Play Like A (Former) World Champion Round 3

Posted: 22/10/2013 by Ian in Club News

CapablancaRounds 3 and 4 saw an impressive turnout of 19 players, almost a record for a club night. Encouraging to see a lot of new Junior members coming along. First up was Lasker vs Capablanca, 1921 Havana. (game 10 of the actual tournament).

In 1911, José Raúl Capablanca first challenged Emanuel Lasker for the world championship. Lasker had this to say in his newspaper column:  Capablanca’s compatriots have a desire to see him contest the world’s championship. Today (February 28th) I received a letter from Senor Paredes of the Habana Chess Club, asking me to play with Capablanca in the Cuban city a match of ten games up, draws not to count. This proposition is not acceptable. In the present period of draw-making, such a match might last half a year and longer. I am, of course, deliberating upon my reply, but I do not think that I shall care to play in a semi-tropical climate more than a few games. Several months later, Dr. Lasker countered with a list of his own terms, but Capablanca disputed many of them, most notably a 2-wins victory requirement. And so, the negotations broke down over differences of the match conditions.  In the decade that followed, Capablanca took the chess world by storm, getting the best of nearly every top player of that period.  By 1920, Lasker recognized Capablanca’s prowess, and resigned the title to him, saying, “You have earned the title not by the formality of a challenge, but by your brilliant mastery.”  Capablanca, having felt robbed of his chance to win the title in the traditional fashion, convinced Lasker to play, but Lasker did so only on condition that his resignation be accepted, and he be regarded as the challenger. Lasker’s resignation was not widely recognized at the time, nor today, therefore this match is generally regarded as the one in which the title changed hands.  In Havana, from March 15 to April 28, 1921, the match took place. Whomever you regard as the challenger, the winner was Capablanca, who prevailed without a single loss, +4 -0 =10. Four games down, with at most 10 more to play, Lasker resigned the match prematurely after Game 14, citing ill health, and Capablanca became the third World Chess Champion. The games score, with notes by Capablanca, can be found here

Game Number 3

(game 10 of the tournament)


1. d4 Notes by J. R. Capablanca 1… d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 O-O 6. Nf3 Nbd7 7. Qc2 c5 8. Rd1 Qa5 9. Bd3 h6 10. Bh4 cxd4 11. exd4 dxc4 12. Bxc4 Nb6 13. Bb3 Bd7 14. O-O The development is now complete. White has a lone d Pawn, but, on the otherhand, Black is somewhat hampered in the manoeuvering of his pieces. 14… Rac8 15. Ne5 Bb5 With this move and the following, Black brings about an exchange of pieces, which leaves him with a free game. 16. Rfe1 Nbd5 17. Bxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxe7 Nxe7 19. Qb3 Bc6 Not Ba6 because of Nd7, followed by Nc5. 20. Nxc6 bxc6 21. Re5 Qb6 22. Qc2 Rfd8 23. Ne2 Probably White’s first mistake. He wants to take a good defensive position, but he should instead have counter-attacked with Na4 and Rc5. 23… Rd5 24. Rxd5 cxd5 Black has now the open file and his left side Pawn position is very solid, while White has a weak d-Pawn. The apparently weak Black a Pawn is not actually weak because White has no way to attack it. 25. Qd2 Nf5 26. b3 In order to free the Queen from the defense of the b-Pawn and also to prevent Rc4 at any stage. 26… h5 In order to prevent g4 at a later stage. Also to make a demonstration on the king’s side, prepatory to further operations on the other side. 27. h3 Weak, but White wants to be ready to play g4. 27… h4 To tie up White’s King side. Later on it will be seen that White is compelled to play g4 and thus further weaken his game. 28. Qd3 Rc6 29. Kf1 g6 30. Qb1 Qb4 31. Kg1 This was White’s sealed move. It was not the best move, but it is doubtful if White has any good system of defense. 31… a5 32. Qb2 a4 Now Black exchanges the pawn and leaves White with a weak, isolated b-Pawn, which will fall sooner or later. 33. Qd2 Qxd2 34. Rxd2 axb3 35. axb3 Rb6 In order to force Rd3 and thus prevent the White rook from supporting his b-Pawn by Rb2 later on. It means practically tying up the White rook to the defense of his two weak pawns. 36. Rd3 Ra6 37. g4 hxg3 38. fxg3 Ra2 39. Nc3 Rc2 40. Nd1 The alternative Na4, was not any better. White’s game is doomed. 40… Ne7 41. Nc3 Rc1 42. Kf2 Nc6 43. Nd1 Rb1 Not Nb4 because of 44. Rd2 Rb1 45. Nb2 Rxb2 46.Rxb2 Nd3+ 47.Ke2 Nxb2 48.Kd2, and Black could not win. 44. Ke2 Not a mistake, but played deliberately. White had no way to protect his b-Pawn. 44… Rxb3 45. Ke3 Rb4 46. Nc3 Ne7 47. Ne2 Nf5 48. Kf2 g5 49. g4 Nd6 50. Ng1 Ne4 51. Kf1 Rb1 52. Kg2 Rb2 53. Kf1 Rf2 54. Ke1 Ra2 All these moves have a meaning. The student should carefully study them. 55. Kf1 Kg7 56. Re3 Kg6 57. Rd3 f6 58. Re3 Kf7 59. Rd3 Ke7 60. Re3 Kd6 61. Rd3 Rf2 62. Ke1 Rg2 63. Kf1 Ra2 64. Re3 e5 This was my sealed move and unquestionably the best way to win. 65. Rd3 If 65.Ne2 Nd2+ 66.Kf2 e4 67.Rc3 Nf3 68.Ke3 Ne1 69.Kf2 Ng2. and White would be helpless. If 65.Nf3 Nd2+ exchanging knights wins. 65… exd4 66. Rxd4 Kc5 67. Rd1 d4 68. Rc1 Kd5 There is nothing left. The Black pawn will advance and White will have to give up his Knight for it. This is the finest win of the match and probably took away from Dr. Lasker his last real hope of winning or drawing the match.

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