Game 1
July 7, 1926

Jose Raul Capablanca - Edward Lasker [D52]

Lake Hopatcong/Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA (1) 1926


1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. d4 d5 4. Nc3 e6

Annotator C. S. Howell writes: "This gives Black a cramped game and, in my opinion, is inferior to 4... dxc4 " when today's "book" line goes 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 (6. Ne5!?) 6... e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O and White has recovered his pawn, though the battle still rages over the e4-square.

 

5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. e3 Qa5

The Cambridge Springs Defense, popularized in the 1904 tournament in that Pennsylvania resort town.

 

7. cxd5

The safest line for White. Not 7. Bd3? dxc4! 8. Bxc4 Ne4!

Stronger and more common today is 7. Nd2 Bb4 8. Qc2

 

7... exd5?!

Much better is 7... Nxd5 8. Qd2 Bb4 9. Rc1 O-O=

 

8. Bd3 Ne4 9. O-O Ndf6

9... Nxc3?! 10. bxc3 ( Howell also suggests 10. Qe1 Bb4?! 11. a3 ) 10... Qxc3 11. e4 (11. Qe2!? Howell) 11... dxe4 (11... h6 12. Bh4!? g5 13. Bg3 ) 12. Bxe4 Bd6 13. d5 (13. Qb1!?) 13... c5 14. Rc1

 

10. Bxf6! Nxc3?!

Better 10... Nxf6 though, as Howell suggests, White would then be able to centralize his knight with 11. Ne5 (also possible is 11. a3 Bd6 12. b4 or the similar) (11. Re1 Bb4 12. Qc2 O-O 13. a3 Bd6 14. b4 and Black's two Bishops may not compensate for White's space advantage on the queenside.)

 

11. bxc3 gxf6

Now Black's pawns are permanently damaged--just the kind of long-term target that Capablanca liked to gain out of the opening. In compensation, Black controls e5, has an open g-file, and the two Bishops. But as Howell points out, "doubled and isolated pawns...lose more often than open files win."

 

12. Qc2 Bd6 13. Bf5!?

Trying to gain the f5 square for his Queen, from which he can exploit Black's doubled pawns.

 

13... Be6 14. Rab1 Qc7 15. Bxe6!?

Trading one advantage for another. Now White opens the position favorably for his pieces while Black's pawns at e6 and f6 remain weak.

 

15... fxe6 16. e4 O-O-O

Howell notes that castling queenside is "Dangerous, of course, in view of the open b-file, but Black's game is shaky and his evident intention is to try for a King's side attack, utilizing his own open Knight file. Unfortunately White has both the center and the initiative and, as will be seen, his attack proceeds so rapidly [that] Black has not time to counter-attack."

 

17. c4! Bf4?!

Howell writes: "...this loses time and takes the B away from the defence of the K. However, Black may have wanted to prevent the posting of a white R on c1 or, forseeing e5, to be sure to keep the White Knight out of g5. A better resistance mighthavebeenmadewith" 17... dxc4 18. Qxc4 Qf7 19. e5 ( perhaps better 19. Rb3! Bc7 20. Rfb1 Bb6 21. a4->) 19... Bc7 20. Rb3 Rd5! 21. Rfb1 Bb6 unclear.

 

18. Rb3

The Rook clears the way for its partner to double on the b-file while also gaining maximum mobility along the third rank.

 

18... dxc4 19. Qxc4 Qf7 20. Rfb1 Rd7 21. e5

Cutting off the Bishop's retreat so that the Black King is denuded of defenders.

 

21... fxe5 22. dxe5 Rhd8?










Howell writes: "This looks like an oversight but probably was not. Black is in danger of being slowly but surely strangled to death and, therefore, plays desperately to exchange a piece or so in hopes of relieving the pressure." 22... Rc7 23. Ne1!? (23. g3 Rg8 24. Kh1 Bh6 25. Nd4 ) (23. a4) 23... Bxe5 24. Qc5 Qg7 25. Nf3 Rg8 26. g3 Bf6 27. Qxa7

 

23. Qxc6+! Kb8

23... bxc6?? 24. Rb8+ Kc7 25. R1b7#

 

24. g3 Rd1+ 25. Kg2

The natural 25. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 26. Kg2 gives Black an extra tempo.

 

25... Rxb1 26. Rxb1 Rd5 27. Qc3

Not 27. gxf4? Qg6+ 28. Kh3 Qxb1 and White must try for a perpetual check with 29. Qe8+ Kc7 30. Qe7+ Kc6 31. Qxe6+ Kc5 32. Qc8+ Kb6 33. Qe6+=

 

27... Qf5

27... >= Bh6

 

28. Qb4! b5 29. Nh4 a5 30. Qxb5+!

Simplification combined with material gain completes the game. "Of course, if 30...Rxb5 31.Rxb5+ K moves 32. Nxf5.

 

A good example of the champion's direct and forceful play against a cramped defence" writes Howell.

1-0

[C.S. Howell / M. J. Goeller / Fritz / Junior]

Game in PGN