, I'm just the straight man around here. You think of the jokes.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: I guess someone already noticed that 8.Qb3? was bad because of 8...b5!, instead of 8...Ne4? actually played. Or I am missing something?
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Mateo> You're not missing anything. As <Calli> pointed out almost 10 years ago (citing American Chess Bulletin) 8...b5! would have won a piece for three pawns.
Oct-14-17  andrea volponi: 32...g5! -g3 Kb4 -Kd4 Ka3 -Kd3 Kxa2 -Kc3 Ka3 -c5 h5 -h3 h4 -g4 f5 -Kc4 fxg4 -fxg4 Ka4 0-1 mate in 22 for black
Oct-14-17  sudoplatov: Twelve years later, Capablanca faced the same defense while playing White. His conduct was more incisive and lead to a brilliancy prize.
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