Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jose Raul Capablanca

José Raúl Capablanca was a Cuban chess player who was world chess champion from 1921 to 1927. One of the greatest chess players of the twentieth century, he was renowned for his exceptional end game skill and speed of play. Due to his achievements in the chess world, mastery over the board and his relatively simple style of play he was nicknamed the "Human Chess Machine".

Capablanca learned chess at the age of four by watching his father play and in 1901, at the age of 12, he beat Juan Corzo, the Cuban champion. Capablanca was regarded as the most naturally talented chess player anyone had ever seen. He was educated in America, studied engineering at Columbia University and spent much of his free time playing masters at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York City, where he achieved a sensational win in a match against US Champion Frank Marshall crushing him by 8 wins to 1 with 14 draws in 1909 when he was 20 years old. Frank Marshall had unsuccessfully played Lasker in a World Championship match only two years earlier.

Here is one of Capablanca's games:

New York State Championship, 1910
Queen's Gambit Declined

1. d4, d5
2. Nf3, Nf6
3. e3, c6
4. c4, e6

Black should have assured his forces more freedom of action by playing 4. .....Bf5.

5. Nc3, N8d7
6. Bd3, Bd6
7. 0-0, 0-0
8. e4, dxe4
9. Nxe4, Nxe4
10. Bxe4, Nf6
11. Bc2 .....

With a view to 12. Qd3 and 13. Bg5, threatening 14. Bxf6 and 15. Qxh7 mate.

11. ..... h6
12. b3, b6
13. Bb2, Bb7
14. Qd3 .....

A new threat: 15. d5 preparatory to 16. Bxf6 and 17. Qh7 mate.

14. ..... g6

Stopping the threat but weakens the castled position.

15. Rae1 .....

Now the threat of Rxe6! is in the air.

15. .....Nh5
16. Bc1, Kg7

But not 16. ....Nf4, 17. Bxf4 Bxf4, 18. Rxe6!.  The weakening of Black's King-side is beginning to tell.

17. Rxe6!, Nf6
18. Ne5, c5

After 18...... fxe6, 19. Qxg6+ Kh8, 20. Qxh6+ Kg8, 21. Qg6+ Kh8, 22. Re1 White wins easily by bringing his remaining Rook to the third rank.

Now, if 18. .....Bxe5, 19. Qh3!  fxe6, 20. Qxh6+ and wins.

19. Bxh6+!, Kxh6
20. Nxf7+!

Black resigns, for after 20. ..... Rxf7 White has 21. Qxg6 mate.  Note that White removed all of Black's King-side pawns by sacrifices.

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