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Alexander Alekhine vs Jose Raul Capablanca
New York (1927), New York, NY USA, rd 5, Feb-24
Queen's Indian Defense: Fianchetto. Rubinstein Variation (E16)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-27-09  visayanbraindoctor: The position here after 11. cxd5 (Diagram 1)

click for larger view

is almost the same in Capablanca vs Marshall, 1927 after 9. O-O, which arose after a more normal initial sequence of moves in the Modern Benoni (Diagram 2).

click for larger view

In fact, if in Diagram 2 above, Capablanca and Marshall had continued with 9...b6 10. Bf4 Bb7 11. Nh4, they would end up in the exact position as in Diagram 1.

Obviously then, this game is a Modern Benoni arrived at by transposition. This is the first Modern Benoni game ever with the Black pieces.

Having previously played the Modern Benoni with colors reversed in Capablanca vs Janowski, 1924, Capablanca must have fully known that he was leading Alekhine into a position in which the latter was at a disadvantage. Poor Alekhine on the other hand probably had no idea of what was happening until too late.

Alekhine was possibly planning on out-preparing Capablanca in the opening and lead him into unfamiliar territory; instead the reverse happened.

Aug-05-09  MANOLITODEREGLA: capa's superiority is shown here alekhine just got crushed by the greatest natural chess genius ever to touch the pieces
Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: I've always felt that this game is one of the reasons that Capablanca perhaps went into the 1927 Alekhine match overconfident about his superiority and ability to beat Alekhine without extensive preparation. Paul Albert
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: It looks like Alekhine went over the top with his guns blazing <17. g4> but never got the attack he anticipated. I wonder what this master of calculation actually planned at the time? Was the move made through over-confidence or alternatively a feeling that even a slight positional deficit was unsupportable against Capablanca.
Sep-03-10  Marmot PFL: <"We had a very difficult defense to handle against Alekhine. Evidently trying to catch up, he chose a complicated form of development which he knows thoroughly. Aware of the difficulties of the opening as well as of the faculties of our opponent, we played with great care until we established what we considered a solid position.>

What's all this "we" and "our"?

Sep-03-10  whiteshark: <Marmot PFL> We would like to answer it's the majestic plural as in <We are not amused>. :D
Apr-06-11  timothee3331: <Honzo Cervenka> You are perfectly right, but unhappily nobody seems to know the truth. And we should add that when Alekhine tried to escape Europe at the beginning of WWII, he promised a rematch with Capablanca when he tried to apply for a Cuban visa/passport.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <paulalbert: I've always felt that this game is one of the reasons that Capablanca perhaps went into the 1927 Alekhine match overconfident about his superiority and ability to beat Alekhine without extensive preparation.>

Not to mention that in a match with Max Euwe in 1926-27, Alekhine had only won by 5.5-4.5 against a player who was not yet acknowledged as a contender for the title by any stretch of one's imagination.

<MindRotorVia: Capablanca was by far the better of the two players. Alekhine was too chicken to give him a return match, just like Kramnik did with Kasparov.>

The first part of your statement is by no means clear; Capa finished second to Bogoljubow at Bad Kissingen 1928, though winning the following game: Bogoljubov vs Capablanca, 1928, and easily won the Berlin double-round event that year, as Alekhine went on a worldwide simul tour and played no serious chess until 1929.

Once Alekhine returned to tournament play, he was all but invincible until he lost his title to Euwe in 1935.

Despite <Honza Cervenka's> assertion in this thread, I have my own view on this (from the kibitzing of the game cited above): <Oct-21-10 perfidious: <Paladin> Here's a well-known quote: 'When I'm White, I win because I'm White, and when I'm Black, I win because I'm Bogolyubov'. He was a great tournament player, but in match play, utterly outclassed by the greatest players of the time, which is why Alekhine accepted his challenges in 1929 and 1934. No way AA was going to give Capablanca another go at it.>

Aug-17-11  positionalgenius: Why not 27.Rxb3?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: If 27.Rxb3, 27...Nxf4 28.Rb2 Rxe3 is good for Black.
Apr-08-13  ColdSong: Food for thought after I have spent some time on this game.1.I'm not sure 5...c5 is black's less dangerous option (even if it's certainly theory, and of course playable),precisely because of 6.d5!? and 7.Nh4,and white's gonna have the eventually dangerous phalanx d5-e4.2.7...Qc8 seemed better to me than 7...g6,which allows white to take on d5 with knight, bishop and queen,with some hope of an edge on the black d pawn,althought I find rather difficult to prove that this pawn is really a weakness,because white seems behind in tempi.3.white can think to something better than the automatic 9.00,one more time to build up an real edge on the d file without weaknesses on b2,b4,a2,d4,e2.4.One can doubt 10.Bf4 is the more accurate.Anyway,the "d" file dream seems no more possible for white.5.13.f4 is,in fact,certainly a weak move, although it's far from obvious.One can believe for a long time that a kingside attack is possible:there's,almost certainly, nothing there for white.6.13...a6 is a little but clever move: the queenside belongs,annoyingly, to black ;now....b5 is always possible, now or later.7.18...Nfe4 seems playable,too, but well, the end of the game gives fully reason to 18...Nfd7.8.21.Qc2 seems better.9.After 26...Nd3,white's position is obviously miserable. Alekhine, furthermore, was not in a mood to defend with precision,as he was not to find before how to improve his possibilities on the kingside:28.Rb3? Nf4!;30.Ng2? Rf3!.A crystal clear artwork from Capa,unless, I'd say,more accurately,even cruel, Alekhine's whole plan is never far from being ridiculous.
Jul-31-13  The Rocket: Clumsy play from Alekhine. In particular f4 and his awkward bishop placement, culminating in a convincing win for Capablanca.
Aug-26-13  jerseybob: Small wonder, based on this game, that Capa thought the upcoming match was in the bag.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <timothee3331: <Honzo Cervenka> You are perfectly right, but unhappily nobody seems to know the truth. And we should add that when Alekhine tried to escape Europe at the beginning of WWII, he promised a rematch with Capablanca when he tried to apply for a Cuban visa/passport.>

Is this true? Did AA offer a rematch to the fading Capa, in return for safe passage to Cuba? I've often wondered why the USA didn't take him, if he tried to go the USA. We have a history of taking in famous, controversial people with unusual talents.

Instead, he died almost like a homeless guy, all alone in a cheap hotel with no heating, in Portugal. Heck, if he had straightened out a little, he could have played training games with a young Bobby Fischer at the Manhattan Chess Club!

Nov-02-13  Karpova: Alekhine: <Thanks to my bad play, the chess value of this game was equal to zero, [...].>

From page 18 of Alexander Alekhine, 'New York 1927', 2011, Russell Enterprises, Milford, CT USA

Jul-07-14  Howard: Keep in mind that this game took place in the New York 1927 tournament, not the world championship match.

The first time I glanced at it here, I'd thought it was from the match !

Premium Chessgames Member
  Everett: <Howard> sounds like you should keep this in mind, since everyone else on the page is on the up and up, talking about how the result may have affected Capa's future preparation for their match later in the year.
Nov-12-15  onam: Someone knows a youtube video about this game?
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 11..Nh5 is why 10 Bf4 is rarely played nowadays and why 10 Bg5 is the main line. 13 f4? was an odd choice; 13 e4 would have been more logical. After a second poor move 14 Bf3? Black took over the initiative; 14 a4 would have been better. With f3 occupied by the bishop 15..c4 was more effective because White could not easily transfer a knight to d4. 21 Ng2 would have been a tougher defense.

This game is so far below Alekhine's usual strength that it is hard to believe that Capablanca took it very seriously.

May-05-20  The Rocket: Alekhine played this game like a patzer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Espinacov10: Alekhine didn't respect much Capa since he continued playing for quite a few moves with many pawns down in a completely lost endgame.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: For me, the tactical monster aspect of Capablanca is quite clearly demonstrated in this game. That his games often "look simple" is when he has the luxury of further validation of correctness. A win/win because the general public get the idea his play is actually "Simple" without appreciating the vastness of calculation behind the scenes.

Here in this game, it is a wild opening - Benoni style which was favoured by Mikhail Tal, and the navigation of complexity of Capablanca seems great.

Compare engine accuracy of both players:

Alexander Alekhine (?)
37 Average centipawn loss

Jose Raul Capablanca (?)
12 Average centipawn loss

Capablanca is known for "Simple looking" play and playing Simply - but there is also a subtle distinction of aiming to "Look like simple chess" which acts an extra safeguard for being more reassured moves are good. This tournament game shows the real tactical monster behind Capablanca.

Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: This win over Alekhine ( the othe 3 Capablanca-Alekhine games in the 1927 NY Tournament were rather dull draws ) may have been one of the reasons Capablanca went into the World Championship Match with Alekhine with too much confidence that he could win the match handily without extensive preparation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: If someone like me can see how far Alekhine was off his game in this encounter then I am confident Capablanca realized it as well.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: I video annotated this game here:

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