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Alexander Alekhine vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"Beat A Hasty Retreat" (game of the day Feb-24-2021)
AVRO (1938), The Netherlands, rd 9, Nov-19
French Defense: Tarrasch. Closed Variation (C05)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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"On November 19, 1938, Jose R. Capablanca, former World Champion, will be entitled to light a birthday cake with fifty candles. We hope the strain of participation in the A.V.R.O. Tournament will not hinder his celebration of the joyous occasion. He has given the chess world some of its finest treats. Indeed if chess games could serve as candles to light birthday cakes, he could cull fifty brilliant lights with ease and have no trouble in finding extras for 'good luck.'

We are indebted to subscriber Dr. Antonio Barreras for new of his country's preparations to celebrate the occasion. The Cuban Government has designated November 19th as Capablanca Day. A plaque commemorating his achievements will be formally dedicated at his birthplace. The Cuban Government has agreed to issue a postage stamp with Capablanca's picture on it. Lectures on his games and achievements will be given in all the chess clubs and over the radio.

Capablanca must be deeply touched by this spontaneous tribute of his countrymen. It is truly a wonderful gesture."

November, 1938

"Psychology plays a great part in this game. Capablanca, a past master at putting each piece in its most effective position, shifts his pieces around like a tyro. Why? Because he is too anxious to win!" S.S.C.

Bruce Pandolfini: "The Best of Chess Life and Review, Volume 1, 1933-1960." Simon & Schuster INC, New York, 1988.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 11..Nf8?! seems slow; 11..a5 or 11..0-0 are alternatives. With 13..Nd8?! Capablanca hoped to play Bb5 but he never accomplished this; 13..Rc8 or 13..f5 both look better.

Alekhine on 14..a5?!:
"A very unfortunate manoeuvre but such moves are usually made in already compromised positions."

Alekhine on 21 h5!:
"Completely suppressing the threat of g7-g5. It is true that this move gives the black knight temporary use of g5, but on the other hand it secures the g6 square."

Given this quote I wonder if Capablanca could have played 20..g6!? weakening h6 but making it more difficult for Alekhine to play h5.

The alternative 23..Bxh4 24 gxf would have left the knight on e4 trapped but perhaps 23..0-0 was an improvement over Capablanca's 23..Kf7?!. 30 Kg3 at once would have been premature as after 30..Rc8 31 Rac1 (31 Kxg4..Rc4!)..Rc4! the knight is not sk clearly trapped.

May-26-17  SeanAzarin: R. N. Coles' late game observations:

[On Black's 27th move] "If 27... N-K5, 28 BxN PxB 29 N-N6 wins the Exchange."

[On Black's 28th move] "If instead 28... KxB, 29 Q-B2 ch K-N1 30 N-N6 wins the Exchange."

[On White's 31st move] "Now the [Black] material begins to fall, first the KNP and then the Knight which has no escape."

[On the final position] "Black lost on time, but he has no compensation for the lost material, and White is threatening 36 Q-QB2 followed by 37 N-N5."

Jan-10-18  Octavia: <strobane Why 10. Kf1?
Wha's wrong with 10. Bd2? >
He wanted to restrain black. If you swap pieces that's not so easy.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Another positional point of avoiding the exchange of White's bishop by 10.Kf1 is that, while it is bad now, that piece will be useful to defend the dark squares when the game is opened out.
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  Jonathan Sarfati: But then Alekhine himself praised 10.Bd2 as leading to a clearer advantage, when annotating Keres vs R Flores Alvarez, 1939 in his 107 Great Chess Battles, 1939-1945
Mar-24-20  joddon: a game of fireworks.....Alekhine from here shows he is the future of chess, and Capablanca has to hang up his gloves....still great fighter Jose was!!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Capablanca ties himself in knots. Indeed, had the book not already have been written, this would have been an excellent example for Znosko-Borovsy's <How Knot to Play Chess>.
Nov-10-20  RookFile: Alekhine avoided exchanges. This is how you cut off black's air supply.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: "A Great Game That Doesn't Lend Itself to a Good Pun"
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <OhioChessFan> Isn't it just "How Knot to Play Chess" as <Phony Benoni> suggested above?
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  An Englishman: Good Evening: Kotov and Keres both study this game in depth in The Art of the Middle Game without offering any ideas for improving Black's play. After 9...Bb4+?!, both 10.Bd2 and 10.Kf1 have proven very successful in the database; 10.Bd2,Bxd2+; 11.Qxd2,Qb4; 12.Rc1,Qxd2+; 13.Kxd2 has never lost in the DB.

Black has to play 9...Nf6, accept the backwards e6 pawn and hope he can generate counterplay.

Feb-24-21  V Geriakov: What really surprised me is that this game had not been a GOTD yet.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: at age 50 Capa was no longer the same player who had gone ten years without losing a game. Still, a great demonstration of talent by AAA.

Was 10. K-f1 a <relatively> new move at GM level chess? I'm thinking that Capa was very familiar with the endgames that ensue after 10.B-d2 and was probably disappointed to see Alekhine simply move his King out of check.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Alas, I thought they might actually run with mine.
Feb-24-21  Brenin: After 27 f4, Nf3 (as in the game) leaves the N stranded in enemy territory, and eventually captured, while 27 ... Ne4 loses the exchange to 28 Bxe4 dxe4 29 Ng6, but what about 27 ... Nf7, e.g. 28 Bd3 Nf8 to counter a possible Ng6? After Qe2 and Qxg4 White has a big spatial advantage, but is he winning?
Feb-24-21  goodevans:

click for larger view

"A knight on the rim is dim"!

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <goodevans>, whilst Black's proud beast at e4 accomplishes precisely nothing.
Premium Chessgames Member

click for larger view

The move that gets me, looking at this game again for the first time in many years, is 21.h5 giving up g5. Especially since Capa has just played 20....Nh7. But you've got to give squares to get squares, a wise man said. As perfidious noted, Capa's a knight to e4 looks good but doesn't accomplish much. Kind of like Spassky's knight in this game.

click for larger view

Karpov vs Spassky, 1974

Alekhine also pointed out that 21.h5 also put an end to any prospect of a Capa counterattack on the kingside.

<OhioChessFan: Alas, I thought they might actually run with mine.>

They honored it in spirit!

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <keypusher>, in the early 1980s, I won a game in this line in which my opponent (roughly 2100) also managed to get his knight to e4--not an easy thing to do and I never did, though I would go on to play Black in this variation numerous times through the 1990s.
Feb-24-21  BwanaVa: This may have been discussed, but why 27...Ng5-f3? Is it reasonable to think that Capa did not realize the knight would be trapped? Why not 27...Ng5 to either f7 or e4? Granted, Black has a bad game anyway...
Feb-24-21  Brenin: <BwanaVa>: I queried Black's 27 ... Nf3 earlier today, wondering why he didn't play Nf7 (Ne4 loses the exchange to 28 Be4 dxe4 29 Ng6). For what it's worth, the Engine gives 27 ... Nf3 +2.85 (preferring 28 Nxf3 gxf3+ 29 Kxf3 to the game line), 27 ... Ne4 28 Bxe4 +2.21, and 27 ... Nf7 28 Bd3 Nf8 29 Qe2 +4.15.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: One remembers good chess quotes. In Bobby Fischer's M60MG in the notes for one game an opponent gets a deeply posted Knight, I think at f6 during the endgame.

In the game notes it reads (my paraphrasing) "A deeply posted Knight has much less scope after both pair of Rooks have been exchanged and is not always to be feared."

So, if not part of a coordinated attack, the posted knight is not always a big asset.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sargon: <keypusher:


<OhioChessFan: Alas, I thought they might actually run with [my pun].>

They honored it in spirit!>

OCF had suggested <"A Great Game That Doesn't Lend Itself to a Good Pun">.

Notwithstanding that assertion, when reviewing the game before appointing it as GOTD (which I generally try to do) I immediately noticed that Black moved several minor pieces more than once in the opening (<11...Nf8> & <13...Nd8>, for example). As a rule of thumb, of course, this is inadvisable. Additionally, the computer analysis seems to suggest that <15...Bxa4> for Black is preferable to retreating the Queen with <15...Qa7>.

Therefore, in summary, many of Black's moves in the opening were <excessively> defensive—which ceded even <greater> initiative to White. As a result, White "beat" Black's "hasty retreat"—in less than 35 moves.

So I thought my pun was at least <marginally> apropos!

But then again, what do <I> know?

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