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Jose Raul Capablanca vs James Birch Jr.
Simul, 37b (1919) (exhibition), Glasgow SCO, Sep-24
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Steinitz Deferred (C79)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-23-15  TheFocus: From a simultaneous exhibition in Glasgow, Scotland on September 24, 1919.

Capablanca scored +35=0-0.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: <TheFocus> I'm sure you meant Capablanca's score to be +35=2-0. In addition to this draw with James Birch, he also drew with James Borthwick. Apparently, the game with Borthwick has not been preserved. It is not on Alan McGowan's site (Chess in Scotland) or in the Caparros book of Capablanca's games.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Is the game score correct? How is this a draw after 59...Nd7?
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The score's correct. Birch was apparently ignorant of the winning manoeuvre.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: So, are you saying that I could have beaten Capablanca? :-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: As <MissScarlett> points out, the score is correct. Here are the comments about the game from McGowan's website. They apparently came from The Falkirk Herald.

"Black wins a pawn by a small combination on moves 19 and 20, disrupting Capablanca's kingside. Black continues to play well, accumulating further advantages even though material equality is established again. After 30...Nf6, White is under great pressure and soon loses material, ending up with a pawn for a piece. Birch had several ways to emphasise his advantage, but chose to play carefully, and safely to negate White's potential passed pawn on the queenside. Having done so, he then sets about creating his own passed pawn on his kingside. He had several other opportunities to do this earlier, with combinations of ...h5 and ...g5. However, as played, he still held the advantage. He still had the win in hand at move 57, when ...Nd7 would have won. Instead, he repeated moves for perpetual check."

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: I'm sure that Birch was happy to draw against Capablanca and given the length of the game, there couldn't have been too many games remaining to be finished and, indeed, this might have been the last game. So in Birch's position, with Capablanca standing in front of me at the table impatiently waiting for my move, I'm not sure that I would have found that 59...Nd7 wins. In fact, given the immediately previous moves and Birch's apparent plan for a draw by repetition, I'm sure that I wouldn't have been able to switch horses in midstream and found 59...Nd7 either. So, no, I wouldn't have been able to beat Capablanca.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Fair comment. In the cold light of day, he'd surely find the right idea, but in the heat of battle, those passed pawns induce panic.
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  keypusher: What an incredible game of chess! Were there that many tournament chess masters better than James Birch in that era? On the other hand how did he miss 59....Nd7?

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