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Alexander Alekhine vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"The Game to End All Games" (game of the day Jun-26-2017)
Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship Match (1927), Buenos Aires ARG, rd 34, Nov-26
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern. Knight Defense (D51)  ·  1-0



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Given 16 times; par: 171 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 6 OF 6 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-03-18  SpiritedReposte: The match bio says this game took FOUR DAYS to complete... good lawd I'd be seeing variations in my sleep.
Nov-08-18  CharlesSullivan: < Capablanca and Alekhine swap errors >

As is well known, this is considered a classic rook endgame. By the time the queens come off the board (at move 50), the ending is technically won for White. (Basic Chess Endings and Fundamental Chess Endings analyze this ending beginning with move 53 or 54.) So where did the great endgame master (Capablanca) stumble?

Alekhine thought that Capablanca's fatal move was 21...Be6. But today's computers show that 5 moves later, Black could have completely equalized with 26...Nd3, so Alekhine's claim is incorrect.

Capablanca's first losing move was 35...Rb8. All credit to Alekhine, he did see that 35...Ra5

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was worth analyzing, but he dismissed it as insufficient: "In answer to 35...Ra5 White would first make his king safe from possible checks, by playing g2-g3 and h3-h4, and then invade the back rank with his pieces." (Alekhine, On the Road to the World Championship)

But, as Dvoretsky (Endgame Manual [2nd edition], p. 185) points out, if the passed a-pawn is not immediately blocked, Black "would have had no chances at all" to save the game. And, in fact, it is fairly easy to see that 35...Ra5 36.g3 Rd5 37.Rf4 Qe5 38.Rf3 Rc5 39.Qd1 g5 40.g4 Rc4 41.Qd7 Rf4 42.Rxf4 gxf4 43.Kg2 Qe4+ 44.Kh2 Qe5 45.Qf5 Qd6 46.Qc2 f3+ 47.Kg1 Qe5 48.Qc1 Kh7 49.Qc2+ Kg7 50.Qc1 Kh7 51.Qe3 Qf6 52.h4 Qa1+ 53.Kh2 Qxa4 54.Qxf3 Kg8 55.h5 Qa7

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is very drawish and does save the game.

It follows from the above discussion that perhaps White could have played 36.a5 with great effect (after all, passed pawns are meant to be pushed!). But Alekhine played -- without comment! -- 36.Re2. Kasparov even attached an exclamation point: 36.Re2! Kasparov added a cryptic analysis to explain why 36.a5 was not the best move: 36.a5?! Qf5! It seems that Kasparov did not notice that 36.a5 Qf5 37.Rb4! is sufficient to win:

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The finish might be 37...Ra8 38.Qa1+ and 38...Kh7 39.a6 Qe6 40.a7 Qc8 41.Kh1 Qc7 42.Ra4 Qc6 43.Qd4 <+10.65> 43...Qc7 44.f4 Qc1+ 45.Kh2 Qc6 46.Ra5 Qb7 47.Qc5 h5 48.f5 Kh6 49.Ra4 Kh7 50.Ra3 Qd7 51.fxg6+ fxg6 52.Qb6 Qe7 53.Ra6 Qf7 54.Kg1 Re8 55.Qd6 Ra8 56.Qb8 Qd5 57.Rb6 Kh6 58.Rb7 h4 59.Qc7 Re8 60.Qf4+ Qg5 61.Rh7+ wins:

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So, although it was spurned or ignored by annotators, 36.a5 <+5.12, depth 59, 4 hours> wins. One variation is 36.a5 Ra8 37.Ra4 Kh7 38.Qa1 Qa6 39.Qe5 h5 40.Rf4 Qb7 41.Rc4 Qb1+ 42.Kh2 Qa2 43.Qd5 Kg7 44.Qd4+ Kg8 45.Rc5 Qe2 46.Re5 Qa6 47.Rd5 Rf8 48.h4 Qa8 49.Qd2 Rb8 50.Rd7 Rc8 51.Qa2 Rf8 52.a6 Qc6 53.Rb7 g5 54.hxg5 h4 55.Qa3 Re8 56.g6 Qxg6 57.a7 Qh6 58.Qf3 Rf8 59.Rxf7:

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and Black can resign.

Coming soon... Capablanca's fatal second error.

Nov-08-18  CharlesSullivan: < Capablanca's fatal second error >

When Alekhine failed to take advantage of Capablanca's first major error (35...Rb8), Capablanca made it to adjournment with a draw in reach. Alekhine sealed his 41st move and wrote: "The game was adjourned here and this move was sealed. The manoeuvres now made by Capablanca are thus the result of exhaustive analysis. Neither my opponent nor I were successful in finding adequate means of defence for Black."

Incredibly, despite this "exhaustive analysis," Capablanca immediately committed the fatal blunder (41...Qb1+) that lost the game and his title. He should have played 41...Rf5

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42.Qd4 Qb1+ 43.Kh2 Qc2 44.Rd8 Qc7+ 45.Kg1 Qc1+ 46.Qd1 Qb2 47.Rd2 Qb6 48.Rd4 h5 49.h4 Qc5 50.g3 Qb6 51.Qd2 Qc6 52.Rf4

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(Now, if 52...Rxf4??, then 53.Qxf4 Qd5 54.Qc7 is an easy win)
52...Rc5 53.Rxf7+ Kg8 54.Re7 Rc1+ 55.Re1 Rxe1+ 56.Qxe1 Qxa4

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and any competent grandmaster can hold this position -- so a draw.

Dec-09-18  CharlesSullivan: Note: I am submitting a second correction slip -- Black played 44...Qe8 in this game, NOT 44...Qf8. At least, that is what Skinner & Verhoeven (Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games, 1902-1946), Alexander Alekhine (My Best Games of Chess 1924-1937; On the Road to the World Championship 1923-1927), Yates & Winter (World's Championship Matches, 1921 and 1927), Garry Kasparov (My Great Predecessors Part I), and Chessbase say.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: While the computer analyses correct the misimpression that, as played, this was a forced win from the outset, in no wise does it diminish the efforts Alekhine devoted to this, or the ferocity with which these titans went at each other in this terrific scrap, as in many other games of this match, each seeking to make something out of nothing--for that is what each gave the other.

By the bye, still waiting to see <Charles>' correction entered in the books.

Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: There are some amazing photographs of the actual board and pieces used in this famous match, set up in the concluding position of the final game.

I don't know how to upload them from this link - perhaps someone could do this:

Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: 26..Nd3 is good but very difficult to see. If Black is going to play ..Nc4 though it would be better to do so with the Rook on a more active square. Easier to see is 26..Rc2 (idea ..Nc4) and the only active counter-measure White appears to have is 27 Qb5 Nc4 28 Rd1 (28 a4 Nd2 29 Nxd2 Rxd2 is a much better version of the endgame Capablanca ends up trying to defend) 28..h5 Here my gut feeling is that Alekhine would go 29 Ng5 and Capablanca the ending 29..Qb6 30 Qxb6 Nxb6 31 Ra1 Black is probably active enough to draw this.

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Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: The move turning a difficult position into a lost one looks to be the nervous looking pawn grab 29..Nxe4. It is surprising Capablanca played this rather than the positional re-routing of his KN by 29..Ne8 (idea Nd6). Alekhine's reply 30 Nxe5 attracts praise on this thread and elsewhere but it is much less convincing than the simple 30 Nxe4 Qxe4 31 a5 Qd5 32 a6 and now 32..e4 just enables the White Knight to join the party (33 Qc3+ followed by Nd4).
Premium Chessgames Member

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Here Capablanca moved his Q to a passive square (38..Qa6) when he could have placed it on a more active one eg 38..Qf5 or 38..Qg5

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <woldsmandriffield:

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Here Capablanca moved his Q to a passive square (38..Qa6) when he could have placed it on a more active one eg 38..Qf5 or 38..Qg5>

Why do you think these squares are more active ?

And Why do you think you know more about chess than JR Capa ??

Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: It's just that on a6 the Queen controls fewer squares and in his position is in a purely defensive role. Also if 38..Qf5 there is a threat of ..Qb1+, although 38..Qa6 creates a threat of taking the a-pawn so in that sense the move is not wholly passive.

If the time control was on move 40 and Capablanca short of time, that may explain the move chosen.

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Your Pro active moves make no difference in this position.


Apr-18-19  aliejin: This magnificent game , it must be considered as a whole, ended this glorious match.
Into the eternity it was recorded ... the triumph of Alekhine on Capablanca.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <doash>
It's a good point that on 60...Rf6 <61. a6?> fails because of 61...Rf3+ followed by 62...Rxf2+ etc.

But if White avoids that blunder and instead replies 60...Rf6 <61. f4>, or 60...Rf6 <61. Kc3> Kc5 62. Kd3 (now threatening a6), I don't see how this differs a lot from the actual game line. Can you post your drawing idea in more detail?

Sep-28-19  doash: It's a shame that 60...Rf6! is never mentioned in any of the major commentaries, as this move puts up the greatest resistance.
Jun-15-20  pepechuy: Did Capablanca really play 44... Qf8?
It is a question, I am not implying it is a bad move. In the book "From Steinitz to Fischer", by Euwe, the move given is 44... Qe8
Sep-03-20  Gaito: In this critical position of the endgame (see diagram)

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Capablanca played 38...Qa6 which looks logical, as it puts additional pressure on White's passed pawn. However, the move has the drawback of putting Black's queen too far away from the center. The strongest chess engine available in 2020 (Stockfish 10) suggests instead 38...Qf5! it seems that Black could have drawn the game after 38...Qf5! Using this powerful engine (computer vs. computer) with plenty of time to "think", let's review some sample variations: I) 38....Qf5! 39. Qc3+ Kh7, and then:

A) 40. Rd2 Qb1+ 41. Kh2 Qb8+ 42. g3 Rxa4 43. Qf6 Qe8 44. Rd8 Ra6 45. Qd4 Ra4 46. Qf6 Ra6 47. Qxg6+ fxg6 48. Rxe8 Kg7 49. h4 Kf7 , this is a theoretical draw with correct play by both sides.

B) 40. Re2 Rc5 41. Qb4 Qd5 42. Kh2 h5 43. Re3 Rc4 44. Qf8 Rf4 45. Re8 Qd4 46. f3 Qf6 47. Qg8+ Kh6 48. Qf8+ Kh7 49. Qg8+ Kh6 50. Qf8+ drawn position. In the above variation (B), instead of 41...Qd5 Black could try also 41....Rc1+ 42. Kh2 Qf6 43. Qd2 Rb1 44. Qd5 Rf1, and then:

B1) 45. a5 Qf4+ 46. g3 Rxf2+ 47. Rxf2 Qxf2+ 48. Qg2 Qa7 49. Qa2 f5 50. a6 h5 51. Kg2 h4 52. gxh4. Unclear, maybe a draw.

B2) 45. Qc4 Qd6+ 46. g3 Qd7 47. Ra2 Re1 48. Qc3 Qd1 49. Qc6 Qd3 50. a5 Qf1 51. Qg2 Qc4 52. Ra3 Qa6 53. Ra2 Kg8 54. Qf3. Unclear, maybe equal and drawish.

Sep-03-20  Petrosianic: Have you checked the lines out and understand them to the point that you can explain why Black can hold the game? Or are you just taking Stockfish's word for it? For all you know, the strongest program of 2030 might not agree with this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: It's 44...Qe8 now.
Mar-25-21  Gaito: <Petrosianic> Yes, possibly in the year 2030 or 2040, there will be flying saucers and many weird things on our planet, and maybe also software good enough to tell us the truth in every chess position. For the time being, however, we must trust in what our available engines find out. It is the closest thing to the truth we have.
May-08-21  SymphonicKnight: The final and decisive game of the match. Kasparov -- "White's conduct of the technical stage of the game cannot be praised too highly."

This game is really fun to go over with heavy computer analysis also. Both players find absolutely amazing moves.

May-09-21  aliejin: " is the closest thing to the truth we have."

The truth is what these two minds produced
, controlled by a clock,
in a game where they fought
for the world crown
The rest is binary masturbation

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <aliejin....The rest is binary masturbation>

Of which you are a past master, on an analogous level to the two heavyweights who went at each other hard throughout this match.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: The Stockfish analysis uses the incorrect version of the score with 44...Qf8. The analysis now does not match the game score. If games have been corrected and already analysed, the correction process should include the computerised notation for the game.
Nov-23-21  SebasJT: Hello! You can watch a video of this chess game here:

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