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     Welcome to MY web page on the 7th greatest game of chess ever played. Many hours of work went into bringing you this page. I hope you enjoy it. (page-banner, cap-mar1.gif; 05KB)

   Jose R. Capablanca  (2760) - Frank J. Marshall  (2675)   
 Manhattan C.C. Masters Tournament 
 New York City, N.Y. (U.S.A.) 
 (Round # 1),  10.1918 

 [A.J. Goldsby I] 


 (The ratings are pretty close to what they would be today. I started both players off at 2600, [circa 1900];  a modest rating by modern standards. I then ran several of the main results - up to 1918 - through the computer, including their match. I actually had to shave some points off Capa's rating, as he wound up being rated much higher than Garry Kasparov - and this seemed a little implausible!) 

You definitely will need a chess set to play over this game. ( There are NO diagrams. )  

  Click  HERE  to go to a page with this game on a js re-play board.  

(See the bottom of this page for escape links, or click the "Back" button on your web browser.) 

     Click  HERE  to go to my channel on the "YouTube" network.  Click  HERE  to see my video on this game.    

 The 7th Greatest Chess Game Ever? 

Easily one of the most beautiful games ever played. 

This game was voted one of the top games of the first half of the 20th Century in BCM
("BCM" = The British Chess Magazine.)  

Hundreds of writers and Chess Masters have lavished praise on this game. (And it deserves it!) (I have dozens of books on the Ruy Lopez/Marshall Attack, and many of the  authors have - at least lightly - annotated this game.) 

Dozens of chess analysts have looked this game. Indeed, not is it just a great game, it also one of those VERY rare games where all the best and most beautiful lines are buried in the notes. (This game has also withstood months of intensive computer analysis. {A.J.G.}).  

Irving Chernev called this game:  "One of the great games ever played on a chessboard." (I can think of NO greater praise!!!) 

GM Andrew Soltis, in his book - "The 100 Best,"  says this is the third best game ever played ... and ranks it ahead of all but one postal game! 
(ALSO ... VERY high praise.) 

GM John Nunn calls this, "An extraordinarily beautiful game," (BCM) and, "The story behind this game makes it one of the most famous in chess history." (GM J. Nunn, in his fantastic book, ['The Mammoth Book Of']  "The World's Greatest Chess Games." Game # 15 in that book, starting on page # 85.) 

Apparently this game involved a bit of "home cooking" by Marshall and is actually the VERY FIRST recorded instance of the, "Marshall Gambit." (Indeed, Marshall is later to have claimed to have prepared this variation  ...  {"His little surprise," he called it.} ... {maybe} 8-12 years in advance!! It is very rare when the inaugural game of a variation is something outstanding!!) 

For a detailed account of this game, ... and the tournament -   "The Manhattan Chess Club Masters,"    see the book,  "My Chess Career," by The (late) Great ...  (GMJose Raul Capablanca  himself. (Capa won the tournament with like 9 wins and three draws. Kostic, Janowski, Chajes, Black and Morrison ... in addition to Capa and Marshall ... all competed in this double-RR event.)

Another interesting ... but relatively little known aspect of this encounter ...  was this game was played in the very first round of this tournament. Capa should have been rusty, he had not played a single serious tournament game in nearly two years! (His University studies and his diplomatic duties had kept him very busy ... also ... during the period of around the time of World War I, there were relatively few international tournaments.) 


Normally I based my annotations on Andy Soltis's from his great book, "The 100 Best." (The 100 Best Chess Games of The 20th Century, Ranked.) (This is because his annotations are normally clear, concise, and very  easy to follow ... especially for the average player.) 

But here since this is such a historically important game, (And since SO MANY electronic databases give the wrong move order for this game!!); I thought it better to go to the "original source" (Capa's book); first, (!)  and then only after  I had completed documenting what Capa had originally written, would I turn to Soltis's book. {A.J.G.} 


The Manhattan Chess Club Masters Invitational Tnmt. 
 New York City, N.Y.  1918   

1. e4 e52. Nf3 Nc6;  So far, so book. 
(Both sides control the center.)

"My first surprise," wrote Capa. 
(Marshall allows the Ruy Lopez for the first time in nearly a decade!!) 

I think Marshall had been playing the Petroff Defense, among others, 
during this period. 

"Marshall avoids his (now) favorite Petroff." - GM R. Fine

The next few moves are all 'book.' 
3. Bb5 a6
; ('!') The Morphy Defense. 
The great American chess-player [Morphy] was the first to employ 
 this system effectively. (A few other players used it before Morphy, 
 but NONE seemed to understand ... it or do well with it.)

[ 3...Nf6; ('!?')  Kramnik has championed a former favorite of (former) 
World Champion's Emmanuel Lasker.

This is known as ... the Berlin Defense. ]  


(The next few moves continue book.)
4. Ba4 Nf65. 0-0 Be76. Re1 b5
Black gains space on the Q-side and kicks the Bishop. As Black's 
Knight on c6 is the defender of his e5-pawn, Black is indirectly shoring 
up his center with this move. 

7. Bb3 0-0;  (Maybe '!?') 
"My second surprise," wrote Capa. 

(This is the move that usually indicates Black is headed for 
  the Marshall Gambit.) 


"I now felt that Marshall had prepared something for me, expecting 
  me to play B-Q5 (Bd5), therefore without hesitation I played 
  my next move."  -  Jose R. Capablanca

8. c3, "+/=" An all-purpose move.  
(White keeps all of Black's pieces off the d4 and b4-squares. He gives 
his light-squared Bishop a "hidey-hole" on c2 - without this move Black 
can play a later ...Na5; and trade a Knight for a Bishop. With c3, White 
also prepares the later advance in the center of d2-d4, dominating the 
middle of the board.)

  This move (8. c3) leads to the main line of the Ruy Lopez, (Closed  
  Variation). However a study of my database reveals that Capa -  
  at least in his early days - had a predilection for an early Bd5.  
 (One should also remember that theory was hard fully developed 
 in those days ... close to nearly 100 years ago!) 

[ The modern "Anti-Marshall Line" is:  8.a4!?,  with early pressure on 
   Black's  Queenside. However with normal development like: 8...Bb7; 
   "~"  {Unclear? Maybe a slight edge for White?}  
   and Black should be fine. ].  


8...d5!?;  (Maybe - '!')  A MAJOR TN
"The Marshall Attack" ... or as some call it, ... "The Marshall Gambit." 

Boris Spassky was the first "big- name" player to use this line consistently. 
 (During the 1960's and the 1970's.) 

Later Nunn, Anand, Adams, and even Garry Kasparov (& many others!!) ... 
would try their hands at this line. 

  This was one of the most significant  MAJOR  opening ideas  
  introduced into Master practice during the 20th Century!!!  

(Soltis was so enthused about this move he gave it  TWO  EXCLAMS!) 


Capa wrote, (after 8...d5!?): 
"And now I was sure I had fallen into a prepared variation." 

"This was  the  professional debut of the Marshall Gambit, which became 
one of the most extensively tested and analyzed opening variations of 
the 20th Century."  -  GM A. Soltis.  (My emphasis.) 

"A new move"   ...   "apparently very well researched." 
  -  GM M. Botvinnik

 ... "the soundness nor the unsoundness of Marshall's sacrifice has never
 been conclusively demonstrated."  -  GM R. Fine


  '!!' - GM A. Soltis.   

'!' - GM Ruben Fine. 


[ If Black wanted to, he could still transpose back to the "Main Book Line" 
of the Closed Ruy Lopez by playing: 
8...d6; 9.h3 Na5;   The Tchgorin Defense.   Still the most reliable defence 
over 100 years after the great Russian, Mikhail Tchigorin worked out the 
main ideas of this line. 

   Or - "The Breyer Variation" (/Defence)  runs:  9...Nb8!?; 10.d4 Nbd7
   11.Nbd2 Bb7
; 12.Bc2 Re8; 13.Nf1 Bf8; 14.Ng3 g6; "~"  {"Unclear."}  
etc.  (Maybe - "+/=")  Black has good play.  

10.Bc2 c5; 11.d4, "+/="  etc.  Both sides have a good game, and can 
 look forward to the middlegame with confidence. 

  The above lines provide a very brief sketch of opening theory in perhaps 
   one of the most complicated and involved openings in all of chess. ] 


9. exd5,  Giving up the pawn at e4,  [A Pawn in the middle 
 = good Control of the Center];  to open the e-file for White. 

The only real try at keeping the initiative for White. 

[ The very tame continuation:  9.d3!?, (Maybe - '?!')  9...dxe4; 10.dxe4 Qxd1; 
  11.Rxd1!? Bc5!; "="  offers White very little hope of any advantage at all. ]


9...Nxd510. Nxe5,  Winning a very key center pawn. 
(White has won an important center pawn, but falls very far 
  behind in his development!) 

"I thought for a little while before playing this, knowing I would be subjected 
there-after to a terrific attack, all the lines of which would be of necessity be 
familiar to my adversary. The lust of battle, however, had been aroused within 
me. I felt that my judgment and skill were being challenged by a player who had 
reason to fear both, (as shown by the records of our previous encounters); but 
who wanted to take advantage of the element of surprise and of the fact of my 
being unfamiliar with a thing to which he had devoted many a night of toil and 
hard work. I considered the position then and decided I was in honour bound, 
so to speak, to take the Pawn and accept the challenge ... as my knowledge 
and judgement told me that my position should then be defensible." 
 -  Jose R. Capablanca
( From his great book, "My Chess Career." ) 

We can be thankful the Capa accepted challenge, otherwise we might 
have been cheated out of one of the greatest games and masterpieces 
ever created on a chess-board. {A.J.G.} 

This constitutes the Marshall Gambit Accepted
 (White can decline by not capturing at e5, BUT ... many GM's feel this
  method promises White little or no advantage.) 

[ White could have also played: 10.d4!?, "+/="  with just the slightly better 
  game for White.  Or 10.a4!? "+/="  again with just the slightly better 
  game for White.  

  (Both of the above alternatives are safe - but somewhat timid - ways of 
   avoiding the Marshall Gambit Accepted.) ]


10...Nxe5; 11. Rxe5 Nf6!?;  Re-positioning this important 
 minor piece. 

This was Marshall's original idea, but is considered  "passť"   by most 
opening books today. 
(Although I think it is certainly still playable and a GREAT surprise 
 weapon! {A.J.G.})

     [ The "Modern" Variation of,  "The Marshall Attack,"  is:  (>/=)  
; (Probably - '!')  12.d4 Bd613.Re1 Qh414.g3, [Forced.]  
15.Be3 Bg416.Qd3 Rae8"Comp" 
        {"Black has good compensation for his material deficit."}  

         when Black has a tremendous attack, and an initiative. 
         [ See MCO-14;  page # 91, column # 37, and also note # (f.). ]  

          ( Also very interesting is: 16...f5!?; "<=>" )  

     ( I have like 10 books and pamphlets dedicated to the  "Marshall Attack." My favorites are a book in German! ... 
I can't read it, but great analysis. } and the "C89 Opening Monograph," by  GM V. Anand. {From the same 
        guys who bring you the ... "Informant."} ) 
       (I also used to have a book in Russian on the Marshall, but I have mis-laid it over the years.) ].  



(Editor's note:  The Marshall Attack  continues to be a devastating weapon ... even at the highest levels of chess. GM Garry Kasparov - at Linares this year - refused any offers by his opponents ... to venture into this vast maze of complications. Yesterday, in the {Danneman} Classical World's Championship Match, GM Vladimir Kramnik decided to accept his opponent's offer to venture into this line, and was soundly defeated. Congratulations to GM Peter Leko on an excellent victory!  08,10,2004.)  



12. Re1!?,  The Rook retreats. 
An older move, (By the standards of TODAY's theory!!); ... 
although since Capa played it ... it MUST be OK!! 

(Capa actually chose this line {move-order} in the hope that he might be 
 able to steer Marshall away his prepared analysis. Capa notes that 
 Marshall obviously was NOT put off by Capa's minor shenanigans.) 

[ The move order: 12.d4 Bd6; 13.Re1,  would simply transpose back to
  the game.   (Or White could have tried: 13.Re2!?, "~"  - many. )  
  Several books recommend that White play: 12.Re2!?, (Maybe - '?!') but 
  in my opinion, this leads to a COMPLETELY different type of game!!! 

"Capa places his Rook on the most natural square. If his fabulous 
  instincts told him the White Rook would be,  'in the way'  on e2, 
  then this is good enough for me." -  Johansson.
  (Johansson was a writer who had a fairly well-known chess column in 
   a Dutch newspaper. {Close to that time period.}  He was also a strong 
   player, and may have even been close to Master in strength.)  ].  


12...Bd6; 13. h3!?,  (Maybe - '!') "Stay away from my King!" 
Already White begins to defend. (And wisely so!) 

[ The line: 13.d4 Ng4; 14.h3 Qh4; 15.Qf3!,  would simply transpose 
back to the game.   (15.Qe2!?)  
Then Black plays: 15...Nxf2!; {"Comp."}  with a terrific attack. 


An opponent in a tournament, (Mobile, AL) once played: 
13.a4!? Bxh2+!!
;  I decide to sacrifice to ... "liven things up." 
(My poor opponent looked at me with absolute horror when I made this move!)

  ( Black could also play: 13...Ng4; 14.g3 Nxh2!;   (Or 14...Qf6; 15.f4, "+/=")     
15.Qh5, "+/="  (Not 15.Kxh2? Qh4+; 16.Kg2 Qh3+; 17.Kg1 Bxg3;     
   18.fxg3 Qxg3+
;  "--->" ... when Black has a vicious attack.)    15...Ng4;  
    {Black has a fair amount of "comp."} )  

14.Kxh2 Ng4+; 15.Kg1?! Inferior. 

 { The best move was, by far, 15.Kg3[],  (Maybe - '!')   when it is not clear  
 exactly what the best method is for Black to continue the attack.  
 (My young opponent had felt this was far too risky, however.) }  

15...Qh4; 16.f3?,  The fatal mistake. 

 (After the game I pointed out that White had to play 16. Bxf7+!  My opponent 
 told me, (after the game!); that he had not even considered this move!) 

 ( In the post-mortem, my opponent said he had spent a lot of time examining 
  the  continuation: 16.Qf3?! Qh2+; 17.Kf1 Qh1+; 18.Ke2 Re8+; 19.Kd3 Qxe1
  20.Qxf7+ Kh8; 21.Kc2 Nxf2; "-/+"   when Black has a won game. ) 

16...Qh2+; 17.Kf1 Qh1+; 18.Ke2 Re8+; 19.Kd3 Nf2+; 20.Kc2 Rxe1; 
 and White resigned.  ( 0 - 1
Thompson - Goldsby;  "Azalea City Open,"  Mobile, AL 1988. ]


13...Ng4!;  Here I come! 
 "The onslaught begins."  -  J.R. Capablanca. 

'!' - GM A. Soltis. 
'!' - GM R. Fine. 
'!' - GM J. Nunn. 

"This and Black's 16th moves were  often criticized  by annotators 
  40 or 50 years ago - until lengthy testing of the alternatives showed 
  that Marshall's choices were best."   -   GM A. Soltis.  (My emphasis.) 

"Black's attack gathers momentum."  -  GM J. Nunn
(He goes on to note that White has no minor pieces defending his King, and 
that White's entire Q-side is still at home. He notes that the Black attack looks 
extremely dangerous and maybe the only reason White survives is because 
of perfect defense - and the fact that White's Queen and light-squared 
Bishop - prove to be a very effective combination of defensive units.) 

14. Qf3!,  Smooth, very smooth. 
Capa unerringly finds the best defence. 

"This move is both offensive and defensive, as it threatens the QR 
  and also QxPch in case the Black Bishop at Q3 (d6) should leave 
  his original diagonal."  -  Jose R. Capablanca

(Soltis also awards this move an exclam.) 

'!' - GM A. Soltis. 
'!' - GM R. Fine. 
'!' - GM J. Nunn. 

"Well parried."  -  Tartakower  &  Du Mont

[ Capa gives the following variation(s): 14.hxg4?! Qh4; 15.g3?! This is 
   the natural reaction ... but it is wrong. 

( Capa also gives: 15.Qf3! Qh2+!?; 

  ( Better is: 15...Bh2+!; 16.Kf1 Bxg4;  "--->"  "With a big attack for Black."  
    - line by GM A. Soltis.  17.Qe4,  
(Or 17.Re4 Bf4!; "-/+")    17...Bf4;  
   18.g3 Qh2; "~"  (Maybe this position should be evaluated as slightly better 
    for  Black!)   ... "and White will lose his Queen under unfavourable  
    conditions."  - GM J. Nunn. )   

16.Kf1 Bxg4?;  Some newspaper accounts even adorn this move 
 with an exclam.  (It was {originally} Capa's recommendation.) 
 [ Nunn {later} confirmed that 16...Bxg4?;  was a mistake. ].  

 ( Or 16...Qh1+; 17.Ke2 Re8+; 18.Kd3 Qxe1; 19.Bxf7+ Kh8; 20.Bxe8 Qxe8;    
  21.Kc2, "+/="  This line refutes Capa's idea completely ... or at least the idea  
  that Black is winning or better in this line!! (A RARE Capa mistake.) )   

17.Qxg4 Qh1+;  18.Ke2 Rae8+;  ... "and (Black) wins."  -  J.R. Capablanca. 
But this is wrong!! 
Now White should play the simple: 19.Be6! Qh2; (Forced.) 
Not 19...Rxe6+?20.Qxe6 fxe621.Rxh1, "+/-"  wins easily for White. )  
20. Kd3 fxe6;  21.Rxe6, "+/-"  This line  refutes  Capa's whole idea!!  
(In this variation.)  )  

15...Bxg316.fxg3 Qxg3+17.Kh1!?,   (Or 17.Kf1 Bxg4; "-/+")  
; "-/+"
... "and wins." - J.R. Capablanca.  ].  


14...Qh4!;  Attack!! 
Black continues with the most aggressive continuation. 

(GM Soltis DOES NOT award this move an exclam - being a GM ... 
 he probably realizes this is the only good move to allow Black to 
 continue his attack. 
 ---> Many of my students, however, seem determined to retreat 
 the Knight here ... thus the exclam.) 

[ Many strong players have considered the move: 14...Rb8!?; here. 
  But the text move must be absolutely best. ]. 


15. d4!,  (Maybe even - '!!')   (Center, center, center.)  
This shows a move can be great ... and nearly forced! 

  (15.d4, is the best move, according to Capa.)  

"Intuitive, and absolutely correct."  -  GM R. Fine

'!' - Jose R. Capablanca. 
'!' - GM A. Soltis. 
'!' - GM R. Fine. 
'!' - GM J. Nunn. 

(Capa also avoids an incredible trap!). 

(Soltis also awards this move an exclam.) 

[ The following variations show what Capa avoided. 
 Var. # 1)  
Capa points out the following variation: 
"Not 15.Re8?! Bb7!; (Maybe - '!!') 16.Rxf8+ Rxf8; 17.Qxg4 Re8!; 18.Kf1 Qe7; 
19.Be6,  (Nunn gives: 19.Qd1 Qe5; 20.g3 Qe4; "-/+"  with a winning attack for 
 Black.  19...Bd5!, "=/+"  ... and Black has the better game." - J.R. Capablanca. 
 ( Maybe this position should be evaluated as "/+".  I would also like to point 
   out that this line is just one of dozens of lines given by Capa, that stand up 
   very well to modern analysis, even analysis done with a strong computer.)  
  ( The annotations to the moves are all mine.  Capa simply gives the moves  
    unadorned by any marks at all. {A.J.G.} ) 

   I also have to point out that the computer program Fritz 5.32, when it first  
   came out and was running on a friend's Pentium II, played Re8 without  
   hesitation ... and gave the evaluation of "+/-". Not only this, but the   
   computer (mistakenly) gave White winning by 3 or more points, ...   
   even after over 5 minutes of computing time!!   

Var. # 2.)   Nunn gives the line: 
15.Re4 h5;  16.d4,    ( 16.hxg4? Qh2+17.Kf1 Bxg418.Rxg4 hxg4 "/+" 
(Maybe "-/+") )    16...Bb7;  17.Rxg4?!, (Maybe - '?/??')    (Or 17.d5! Bh2+!;  
 18.Kf1 Bd6!19.Kg1! Bh2+20.Kf1 Bd6; "=")    17...hxg4!; (Maybe - '!?')  
(Not bad, but  are there maybe better moves for Black?) 
; 18.Bd2 Qe7!; "=/+"  18.Qxb7 Rae8;  19.Be3 Rxe3!; ("-/+") 
  ... "also wins for Black." - GM J. Nunn.  

Var. # 3.)   Nunn also gives: 15.hxg4 Bh2+!;   (15...Qh2+!?)   16.Kf1 Bxg4;  
17.Qe4 Bf4!;  18.g3 Qh2;  19.Re3,     ( 19.Bxf7+ Kxf720.Qd5+ Kg6;  
 21.Re6+ Bxe622.Qxe6+ Kh5!; "/+"  (Maybe "-/+")  
 "White has only succeeded in exchanging off his few developed pieces." 
  - GM J. Nunn.
19...Rae8;  20.Qd5 Bxg3!;  21.Rxg3,    (Or 21.Qxf7+ Kh8!; "-/+")    
21...Be2+;  22.Ke1 Bf3+;  ("-/+")  ... "and mates." (in 3) - GM J. Nunn. ].  


15...Nxf2!;  Sha-boom!  (Sorry, sometimes I run out of ... ) 
"The trapper, trapped." -  J.R.C. 

Black had nothing better, according to Capablanca.  
Capa says Black had, " ... to go on with the attack ... or die." 

"The storm breaks."  -  Tartakower  and  DuMont. 

(Soltis also awards this move an exclam.) 

'!' - GM A. Soltis. 
'!' - GM R. Fine. 
'!' - GM J. Nunn. 

[ Black could have also tried: 15...h5!?;  when Black has some compensation 
  and some attacking chances left. The point of this move is: 16.hxg4?, ('??') 
  (NOT 16.Qxa8?? Qxf2+; 17.Kh1 Qxe1#.  
    White had to play: 16.Bd2[], "+/="  (Maybe - '!');   Or 16.Bf4!?, "+/=" )  
 16...Qh2+; 17.Kf1 Bxg4; ("-/+")  and Black wins. ].   


16. Re2!,  Repeatedly - Capa finds like the only good move ...  
Again, excellent defense.  

'!' - J.R. Capablanca. 
'!' - GM A. Soltis. 
'!' - GM R. Fine. 
'!' - GM J. Nunn. 

(Soltis also awards this move an exclam.).  

"The only saving clause."  -  Tartakower & DuMont

"A strong move."  -  GM J. Nunn

[ Capa points out the following variations: 

   Var. # 1.)  16.Qxf2? Bh2+!;   ( Not 16...Bg3?
    as 17.Qxf7+!,  and mate follows. ("+/-") )    17.Kf1, (Box.)  This is forced. 
    ( 17.Kh1?? Qxf2;
"-/+"  17...Bg3;  18.Qe2,   ( 18.Qxf7+?? Rxf7+; ("-/+")  
    The main difference here between Black winning or losing is that here  
     he captures with check! )   18...Bxh3!; 19.gxh3 Rae8;  "-/+" 
    ... "Winning."  - J.R.C.  {20. Qxe8, Qxh3+, winning for Black.} 

   Var. # 2.)  Not 16.Re8? Nxh3+; 17.gxh3 Bb7!; "<=>"  
     -  line by GM A. Soltis.  

    Var. 3.)   Many of the computers like: 16.Bd2!?, "+/="  (Maybe - "+/")  
   Nunn also like this move, and claims it is even stronger than Capa's 
   move, but I am unconvinced. ].  


16...Bg4!;  Very nice. 
"The best way to continue the attack.  BxP or KtxPch yield less." 
  - J.R. Capablanca. 

"The best chance."  - GM R. Fine

"The only chance."  - GM J. Nunn

(Soltis also awards this move an exclam. Originally, I had not wanted to 
give this move an exclam, thinking I was being excessive. But Soltis 
literally showers this game with exclams.) 

[  Not as good were: 

   Var. # 1.)   16...Nxh3+!?; 17.gxh3 Bxh318.Re4, "+/-"  
    - GM J. Nunn. 

   Var. # 2.)   or 16...Bxh3!?; 17.gxh3 Nxh3+; 18.Kf1,  "+/-"  - Nunn. 

   Var. # 3.)   Insufficient was: 16...Ng4!?; 17.g3!!,  - GM F.J. Marshall
(Many OTHER players have given this line, as if taking credit for finding 
       this fabulous move, but Marshall is definitely the one who found it and 
       deserves all the credit.)  
    ( If 17.Re8 Nf6;
"="   Or 17.hxg4 Bxg4; and Black has good compensation.    
    Or 17. Nd2!?
"+/=" - GM Fine.    17...Qxh3;    ( Or 17...Bb7; 18.Qxf7+ Rxf7;     
     19.gxh4 Bf3; 20.Rc2 Nf6; 21.Bxf7+ Kxf7; 22.Rf2, "+/-"  18.Qxa8! Bxg3
     19.Qg2!, "+/-"  - line by GM A. Soltis. (And Nunn.)  ].  


17. hxg4, (Maybe - '!')  
This looks almost forced. (And good too, by the way.) 

"White could also play QxKt without fear of losing ... " -  J.R.C. 
(But this is probably incorrect.) 

[ 17.Qxf2?! Bg3; "~"  (Actually - "=/+"  I was being generous when I 
  called this position unclear.)  ( Now several sources give the line: 
  18.Qf1!? '?' - Nunn.  [Nunn clearly thinks this is bad.] 
  (Or 18.hxg4 Qh2+19.Kf1 Bxf220.Kxf2 Qh4+ "=/+"    
   with unclear play according to Nunn.
18...Bxe2; 19.Qxe2 Rae8;  "/+"   (Maybe "-/+")  ...  "and wins."   
     - Tartakower and   DuMont. )  ].  


Continuing the attack. 

[ 17...Nxg4; 18.Qh3, "+/" (Maybe - "+/-")  
Capa thought the best defence here for White was: 18.Bf4!? "+/"  
    which was probably adequate.)    ].  


18. Kf1 Bg3
"I expected Knight to R8."  - J.R.C
(Capa then indicates that he thought after ...Nh1;  the best defence 
  for White was Be3. But this too may have been incorrect.)   

"The answer to 18...Knight-R8;  is 19. B-K3."  -  Tartakower & DuMont
(Also incorrect.) 

[  If 18...Nh1!?; 19.Re3!,  This seems like the best here. 
     (Or 19.Be3!? Ng3+;  20.Ke1 Nxe2+;  21.Kxe2 Rae8;   
"+/"  - GM R. Fine.)   
   19...Ng3+20.Ke1 Nf5+21.Kd1 Nxe3+22.Bxe3 Rae8; 
,  "+/"  (White is clearly better.) {A.J.G.}  ].  


19. Rxf2!
Again probably the best. 

(Capa wrote that he could have played Ke1, and it might have even been 
better than what was played, but I am pretty sure this is incorrect.). 

[ "Even the mighty Capablanca erred in his post-mortem analysis. He 
  considered 19. Ke1 to be a worthwhile alternative for White. 
  - but 19...Nh3+;  20. Kd1, Ng1!; would have imposed a tougher defensive 
 task." - GM Andy Soltis. ].  

(Soltis also awards this move, 19 Rxf2, an exclam.) 

[ 19.Ke1!? Nh3+; 20.Kd2 Ng1; "~" ].  


19...Qh1+20. Ke2 Bxf2;  
"The alternative QxB, would have led to greater complications than the text move, 
  but it would have given no better results."  - (GM) Jose R. Capablanca

(He is completely correct, in fact - from the standpoint of analyzing this line 
 with a modern computer, the line of 20...QxB/c1; is VERY linear and simple ... 
 and leads to a very clear and blatant advantage for White! Perhaps this is why 
 Capa does not even bother to analyze the move,  20... Queen captures the 
  White Bishop on c1.)  


"Here 20...QxB; offers Black better chances."  -  Tartakower & Du Mont
 (BUT ... they are wrong!).  

Nunn gives a VERY long and detailed investigation of 20...QxB/c1;  and 
concludes with the statement: "Thus 20...Qxc1; was no better than Marshall's 
move."  -  GM J. Nunn

20...Qxc1!?;  21.Rf1!,   ( 21.Qxg3!? Qxb2+; 22.Kd3!,   ( 22.Nd2!? Qxa1  
      23. Rxf7, "+/-"  and now 23...Kh8.  Nunn says this line, ... "favours White   
       but  is not   completely clear." )    22...Qxa1; 23.Kc2,   (23.Rxf7?? Qxb1+;   
       wins for Black. )    
23...b4;     ( 23...Rae8!; 24.Qxc7 Re1; 25.Nd2 Kh8!;  
       26.Bxf7 b4;
"~"  ...  "gives Black dangerous counterplay."  - GM J. Nunn. )   
24.g5!, "+/"  - GM S. Tartakower. (Also pointed out by GM Soltis.) )   
   21...Rae8+;  Best?    (21...Qxb2+22.Nd2, "+/-"   - GM R. Fine.)   
22.Kd3 Re3+!?;   (22...Qxb2?!; 23.Nd2, "+/-"  23.Qxe3 Qxf1+;  24.Qe2, 
     (24.Kc2!? Bd6; 25.Bd5!?, "+/-"  - GM J. Nunn.  24...Qc1;  25.Bd1!?, "+/-" 
     (Or 25.Qd1!?, "+/"  {Maybe "+/-"})    ].   


21. Bd2!?,  (Probably - '!')  White starts to finally untangle. 
This is a very good move. 
(White avoids a lot of garbage and stabilizes his position.) 

(Soltis DOES awards this move an exclam!) 

'!' - GM A. Soltis. 

"From this point Black's pressure grows steadily less." 
  - Tartakower & Du Mont.  

[ 21.Bxf7+; 21.Qxf2?! Qxc1; ].  


21...Bh422. Qh3, (Maybe - '!') 
"Black, in order to avoid the exchange of Queens, is now compelled to drive 
the K to QB2 (c2), where he is safe."  -  Jose R. Capablanca

'!' - GM R. Fine. 

[  White should avoid the tempting: 22.Bxf7+?! Kh8[];  This looks forced. 
     (If 22...Rxf7??
;  then 23.Qxa8+ Rf8; 24.Qd5+ Kh8;  
23.Be3 Rae8!; "/+" (Maybe "-/+"); 

    It would seem that perfectly playable was: 22.Kd3!?, "+/="  
    with at least a small but steady advantage for White. ]


22...Rae8+23. Kd3 Qf1+24. Kc2,  
"A secure harbourage."  - Tartakower & Du Mont. 

This looks like practically the only move. 
 (Black's last chance is to set up the tactic of ...Re2; and 
   then try ...Be3; winning.) 

[ 24...Be1!?;  - GM Nunn. ].  


25. Qf3,   (Maybe - '!') 
Probably best, re-centralizing White's most powerful piece. 

(Soltis DOES award this move a full exclamation point!!).  

'!' - GM S. Flohr. 
'!' - GM A. Soltis. 

[  White could also try: 25.g5!?, "+/="  but which is NOT as clear or as 
   good as the text move.  ].  


25...Qg1;  Un-pin. 
"To get out of the pin and be free to use his pieces."  -  Jose R. Capablanca. 

[  Capa gives the line: 25...Re2; 26.a4!,    ( 26.Na3!? Rxd2+; 27.Kxd2 Qxa1 
     28.Qxf2 Qxb2+; 29.Nc2 c5; 30.Bd5 b4; "~"  - GM J. Nunn. )      26...Qe1;  
   27.axb5! Be3;   ( 27...Rxd2+!?; 28.Nxd2 Qxa1; 29.Qxf2 axb5; 30.Nf3, "+/"   
  (Maybe "+/-")  ... "is much more convincing as White will soon exert intolerable  
  pressure on f7."  - GM J. Nunn.
)     Now MUCH better than the line that Capa 
   gave is: 28.Qxe3, "+/-"   Easily the best. (Maybe - '!')  
   (28. Qxe3 is [also] given an exclam by Soltis.)  
   ( Instead Capa gives the completely unnecessary: 28.Bc4!?, "+/="  awarding   
     this somewhat silly move an exclam. (GM Soltis also gives this move an   
     exclam.) He finishes with: 28... ..Rxd2+!?29.Nxd2 Qxd2+30.Kb3, "+/-"   
     ... and Black's game is hopeless." - J.R.C.  Noting that 30... ..axb5??;  loses   
     immediately to 31.Qxf7+!,  ("+/-")  with mate next move.  But I do NOT find 
     this line as convincing as the main analysis line that I give here! )   
    Maybe Capa feared: 28...Rxd2+;  but this move is harmless.  
   ( Or 28...Rxe3; 29.Bxe1 Rxe1; 30.bxa6 Ra8; 31.Kd2! Rf1; 32.a7! Rf2+ 
     33.Kd3 Rf6; 34.Bd5 c6[]; 35.Be4 Re6; 36.Ra6 Re7; 37.Bxc6 Rexa7;     
     38.Rxa7 Rxa7
    29.Qxd2 Qe4+;  30.Qd3 Qxg2+;  31.Nd2 axb5;  32.Qxb5, "+/-"  This 
    line is much more convincing than the one given by Capablanca. {A.J.G.}  ].  


26. Bd5!?,  (Maybe - '!')  Nice ... sharp too. 
An excellent move, avoiding several traps. 

(GM Soltis DOES award this move a FULL exclam!) 

'!' - GM A. Soltis. 
'!' - GM R. Fine. 
'!' - GM J. Nunn. 

"The text threatens to virtually end the attack - and the game - with the 
move, 27. Qd1."  -  GM A. Soltis

"Gaining space."  -  Tartakower & Du Mont

[  White should not play: 26.a4? Be3!; "~"  27.Bxe3 Rxe328.Nd2!? Qxa1; 
     29.Qxe3 bxa430.Bd5 a3; {"Comp"}   with good counterplay for Black, 
     according to GM Soltis. 
     (It seems Soltis borrowed this line - indeed much of his  whole 
      analysis of this game - from Nunn!)  ].  


"Black must react quickly, or else White frees himself with Qd1 followed 
  by Na3."  - GM J. Nunn.  

27. dxc5 Bxc528. b4,  (Maybe - '!')  This gains space. 
(White gains space, the initiative, and drives Black back.) 

 "At last White assumes the initiative and Black's game crumbles 
   to pieces."  -  Jose R. Capablanca

 [ 28.Be4!? ].  


Maybe the only good move for Black.

[ 28...Be3;  29.Bxe3 Rxe3;  30.Nd2! Qxa1;  31.Qxe3,  "+/-" 
   - line by GM A. Soltis. ].  


29. a4, "+/-"  (Maybe - '!')  
The best, according to several Soviet players. 

"Incredibly ingenious, the Rook enters the game via the 
  Queen's - Rook file."  -  GM R. Fine

"Rescue of the Rook."  -  Tartakower  and  DuMont

"White finally brings his a1-rook into play." -  GM J. Nunn

'!' - GM A. Lilienthal. 
'!' - GM R. Fine. 

[ 29.g5!?, "+/=" ].   


29...a5!?;  Opening the game up in a major way. 
"Positionally forced, as he cannot afford to let White have the 
 open QR file, (a-file); while the White King is in safety." 
  - Jose R. Capablanca

"A desperate but not stingless attempt to complicate." (30. bxa5, b4;) 
  -  GM A. Soltis

"Fishing for what might come up."  -  GM R. Fine.

'!' - GM A. Lilienthal. 

[ 29...Rc8!?,  - Tartakower and Du Mont. ].  


30. axb5 axb431. Ra6!?, (Maybe - '!')  Nice. 
Probably the best. 

(White strongly activates his QR and frees the Knight at d2 from the pin 
on the first rank.) 

(Again, GM Soltis DOES award this move a FULL EXCLAM!) 
{As did a couple of Soviet GM's.} 

'!' - GM A. Soltis. 

  [ 31.cxb4!? ].  


31...bxc332. Nxc3,  At last ... freedom! 
White finally remembers this Knight! 

"Suddenly White is fully developed, with a strong attack to boot." 
  -  GM R. Fine

  [ 32.Bxc3!? ].  


32...Bb4;  "Pin and win?" (Nope.) 
A superficial pin, but still something White must guard against, 
as the c-file is open. 

33. b6!?, (Maybe, probably - '!')   Charge!  Ta-da, Ta-da!
Very convincing, as this pawn will threaten to promote. 

(Again, GM Soltis DOES award this move a FULL EXCLAM!).

'!' - GM S. Flohr. 
'!' - GM A. Soltis. 

A good move.   ... "This pawn speedily enforces the win."  
  -  GM S. Tartakower  and  J. Du Mont 

  [  Was the move 33.g5!?,  (Maybe - '!')  any better?  {Maybe, maybe not.}  ]


33...Bxc3;  Exposure. 
(Trying to remove - as much as possible - the piece cover near and 
  around the White King.)  

Probably the only good move for Black. 

[   33...Re7!?; (?!)  34.b7 Rc7;  35.Ra8 Qb6;  36.Rxf8+ Kxf8; 37.Qf5!, "+/-" 
   - line by GM A. Soltis. 
     (At least Soltis was the first to point this line out ... thus far I have 
      only consulted Capa's and GM A. Soltis's books.)  ]


34. Bxc3 h6;  Luft. 
Forced, to prevent any back-rank silliness. 

[  34...Re3?; 35.Qxf7+!, and its mate in three.  - line by GM A. Soltis.  ].  


35. b7 Re3;  (Can you say, "Black is DEAD!" ??) 
Of course White is winning now. 

White finishes with a flourish. 


(According to Morrison, who was playing in the tournament - 
  ... and  GM Ruben Fine ...     -  White now announced a mate in six!)   
36. Bxf7+!
,  Black Resigns,   1  -  0    


   [  The end would be:  36.Bxf7+ Rxf7;    (Or 36...Kh8?!; 37.Rxh6#!    
        Or 36...Kh737.Qf5+ Kh8;  38.Rxh6#.)    37.b8Q+ Kh7;     (Or 37...Re8
        38.Qxe8+ Kh739.Qee4+ g6;  40.Qxg6#.  Line by - GM R. Fine. 
       38.Rxh6+! Kxh6;   (38...gxh6?!; 39.Qxf7#)   39.Qh8+ Kg5; 
   -  main line (here)  by GM A. Soltis. (and GM Nunn.)  ] 


(GM Soltis also awards White's 36th move a full exclam, as do others - 
  such as Chernev and Fine.) 

One of the most beautiful and amazing games ever played. 

Also easily one of the  'Top Ten'  all time games, from a strictly analytical 
point of view.  {"An amazingly accurate game." - GM John Nunn.}  
(Nunn goes on to state there are almost  NO  discernible errors in this 
game. The only real improvement for Black being the move 11...c6; 
which was not introduced into Master practice until many years later!)  

   (I should note for accuracy, that Capa only gave two moves -  
    - his 15th and 16th plays - exclamation points.).  
 (For someone who supposedly had a reputation as the supreme egotist - 
  Capa was VERY reserved and restrained in his praise of his own game!!)  

(  GM A. Soltis - by comparison - gives a total of 13 exclams  ...  and one 
   double-exclamation point 
...  to this game. Thus far, when I have 
   already annotated a game and compared it to Soltis's annotations, 
   invariably I have many more exclams awarded than GM Soltis. 
   In this game, quite the reverse was true!!   {A.J.G.}  ) 

(And I do not think Soltis is out of line here. The normally very reserved 
annotators, Chernev and Fine also award lots of exclamation points too! 
In fact, this is one of the more  'heavily decorated'  games of all time - 
in my own humble opinion.).


"Capablanca made an arduous defence look easy."  -  GM Mikhail Tal

This game ... "is the greatest defensive effort of his career, one the 
 true immortal games."  -  GM Ruben Fine
(From his book, "The World's Great Chess Games." 
Copyright, 1951, 1976. Dover books.).  

White ... "recovers ground and finishes very brilliantly." 
 - GM S. Tartakower  &  J. DuMont

"A defensive masterpiece of unparalleled dimension." 
 -  GM Mikhail Botvinnik  &  GM Salo Flohr
(Writing for the Soviet Magazine, called, "64."
{These 2 did a series of articles on some of the best chess games of
all time. Unfortunately, most westerners have never seen these articles, 
as they were printed inside the Soviet Union during the period, the late 
1930's until the early 1950's.}.   

 << Tartakower said the game's most interesting feature was, "the cool  
 and collected manner in which White weathers the storm."  It is  the  finest  
 example  of innovative attack and spirited defense that the century  
 produced. (!!) >>   -  GM Andrew Soltis.  (My emphasis.) 

 BIBLIOGRAPHY:   I consulted the following [main] books, 
(in the order given!); to annotate this game. 

# 1.)  "My Chess Career,"  -  by GM J.R. Capablanca
# 2.)  "The 100 Best,"  -  by  GM A. Soltis
# 3.)  "The World's Great Chess Games,"  -  by  GM R. Fine
# 4.)  [The Mammoth Book Of:]  "The World's Greatest Chess Games,"  -  by  GM John NunnGM John Emms,  and  FM G. Burgess
# 5.)  "500 Master Games of Chess,"  -  by  GM Savielly Tartakower  &  J. DuMont.  [ © 1952,  (c) 1975; Dover Books. ]. 


# 6.)  This game is also in the following book: 
          "My Great Predecessors, Volume I," by  Garry Kasparov  and  D. Plisetsky. 
            (Game # 86, page # 258) Published in (c) 2003 by EveryMan Chess. 

           Of course I did NOT {initially} consult this book, I completed this work long before this volume was released. But I have a friend and  {former}   
           Internet student who has been working on this game for quite a while. His USCF rating is only around 1600, (I feel he is a bit stronger than his  
           rating); but he has the latest technology, computer hardware, and software that money can buy. He just sent me a very long e-mail and a ton of   
           analysis about this game. I am much too busy to look at this right now, (May 15th, 2004); but perhaps it would be interesting to come back at   
           a later date and review some of this work. 


  (I also consulted many other books, magazines, Internet sources, and databases - too numerous to name them all here!) 

   (All HTML code initially)  Generated with  ChessBase 8.0   

I started this game in July of last year. I worked on it - intermittently - for quite a while, and then laid it aside. (I actually repeated this process several times.) I finally finished the annotating process probably in late December, 2001. It then took nearly another 3-4 weeks of work to get this web page ready ... for publication on my web-site. SO ... Enjoy!

 This game, in  ChessBase  format; is probably one of the best annotation jobs anyone has ever done on this particular game. It also contains a fairly decent survey of the opening. If you would like a copy of this game to study on your computer, I hope you would  contact me. 

 Click  HERE  to return to the page you left. (The "Best All - Time Games" page.) 
 Click  HERE  to go to (return) to my home page. (Main Page.)


Click  HERE  to see another super-fantastic game by Jose Raul Capablanca!


 If you enjoyed this page, you might enjoy my page dedicated to ...
 "The Best Short Games Of Chess."  (Click  HERE.)

 This game posted on my web-site on January 15th, 2002. 
  (Page last updated: Friday; October 08th, 2004.  Last edit/save on: 11/08/2015 .) 


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I  

  Copyright (©) A.J. Goldsby, 1985 - 2015.  
  Copyright © A.J. Goldsby, 2016.  All rights reserved.  

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