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Albert Marder vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"Marder in the Dark" (game of the day Apr-16-2016)
Rice CC Masters (1913), New York, NY USA, Jul-26
Spanish Game: Closed Variations (C84)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-17-12  12.12.12: white's king gets tied to the defense of f3. tsk tsk
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: So gentle. One can imagine Capabalanca saying afterward, "Now that didn't hurt, did it?"
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mendrys: The final position is very prosaic. All 4 pieces on the board occupy white's second rank and white is powerless to stop h5 and h6.
Apr-16-16  goodevans: Remove black's h-pawn and the position would be zugzwang but with the h-pawn an the board technically it isn't.

Shame, 'coz I love zugzwangs.

Apr-16-16  WickedPawn: Interesting that after 15.Nxe5 'winning' a pawn, 15...Nxe5, 16.Qxh5, Bg4 traps the white queen

I would have taken on e5 immediately in a blitz game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: definition of prosaic: adjective
1.commonplace or dull; matter-of-fact or unimaginative

Frankly, I find the final position interesting and not dull or prosaic at all

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Oops, white has no moves!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: I am perplexed by <goodevans>'s post. The final position certainly seems to me as one in which White <is> in zugzwang.

It is possible that <goodevans>'s post meant to refer to <mutual> zugzwang positions (sometimes referred to by the term "trebuchet", especially in pawn endings; see:, but if one considers the position after <39. a4> with Black's h-pawn removed, Black would not be in zugzwang. He would still have a waiting move with his king, such as 39. ... Kf6, which would leave White in zugzwang.

In conclusion, I would definitely classify this position under the heading "zugzwang", and I find it a rather elegant one. I agree with <morfishine> that it is by no means "prosaic", as characterized in a different post.

Apr-16-16  The Kings Domain: Fine game from the young Capablanca.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mendrys: <morfishine: definition of prosaic: adjective 1.commonplace or dull; matter-of-fact or unimaginative> Dang it! You are right. Not a word I use very often but certainly not the correct choice for the final position. Thanks for the correction!
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Mendrys> You are very kind to respond sir, sometimes we interject the wrong word or a word that is less problem at all sir


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  jith1207: What's with that kind of prosaic conversation on the Internet!!!

You two get banned from commenting until you undergo calm-management courses.

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  Garech: From move 29 why doesn't white try Ng4? Looks like an annoying move to meet.

Interesting comments, I especially loved <phony Benoni's>!

Premium Chessgames Member
  northernfox: "A. Marder is Announced"
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  Calli: Hey Albert, don't be such a martyr.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Grech> You definitely have a point. After <28...a5>:

click for larger view

<29.Ng4> would be aggravating, since Black cannot protect the e-pawn (29...Rc5 30.Nxe5!). And this holds for several moves, becoming especially bad after <31...Kf6>

click for larger view

When 32.Ng4+ simply wins the e-pawn directly and probably the game as well. (OK, maybe not against Capablanca, but still...)

When two strong players -- and Marder wasn't all that bad -- miss a simple continuation, it can be shrugged off. Time pressure, distraction, fatigue, or any of a dozen different reasons. When both strong players not only miss a simple continuation, but do so for several mvoes and even make the situation worse by their play, the reason is almost surely a bad score.

Now, I've looked into this tournament a bit (something I recommend to anyone who values their insanity) and had a few of the early sources of the game at hand. Here's the earlies I found, from the <New York Sun>, August 3, 1913:

If you don't want to bother, I'll tell you -- it's identical to our score. So if a mistake is in there, it's been there form the beginning and has simply been copied by everybody else. You don't need a computer to do that.

Why wasn't this brought up then? Because players like Capablanca get a pass on this sort of thing. We assume there's some devilish trap and move on.

After all this, here's my suggestion: after <28.Kg2>

click for larger view

28...P-QR4 is a typo for 28...P-KR4. Simple, easy, uncomplicated, and makes perfect sense as the game goes on. And one added benefit: after <39.a4>:

click for larger view

It turns out the quiet killer move is <39...a5!> -- even better than the game finish.

Unfortunately, there is probably no way this can be "proven", but by cracky I'll bet my bottom Chessbuck I'm right on this one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Sorry, <Garech> -- but I'm not starting all over to correct the post!
Apr-16-16  Jim Bartle: "Marder Most Foul!"
Apr-17-16  goodevans: <Peligroso Patzer> The losing player in a zugzwang only loses because he/she is forced to move. In this position if white could forgo his moves black would still win by advancing the h-pawn.

That is why I say that although this position is very similar to a zugzwang it isn't truly a zugzwang.

You may be unsurprised to find that at work I have a bit of a reputation as a pedant. ;o)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Information from sources cited in the Biographer Bistro indicates that 28...h5 and 39...a5were the moves played.

THe discussion begins here:

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #13862)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Wow, great analysis <Phony Benoni>!

I'm delighted that you took such an interest in my comment and glad that together we uncovered the truth - although the vast majority of the credit of course belongs to you. Great detective work!


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