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David Janowski vs Jose Raul Capablanca
New York (1924), New York, NY USA, rd 1, Mar-16
Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Janowski Variation (D67)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-28-04  Calli: I think more pages used to be online. A few years ago I stumbled upon it and thought, wow, someone was at NY 1924 and we have a first person account. Pretty soon, though it was obvious that all these vignettes were just make-up stories the author was trying to weave into the tournament. The annotations are not insightful and then you have the problem of using real players names with fictitous accounts. Not fair to the actual players. I guess it is an interesting experiment, but not a success, IMHO.
Mar-28-04  Lawrence: <Calli>, some time ago when I saw what Steve Lopez had done I thought "Oh oh, that's dangerous, somebody's going to take these stories literally." Lots of fun for Steve to invent this stuff but he should put a disclaimer on every story pointing out that it's just the product of his fertile imagination.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Benjamin Lau> <...and unlike in the case of Capablanca, no one has decided to enshrine him with the myth of gentlemanliness.>

Interesting. I read references to Capablanca's gentlemanliness before, and never occurred to me to wonder about their origin. Such a statement requires a definition of genlemanliness. For a chess player, I would define it as being gracious and keeping a courteous, respectful and dignified manner even in defeat. There are plenty of cases of GMs who appear to be "gentlemen" (by my definition)... until they lose.

Is there any record of Capablanca meeting my definition?

Kasparov certainly doesn't (for starters, his violation of the touch-move rule against Judith Polgar in Linares 1994 says it all. See discussion: Judit Polgar vs Kasparov, 1994). I don't know every detail of Fischer's life, but he might meet my definition. While he was a pain in the ass to deal with away from the board, he seems to have conducted himself in a gentlemanly way while at the board. See for example Unzicker vs Fischer, 1960, where he reportedly touched a pawn while Unzicker was away from the board and realized then it was a losing move. Yet, he sucked it up and moved it and lost. But, again, I don't know Fischer in much detail and I am open to refutation.

Nov-27-08  hrvyklly: <Fusilli> I'd forgotten about that Fischer story, thanks for reminding me. But one should aim to be a gentleman on and off the board, obviously enough, which discounts both Fischer and Kasparov. I think that Spassky could be considered a true gentleman. But like you, it would be nice to hear some 'proof' about the great Capa.
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Hi <hrvyklly>, long time, no see. Why do you assume Fischer was not gentlemanly at the board? I have never heard otherwise. His frequent petitions were not at the board, and his ramblings are from a later time.
Nov-27-08  ughaibu: "Bobby wiped pieces of the board, and bolted without first signing his resignation"

L Sanchez vs Pachman, 1959

Nov-27-08  ughaibu: In fact Fischer's @#$%*&!# at the board is well known, whistling Colonel Bogie when winning, wiping imaginary specks of dust from the opponent's side of the board during the opponent's thinking time. That's off the top of my head, and I'm not any manner of Fischer expert.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <maxi> I believe <hrvyklly> was not criticizing Fischer's behavior at the board, but off it (he was following up on my comment were I ventured that Fischer might qualify as a gentleman at the board). <ughaibu>'s post do dispute claims of Fischer's gentlemanliness at the board, though.

Speaking of this, I just read that Ivanchuk threw a fit after his last round game at the Olympiad: See Olympiad (2008). And to rescue the subsequent awkward situation came Spassky, nominated by <hrvyklly> as a true chess gentleman.

This said, I do hope someone will provide some evidence supporting the ubiquitous claim that Capablanca was a true gentleman at the board (suggested definition of this provided in my earlier post). I would like to believe it's true, but I wouldn't mind some evidence!

Nov-27-08  ughaibu: Fusilli: If you're sufficiently interested and can be bothered, there was an extended dispute about Fischer's gentlemanliness on his page from early September 2005.
Nov-27-08  ughaibu: Maybe it was November(?)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: Thanks <ughaibu>. I'll look that up.
Nov-27-08  ughaibu: "Fools jump in", it wasn't an episode reflecting great credit on any of the protagonists, including me.
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: I am not an expert on Fischer's bio, but the Sanchez episode was in 1959. Given that Fischer was born on March 9, 1943, he must have been about 15 at the time. So he was just being your average teenager.

Regarding Capa's gentlemanliness (if I may say so, I have studied Capa extensively), the best argument for him being a gentleman is this. He was very much in the public eye: in the players', the press', and even the ladies' eye. We have hundreds of reports about his games, displays, speeches (all short), etc., etc., and overwhelmingly they are all positive, glowing I would say. Believe me, we would know if he were not a gentleman.

May-16-16  Albion 1959: Capa gifted a draw here, since he must have known that Janowski would have to settle for a draw by accepting the knight sacrifice rather than play on a pawn down. did Capa have to play Nxf4 anyway?
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Albion 1959....did Capa have to play Nxf4 anyway?>

In my opinion, forcing the draw was the strongest practical decision; if Black lets his opponent settle, he can drift into a passive position with little hope of counterplay, a not atypical outcome in lines of the Classical QGD and the reason it fell from favour by the late 1920s.

May-26-16  edubueno: It is difficult to improve the black play, since it was the first round and most probably Janowsky was well prepared and phisically in conditions.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: I wonder if Janowski knew that Capablanca was slightly under the weather, and thought that the unusual 11. h4 instead of 11. Be7 might have caused the Cuban to make a mistake?
Sep-29-21  Gaito: <Mar-26-04 meloncio: First round in New York mythical tournament. .... I also read that Capa was sick (flu) during the first rounds. ...> Yes, Capa had been sick of grippe (a sort of flu). In the book of the tournament there is a nine-page introduction by Norbert L. Lederer. I quote the following: "....Before the tournament began, several unforseen incidents helped to maintain the interest and contribute a bit of anxiety, chiefly the illness of Capablanca from a severe attack of la grippe, which made his participation in the tournament somewhat doubtful up to the last minute". Sorce: The Book of the International Chess Tournament, N.Y., 1924, page 4.
Sep-29-21  Gaito:

click for larger view

Commenting on the move 10.h4!? Alekhine wrote:

<"If this is not a new move, it has nevertheless been well forgotten. In these days one can hardly make such a claim, for, sooner or later, some person will come forward and prove black on white that he used this move decades ago in some class C tournament or perchance in a coffee house game and hence demand parental recognition.">

Sep-29-21  Gaito: Apparently Janowsky's novelty took Capablanca by surprise, and the latter replied with the dubious 10...f6?!

In his comments, Alekhine wrote this about the move 10...f6?!:

<" The weakenning of the square e6 is not justified and causes embarrassment to black">

Alekhine suggested the move 10...Nxc3 and furnished a couple of possible variations in the book of the tournament.

Stockfish 14 suggests here 10...h6 with a roughly equal game.

It is not clear what Capa intended to accomplish by paying 10...f6?!

Sep-29-21  Gaito:

click for larger view

Capablanca emerged badly from the opening. To be sure, opening preparation and opening knowledge was far from bering Capa's strong side; rather he often played the opening by intuition and his real strength was to appear in the middlegame and especially the endgame.

In the position of the diagram White is clearly better. Computer evaluation by SF14 is +1.19. Now Black had a difficult task: how to achieve equality or how to fight for equality from an inferior position. The World Champion finally found a clever way to force a draw by perpetual check.

Sep-29-21  Gaito:

click for larger view


The logical move was here 15.h5! preventing Black's intended move ...Qh5, and with excellent chances to undertake an eventual K-side attack. Computer evaluation after 15.h5! is +1.71, almost a winning advantage for White. Janowsky played instead 15.Qd3 which is probably White's second best move. Alekhine said that 15.Qd3 was "good enough" but no the best move.

Sep-29-21  Gaito: During the years 1911 to 1924 David Janowsky and Capablanca played 11 classical tournament games, with an over all score of 9 to 1 and 1 draw in favor of the Cuban.
Sep-29-21  SChesshevsky: <It is not clear what Capa intended to accomplish by playing 10...f6>

Probably figures idea with Bg5, h4 is king side attack. Eliminating DSB reduces attacking chances. However, ...h6 just falls into whites probable idea of h4. Somehow opening the h file, maybe even sac the B.

...f6 pushes the B without weakening the h file and allows black to exchange the B and clog up the king side files. Also stifles the LSB with the powerful d5 N outpost. Pretty much offsetting the light square weakness.

Without useful B's and much time needed to secure king and open files, white probably has little tangible near term attack possibilities.

Though white probably better objectively given Blacks cramped QGD defensive choice, given its Janowsky v. Capablanca, might be subjectively closer to equal or even slight edge to Capablanca.

Sep-29-21  Gaito: <Sep-29-21 SChesshevsky> Yes, I see your point very clearly. Thanks for the explanation. Really 10...f6 was by no means a pointless move as I had thought.
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