Game 11
July 14, 1926

Edward Lasker - Jose Raul Capablanca [E01]

Lake Hopatcong/Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA (6) 1926


This game was awarded the First Brilliancy Prize at the Lake Hopatcong tournament.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3

The standard alternative 2. c4 e6 3. g3 can be played to avoid the Nimzo and Queen's Indian Defenses, when 3... c5 (3... Bb4+!? 4. Bd2 Qe7 is a Bogo-Indian) 4. d5! leads to more of a Benoni set-up.

 

2... e6 3. g3

Tartakower was the first to play this, which he called the Catalan System, but the present game is still among the first with the line and therefore of some historic significance.

 

3... c5 4. c4

In his notes, C.S. Howell suggests instead 4. c3?! to hold the center. But that is hardly in the spirit of what would become the Catalan System. In any event, the position following 4.c4 typically arises by a different move order in which White is already committed to the pawn advance.

 

4... cxd4

The move 4... d5 would become popular "about a decade later" according to Reinfeld (who should know since he played it himself in the late '30s). For example:

5. Bg2 Nc6 6. O-O cxd4 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Nxd4 Be7 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. Qc2 Bb7 11. Bd2 O-O 12. Nc3 c5 13. Rfd1 Qb6 14. Rac1 Rac8 15. a3 Rfd8 16. e4 Nf6 17. h3 Bc6 18. Be3 Qb7 19. Kh2 Rb8 20. Rxd8+ Rxd8 21. f4 Rb8 22. Rb1 h5 23. Bf3 g6 24. g4 hxg4 25. hxg4 g5 26. Kg3 Nh7 27. Qh2 f6 28. Rh1?! Bd6! 29. Ne2? Bxe4! 30. Ng1 Bxf3 31. Nxf3 gxf4+ 32. Bxf4 Bxf4+ (32... e5) 33. Kxf4 Qc7+ 34. Ke4 (34. Ke3 Rb3+) 34... Qc6+ 0-1, Trompowsky-Keres, Buenos Aires ol 1939

5. Nxd4 d5

Direct play in the center seems best. Black has tried a number of alternatives here.

a) In this position, Lasker himself as Black would later try the more aggressive 5... Bb4+ 6. Nd2 Qb6 7. N4f3 Ne4!? (7... Bc5!?) 8. e3 Bxd2+?! (Perhaps 8... O-O! which gains a tempo on the game line after 9. a3 Bxd2+ 10. Nxd2 Nxd2 11. Qxd2 Qc6 12. Rg1 d6 13. b3 (13. b4 Nd7 14. Bb2 Ne5=) 13... Nd7 14. Bg2 Qc7 15. Bb2 Nc5=) 9. Nxd2 Nxd2 10. Bxd2 Qc6 11. Rg1 a5 12. Bg2 Qc7 13. Bc3 O-O 14. Qd4 f6 15. O-O-O Na6 16. g4 Nb4 17. Kb1 d5 18. cxd5 e5 19. Qe4 Qd6 20. a3 Na6 21. Bxa5?! f5 22. Qc2 fxg4 23. Be4 g6 24. h3 Bd7 25. hxg4 Rfc8 26. Qe2 Rc5 27. Bd2 Rb5 28. Bd3 Rb3 29. Bc4 Qxa3 30. Bxb3 (30. d6+! Kf8 31. Bxb3 Qxb3 32. Bc3 unclear) 30... Qxb3 31. Bc3 Nc5 32. Qf3 (32. e4 Ra2 ) 32... Ba4!-+ 33. Rd2 Qa2+ 0-1 Santasiere,A-Lasker,E/New York 1931 (33)

 

b) 5... Qc7 heads for more of a hedgehog Sicilian position and grants White a space advantage. 6. Nc3!? (6. Qd3 e5!? (6... a6) 7. Nb5 Qc6 8. e4 Nxe4 9. Bg2 Nc5 10. Qd5 Qxd5 11. cxd5 Brandford-Peters/USA/1978/ Inf 26/68/) 6... a6 7. Bg2 Be7 8. Qd3 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. b3 b6 11. Bb2 Bb7 12. e4 Rfd8 13. Rac1 Bertok,M-Ljubojevic,L/YUG/1973/

6. Bg2

White can easily go wrong in this sharp position:

a) 6. cxd5? Qxd5! 7. Rg1 e5 8. Nc2 Qxd1+ 9. Kxd1 Ng4

b) 6. Nc3 e5! (6... dxc4!?) 7. Ndb5 (7. Nf3 e4) 7... d4! 8. Qa4 Bd7 9. Nd5 Nxd5 10. cxd5 a6 11. e3 Qb6-+ winning a piece, as Golombek notes.

6... e5!

"Seizing the first opportunity to free his game, despite the likelihood that it wll involve the sacrifice of a Pawn" writes Reinfeld. Black actually does not have to sacrifice the pawn and the lines that follow are still quite playable as shown by Tal and Kasparov.

 

7. Nf3

All other Knight retreats have been tried here without greater success:

a) 7. Nb3 d4 8. e3 a5! 9. exd4 a4 10. N3d2 (10. Nc5 exd4 11. Qe2+ Qe7 ) 10... exd4 11. O-O Be7 12. Na3 Nc6 13. Nf3 Be6 14. Bf4 O-O 15. Ng5 Bg4 16. Bf3 Bf5 17. Re1 Nd7 18. h4 h6 19. Ne4 Nde5 20. Bg2 Bb4 21. Rf1 d3 22. Rc1 Ng6 23. Bd2 Re8 24. Bxb4 Nxb4 25. Re1 d2! 26. Qxd2 Nd3 27. Re3 Nxc1 0-1 Kochyev,A-Tal,M/Moscow 1981 (41)

 

b) 7. Nb5!? may be the most interesting 7... d4 8. f4! Nc6 (8... Bb4+!?) 9. fxe5 Ng4 10. O-O Be6 11. Qa4 Qb6 12. Kh1 Ngxe5 13. Bf4 f6 14. Nd2 O-O-O 15. Bxc6 bxc6 16. Na3 Ng6 17. Rac1 Nxf4 18. gxf4 c5 19. Qb5 Bd7 20. Qxb6 axb6 21. Nb5 Kb7 22. Kg1 Ra8 23. Ra1 Bc6 24. Kf2 g6 25. Ke1 Kc8 26. a4 Kd7 27. Nb3 Be7 28. Kf2 Rhe8 29. Ra2 Bf8 30. Rfa1 Re3 31. Nc1 Rh3 32. a5 Rxh2+ 33. Kg1 Rh1+ 34. Kf2 Rxa5 35. Rxa5 bxa5 36. Na7 Bb7 37. Nb3 Rxa1 38. Nxa1 Bd6 39. e3 dxe3+ 40. Kxe3 g5 41. fxg5 fxg5 42. Nc2 0-1 Foguelman,A-Kortschnoj,V/Buenos Aires 1960 (42)

 

c) 7. Nc2 d4 8. O-O Nc6 9. e3 d3! points up the bad position of White's Knight at c2. 10. Ne1 e4! 11. Nc3 Bb4 12. Bd2 Bg4 13. f3 exf3 14. Nxf3 O-O 15. Qb3 Qe7 16. a3 Bxc3 17. Qxc3 Rfd8 18. Nd4 Ne5 19. b4 Be2 20. Nf5 Qe6 21. Bxb7 Bxf1 22. Rxf1 Rab8 23. Bg2 Nxc4 24. Bh3 Nxd2 25. Nh6+ gxh6 26. Bxe6 Nde4 27. Qe5 fxe6 28. Qxe6+ Kg7 29. Qe7+ Kg6 30. h4 Rd5 31. g4 Rg8 32. Kg2 d2 33. h5+ Kg5 34. Kh3 d1=Q 35. Rxd1 Nf2+ 36. Kg3 Nxd1 37. e4 Rd3+ 0-1 Uusi,G-Tal,M/Tallinn 1981 (37)

7... e4

a) Not 7... Nc6? 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Nxe5 Reinfeld and others.

 

b) Playable, though, is Tal's favorite 7... d4 8. O-O

(8. Nxe5? Qa5+-+)

8... Nc6 9. e3 Be7

(9... d3!? 10. Nc3 Bb4 11. Bd2 (11. Nxe5!? Nxe5 12. Qa4+ Nc6 13. Bxc6+ bxc6 14. Qxb4 d2 15. Bxd2 Qxd2 16. Rfd1 Qc2 17. Qd6 ) 11... O-O 12. Nd5 Nxd5 13. cxd5 Qxd5 14. Nd4 Qd6 15. Nxc6 bxc6 (15... Bxd2 Rashkovsky,N-Dautov,R/Sverdlovsk/1989/) 16. Bxb4 Qxb4 17. Bxc6 (17. Qxd3! ) 17... Bh3 18. Bxa8 Rxa8 19. Qxd3 Bxf1 20. Rxf1 Qxb2= 1-0 Jussupow,A-Tal,M/Minsk 1979 (58))

 

(9... Bc5!? 10. exd4 exd4 (10... Bxd4!?) 11. Nbd2 (11. Re1+ Be6 12. Ng5 O-O 13. Nxe6 fxe6 14. Nd2 d3!? unclear ) 11... O-O 12. Nb3 Qb6 13. Bg5 Ne4 14. Bf4 Re8 15. Re1 Bg4 16. h3 Bh5 17. g4 Bg6 18. Nh4 d3! Lukov,V-Magerramov,E/Luxembourg/1990/)

10. exd4 exd4 11. Nbd2 Be6 12. Re1 (12. Ng5 Bf5=) 12... O-O 13. b3 (13. Nb3 d3) 13... Qc7 14. Bb2 Rad8 15. a3 a5 16. Ne5 Nxe5 17. Rxe5 b6 18. Nf3 Bc5 19. Qd2 Ng4 20. Ree1 d3 21. Rf1 (21. Ne5 Nxe5 22. Bd4 Bxd4) 21... Qd6! 22. Qc3 (22. h3 Nxf2 23. Rxf2 Qxg3) (22. Ng5 Bf5 23. Ne4 Bxe4 24. Bxe4 Rfe8 25. Qg5 Bd4) 22... f6 23. Rad1 (23. Ng5? Nxf2! 24. Rxf2 Bxf2+ 25. Kxf2 Qc5+ 26. Kf1 Qxg5-+) 23... Rfe8 24. Rd2 Bf5 25. Ng5 Ne3! 26. fxe3 (26. Re1 Nxg2! 27. Rxe8+ Rxe8 28. Kxg2 Re2! ) 26... Bxe3+ 27. Kh1 Bxd2 28. Qxd2 Re2 29. Qc3 Rxg2 30. Kxg2 d2 31. Rd1 Bg4 32. Nf3 Qd3! 0-1 Saigin,V-Tal,M/Riga 1954 (32)

 

8. Nfd2

Alternatives are less promising:

a) 8. Ne5 Bd6 9. Qd4 (9. Qa4+ Nbd7 ) 9... Qe7 10. f4 (10. Bf4? g5!) 10... exf3 11. Nxf3 Nc6

 

b) 8. Nd4 dxc4! (8... Bb4+!? 9. Nc3 O-O 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Bd2 Bxc3 12. bxc3 Qe7 13. O-O Na6 14. Qb3 Nb6 15. a4 Nc5= 1/2-1/2 Krogius,N-Grigorian,K/Leningrad 1971 (15)) 9. Nc3 (9. Qa4+ Bd7 10. Qxc4 Nc6 ) 9... Bc5 10. Qa4+ Bd7 11. Qxc4 Qb6 12. Be3 Nc6 13. Nc2? Bxe3 14. Nxe3?? Na5-+ 0-1 Magerramov,E-Kasparov,G/Baku 1979 (14) - White's Queen is trapped right in the center of the board, costing him at least a piece. A cute miniature from the future champion.

 

8... dxc4

8... e3 9. fxe3 dxc4 likely amounts to the same thing.

 

9. Qa4+

Given Black's success in the game, players of White might consider the alternatives:

a) 9. Nxe4 Qxd1+ 10. Kxd1 Nxe4 11. Bxe4 Nc6!? (11... Nd7) 12. Nc3 (12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Be3 ) 12... Be6 13. Be3 O-O-O+ 14. Kc2 Nb4+

 

b) 9. O-O Golombek 9... e3! 10. fxe3 Bc5 11. Nxc4 Qe7

 

9... Bd7 10. Qxc4 e3!

"White derives little benefit from the extra Pawn, as he remains with a doubled and isolated e-pawn which is virtually worthless and at the same time hampers his development" notes Reinfeld.

 

11. fxe3

11. Bxb7 exd2+ 12. Nxd2 Be6! 13. Qa4+ Nbd7 14. Bxa8 Qxa8

 

11... Bc6

Capablanca does not play to recover the pawn but strives instead to obtain positional compensation, beginning by eliminating White's all-important Bishop.

 

12. O-O Bxg2 13. Kxg2 Be7

More precise may be first 13... Nbd7 when the Bishop might develop to a more active square in some lines.

 

14. Nc3

14. Qb5+ Qd7! (14... Nbd7?! 15. Qxb7 ) 15. Qxd7+ (15. Nc3 Nc6) 15... Nbxd7 16. e4 Rc8

 

14... O-O 15. Nf3 Nbd7 16. e4 Rc8 17. Qb5?!

Less clear appears 17. Qd3! hanging onto the e-pawn, when Golombek gives 17... Nc5 18. Qxd8 (18. Qb1!?) 18... Rfxd8 19. e5 (19. Bg5!?) 19... Nfe4 20. Nxe4 Nxe4 and he writes: "White has no adequate move against Black's threatened ... Rc2." But White might improve here. Perhaps 21. Be3!?=

 

17... a6! 18. Qf5

18. Qxb7 Nc5 19. Qb4[] Ncxe4 20. Qb3 Nxc3 21. bxc3 Ne4 Reinfeld. 22. Qa4 (22. Bb2 Nd2! 23. Nxd2 Qxd2 ) 22... Nxc3 23. Qxa6 Bf6 24. Bb2 Re8 25. Bxc3 Rxc3 should regain the pawn with the more active pieces for Black. 18. Qd3! Nc5 transposes to the note above.

 

18... Rc5

Harrassing White's Queen.

 

19. Qf4

19. Qh3? Rh5!-+

 

19... Rc4 20. Be3 Bc5!

"Risky-looking at first, because it seems as if the QR may get into trouble. However, the move is perfectly feasible, and has the merit of making way for new pressure by Black along the e-file" writes Reinfeld.

 

21. Nd2

As Howell suggests, best may be 21. Bxc5 Nxc5 22. Rad1 Qe7 23. Qe5! ( better than his 23. Ne5?! Rb4 24. Nd3 Nxd3 25. exd3 Rxb2+ ) 23... Qxe5 (23... Qe8!? 24. Qxe8 Rxe8 25. e5 Ng4 26. Nd5 Re4 ) 24. Nxe5 Rb4 25. Nxf7! Ncxe4 (25... Kxf7 26. e5 Rxb2 27. exf6 gxf6 28. Rf3=) 26. Nxe4 Rxe4 27. Nd6 Rxe2+ 28. Rf2 Rxf2+ 29. Kxf2 Ng4+ 30. Kg1 Rd8 unclear

 

21... Rb4 22. b3 Qe7 23. a3 Bxe3 24. Qxe3 Rb6 25. Rad1 Re6!

"An ideal position for the Rook" notes Golombek.

 

26. b4 Rc8 27. Qd4?!

27. Rf5 g6 28. Nd5 Qe8! 29. Nxf6+ Nxf6

 

27... Rd6! 28. Nd5

28. Qe3 Ng4 29. Qf4 Rxc3 (29... Nde5?! 30. Nd5! (30. h3? g5-+ Golombek) ) (29... Nxh2!? 30. Nf3! Rxd1 31. Rxd1 Rxc3 32. Kxh2 h6 ) 30. Qxg4 Ne5 31. Qf4 Rxa3

 

28... Nxd5 29. exd5 Qxe2+ 30. Kg1 Nf6 31. Nb3?(+)

Howell offers a number of nice suggestions for how White could hold out longer and create difficulties for Black: 31. Rde1 Qb5! Howell

(Golombek, whose notes -- when not cribbed directly from Reinfeld -- contain several errors, gives instead 31... Qh5?! 32. Re5! Rxd5?? overlooking 33. Qxd5+-) ( also bad, as Howell notes, is 31... Rxd5?? 32. Qxf6!)

32. Ne4

(32. Rxf6!? Rxf6 33. Ne4 Howell 33... Rh6! )

32... Nxe4 33. Qxe4 Rcd8

(33... Qxd5?? 34. Qe8+! Rxe8 35. Rxe8#)
(33... Rxd5? 34. Rxf7!! )

34. a4!?

(34. Qe7 f6 35. Rd1 Rxd5 36. Qxd8+!? Rxd8 37. Rxd8+ Kf7 38. Rfd1 also gives White some trouble.)

34... Qxa4 35. Qe7 f6 36. Qxb7 etc.

 

31... Rxd5 32. Qf2










No better is 32. Rd2 Qxd2!

 

32... Qxd1! 33. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 34. Kg2 Ng4 35. Qb6

35. Qe2 Rc2! 36. Qxc2 Ne3+-+

 

35... h5!

"At once giving his own king an escape quare and constructing a mating net for his opponent" notes Golombek.

 

36. Nc5

36. h3 Rc2+ 37. Kf3 Rd3+ 38. Ke4 Nf2+

 

36... Re8

Reinfeld calls this game "An object lesson in the art of constantly creating difficulties for one's opponent."

0-1

Game in PGN