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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Harry Golombek
Margate (1939), Margate ENG, rd 7, Apr-19
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Classical. Noa Variation (E34)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-03-05  Saruman: Ra1 coming up and the queen is trapped.
Dec-03-05  CapablancaFan: Typical Capablanca. By the way this guy (Golombek) wrote a very fine book on Capablanca's best games.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <By the way this guy (Golombek) wrote a very fine book on Capablanca's best games.>

The book in question is <Capablanca's Hundred Best Games.>(1947) That book has him credited as "GM" Harry Golombek.In actuality, he was an International Master.(1950) Only later getting the honorary title of Grandmaster in 1983.

Sep-03-06  R.Sergiu: " It was a unique feeling of helplessness. Of course, I knew very well I was outclassed not only by him but also by all the other seven world champions against whom I have played. But at least when I played them I had the feeling (often illusory) that there was at least a chance for me, possibly to draw and even, on rare occasion, to win. In the game with Capablanca there was no such feeling. Even my first move looked a little suspect to me!" Harry Golombek impresions from the game
Sep-21-06  woodenbishop: Harry Golombek published a very informative and interesting book called "Golombek's Encyclopedia of Chess" in the USA in 1977 by Crown Publishers, Inc.

I recommend it to anyone who has a passion for the history of chess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Golombek's book describes this encounter:

"An impeccably played game by White, typical of his seemingly effortless simplicity. "

May-21-07  micartouse: 12. Bg3 sets a little trap I failed to notice: ... Nh5? 13. Nxd5! with a standard Carlsbad structure combo.

Can anyone explain the idea behind the 18. Na4 maneuver? I see it works out and all, but I don't know why he hit upon the move; it seems pointless to me. Why didn't White just play b5 or something?

May-21-07  euripides: <micar> usually White wants to control c5 before playing b5 in this structure. Here 18.b5 c5 doesn't look absolutely clear though I guess it's good for White; the b5 breakthrough in the game is clearer.
May-21-07  micartouse: <euripides: usually White wants to control c5 before playing b5 in this structure.>

Excellent, thanks!

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <micartouse> Not sure how applicable it is to Capablanca-Golombek specifically, but the generaly utility of controlling c5 with this kind of pawn structure is vividly illustrated in this game:

Rubinstein vs S Takacs, 1926

May-21-07  micartouse: <keypusher> Thanks - I like these kind of games. I figure I can never calculate like Capa and Rubinstein, but maybe some of these quiet ideas will help me in a crunch.

It all clicks now. Prevent a possible c5 response. Otherwise, Black gets rid of his weakness!

May-21-07  Nasruddin Hodja: <micartouse>: fyi, Capablanca seldom engaged in concrete calculation of variations, and in fact he supposedly even used to boast "I see only one move ahead--the best move." (though I don't know the source of this remark; it might be apocryphal) What Capablanca and some of his contemporaries such as Rubinstein had was an amazing intuitive feel for positions which made both of them stronger in the endgame than most of their opponents.

This positional strength sometimes had paradoxical tactical effects. I could be wrong, but I doubt Capablanca even set out intentionally to trap black's queen in this game and merely concentrated on the optimal placement for his own pieces. That the black queen ended up trapped (and can only be saved by 29. ... Qa3, losing the exchange) may only have been a byproduct of Capa's positional play.

May-21-07  Wolfgang01: <Nasruddin Hodja> No. Positional strength has often tactical „side-effects“!!

I agree Capa's plan wasn't meant to trap the queen, when he startet his queenside-attack. But when the attack and the plan continued, he saw it some three or five moves later … At last that's, what made Capa world-champion and we stay „patzers“!!

May-21-07  RookFile: Any time you're talking about a world champion, you can only speak in relative terms. So, it's probably true that Capa calculated less than Fischer, for example. However, I'm sure that Capa calculated a lot more than any of us here. He had a wonderful tactical eye, especially for his 'petite combinations'.
May-21-07  euripides: There's a reasonably reputable story where Capablanca explained his opponent's resignation by instantly demonstrating a mate in ten. To him, that may not have felt like calculation.
May-21-07  RookFile: Nobody played blitz chess against Capa and survived. Not Alekhine, not Lasker, not Reuben Fine..... nobody.

It was said that Capa had the 'fastest sight of the board'. I interpret this to mean tactical alertness, especially for petite combinations.

May-21-07  micartouse: Capablanca was a phenomenal calculater if we only go by his relatively few blunders and his effortless combining. We just tend not to think of him that way since he was content to take some b-pawn whereas Alekhine was always possessed by the castled king position. But it's possible that neither really calculated more than the other.

<To him, that may not have felt like calculation.> That's why Capablanca's own words are unreliable. He doesn't even know he's calculating.

Oct-31-07  Cibator: There's a telling comment in the aforementioned book by Golombek (though the comment itself was written in the foreword, by Julius du Mont): something to the effect that Capa was sometimes unexpectedly poor at explaining his own games, probably because he played more by intuition than by conscious calculation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <euripides: <micar> usually White wants to control c5 before playing b5 in this structure. Here 18.b5 c5 doesn't look absolutely clear though I guess it's good for White; the b5 breakthrough in the game is clearer.> True in general, but one always have to verify every particular case. After 18.b5 c5 19.dxc5 Bxc5 20.Bxf5 Nxf5 21.Rbd1, the d pawn is a target. White would have a big edge too.
Jan-18-09  MorphysMojo: Capablanca makes it look easy with his simplicity focused play. It's easier to calculate when you have supreme natural talent like he did, and the position is simple, and you are playing a guy who was not in his class. Golombek was very well known, a great author, and a mere IM (awarded GM emeritus only). He finished 7th out of 10 in this tournament with a score of 3.5/5.5, while Capa finished 2nd (behind Keres) going undefeated with a score of 6.5/2.5. Golombek was outclassed for sure. He did well as a Brit, against other Brits, but G.B. of the 30s', 40's and 50s' was not nearly of the quality of play and world power compared to the G.B. players of the 80's, 90's and present. In this game Golombek could have tried Nd7 on either move 17 or 18. Capablancas' minority pawn attack with b5 is superb and gives lasting advantage.
Jul-26-15  RookFile: 12. Bg3 was a terrific move. It doesn't allow ...Ne4 from black, and as noted above, it meets ....Nh5 with 13. Nxd5! winning. As a result, black is left with a cramped game.
May-16-20  MaczynskiPratten: Golombek also observed that he had the meagre consolation afterwards of seeing this game quoted as a textbook example of the "minority attack", which it is. The first time I tried this tactic, my opponent worked his knight to b6 and c4, squashing the attack before it had got started. Unfortunately Golombek's knights are over at f8 and g7 so he can't free them until it's too late. Even with an extra pawn, it could be slow and awkward for White to exploit his 5-4 kingside majority, but when Black goes after the a2 pawn, White first gets the chance to win the d5 pawn and get a passed pawn, and then short-circuit the game with the elegant Queen trap. At least it gave them a bit more time on the beach.
Jun-11-20  C. Auguste Dupin: While capablanca had an amazing natural talent for positional chess, in best shape, his tactical acumen was also second to none, always pulling off those simple but extremely effective mouseslips which players ( even masters) with less clarity of thought than him often tend to miss in intricate positions.

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