2013 Championship

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Searching for Capablanca

This is a position I found at W.T. Harvey's great tactics puzzle website from the game R. Raubitschek vs. Capablanca, New York 1906. Capa has the black pieces and presses for the win. Do you see the best move?

Many chess coaches and authors have recommended the aspiring player to choose a chess hero to make a study of. Perhaps you'll choose one with a style like you see as your own, or maybe a style that you wish you could engender in yourself. I'm starting my search for my chess hero with J.R. Capablanca, the third official world chess champion.

See the solution to the puzzle and more about Capablanca after the fold:

The future world champion previewed the tactical skills here that would serve him all the way to the title. Capablanca pressed his positional advantage home with Rxg2+. In the game, checkmate followed after White played Kf1 beginning with Black's Bc4+. But White could have avoided mate by yielding his queen.

Capablanca was born in Havana, Cuba and bested that country's champion in a match when just shy of being a teenager. But a chance to attend college in the United States (with the promise of playing on the college baseball team!) shifted his chess career to center on New York City and world tournaments, as attested by his many contests against Frank Marshall and other American players. Widely read and respected chess authors make comparisons to his play as the top standard to match. And the word genius seems almost synonymous with his own.

So why choose Capablanca as a hero? He has many qualities to recommend him. He was, after all, the world champion, by all accounts a title that was well deserved. He has often been considered one of the top few players ever in the world. He was legendary for the speed of his abilities, especially tactically. It is said that his positional judgement could rarely be argued with and his endings inspired Chernev. His talents were considerable at a very young age, and yet his decision to make chess his career didn't come until young adulthood when most of us make our choice of livelihood. He played the Ruy Lopez from both sides of the board, which of course would lead to some exciting play. We luckily have a large collection of his games available to study, and of course he has attracted many analysts and admirers to point us to the treasures that he has left us.

Do you have a chess hero? Do you have a favorite that you like to study? Do you see yourself in one of our great champions?

Here is the complete game from the diagram above as pgn text which you can copy and paste to Chessbase Light or Fritz to study:

[Event "Manhattan CC casual"]
[Site "New York"]
[Date "1906.09.24"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Raubitschek, Rudolf"]
[Black "Capablanca, Jose Raul"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C38"]
[PlyCount "52"]
[EventDate "1906.??.??"]
[EventType "game"]
[EventRounds "1"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2002.11.25"]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. Bc4 Bg7 5. h4 h6 6. d4 Nc6 7. c3 d6 8. O-O Qe7 9. Qb3 Nd8 10. hxg5 hxg5 11. Qb5+ Bd7 12. Qxg5 Bf6 13. Qxf4 Ne6 14. Bxe6 Bxe6 15. e5 dxe5 16. Nxe5 O-O-O 17. Na3 Rh4 18. Qg3 Bxe5 19. Qxe5 Rd5 20. Qg7 Rg4 21. Qh7 Nf6 22. Qh8+ Rd8 23. Qxf6 Rdg8 24. Rf2 Rxg2+ 25. Kf1 Bc4+ 26. Nxc4 Rg1# 0-1


Anonymous said...

My chess hero is Sal Mancuso.

Jerry said...

My chess hero is Emily Coy who read the rules the night before than had the courage to play against me in a simul the next day! I'm still impressed!! Totally glacial; which is like cool to the 10th power.

Darren said...

You choose Capablanca, I choose Alekhine. How about I bring New York 1924 on a Saturday and we can go over their games in that tournament?

Bob Lenning said...

That's a deal! Anybody else want to get in on the action?

Jerry said...

Capablanca or Alekhine...a tough choice! Although Alekhine is my personal favorite and beat Capablanca +6 -3 =25 to win their World Championship match; Capablanca had a lifetime record of +9 -7 =33 against Alekhine.

Both played in an era of chess ledgends; Lasker, Botvinik, Euwe, Marshall, Keres, Fine, Reti, and the list goes on.

Both men are fascinating in their personal as well as their chess lives; I don't think you could go wrong choosing either.

Jerry said...

Am I wrong or didn't Capablanca and Alekhine draw their two games against each other in the 1924 New York Tournament?

Darren said...

I don't have the book to hand but that wouldn't surprise me. NY 1924 was also the venue for Reti's shock win against Capablanca, his first defeat in eight years if I recall correctly. A great tournament.