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Jose Raul Capablanca vs Moshe Czerniak
Buenos Aires Olympiad Final-A (1939), Buenos Aires ARG, rd 3, Sep-04
Sicilian Defense: Alapin Variation. Barmen Defense Central Exchange (B22)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: Panov suggests: 20... Qd4 21. Rd1, black loses the rook or it is mate.

This is true as shown by these variations: 21... Qb6 22. Qa4 Ke7 (22... Kf8 23. Qa3 Kg8 24. Qa7! Qc6 25. Rd8 Ne8 26. Qa8 ) 23. Rd6 Qb1 24. Kg2 a6 25. Qa5 b6 26. Rb6 Qe4 27. Bf3 Qf4 28. Ra6 Nd7 (28... Ke7 29. Qc5 and mate) 29. Ra8 winning the rook (29... Nb8 30. Qa7).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: Golombek suggests, instead of Petrov's move 21. Rd1, 21. Qc8, which is good too. His variation runs like this: 21... Qd8 22. Bb5 Ke7 23. Qb7, but there he suggests 23... Kf8 24. Rc1 "winning the queen". This is true, but black could delay the loss with 23... Kd6. White wins anyway with 24. Rd1 Nd5 25. Bc6 .
Mar-02-06  erimiro1: <Czerniak helped him to gain the control again by missing <18. ..Rxg4+>> Czerniak himself claimed shortly in one of his books, that he wasn't sure that 18.-R:g4+ would save him. Indeed, black has to choose which pawn (g4 or b4) to capture for the rook, and personaly I can understand his decision.

Jul-30-07  aragorn69: Ed Winter's Chess Note 5074 show how the loser of this brilliant game, Miguel Czerniak, praised the depths of Capa's combination : <Having awarded Capablanca’s 13 b4 two exclamation marks, he stated that he considered his reply (13...Bxb4) for nearly an hour, before becoming convinced that Capablanca’s combination was incorrect (‘how optimistic I was!’). In a later note he acknowledged that in accepting the sacrifice he had overlooked that at move 20 he would be unable to capture the white knight en prise at d4.>

And adds: <Annotating the game on pages 135-138 of his posthumous book Gran Ajedrez (Madrid, 1947) Alekhine stated that the line from 13 b4 onwards was ‘a very rare instance in modern chess of a master having to calculate so far ahead’.>

Jul-30-07  paladin at large: <> This is a Caro Kann.

Extraordinary play from a 50-year old. Capa decided to play aggressively because it was the best way to take advantage of black's undeveloped position before black could focus on white's isolated queen pawn. Moreover, Capa had been walking around and noticed that his compatriots on the other three boards were in difficulty against their Palestinian counterparts. (Source - also Winter)

Sep-14-07  whiteshark: This game was played on 4th Sept. 1939 in the 3rd round of the Final Group A.

Note: Game of the reliminary round: Czerniak vs Capablanca, 1939

Nov-02-07  Sularus: shouldn't this be a caro kann as was pointed out?
Nov-02-07  pawn to QB4: Check out this position from the Alapin SicilianOpening Explorer. Probably a question only of interest to myself and fellow geeks, but I think whoever spotted that it transposed from the Caro to the c3 Sicilian knows his/her stuff.
Nov-03-07  Karpova: Well, the Caro-Kann Panov attack is well-known for transposing into other openings (even queen's pawn openings - look at the isolani on d4)
Nov-04-07  Sularus: <pawnto Qb4>

But according to this CG, 1. e4 c6
is Caro Kann.

Oh well. Anyway, thanks for the reply.

Nov-04-07  pacelli: Beautiful tactics. I'd have never guessed it was played by Capablanca if I didn't already know.
Nov-04-07  CapablancaFan: <chessgames> Isn't this opening the Caro-Kann, exchange variation?
Nov-04-07  pawn to QB4: Hi Sularus. My point is that the positions on move 7 and thereafter can arise from an Alapin Sicilian or a Caro Kann. In these cases, I suppose you list the game under the opening from which the position most commonly arises. For instance, if a game starts 1.Nf3 c5 2.e4 you'd call it a Sicilian defence rather than a Reti System. This is why I agree with CG: I think I've had the very position we see after move 7 - as Black, after 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 etc - and fortunately not against people quite as tough as Capablanca. I also play the Caro Kann when feeling particularly scared of youngsters' abilities to parrot Sicilian theory, and have never got to anything resembling this game. I haven't checked the database but I'd be pretty sure this position has arisen much more often after 1.e4 c5 2.c3 than after 1.e4 c6. So, personally, I'd call it an Alapin (by transposition); but of course you're free to differ.
Nov-04-07  Calli: <pawn to QB4> Yes, there are 53 games in the DB that reach the same position as this game after 10 moves:

It appears that all except this one are 1...c5. Another oddity is all the rest are recent games.

Nov-05-07  pawn to QB4: Thanks a lot for the research. I guess the c3 Sicilian's largely a recent development. I have an MCO from the 70s which dismisses it with one line, supposed to lead to advantage to Black. No doubt Czerniak and Capablanca at the time would have agreed this was a Caro Kann...a game ahead of its time?
Dec-28-08  Karpova: Jose Raul Capablanca: <Yesterday evening I had the white pieces again in Cuba's match against Palestine, a team we had beaten 3-1 in the preliminary section although I had only drawn. As is my custom, shortly after play began I went to see how my compatriots were faring, and I observed that things were going badly, since my team-mates had played inferior openings and were all under pressure. Meanwhile, I had obtained a satisfactory opening in a fairly well known though little played variation of the Caro-Kann. I suppose that a large number of 'aficionados' who are accustomed to see me almost always play a positional game in which everything is solidly constructed were surprised to see me playing a purely attacking game. I must point out that games must be conducted in accordance with the kind of opening that is played. In the defense adopted yesterday evening by Black, it is necessary for White, if he wishes to obtain any advantage, to attack vigorously before Black can consolidate his defenses and exert pressure on White's isolated queen's pawn.

In the light of the above, the public will understand why I launched an assault in such resolute fashion. I had the good fortune of being able to make a long, difficult combination as a result of which I obtained a clear advantage, which I was quickly able to exploit. Black's position collapsed before the end of the playing session. The game was of the kind that most appeals to the public and it is a source of satisfaction for me that this game was the first of its kind played in this tournament.>

From "Critica", 1939.09.05

Source: Page 291 of Winter, Edward: "Capablanca: a compendium of games, notes, articles, correspondence, illustrations and other rare archival materials on the Cuban chess genius Jose Raul Capablanca, 1888-1942.", Jefferson, North Carolina, 1989

Dec-28-08  Alphastar: <Calli:It appears that all except this one are 1...c5. Another oddity is all the rest are recent games.>

I don't think it's that odd (that all games except this one are 1. ..c5). 4. ..Nc6 is a rare bird in the caro-kann panov; black almost invariably plays 4. ..Nf6 so he can recapture on d5 with the knight, and this happens in 99.9% of all Panov attack games. So IQP games where black retakes on d5 with the queen are mostly seen in the c3 sicilian.

May-29-11  hibolife: White could have inserted 20.Qc8+ and perhaps won quicker. king moves, queen checks again, knight blocks, knight takes knight qxN, Re1, and and king will be on the run! Woah. nice opening for lots of play for white, even if qd7. white gets at least a goodendgame at the end of the rumbles.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Mateo: Panov suggests: 20... Qd4 21. Rd1, black loses the rook or it is mate.

This is true as shown by these variations: 21... Qb6 22. Qa4 Ke7 (22... Kf8 23. Qa3 Kg8 24. Qa7! Qc6 25. Rd8 Ne8 26. Qa8 ) 23. Rd6 Qb1 24. Kg2 a6 25. Qa5 b6 26. Rb6 Qe4 27. Bf3 Qf4 28. Ra6 Nd7 (28... Ke7 29. Qc5 and mate) 29. Ra8 winning the rook (29... Nb8 30. Qa7).>

I can't quite follow all that - especially the move 23.Rd6... I can't see that that is a good move at all...

But after 20...Qxd4

click for larger view

Surely 21.Rd1 Qb6 21.Qc8+ Qd8 22.Bb5+ Ke7 23.Qxb7+ wins pretty easily...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: 20...Qxd4 21.Rd1 Qb6 22.Qc8+ allows 22...Ke7 23.Qxh8 Ne4 24.Rf1 Ng3 25.Bf3 (25.Re1 Ne4) Nxf1. Although White is still better, he doesn't have a clear win.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Here is an extension of a line given earlier by <Mateo>: After 17. Rxa1

click for larger view

17....Bxb3 18. b5 Bd5!!

click for larger view

(<<Mateo> gives 18... Rd8 19. bxc6 bxc6 20. Ne5 Bd5 21. Nb5 cxb5 22. Bxb5+ Nd7 23. Rc1 f6 24.Nxd7 Kf7 25. Rc7 Rc8 26. Ne5+ Kg8 $8 27. Rxc8# which is quite fun!)>

19. bxc6 Bxf3 20. Bxf3 Rd3 a rook fork!
21. cxb7 Kd7 (surely the only move) 22. Rd1 very good - a rook pin! Rxd1+ 23. Nxd1 = that looks level

click for larger view

Mar-07-13  Garech: Sicilian Defence, Alapin variation??

I don't think so!

Great game though.


Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: In SvSSSR/1940,p43, the moves 28.Rd1 Qa3 29.Rd3 Qa1 are not given. Instead, it gives an immediate 28.Qd2 with the rest as given in the score here. The Caparros book under the section 'official' games also gives the same version as SvSSSR. The Khalifman and Yudasin book on Capablanca (Vol 2) has the version given here albeit they recommend 28.Qd2 (with the idea Qh6). Reinfeld's book uses the version given here.
Nov-03-19  N.O.F. NAJDORF: Golombek seems eminently qualified to have annotated this game, as he also lost his queen to Capablanca earlier that year:

Capablanca vs Golombek, 1939

Dec-15-22  N.O.F. NAJDORF: Correction: Golombek would have been able to avoid the loss of his queen by giving up the exchange.
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