Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing
Jose Raul Capablanca vs Borislav Kostic
Capablanca - Kostic (1919), Havana CUB, rd 3, Mar-29
Russian Game: Classical Attack. Berger Variation (C42)  ·  1-0



Click Here to play Guess-the-Move
Given 17 times; par: 77 [what's this?]

Get this game explained with Decode Chess
explore this opening
find similar games 10 more Capablanca/Kostic games
PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

TIP: You can get computer analysis by clicking the "ENGINE" button below the game.

PGN Viewer:  What is this?
For help with this chess viewer, please see the Olga Chess Viewer Quickstart Guide.


Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-09-05  wmking40: Can anyone find a direct refutation to 12.Qxb7, or does Capa simply think he'll lose too much time having his queen chased around?
Mar-09-05  Calli: Good question! Capa says that

"White threatened 12.Nxe4, followed by 13.Bxe4. After Kh8, I considered the situation for a long time, about forty minutes. I could not quite make up my mind as to whether I should play 12.Qxb7 and risk the attack to which I thought there would be a good defense, or play as I did, 12.Nf1, which also subjected me to an attack, but of a different sort, and where my opponent would not have had benefit of his extraordinary memory (he knows by heart every game played by a master in the last twenty years, and a considerable number of games of much older date), but here he would, so to speak, be thrown on his own resources, and whatever combinations he made would have to come out of his own head, and not out of the heads of others."

Man, I hope I got all. That guy was speaking a mile a minute in Spanish.


Premium Chessgames Member
  samvega: <wmking40> As a non-paying member, do you have access to the "games similar to this one" feature? (If you have it, the link appears under the box containing the board and the scoresheet). If so, you can find examples of this position where white captured 12.Qxb7.
Premium Chessgames Member
  InspiredByMorphy: <wmking> <Can anyone find a direct refutation to 12.Qxb7> After reviewing the line, this is what I believe to be the strongest line for black available. I will say however that it is far from a refutation, and with proper defense whites extra pawn becomes an advantage. Majuwanam Kan,AR vs A Nasri, 2001
I like the originality of 12.Nf1 but I think 12.Qxb7 is more effective in sealing a advantage (even if only a slight one).
Apr-15-07  Pragmatist: The position after 11...Kh8 occurred in the 1974 candidates match between Karpov and Korchnoi. Karpov played 12.h3 Bh5 13.Qxb7. In his book "Winning with the Petroff" (published in 1993), Karpov says that, "Black [Korchnoi] lost quickly, although the opening was not responsible." I'm sure that 12.Qxb7 is an acceptable try for white, as Ivanchuk played it against Shirov in a serious game. However, I would need to see concrete analysis before I believe that 12.Qxb7 is best.
Apr-15-07  aazqua: Black is absolutely horrible in this game. This certainly isn't evidence one way or the other on the soundness of anything.
Aug-30-09  birthtimes: 12...Bxf3 13. gxf3 Nxf2 14. Kxf2 Bh4+ 15. Ng3 f4 puts more pressure on Capa than the actual game continuation...
Aug-30-09  birthtimes: 12. Qxb7 Rf6 13. Qb3 Rg6 14. Qa4 is the beginning of one line that seems fine for White.
Sep-03-09  krippp: It seems like <13...Bh4!> would have given Black a near-winning advantage.

<14.g3 Ng5! 15.Be2 f4 16.Bxg4 Qxg4 17.Kh1 fxg3 18.fxg3 Rf2> or <17.Kg2 Bxg3! 18.hxg3 f3+ 19.Kg1 Nh3+> with Nxf2 to follow.

Another defensive try could start with <14.Bxe4 fxe4 15.Ng3 Rf7!>, where Black doubles the Rooks on the f-file with a devastating attack.

White's best attempt at a defense seems then to be the freeing maneuver <16.Ndf1>, which unfortunately leaves a <gap at c4>, which will be exploited with <16...Na5! 17.Qc2 Raf8 18.Be3 Nc4 19.b3 Nxe3 20.fxe3>, and Black has White under devastating pressure. <18.Nh1> may thus be the more resilient way to protect <f2> in this variation, but of course it's passive enough to be very telling of the state White is in.

Sep-03-09  krippp: The main reason I posted the above was due to the surprise and irony that the find contains (for me).

Capablanca himself said that he felt at the height of his powers during this match. Chessmetrics supports that view. People often mention Capablanca when it's wondered whose play reached closest to perfection. And lastly, Kostic, although a very strong player, did not really belong to the "first class" of players, such as the Champions plus Rubinstein, Nimzowitsch etc.

But still, here we are, seeing Capablanca during the "best" performance of his life, and, at least for one move, being (almost) lost against "only" a "second class" master. Possibly without even realizing it. Oh the irony. Chess is very tricky, even for the chess machine. :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I've analysed it non-stop for 4 years and 13...Bh4 really does look like a winner!
Apr-19-14  john barleycorn: Capablanca in "My Chess Career" :
"10. QKt-Q2
This, I believe, to be my own invention, and I think it is the best move in this position..."

Actually, he reinvented it. Which is also a difficult thing to do.

Gunsberg vs Max Weiss, 1889
Showalter vs Pillsbury, 1904

Apr-19-14  john barleycorn: <birthtimes: 12...Bxf3 13. gxf3 Nxf2 14. Kxf2 Bh4+ 15. Ng3 f4 puts more pressure on Capa than the actual game continuation...>

This is the line Capablanca gave in his book "My Chess Career" which he was sure Kostitch would not play. See Calli's post above. Somewhat similar to 8...g6 in his ruy lopez with Nimzowitsch:

Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1914.

Motto: Get the opponent out of his comfort zone.

Apr-19-14  RookFile: When you put a knight on e4 like black did here, it stays there. You don't play ...Nxd2 but instead search with all your might for tactical tricks (...Bh4) etc. to leave it there.
Apr-19-14  john barleycorn: < RookFile: When you put a knight on e4 like black did here, it stays there. You don't play ...Nxd2 but instead search with all your might for tactical tricks (...Bh4) etc. to leave it there.>

There are exceptions like:

Nimzowitsch vs Tarrasch, 1914

Apr-19-14  RookFile: Sure, there are exceptions. I think the difference is that black invested in both ...d5 and ...f5 in this game.
Apr-19-14  john barleycorn: <RookFile>

Please, look at the Dilworth variant in the open ruy lopez or the sevilla variant of the gruenfeld for more examples.

Dec-12-14  Ulhumbrus: <krippp: It seems like <13...Bh4!> would have given Black a near-winning advantage.> How about this: 13...Bh4 14 Ng3 Nxf2 15 Kxf2 f4 16 Nd2-f3
Feb-28-15  Tal1949: I do wonder what a player like Rubinstein would have done after the huge blunder at move 13. Capablanca would have been in a world of hurt after the reply 13...Bh4. He was lucky he was only playing Kostic.
Jul-23-16  Elrathia Kingi: I was slightly surprised by 17.Qxb7, expecting it to be answered by 17...Rb8, with a capture of the b pawn and strong positioning of the R on the 2nd rank. However, it seems that 17...Rb8 is refuted by Rxe7!, when white gets 2 pieces for the rook and has a dominating position.
May-08-17  krippp: <Ulhumbrus>

click for larger view

Then comes <16..fxg3+ 17.hxg3 Bxf3 18.gxf3 Qh3>

click for larger view

...and with material now equal, black having the initiative against white's king, white seems to have only 2 options for not losing immediately on material: <19.gxh4 Rxf3+ 20.Ke2 Qg2+ 21.Kd1 Rxd3+ 22.Bd2 Qxd2#>, or <19.Rg1 Qh2+ 20.Rg2 Bxg3+>, both losing hugely.

Jan-03-19  vonKrolock: After <15.f3>

click for larger view

<15...♗f5?> Both alternatives: Bishop to h5 or to e6 were reasonable. But now, after the exchange in f5, White will be able to take the Pawn in b7 without preoccupations, because Black can't play Rook to b8, due to the zwischenzug ♖xe7!

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
<"...He murmured more absorbed than sad mother of mine BendiciĆ³n Alvarado of my destiny, a hundred years already, God d*** it, a hundred years already, the way time passes.">
- Gabriel Marquez.

Here is the important opening position, after

click for larger view

The b7 pawn is en prise.
It is noteworthy that two players decided not to take it: Capablanca and Karpov.
In this game Capa played the definitely inferior
12. Nf1.
Karpov postponed the decision. In Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1974 he played 12.h3 first. This minor TN caused Korchnoi to think for 30 minutes over 12...Bh4 and he eventually lost on time!

In Ivanchuk vs Shirov, 1998, White was brave and, despite his opponent's attacking reputation, he took the pawn immediately with 12.Qxb7. Ivanchuk defended very well and won.

In a recent game, from May 2017, M Iskandarov vs N Aghayev, 2017 Black got a big attack,

click for larger view

but again White weathered it and won.

White won all 4 of the games I mentioned, but Black had serious attacking chances, and Kostich could have won this game, if he had seen 13...Bh4. Overall the score to White is +22 -17 =6 after 12.Qxb7.

Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: More misery for Kostic in this one since White is totally busted after 13..Bh4! 14 Bxe4 fxe4 15 Ng3 Rf7! (even stronger than ..Rf6) 16 Ndf1 Raf8 17 Be3 Na5 followed by ..Nc4 (with the R on f6 White would at least have 17..Na5 18 Qb4 Nc4? 19 Nxe4!).

NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific game only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

This game is type: CLASSICAL. Please report incorrect or missing information by submitting a correction slip to help us improve the quality of our content.

Featured in the Following Game Collections[what is this?]
Game 33
from My Chess Career (Capablanca) by igiene
May / June,p. 134 [Game 63 / 3621]
from American Chess Bulletin 1919 by Phony Benoni
Game 33
from My Chess Career (Capablanca) by Qindarka
Instructional Remedies Vs. Pirc & Petrov Defense
by southpawjinx
Match Capablanca!
by amadeus
by lazintata

Home | About | Login | Logout | F.A.Q. | Profile | Preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | New Kibitzing | Chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | Notable Games | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | Privacy Notice | Contact Us

Copyright 2001-2021, Chessgames Services LLC