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Arthur William Dake vs Abraham Kupchik
US Championship (1936), New York, NY USA, rd 1, Apr-25
Catalan Opening: Closed Variation (E08)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-11-02  bishop: Maybe the Black queen was prematurely developed to c7. Shall we call Ne5 the star move of the game?
May-23-14  optimal play: <bishop: Maybe the Black queen was prematurely developed to c7> 8...Qc7 does look like an inferior move compared to the most common 8...b6 although 8...b5 looks interesting.

<Shall we call Ne5 the star move of the game?> I’m not sure 14.Ne5 is really better than the obvious 14.Bxd6

In any case, black is still in the game until 16...Bxe5?

Better would have been 16...Bxc5

btw I hope 12 years wasn't too long to wait for someone to reply to your comments ;)

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A fine effort by Dake, who achieved a positionally won game by move 16 and pressed his advantage to victory from there.

1. Nf3 Nf6
2. c4 e6
3. g3 d5
4. Bg2 Nbd7

Kupchik aimed for the all-purpose defensive set up (here via transposition) of d5, e6, Nf6, Nbd7, Be7, and 0-0. While that yields a fully playable position for Black here, best was 4...d4. Also good for Black here were 4...Be7 and 4...a6.

5. 0-0

Continuing to pursue a Catalan set-up. But simplest and perhaps best for White here was 5. d4.

5... Be7

Pursuing the above-mentioned plan. Simplest and best for Black here, however, was 5...dxc4.

6. d4 0-0
7. Qc2 c6
8. Nbd2

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8... Qc7

This move was criticized on this site by <bishop> and by <optimal play> many years ago. Indeed, 8...b6 recommended by <optimal play> is probably best. His alternative suggestion, 8...b5, looks questionable after 9. c5. 8...c5 os also good for Black. In any case, White emerges with some advantage.

9. e4! dxe4

Giving up the center without a fight. Black had several ways to try for counterplay, e.g.: 9...Nxe4; 9...h6; 9...a5.

10. Nxe4

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10... NxN

Hilbert and Lahde overstated their case in calling this move an "unfortunate necessity" in their book ("H/L") on the 1936 US Championship Tournament, since 10...Qb6 is also playable. But the text is likely best, and H/L was correct in pointing out that 10...b6 here would lead to trouble for Black after 11. Bf4!

11. QxN Nf6
12. Qc2 b6
13. Bf4 Bd6

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14. Ne5

Both the text, which was highly praised by <bishop> and 14. BxB, which was suggested by <optimal play> allow White to retain a significant edge.

14... Bb7
15. c5

Although, as H/L pointed out, this move is "unpleasant" for Black, Dake could also have retained his bind on the Black position with 15. Rfd1; 15. Rfc1; or 15. b4.

15... bxc5
16. dxc5

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Kupchik here had to make a crucial decision. His misjudgment in his response left him in a powerful bind from which he was never able to extricate himself.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

16... BxN?

A serious mistake from which Kupchuk never really recovered. Though the White Knight on e5 had been a serious thorn in Kupchik's side, the remedy here was far worse than the disease, since White now can dominate the Black squares in Black camp.

The only move to give Kupchik a real camp was 16...Bxc5!, as suggested on this site by <optimal play> six years ago. This move sacrifices the exchange (16...Bxc5 17. Ng6! followed by 18. NxR but gives Black decent counterchances.

The H/L tournament book missed 16...Bxc5. An excellent find by <optimal play>.

After the text, Dake had matters pretty much his way for the balance of the contest:

17. BxB Qd8

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With his dominant Bishops and with Kupchil saddled with an isolated c-pawn, Dake had a strategically won game at this point. Converting this to victory, however, required patience and creativity, all of which Dake displayed in what followed.

18. Rfd1

18. Rad1 was arguably ecen stronger. 18. b4 was another strong option. But Dake's move got the job of attacking on the d-file.

18... Nd5!

The only real chance. H/L rightly called Black's Knight the "pride and glory" of his troops. Given Black's feeble Bishops and the relative impotence of his Rooks, this description is fitting.

19. Qg4!

As H/L also correctly note, the text was a fine means of forcing further weaknesses in the Black camp.

19... g6

H/L called this "forced," and points out that 19...Nf6 would get crushed by 20. Qb4! Qc8 (sad but best) 21. BxN gxB 22. Qh4 Kg7 (22...f5 is somewhat better than H/L's move, but also hopeless) 23. Rd4.

After 19...g6, the position was:

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20. Rd4

H/L eloquently described the upcoming maneuvers of this Rook on the fourth rank as "extremly agile." But it would have been even better to realign the White Rooks with 20. Re1 followed by Rad1.

20... Bc8?

Tangling up his already constricted position even further. 20...Re8 or 20...Bq6 or even 20...a5 were better tries.

21. Qe2

Nicely played by Dake. The White Queen was now poised to use c2 or d2 as the best position to support the intended storming of the Black fortress.

21... Re8
22. Qd2

Even better were 22. Qc2; 22. Bd6; or 22. Re1.

22... Qe7

Sloppy. Since he was going to have to play f6, better to play it immediately. The text gave Dake the opportunity (which he missed) to get a firm grip on the Black camp with 23. Bd6, the position now being:

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23. Rh4

As noted above, 23. Bd6 (before Black has played f6) would have been very awkward for Kupchik.

23... f6

Sadly, Black has nothing better than to submit to this additional weakness. As H/L noted, 23...Qxc5? would get crushed by 24. Qh6, after which Black can delay checkmate for a very few moves.

24. Bd6 Qf7

This resource would not have been available had Dake played 23. Bd6.

25. Rd1 Bd7

This Bishop was a pathetic spectacle for much of the game. But I see nothing significantly better for Black here.

26. Ra4

Dake's use of this Rook on his 4th rank was rightly praised by H/L.

26... Bc8

Continuing his hopeless little Bishop dance between b7, c8, and d7. While Black is likely list anyway, Kupchik should have striven for counter-play with 26...e5.

27. f4

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

27... Bb7

Still sitting pat with his Bishop maneuvers. There was, however, nothing much better.

28. Re1

28. g4 might have been more dynamic, but Dake was patient and--as noted by H/L--played to prevent e5 by Black and to induce f5.

28... Bc8

Still doing his little dance.

29. Rae4

Still in no hurry, and by-passing the chance to play 29. g4. While that would have been strong, Dake's relentless strategy was quite effective.

29... Bd7

Still dancing!

30. Bh3

One of many ways to tighten the screws on Black.

30... Rad8

Now adding a little Rook dance (between d8 and a8) to his repertoire.

31. Qa5

Targeting the Black Queen-side.

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31... Ra8

Hopeless. Maybe the desperate 31...e5 should have been tried.

32. Qa6 f5

H/L called this "inevitable." That looks like an overstatement, but--once again--I have no great ideas for Black here. The hole created on e5, as noted by H/L, was a new serious problem for Black, the position now (after 32...f5) being:

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33. Ra4

Continuing his Rook play on his 4th rank...

33... Bc8

...while Black continues his Bishop shuffling.

34. Qa5 Qb7
35. Qd2

En route to d4.

35... Qf7
36. Bf1

Having done its job on h3, the Bishop was now readied to support the coming Queen-side push.

36... h6
37. Qd4 Kh7

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38. b4

"Beginning the final assault." (H/L).

38... a6
39. Bc4 Ra7
40. Qd3 Qb7
41. a3

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

41... Rg8

H/L correctly stated that 41...a5? would be a mistake, but their suggested 42. BxN cxB 43. b5, though strong and likely winning, is inferior to 42. Rxa5 (42...RxR 43. bxR with 44. a6 to follow).

After 41...Rg8, the position was:

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42. BxN?

Dake's worst moment in this game. With 42. Ra5 or 42. Be5 or 42. Qd4, he would maintain his powerful grip on the position. But now the position was:

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42... cxB?

As H/L correctly pointed out, 42...exB was essential after which Kupchik might have had a fighting chance. If then 43. Re7+ Black, though losing his Queen, would be very much still in the game after 43...QxR 44. BxQ RxB since his two Rooks and Bishops and protected passed d-pawn would have allowed him to blockade White's attack and retain counter-attacking possibilities.

After 42...exB, 43. Ra5; 43. Qc3; and 43. Re5 would be stronger than 43. Re7+, but no win would be in immediate sight.

But now, Dake's task was eased, and his dark-square Bishop had become a monster, the position now being:

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43. Qd4

Exploiting the weak Black squares on the King-side.

Dake could also have forced play with 43. Ra5 immediately.

43... Qc6
44. Ra5

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44... Rf7?!

44...Rb7 was perhaps best, but Kupchuk decided--not unreasonably--to go for broke on the King-side.

45. a4!

The Queen-side advance at last proceeds. Black is busted.

45... g5?!

Theoretically unsound, but better than sitting pat and awaiting the coming avalanche.

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46. b5

46. fxg5 followed by 47. b5 would also win for White.

The text left:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

46... axb5?

Now the floodgates open. 46...Qd7 offered the last slim hope.

47. axb5 Qd7
48. Rea1

48. fxg5 hxg5 49. Be5 would also win.

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48... gxf4

Hopeless, but so was everything else.

49. Bxf4

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With c6 coming from Dake, Kupchik decided to try a last ditch effort and advance his d-pawn.

49... e5?!
50. Qxe5 Re8
51. Qd6

51. c6 was the most brutal line, but the text was more than sufficient, the position now being:

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51... d4

51...QxQ was the best way to prolong the game, but with the Queens off the board he would have no counterplay at all.

52. Qxh6+ Kg8
53. Ra7!

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53... Rh7

If 53...QxR 54. Qg6+ Kh8 55. RxQ Re1+ 56. Kf2 RxR 57. KxR

54. c6

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If 54...RxQ 55. cxQ; if 54...QxR 55. Qg6+!

A fine win by Dake.

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