- Capablanca's Best Chess Endings
60 games, 1901-1936
Games from Irving Chernev's "Capablanca's Best Chess Endings"|
The opening of a game is important - and hundreds of books are written on the opening. The opening leads to the midgame.
The midgame is important - and hundreds of books are written on the midgame. The midgame leads to the endgame.
The endgame is important - and *no books are written on the endgame*!
Yes, there are books, but they concern themselves with composed endings, or with theoretical (and for the most part artificial) positions.
The composed endings are admittedly beautiful, but they are of limited value, as they have no relationship to practical play.
Of the theoretical positions, many have their uses, but one must sift the wheat from the chaff. TO what use can we put such knowledge as the procedure for mating with a Knight and Bishop, or with the two Bishops, when an opportunity to do so may not occur in a lifetime? And why burden our minds with the manner of forcing mate with three knights (believe-it-or-not) or winning with four minor pieces against a Queen (sans Pans) when such positions as these have never yet been seen on land or sea?
Capablanca himself says : "In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before anything else; for whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middlegame and the opening must be studied in relation to the endgame."
There are no books on endings from real life, no books from the practices of masters in actual play, let alone from the practice of a single master.
This fact alone is enough to justify this book of endings, selected from the tournament and match play of the greatest endgame virtuoso the world has ever seen - the immortal Capablanca.
Here are wondrous endings to enchant the reader, endings of breathtaking artistry.
Here are endings of astonishing accuracy, whose relentless logic will inspire the earnest student to emulate a similar technique - the technique of seeking a clear-cut, efficient win, instead of a display of fireworks.
The games are given in full, in order to show how a slight advantage acquired in the early stages, is carried forward and exploited in the endgame.
I have annotated the endings in detail (a consideration they have rarely received before) for the better appreciation of the fine points of Capablanca's play, and have given credit to those who have anticipated my findings.
64 games, 1934-2009
- interesting opening novelties
86 games, 1839-2009
- interesting tactics
1 game, 1971
- Karpov : Chess At The Top 1979-1984
50 games, 1979-1984
Anatoly Karpov is undoubtedly the most successful World Champion of all time. From 1975, when he gained the title, to 1984, when he was due to defend it against Gary Kasparov, he played in a total of 35 individual tournaments, mostly in the super-class bracket, and finished first in no less than 28 of them! Also, in 1978 and 1981, he twice successfully defended his title against Viktor Korchnoi, and led his country to victory in two Olympiads and three European Team Championships.|
Despite this outstanding record, Karpov's playing style has not always met with universal approval, and has at time been described as "sterile", "pragmatic", and in even less flattering terms. Are such criticisms justified? The distinguished grandmaster panel which selects the "top ten" games in each volume of the Yugoslav Chess Informator would seem to have other ideas : in 17 volumes covering theperiod 1975-1983, six Karpov games have headed the list, and seven have been placed second - harldy the record of a "sterile" player!
My own feeling is that to enable Karpov's subtle style to be fully appreciated, expert commentary is required - and what could be more expert than the World Champion himself explaining the ideas behind his moves?
-- Ken Neat
- Minority attack
15 games, 1898-2003
- modern king's gambit
30 games, 1906-2015
- Petrosian v. the Elite
71 games, 1946-1983
By Ray Keene
Tigran Petrosian is acquiring a reputation as one of the most sophisticated World Champions and also one of the most successful. The victim of a hostile press during his lifetime, Petrosian's exploits were brought into sharp focus during the official Petrosian year - 2004, the 75th anniversary of his birth. A whole series of Petrosian memorial tournaments, combined with a re-evaluation of his games and results, revealed that his legacy had been serious underestimated. Indeed, his record includes :
- Victories in two World Championship matches against Botwinnik and Spassky
- First prize in the World Championship Candidates Tournament
- Four Soviet Championship titles
- Two individiual and team gold medals on top board for the USSR team in the international Olympiads of Havana 1966 and Lugano 1968
- Numerous first prizes in important tournaments
- Match and game victories against Kasparov, Fischer, Karpov, Hübner, Portisch, Korchnoi, Polugayevsky, Smyslov, Tal, Euwe, Reshevsky, Keres and many others
- Play The Caro-Kann : Varnusz
48 games, 1899-1977
Two German players, Horatius Caro and Marcus Kann, introduced this defense into competitive practice during the second half of the nineteenth century. Romantic gambits were popular among players of the time, so it is hardly surprising that this defense was regarded as dry and boring. Its popularity only began to grow after the discovery and general acceptance of basic positional principles. Early in this century several masters recognized the advantages that it offered, and even a world champion, in the person of Capablanca, had it in his armoury. The great Cuban is acknowledged to have been an outstanding positional player, and later adherents of the defense were to be competitors of similar inclination (Flohr, Botwinnik, Smyslove, Petrosian, Karpov, etc.)|
Black's first move (1. ...c6 in response to 1.e4) is aimed at obtaining a foothold in the center by way of d7-d5. The concept is strongly reminiscent of the French Defense, but the development of Black's queen's bishop is, as a rule, smoother. Admittedly it does have the inherent disadvantage, as compared to the French, that after 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 (3.Nd2) Black, in the absence of any other useful move, has to part with his center pawn by 3. ...dxr4 - thus relaxing tension in the center.
The middle games which develop from the Caro-Kann are generally sound and of a rather positional character. Direct attacks against the king are rare in early stages of the game. Flexibility is one of the chief advantages; Black remains uncommitted to any particular pawn structure. None of his pieces have any sort of development difficulty that might influence the whole opening (remember the problems that the queen's bishop has in the Queen's Gambit Declined). The Caro-Kann defense is clear, relatively easy to learn, and therefore an eminently practical system. You can usually find your bearings without being completely familiar with the theory. Only a few particularly sharp variations require theoretical knowledge. The fact that Black is able to avoid the pitfalls of the dangerous gambits was evidently considered to be one of the Caro-Kann's advantages in the last century.
However, the disadvantages should not be swept under the carpet. The initiative rests principally with White, while in a number of variations Black can only achieve equality in positions of a simplified and drawn character. Yet it must also be said that the game does not proceed inexorably towards a quick draw, the reason being that the pawn structures are asymmetrical and there is no mutually open file that would tend itself to the early exchange of major pieces.
White frequently acquires a space advantage, due mostly to the absence of the center pawn. Luckily this is a type of advantage which is most difficult to capitalize on. Moreover, the danger of White overextending himself and throwing caution to the winds is always present.
*** WHICH VARIATION SHOULD WHITE CHOOSE? *** We do not know which of the alternatives is the most dangerous. The choice also depends a lot on fashion. One master may prefer one particular variation, another a different one. Lesser players tend to follow suit. The variation 2.Nc3 and 3.Nf3 was very popular for twenty years, but is practically an extinct species in today's competition practice. The situation is much the same regarding the closed variation (3.e5). 2.d3, on the other hand, is a move which not so long ago was hardly ever contemplated, and then only by reckless eccentrics. NOwadays it presents serious problems to those using the Caro-Kann.
The Panov variation, which resembles the Queen's Gambit, has for decades been the critical test of the Caro-Kann. This is the sharpest of the variations, and the complications arising frequently surpass those of the King's Gambit.
Instead the natural continuation 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 has proved its worth and has been popular right up to the present day. After 3. ...dxe4 4.Nxe4 the continuations 4. ...Bf5, 4. ...Nd7 or 4. ...Nf6 are equally popular.
Finally it should be added that the continuation 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 has also had devotees at various times (Fischer!), thoguh it has never been amain variation.
*** HOW SHOULD THIS BOOK BE USED? *** This volume, like so many other works dealing with opening theory, throws a vast number of variations at the reader. However, the memorizing of the whole material is neither necessary nor intended, so the reader should not lose heart. It is important, though, to learn those moves (generally of a sharp and combinative character) which are essential for a proper understanding of the variation. This does not, however, make up the major part of the material, which consists of examples showing the possibilities hidden in a given position. The reader will tend to forget them after playing them over, but he will still grasp the salient point. It will gradually become second nature to him.
The material used here is particularly suitable for this purpose. At a time when chess books more and more resemble logarithmic tables, the illustrative games in particular offer relief. The reader will have fun learning from them, he will understand the connections between the opening and the middlegame and sometimes even the endgame.
The author has endeavoured to sift out and evaluate everything that is essentially new in competition practice. It is up to the reader to judge how far he has succeeded in achieving his aim. It is this aim of the author's that also explains who some of the variations and evaluations in this volume differ from the material contents of earlier works.
Like all chess writers, the author of this book has borrowed many variations from the works of predecessors. The work of German chess writer Rolf Schwartz, the Yugoslav Encyclopaedia and the theoretical articles of Alexander Konstantinopolsky, to mention but a few, have been particularly fertile sources. To them, and my fellow masters and friends, I would like to express my gratitude for their invaluable help.
Egon Varnusz, 1982 Egon Varnusz
Here's the brilliant game he lists on the cover
Hort vs Seirawan, 1981
- players i know
10 games, 1979-2007
this is a collection of players that i know|
- refutor's favorite games
33 games, 1895-2012