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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Enrique Delmonte
Match-series (1901), Havana CUB, Sep-19
Sicilian Defense: Morphy Gambit. Andreaschek Gambit (B21)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-10-19  blackcat7oo: I appreciate the simple 13. Qc2! piling on the c-file. I probably would have played the inferior NxB in a rapid or blitz game.
Feb-10-21  Sergash: Jose Raul Capablanca was 12 years old when he disputed this game and was already probably the best player of Cuba (he would become national champion that same year). This is possibly the oldest known Capablanca game?

It is also worth noting that the Sicilian Defense was quite rare at the time this game was played.

Capablanca is not a player that is associated with gambits and, here it is, a Smith-Morra Gambit!

<1.e2-e4 c7-c5 2.d2-d4 c5xd4 3.Ng1-f3!> More often, we see 3.c2-c3 played here. But the statistics are a little better for 3.Nf3, plus the program Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT also prefers developing the knight here.

<3...e7-e5! 4.c2-c3 Nb8-c6 5.c3xd4> Perfectly playable, even if the three main moves played here are, in order of number of appearances, 3...d7-d6, 3...Nb8-c6 and 3...e7-e6. The idea behind the game move, which was apparently first played by Howard Staunton in a match against Cochrane in London 1842, is that if 4.Nf3xe5?? Qd8-a5+ followed by Qa5xe5, winning for Black.

<5...Bf8-b4+ 6.Bc1-d2> Playable, but the main line nowadays goes like 5...e5xd4 6.Nf3xd4 Ng8-f6 7.Nb1-c3 Bf8-b4 8.Nd4xc6 b7xc6 (also playable is 8...d7xc6 9.Qd1xd8+ Ke8xd8 ⩲ A Strikovic vs J Mukic, 1988, draw) 9.Bf1-d3 d7-d5 = this position, with a different move order, occurred in J Perlis vs Znosko-Borovsky, 1909, 1-0.

<6...Qd8-e7?? 7.d4-d5! Nc6-d8 +-> Trying to play fancy... Capablanca is already winning! Black would have had a fine game after 6...Bb4xd2+ 7.Qd1xd2 e5xd4 8.Nf3xd4 Ng8-f6 ⩲ Jakub Chlevistan (1970) - Pavel Baier (2210), Ostrava Konik Open (Czech Republic) 1995, draw.

<8.Bf1-d3?! Bb4xd2+ 9.Nb1xd2! +-> Enough for the win, but more precise and quite stronger is 8.Bd2xb4! Qe7xb4+ 9.Nb1-c3 +- and Black is quite late in developing his pieces... Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

Feb-10-21  Sergash: <9...d7-d6?! +-> Seems logical, but better are:

A) 9...Ng8-h6 10.Ra1-c1 b7-b6 (or 10...f7-f6 11.Rc1-c3 +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT) 11.Nd2-c4 +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

B) 9...b7-b6 10.Nd2-c4 +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

<10.Ra1-c1 +-> Good enough, but tactically superior is 10.Qd1-a4+! Bc8-d7 11.Qa4-a3! +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

<10...a7-a6? 11.Nd2-c4! +-> One should get some pieces in play sometimes... Plus the played move gives up b6 for the white knight. 10...Ng8-f6 11.Bd3-b5+! (or also 11.Qd1-a4+ Bc8-d7 12.Qa4-a3 0-0 13.0-0 +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT) Ke8-f8! (11...Nf6-d7? 12.Rc1-c7! +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT; 11...Bc8-d7? 12.Rc1-c7! +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT) 12.0-0 +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

<11...Bc8-d7? 12.Nc4-b6! Ra8-b8 +-> Better is 11...Qe7-c7 12.0-0 Ng8-e7 13.Nc4xe5 Qc7-b8 14.Ne5-c4 +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

<13.Qd1-c2 +-> More than enough to pocket the win, but the best move here is 13.Rc1-c7! Ng8-f6 14.Nf3-h4! +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

<13...Bd7-g4? 14.h2-h3! +-> The best move here, other than resigning, is the weird 13...Nd8-c6 14.Qc2-c3! +- Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

<14...Bg4xf3 15.Qc2-a4+! +-> This game is now over... When a computer (Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT) indicates as the "best move" as the one lasting the longest being 14...Bg4-e6 15.d5xe6 +- your chances are non existent!

<15...Nd8-c6?! 16.d5xc6 +-> Or 15...Ke8-f8 16.Nb6-d7+ Kf8-e8 17.Nd7xb8+ etc. Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

<16...Qe7-c7 17.c6xb7+ Ke8-f8 18.Rc1xc7 1-0> After black's 16th move, it is a mate in 11 moves. Better is 16...Ke8-d8 +- but still after 17.c6-c7+... Stockfish 12 - 64 bits POPCNT.

This game is a kind of miniature! The same Enrique Delmonte was to lose against Emanuel Lasker in a simultaneous exhibition game in 1906, mated on the 24th move (see Lasker vs E Delmonte, 1906).

Premium Chessgames Member
  CherrylandCafe: "Sergash: Jose Raul Capablanca was 12 years old when he disputed this game and was already probably the best player of Cuba (he would become national champion that same year)"

Though Capablanca beat Cuban champion J. Corzo in the 1901 match, the title was not at stake.

May-27-21  Whitehat1963: And even though it was played “at odds,” this game is much older:

R Iglesias vs Capablanca, 1893

Aug-27-21  Stolzenberg: 16. ... bxc6 17. Qxc6+ Kd8 18. Qc8+ Rxc8 19. Rxc8#

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