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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Rudolf Spielmann
"One Man Gathers What Another Man Spiels" (game of the day Feb-21-2011)
New York (1927), New York, NY USA, rd 13, Mar-09
Queen's Gambit Declined: Barmen Variation (D37)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I had a look at AJ's analysis. I do agree with him that exchanging Black's DSB for the Knight is a strange play. That simply can't be best and IMHO throws away a tempo. I guess the excitement of the game is how quickly Capa finishes the game after the obviously poor Qd5. FWIW, I think 17...Bb7 to connect the Rooks seems right.
Feb-21-11  newzild: A famous game by the great Cuban. This was deemed one of the 100 greatest games of all time by three English grandmasters (I think Graham Burgess was one of them).
Feb-21-11  Chesschatology: AJ thanks for your great analysis. What a game. It reminded me of Fischer's comment in which he said that Capa's "apparent simplicity is a myth: his play was razor-sharp".

If you look at the game for the first time, initially it appears to be, as <OhioChessFan> said: pedestrian; equality with a one-move blunder. Look at in detail and it becomes apparent that from a normal looking position, Capa unerringly walked with stately steps down the slim and deadly path of perfection. He's like a Samurai swordsman, seeing through the noise of battle to the simple, elusive soul of the fight: the single, casual, fatal thrust.

Which is to say... XXXXing beautiful.

Feb-21-11  Marmot PFL: Nimzovich said of Spielman that he always tried to solve every problem by attack, but that often it was necessary to play positional or defensive moves.
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <TheMacMan> wrote: fritz gives 25.Bf3??, and says its weak and inferior to 25.Qc5!! >

Toga evaluates 25.Qc5 (14 P) as better than 25.Bf3 (12 P) also. (I omit trailing decimals as insignificant: may all my weak moves be worth 12 Ps!) Capablanca might have played 25.Bf3 as a safe defensive psychological move, snuffing all Spielmann's hopes.

It's hard to call any move weak, when the opponent resigns after the next move.

Feb-21-11  WhiteRook48: I don't know, almost all moves win
Feb-21-11  AnalyzeThis: If you play a move like 17.... bxa4 you're basically saying goodbye to all your queenside pawns, sooner or later.
Feb-22-11  Roger Krueger: Hmmm, not the 1st, 2nd or 583rd place I'd have expected a Dead reference. Opens whole new realms of punnish possibilities.
Feb-22-11  LIFE Master AJ: This was the "Game of The Day" for Monday; February 21st, 2011.
Feb-22-11  TheOutsider: Qc5 would have looked better.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A good one---Capa wins,but not ho-hum style.
Feb-25-11  LIFE Master AJ: Feb-25-11

delete LIFE Master AJ: <<Feb-21-11 Chesschatology: AJ thanks for your great analysis.>> (blush) ... and your are (OF COURSE!!!) welcome. :)

Thanks for the comments. Believe it or not, it took me about four months to do the analysis and the webpage. (I wanted it to be close to perfect as possible.)

Only a good critic will know if I succeeded ... or even came close.

Mar-16-12  notyetagm: EPIPHANY!!!

T.Kosintseva vs Stefanova EICC Rapid w (9) 2012
Caruana vs Giri Tata Steel Chess (Group A) 2012
Capablanca vs Spielmann New York 1927





20 Re1xe7+!

Sep-02-13  RedShield: <Here is a game that seems perfectly natural once one has played through it; but no one, save Capablanca, could have produced it.> Harry Golombek
May-14-14  Capacorn: This game is a perfect illustration of Capablanca's lucid style, and why it's often said that he made moves lesser mortals felt they themselves could find. That's an illusion, though, isn't it? It reminds me of the old Spielmann quote: "I can see the combinations as well as Alekhine, but I cannot get to the same positions." And therein lies the rub. Capa's bishop sac, and the resulting passer, isn't especially hard to see. But how many could build up the position to the point where that combination is even possible? Genius....
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <TheMacMan: fritz gives 25.Bf3??, and says its weak and inferior to 25.Qc5!!> That seems a bit drastic. I wonder what the silicon brain had seen?
May-14-14  RookFile: All I know is when I try to play like Capa (queen on a5, etc.) in my games, it usually leads to me getting mated on the kingside. You have to be pretty cold blooded to play like this.
May-15-14  Capacorn: <RookFile: All I know is when I try to play like Capa (queen on a5, etc.) in my games, it usually leads to me getting mated on the kingside. You have to be pretty cold blooded to play like this.>

Funny you should say that. Upon seeing Capa's Qa5, I thought something similar. In my own games, that move usually hasn't turned out so well. The lady often winds up out of play. I'll normally bring her back out of general principal. Of course, sometimes there's concrete justification for making such a move. I just don't see it very often.

As for trying to "play like Capa," I couldn't if I wanted to. My talent, such as it is, lies in tactical, not positional, play. As a Cuban, I'm very proud of Capablanca; but I'm not a huge fan of his games (this one being a notable exception). Ironically enough, I enjoy the games of his nemesis, Alekhine, much more.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <<Here is a game that seems perfectly natural once one has played through it; but no one, save Capablanca, could have produced it.> Harry Golombek>

Hmmm, let's try this.

<[Chess] so natural that it could not be otherwise, and yet so surprising as to make the heart stand still, just for a moment.>

Aug-09-18  Boomie: <offramp: <TheMacMan: fritz gives 25.Bf3??, and says its weak and inferior to 25.Qc5!!> That seems a bit drastic. I wonder what the silicon brain had seen?>

When there are many roads to victory, it doesn't matter to humans which road is taken. Consider Morphy's demolition of Paulsen, where he did not use the most efficient method of execution. (Paulsen vs Morphy, 1857) Well, the game was over and who cares at that point?

Nov-10-19  N.O.F. NAJDORF: I had seen this game before, but I have only just thought of the following variation:

19 ... Ra7
20 b6 Qxa5
21 bxa7 Qxa1
22 Rxa1 Nb6
23 Rb1 winning

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: The position after 6..exd is referred to as both the Manhatten Variation and the Westphalia variation. Spielmann and Vidmar had worked on this line together prior to this tournament. Earlier in the tournament Capablanca had played 7 Qb3 against Spielmann and had not gained any advantage; 7 Qa4 was an improvement though today it is a rarely played sideline. 7..c5 and 7..Qe7 were suggested as improvements over Spielmann's 7..Bxc3+?!. 17..Rb8 would have been a tougher defense but Black clearly missed White's very pretty combination.
Sep-02-20  sudoplatov: Capablanca, Alekhine, Lasker, (Tarrasch, Steinitz, Schlecter, etc. to a lesser extent) make move with great flexibility. In general, they make moves with multiple (if latent) threats.
Sep-30-21  Canadian chesser: <OhioChessFan: "FWIW, I think 17...Bb7 to connect the Rooks seems right."> I agree that at move 17 Black needs to find something else than the played Queen move! After the Queen move Capablanca's attack is unstoppable as far as I can tell --please anyone correct me if I am wrong! Gerald Abrahams on p. 140 of "The Pan Book of Chess" (1966, revised ed.), hypothesizes that Spielmann saw the Bishop sacrifice that was coming but "'judged' that Capablanca was not getting enough value for his Bishop. Alternatively, as Black was, at that stage, slightly under pressure, he may have decided to force his opponent to a sacrifice, himself hoping for the best. The essence of the matter is that Capablanca's view was exhaustive. The position allowed a complete conspectus, and he achieved it." So Abrahams says that after the anticipated Queen move to d5 Capablanca saw that Black would be unavoidably lost by means of the Bishop sac, but with Spielmann, although he saw the Bishop sac by Capablanca as a possibility, or as even likely, he did not see that it would result in an irretrievably lost game for Black. So it is clear, and we have Abrahams concurrance on this, that Black at move 17 must not play Qd5. What else is there? I think Bb7 must be rejected as Black loses a pawn: 17. ... Bb7 18. PxP PxP 19. QxP. So do we have to go further back to find where Spielmann lost this game, as other posters seem to be saying when they discuss weak moves in the opening by Black?
Sep-30-21  Canadian chesser: <N.O.F. NAJDORF>: Abrahams also provided that winning variation for White if Black tries Ra7 at move 19 instead of Rb8 as in the game. At the end of that variation, "Black, at the moment a piece to the good, is losing more than one piece" (page 139).
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