Emanuel Lasker - Jose R. Capablanca  


This is perhaps one of the most famous games of chess ever played. You cannot have played chess for more than five years without someone showing you this game at least once. Some have also said that this game is one of the best - if not the very best - Lasker ever played. (I definitely have to disagree there.) 

I have worked on this game for practically my whole chess career. I first annotated it for a Florida Scholastic publication around 1974. (It went bust just a short time later, I hope my writings were not the cause!) When I first went into the Air Force, one of my relatives stored a lot of things in their attic. I had a very large box full of writings, spiral-bound notebooks, legal pads, etc. I had two or three notebooks on this one game alone. (This box of writings was later destroyed in a fire.) I have since annotated this game many times. When I was in the Air Force, (and stationed at Albuquerque); I did a lot of writing for New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, etc. I clearly remembered annotating this game during that period. I went to a tournament shortly after this annotation job was published in a state magazine. One guy was very upset that I dare to criticize Capa's play, another guy wanted to punch my lights out for my daring to suggest that Lasker's play might have not been perfect. (Sigh.) 

This is another game that I have used to test dozens of computers on. (Before computers got so powerful, it was fun to see at what point they considered White to be winning. Most programs would not even consider e5!! for White - too materialistic, I guess.) 

I had a good friend who was a Navy pilot candidate here in Pensacola. (1985?) Shortly after he got transferred to his "permanent duty station," (North or South Carolina, I believe.) I annotated this game and sent it to him. They published a part of that analysis in their State Magazine. 

Since I started my web page(s), I have gotten literally HUNDREDS of e-mails about this game. (Asking me, "When are you going to analyze this game?")  I have about 10 different jobs of annotations on floppy disks, that I have done on this game over the years. Most of the time, I was NOT very happy with the way I had annotated this game. 

While I am not entirely certain this version is my very best work, it will at least serve as a point of reference. Feedback is very welcome. But also bear in mind that you should check any ideas or questions against a good computer program BEFORE sending them to me. (PLEASE!!)  I NEVER do any analytical work, (post 2000); that I do not check at least one time on the computer. Analysis engines are very good about catching the big tactical mistakes. (Mate in 'X' ... a combination that drops a piece.) They are still not 100% reliable when it comes to questions of strategy ... or complex end-games. (July, 2003.) 


    This is mostly a text-based page, with only a few diagrams.    
   Therefore, you will probably want ... or need a chess-board.    

   Click  HERE   to see this game (UN-annotated) ... in java-script re-play form.   

   Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols that I use in annotating a chess game.   


 E. Lasker (2796) - J.R. Capablanca (2734) 
[C68]
Super-All Master Tournament (finals) 
St. Petersburg, (RUS) (Round # 7), 18.05.1914

[A.J. Goldsby I]
   The ChessBase Medal for this game. (lask-capa_stp14-med.gif, 02 KB)

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One of the most well-known games of all time, and also a very important game - in terms 
of chess history.  (This contest also decided first place in the tournament.) 

It was rare - very rare - to see a game between two of the world's best players, and see 
them basically go all-out for a win. 
(This was the round seven encounter from the finals of the historic master tournament 
  in St. Petersburg.)

*************************

The ratings are exact, and come from  Jeff Sonas's  rating list for December 31st, 1913.
 (I would have rated Capa around 2750, based on his more recent performances.)

***

According to Jeff Sonas, these two contestants were clearly ... 
 THE TWO BEST PLAYERS!  ...  in the whole world. 

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1.e4 e5;  2.Nf3 Nc6;  3.Bb5 a6;  4.Bxc6,  
This is the Exchange Variation ...  designed to give White a small but steady pull in 
the ending.  (Lasker had used this before, and Capa had previously condemned 
it in print.) 

More than anything else, I think this variation shows respect. Lasker plays a line 
where only he has winning chances, and it is next to impossible to lose with. 

"A surprising choice ... "  - GM Garry Kasparov. 

   '!?' - GM Garry Kasparov.  

     [ The following moves:  4.Ba4 Nf65.0-0 Nxe46.d4 b57.Bb3 d5;  
        8.dxe5 Be69.Nbd2 Nc510.c3 d4!?; "~"  {Diagram?}  
        had been played between these same two players - in a previous 
        round. They only agreed to a draw after 100 moves had been made!! 

       J.R. Capablanca - Em. Lasker;  Final (winners) Section, Rd. # 2 
       St. Petersburg, Russia, 1914. ]   

 

4...dxc6;  5.d4!?,  
White immediately heads for a trade of the ladies ... and the ending that ensues. 

     [  More often than not:  >/=  5.0-0{Diagram?}  
        is played in this position today. 
        [See MCO, or any good book on the Ruy Lopez.]  

        5...f6!?{Diagram?}  
        Black has many moves at this point.  (...Bg4, ...Bd6; etc.) 

        6.d4 exd4!?{Diagram?}  
        This is probably the most reliable, although ...Bg4 is often played 
         in this position as well.  

           (6...Bg4!?;  "~")     

        7.Nxd4{Diagram?}  
        This seems to be best, although the capture with the Queen is both 
         interesting and playable.  

           (= 7.Qxd4!?, "+/=")      

        7...c5;   8.Nb3 Qxd19.Rxd1 Bg4;   10.f3 Be611.Nc3 Bd6; 
        12.Be3 b6{Diagram?}  The end of the column.  

        13.a4 Kf7!14.a5 c415.Nd4 b516.Nxe6 Kxe6; "="  {Diagram?}  
         GM Nick de Firmian considers this position to be equal, and I do not 
         disagree with him. 

        V. Meyers - GM A. Onischuk;  Hamburg, 1993. 

        [ See MCO-14;  page # 56, column # 2, and note # (k.). ]  ]   

 

5...exd4;  6.Qxd4 Qxd4;  7.Nxd4 Bd6!?;   
While this was condemned by many authors, it looks perfectly reasonable to me. 

     [  Opening theory recommends that Black play: 
         >/=  7...Bd7; "~{Diagram?}  in this position.  

        For example:  Kr. Georgiev (2529) - J.P. Le Roux (2364);  
       17th Masters Tourn, 2003.  (Black won a long game.)  ]   

 

8.Nc3 Ne7!?;  9.0-0,  
This is rather routine, but it is adequate for a (very) small edge for White. 

     [ 9.Bg5!? ]   

 

9...0-0;  10.f4 Re8!?;   
Some writers called this ...  "The Losing Move."  But this is simply ludicrous. 
In fact, ...Re8 looks very playable ... even good! ... to me. 

     [ Interesting was:  10...Bc5!?;   

       Or  >/=  10...f5!?; "~"  - Tarrasch ]  

 

White now withdraws the Knight ... 
knowing that too many exchanges will lead to a draw. 
11.Nb3 f6;  {See the diagram just below.}  

The great Capablanca wishes to restrain White's central pawn majority. 
This appears to be a very logical idea. 

 

  ***************  

lask-capa_stpete1914_pos01.gif, 08 KB

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The normally sober Reti - whose judgment is usually very accurate - condemns this 
move, and attaches a whole question mark. To me, this is MUCH too severe and really 
an over-reaction to Capa's loss.

"An absolutely unnecessary defensive move ... "  -  GM Richard Reti. 

I have DEEPLY analyzed this game, with the help of computers and the latest chess 
programs. (Fritz 8.0) Just about all the programs evaluate this position as equal, or 
even as a little better for Black. The move ...f6; looks not only playable ... but like a 
wise precaution as well. 

     [  Black could also play:  11...Ng6!?{Diagram?}  

        or even the move:  11...Bg4!?{Diagram?}  
        but neither try looks as solid as the move actually 
        played by the great Capablanca.  

        Interesting was:  11...b6!?; "~{Diagram?} 
        possibly even with the idea of playing a later ...Pawn-at-a6-to-a5. ]  

 

12.f5!,  (Maybe - '!!')  {Diagram?}  
A glorious move. White risks a permanently backward e-pawn to cramp Black and 
keep Capa from being able to develop his Queen's Bishop in this position. 

   '!' - GM Garry Kasparov. 

     [  After the moves:  12.Be3!? Nd5!; "=/+{Diagram?}  
         Black is OK, maybe even slightly better. And a line like 
         this - that might catch the average player - clearly illustrates 
         the venom in Capablanca's set-up. 

        The continuation of: 12.Bd2!? Bd713.Rad1 Rad8; 
        14.h3!? b6!; "~{Diagram?}  
         (with the idea of ...Pawn-at-a6 to-a5); leaves Black with 
         no real problems.  ]   

 

12...b6!?;   
This move has many purposes, to prevent a White piece from landing on the 
c5-square, and also allow Black to be able to develop his Queen's Bishop.

This was criticized as VERY weak by several authors, (Amos Burn); yet it 
appears to me that Black may have to play this sooner or later.  

     [ Maybe better was: 12...a5!?; ('!')  "~{Diagram?}  
        with the idea of ...a5-to-a4. ("=/+") ]   

 

13.Bf4 Bb7?!;  (Hmmm.)  {Diagram?}  
This move has been viciously attacked and has even been labeled (by some) 
 as the losing move. (again) 
{One author even gave this move a DOUBLE-QUESTION MARK, and said: 
  "After this, Black is unable to save his game."} 

   '?' - GM Andrew Soltis.   '?' - IM Amos Burn.  

   '?!' - GM Garry Kasparov. ("My Great Predecessors," Part I.) 

The main drawback to this move is that White leaves Black with a very weak and 
permanently backward pawn on the d6-square. And while this move  is indeed 
inadequate,  I am 100% certain that this move (alone) is  not  the reason for Black's 
loss in this game.

Maybe Capablanca believed that Lasker would NEVER un-double his pawns??? 
If so, this would go a very long way in explaining Capablanca's conduct of this 
whole opening!

     [  With the very simple moves of: >/= 13...Bxf414.Rxf4 Rd8; ('!') 
         This is probably the best move here. 

***

             ( Lasker, Capablanca, Nimzovich, and many others give a long line 
               that begins with ...c5; here. The analysis of that line is quite extensive. 
               I will give the very short version here:  
               14...c5; ('!?')  15.Rd1 Bb7{Diagram?}  
               Capa and Nimzo got this far in their analysis.  
               16.Rf2 Rad817.Rxd8{Diagram?}  
               The correct move, according to the great Lasker himself.  

                    ( Capa gave Rfd2?! here ... but that is not at all that impressive.         
                      17.Rfd2?! Rxd2;  {Diagram?}  This was thought to be incorrect.         
                      18.Rxd2 Bc6!; "~"  ("=/+")  {Diagram?}         
                       and Black has nothing to fear.        
                       (One plan for Black is simply to play ...Kf7; ...Rc8; ...Ke8; and        
                         then ...Rd8; trading Rooks.)  )        

               17...Rxd818.Rd2 Rxd219.Nxd2{Diagram?}  
               Lasker got this far.  

               Now I found a major improvement.   
               19...Nc8!20.Kf2 Nd621.Ke3 Kf7!;  "="  {Diagram?}  
               Black is fine here, ALL the key squares are covered.  

               Black has a very durable position here, MULTIPLE computer tests 
               have confirmed this. (That Black has at least a draw from here. )  

***

       15.Rff1 Bb716.Rad1 c5; "=" {Diagram?}  
        Black has almost full equality.  ]   

 

14.Bxd6!,   
The correct idea. Although this 'repairs'  Black's Pawn Structure, 
Capa will always ... "feel the heat" down the d-file ... 
for the rest of the game. 

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.   

     [ 14.Rad1 Bxf415.Rxf4 Rad8; "~" ]  

 

14...cxd6;  15.Nd4!,  
White immediately heads for the "outpost" square on e6. 

"Capablanca admitted that he did not see this move when he played 13...Bb7."
  - GM Garry Kasparov. ("My Great Predecessors," Part I.)  ??? (Source?) 

     [  Average moves don't put any pressure on Capa, i.e., 
        15.Rf2!? Rad816.Nd4 Bc8;  and Black appears to be fine. ]   

 

15...Rad8?;   
Just plain silly. While the piece congestion that Black experiences after this 
move may not be terminal, Capa is made to suffer for a long time. 

   '?' - GM Garry Kasparov. (CB)   '?' - GM Andrew Soltis.  

Black simply had to swallow his pride, and play ...Bc8[];  in this position.  

     [  Black should play: >/=  15...Bc8; "="  {Diagram?}  
        with a strange position.  

        or even  15...Ra7!?; "~"  ]   

 

16.Ne6 Rd7;  17.Rad1 Nc8!?;  (Maybe - '?!')   {Diagram?}  
I think this is exactly the kind of position that calls for endless maneuvering.  
I also don't think this move is near as bad as it has been made out to be. But Capa  
and Soltis both harshly condemn this move. The great Cuban goes one step further, 
calling it  ...  "the fatal error."  

   '?' - Jose R. Capablanca   '?' - GM Andrew Soltis.  

In his book, "The Art Of Defense," Soltis postulates that ... the majority of the time ... 
 one weakness alone is usually NOT enough to lose a game!!   If he is correct, all  
Capa has to do is avoid creating any more problems, and avoid opening lines - 
and he should be able to hold this position. 

Another point to consider is that the move ...Nc8;  has no real effect on most programs 
evaluations' of this particular position. Objectively, a truly bad move is going to have 
some impact on the way a machine 'scores'  the position! 

     [  Capa said better was:  17...c5!?{Diagram?}  in this position.  
        But I am not so sure about this. (Black gains a diagonal for his 
        Bishop, but White might play a later Nd5.)  

        Many strong programs - like Fritz and ChessMaster - pick the 
        move:  17...Kf7!?{Diagram?}  in this position. 

        The move:  17...a5!?{Diagram?} 
        might also be playable in this position.  ]  

 

18.Rf2 b5!?;  (Maybe - '?!')  {Diagram?}  
Black gains some Q-side space. 

Probably the case of the wrong pawn. By advancing his QRP, with 
the idea of ...Ba6-c4xe6; I think Black may be able to hold the balance.  

Black plans a later ...a5, but he is never given that chance.

     [ After the move,  >/=  18...a5!; "~"  (Maybe "=")  {Diagram?}  
       I don't think Black will lose. 
       (I played a correspondence game, {from this particular position}; 
        with a player who is one of the better correspondence players - 
        at least by rating - in the USA. I held the draw ...  without  any 
        great difficulties.)  

        Interesting was:  18...Kf7!? (Unclear?) ]    

 

19.Rfd2 Rde7; ('!')  
Correctly side-stepping White's battery, and avoiding any later tactical tricks.

20.b4!,  
This gains space, and fixes Black's Queen-side Pawns. It is also useful (later) 
when Lasker wants to open lines on that side of the board.  

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.  

     [ Interesting was: 20.Kf2!? ]   

 

20...Kf7;  
It is very useful to have the King a little nearer the center in some variations. 

     [ One author suggested ...c5 here, but I think he was on crank:  
        20...c5?!; ('?')  21.bxc5! dxc522.Nxc5 b4!?23.Nd5, ''  {Diag?}  
        and White is clearly MUCH better in this position.  (Maybe "+/-")  ]   

 

We are coming to a very critical point in this game. 
21.a3 Ba8?!;  (Probably - '?')    {See the diagram just below.}     
"The question mark is deserved, not by the move, but for the idea to open 
  the a-file, which can be used effectively only by the white rooks. Of course 
  Black has lost the strategical battle,  ... " 
  - GM Garry Kasparov. 

   '?' - GM Garry Kasparov. (CB & MGP)  '?' - GM Andrew Soltis.  

 

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lask-capa_stpete1914_pos02.gif, 07 KB

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"Once more changing my plan ... and this time, without good reason." 
  - GM J.R. Capablanca. 

In the end ... I think Black's next move should simply be ...Bb7.  

     [  Maybe  21...Rh8!?;  was better?  

        </= 21...Nb6?22.Rxd6 Nc423.Rd7, ''  - GM Andy Soltis.  

        Capa  said that Black should try: >/=  21...Rxe622.fxe6+ Rxe6{D?} 
        as being better than the game - and he may be right. But I think that 
        Lasker would have eventually found a way to win with his extra material.  ]  

 

22.Kf2 Ra7!?;  
Continuing a bad plan, placing the Bishop back on the b7-square may 
have been wiser.

     [ 22...Bb7!? ]  

 

Kasparov gives White's 23rd move here an exclam. ("23.g4!" - GM G. Kasparov.) 
23.g4, ('!')  23...h6;  
Preparing a <break-through> on the King-side. 

24.Rd3 a5?!(Probably - '?')  
Just about every manual ever written on defense ... says that the  LAST  thing 
a defender of a bad position should do is open lines --->  for the attacker  ...  
or the player who is better!!   

(Soltis makes no comment here or attaches any kind of mark at all to 
 Black's 24th move.) 

At chess club one  night, I played ...Rae7; and then ...Bb7; and no one was 
able to prove a win for White. (There was one Master, and many strong players 
were also present. They actually lost many times trying break Black's position 
open.)  

   '?' - GM Garry Kasparov.  ("My Great Predecessors," Part I.) 

     [  I am sure that >/=  24...Rae7!?; "~{Diagram?}   
         with maybe ...Bb7; next move, was much better than the game. ]  

 

25.h4 axb4!?;  26.axb4 Rae7?{Diagram?}  
Any good reason ...  for abandoning the open a-file here ... 
escapes me completely. 

   '?' - GM Andrew Soltis.  [ '?!' - GM Garry Kasparov.  (MGP, Pt. I) ]  

"The only consistent move was 26...Ra3."  - GM A. Soltis.  
(Capa said Black could draw here with ...Rxe6, but I don't buy it.) 

     [  I like  >/=  26...Ree7!; "~"  {Diagram?}  
        when White might be a shade better, but Black 
        has chances to defend.  

        </= 26...Rxe6?!27.fxe6+ Kxe628.Ne2, "+/=" (Maybe - '')  {D?} 
        (Capa  claims Black could defend here, but I have my doubts.) 

        Maybe better was:  26...Ra3!?{Diagram?}  
         - GM Andrew Soltis.  ]   

 

27.Kf3 Rg8;  28.Kf4 g6!?;  
Black now continues on his course of trying to open lines ...  
perhaps looking for counterplay. 

   '?!' - GM Garry Kasparov.  (MGP, Part. # 1.)  

     [ Possibly  28...Rge8!?{Diagram?}  was playable? 

       Kasparov recommends 28...g5+;  here instead. ]   

 

29.Rg3!?,  
A very logical move, the great Lasker plans on playing g4-g5,
but only after due preparation. (Soltis says g5 immediately is better, but I 
have analyzed this position deeply ... even spending years on this game. 
I am not entirely convinced that Soltis is correct.) 

Better was >/= 29.g5! - Soltis.

"This move prolongs matters ... "  - GM Andrew Soltis.  

     [  After the moves: =  29.g5!? hxg5+30.hxg5 Rh8!{Diagram?}  
        Black gains the h-file. (If Rg1, then ...Ra7!) I let  Fritz 6.0  run for 
        over an hour one afternoon on this position. Although White is 
        probably better, NO forced win was immediately evident.  

        ( Soltis only gives the grossly inferior continuation of:       
          </=  30...gxf5?; ('??')  31.exf5 fxg5+?!; 32.Nxg5+ Kf8;      
          33.Ne6+ Kf7; 34.Ne4!, ("")  {Diagram?}        
          and White probably wins.  (Probably  "+/-".) )       

        I think it was better to play: >/=  29.Ra1! Bb730.g5!, "+/="  {Diag?}  
        with a small, but clear advantage for White.  ]   

 

Black may have done better to avoid his next move entirely ...  
the open h-file is one open line too many.  
29...g5+!?;  {Diagram?}  
Black figures he may as well try and play this ... and stop White from playing 
g5! himself.  

"Now White will open the King's Rook file with (a) decisive advantage."  
  - GM Richard Reti. 

"The last move to be criticised by the annotators. 
   But it's too late for good advice."  
   - GM Garry Kasparov.  

 *** 

     [ Tarrasch, Brinckmann, and Chernev recommend that Black play the 
        move: 29...P/g6xP/f5?;  ----->  but their analysis has more holes than 
        swiss cheese! {My analysis of this line now runs almost a page and 
        a half alone ... so I will definitely skip it here.}  

        (I have had literally dozens of requests for my analysis of this line. 10/30/04) 

        29...gxf5?!('?')   {Diagram?}   
        This move was recommended by Tarrasch, but I have doubts about this approach. 
        {According to some programs,  White's advantage DOUBLES after this inaccurate move.}  

                                                              ************   

        Brinckmann, (also quoted by poor Chernev); give the following (horrible) analysis:   

        30.exf5 d5{Diagram?}   White is clearly better here. 

        Now Fritz (6.0) likes g5 here...     
        31.Rdg1!? Nd6;  32.g5?!{Diagram?}  
        Premature. (This advance must be timed a little better.)  

            (>/= 32.Re1 "+/=")    

        32...hxg5+;  33.hxg5 fxg5+?(Probably - '??')  {Diagram?}    
        Gross, and an oversight.  

            ( Why not: >/= 33...Nxf5; ('!')  "/+"  {Diagram?}     
             
which practically wins for Black - in this line? )    

        34.Nxg5+ Ke8; 35.Ne6?!('?')  {Diagram?}    
        This misses a much better move for White.   

            (After the move:  >/= 35.Nge4!, "+/="  White is clearly better.)    

        35...Rxg3;  36.Rxg3 Ra7??{Diagram?}   
        Throws the game away.   

            >/= 36...Rf7; "~"  (Maybe "=" or "+/=")  )     

        37.Rg8+ Ke7;  38.Rg7+ Nf7;  39.Ng5 Kf8?!;  40.Rxf7+?, ('??')  {Diagram?}   
        Just plain stupid.   

            ( The simple  40.f6!, "+/-"  wins easily for White. )     

        40...Rxf7;  41.Nxf7 Kxf7;  42.Kg5,  "+/="  (Maybe - '')   {Diagram?}    
         ... "and White wins."  But this analysis has more holes than swiss cheese!  {A.J.G.}   

       (This note added, and the game updated on  Thursday;  November 4th, 2004.)  ]   

***

     [  Maybe better was: >/= 29...Ra7!? {Diagram?}  
         and delay opening more lines.  ]  

 

Now if White plays PxP, PxP/g5+; and Black will play ...Rh8 here the next move. 
(Black's defensive resources might be enough to hold.) 
30.Kf3! Nb6?!;  ('?')  {Diagram?}  
This is very trappy, but I am not entirely sure if it is best. 
("A desperate try." - Kasparov.  Soltis makes no comment on this particular move.) 

Maybe Rxe6 was better than Nb6. 
(A BIG emphasis on the word, 'maybe' here!) 

Most programs notice a fairly substantial change in their evaluations of the 
position/game after this move. 

  (Is this the losing move?)    

     [  It seemed Black had to play:  >/=  30...gxh4; ('!')  31.Rh3 Ra7!;  
        32.Rxh4, "+/="  (Probably  -  "")   {Diagram?}  
        White is clearly better here, and  Black's position  is extremely  
        ugly ... but  anything even resembling a forced win is NOT immediately 
        evident. (!!!)  
        {In several tests at the time control of <game in one hour>, the latest version 
         of Crafty is unable to defeat Junior 6.0 from this position.}  

         (I have spent over 25 years analyzing this game, and I have tested this position 
          on nearly every available computer program. With perfect play, a draw may yet 
          be possible!!!  It is certainly superior to the continuation in the game!)  ]   

 

31.hxg5!,   
The correct move.  

Capa left the d-pawn as bait, but Lasker does not bite!  

Now White gets to use the h-file as well ... and I think this dooms Black.  

   '!' - GM Garry Kasparov.  (MGP, Part. # 1)  

     [ After the moves: </=  31.Rxd6?! Nc4!32.Rd4!? Ne5+{Diagram?}  
        ... "Black is back in the game." ("=/+")  - GM Andrew Soltis. ]  

 

31...hxg5;  
This was obviously forced.  

     [ 31...Nc4??32.gxh6, "+/-" ]  

 

32.Rh3!,   {Diagram?}   
"Much stronger than taking the QP, which would have given Black  
  counter-chances by ...R-R1 and ...Knight-to-B5."  - GM Richard Reti.  

(Soltis makes no comment here.) 

   '!' - GM Garry Kasparov.   (MGP, Part # 1.) 

 

      [ 32.Rxd6!? ]  

 

32...Rd7;  
This is probably best.  

     [  Maybe a little worse would have been the continuation:  
         </= 32...Nc433.Rh7+ Ke834.Ra1! Bb735.Nc7+ Kd7;  
         36.Rxe7+ Kxe737.Ra7 Rb8?!38.Na6, ''  (Maybe  "+/-")  {D?}  
          - GM Richard Reti]  

 

Lasker now vacates the long diagonal ... the reasons for this are far from obvious. 
(And just about ALL the authors who have annotated this game have praised Lasker's 
 33rd move in this game. But Soltis makes no comment.)  
33.Kg3! Ke8;  34.Rdh1 Bb7!?;  {See the diagram ... just below here.}   
Black struggles to try and hold the balance.  

"Black is running out of moves."  - Irving Chernev.  

 

  ***************  

lask-capa_stpete1914_pos03.gif, 07 KB

  ***************  

 

 

     [  Was the move:  34...Kf7!?{Diagram?}  
         an improvement here?  

        </=    34...Ra7?35.Rh8!  "+/-"   {Diagram?}   

        </= 34...Nc4??35.Rh8 Rxh836.Rxh8+ Ke737.Rxa8, "+/-" ]   

 

Now White breaks through with one of the best illustrative examples of a 
breakthrough / clearance sacrifice ... from an actual game. 
("A textbook example," says Soltis.) 
 35.e5!!,    (Maybe - '!!!')  {Diagram?}  
Completely inspired and brilliant.  (A Knight comes to e4, and Black can no longer 
defend all the key squares and open lines.) 

"An artistic vacating sacrifice."  - Irving Chernev. 

According to one account in a Russian newspaper, Capa literally sagged in 
his chair. It was obvious that he had overlooked this move. 
(And without this breakthrough, a win may  NOT  be possible.) 

   '!!' - GM Garry Kasparov.   (MGP, Part # 1.) 

     [  Interesting was:  35.Rh6!?, ''  ]  

 

35...dxe5;  
This could be forced here.  

     [  </=  35...fxe5?!36.Ne4 Nd537.Rh7! Bc8;  
         38.Rh8!, "+/-"  {Diagram?}  - GM Andy Soltis.  

        </=  35...d5?;   36.exf6 Kf737.Nc5, "+/-"  {Diagram?} 
         ...  "is crushing."  - GM Andy Soltis  ]  

 

Now Black continues to squirm, but cannot get off the hook. 
(If it makes you happy, you may give both of White's next two 
 moves an exclam.) 
36.Ne4 Nd5;  37.N6c5,  {Diagram?} 
   
'!' - GM Garry Kasparov.   (MGP, Part # 1.)  

   [ 37.Rh8!? ] 

 

37...Bc8;  
Unfortunately this is forced.  

"Black must give up the exchange here."  - Dr. J. Hannak. 
 (Possibly quoting Reti.)  

White now finishes off sharply.  (By encirclement.) 
38.Nxd7 Bxd7;  39.Rh7 Rf8;  40.Ra1, ('!')  {D?}  
    '!' - GM Garry Kasparov.   (MGP, Part # 1.) 

40...Kd8;  41.Ra8+ Bc8;  42.Nc5,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}  Black Resigns.  (1 - 0) 

{White threatens several mates ... and/or a win on material. The cutest is 42...Nb6; 
(This is forced. White now threatened Rd7+! and Rxc8#.) 
 43.Nb7+, Ke8;  44.Nd6+, Kd8; 45.Rb8, and Black loses a piece, because if he 
 moves his Knight on b6, RxB/c8 is mate.} 

(A long and thunderous applause for Lasker followed Capa's resignation here.
  Meanwhile Capa sat 'dejected, in a chair ...with his head in his hands.') 

"This was Lasker's most glorious victory, and more than worthy of a 
   great occasion."
  The one and only - Irving Chernev.  

For perhaps 75 years, writers - echoing ideas like Chernev, (see just above); 
and Fine - hailed this as one of the finest games of Lasker's career.  

"The psychological effect of this brilliant victory was long-lasting. A shaken Capablanca
  lost with White in the next round to Dr. Tarrasch. And even seven years later, in his world 
  championship match against Lasker, he never played 3...a6; (!) in the Ruy Lopez!" 
  - From the CB annotation of this game.  (Reti, Kasparov, etc.)  

Lasker's play in this game was simply incredible, but Capa's play was absolutely very, 
very poor. (I think it also should be clear by now that Capablanca's defeat in this game 
is NOT due to any ONE move!! Rather, it was an accumulation of less-than-best ideas, 
bad strategy, inaccuracies, and doubtful moves that caused Capa's downfall here. 
 Perhaps Capa was a victim of his own press?   Did he begin to believe he was literally 
invulnerable over the chess-board ... as some had begun to say? (It had been years since
he had lost a SERIOUS tournament game, since maybe 1909. His play does seem to 
indicate this.)  

GM Andy Soltis  gives the amusing commentary of:  
<< "One of the landmarks of chess history," wrote Fine.  But Amos Burn 
        was more accurate
 when he said the game was "simply one of the 
        worst"
  Capablanca ever played!
  >>  
       (Soltis considers this a very over-rated game.)

*************************

Bibliography: 

This game has been annotated an almost countless number of times, in books, 
magazines, and newspaper columns. It would be impossible to find and  - and 
also consult - every single reference, as ever concerns this epic encounter. But 
I think I have found enough different sources ... and also freely looked at enough 
(sometimes opposing) opinions about this game ... to do at least an adequate 
job. I also have thoroughly computer-checked all of my analysis!

  I consulted the following books ... in the order given ... to annotate this game:   

 NOTE:  I must apologize for an omission here.  THANKS  to all the friends and 
 many (former) students who sent me material on this game!!! (Dec. 04, 2003.)  
 {Without their contributions, this page would NOT have been possible!}  

**********

# 1.)  "The 100 Best,"  by  GM Andrew Soltis
            (Soltis considers this to be: "One of the  MOST OVER-RATED games 
              ever played."  His analysis of this game begins on page # 21.) 

# 2.)  'Das Grossmeisterturnier zu St. Petersburg.'  (Page # 167.) 

# 3.)  Several  game collections (different books) on the great  Emanuel Lasker. 
          (By Hannak, Whyld, Barden, etc.)  

# 4.)  "The Golden Dozen."  (The 12 greatest players of all time.) 
            By  Irving Chernev.  

# 5.)  "Masters Of The Chessboard,"  by  GM Richard Reti.  (Dover reprint.) 

# 6.)  The analysis of this game in my  ChessBase  main database. 
          (By Kasparov, Reti, Tarrasch, et al.) 

# 7.)  << G.K. on "My Great Predecessors," (Part I); >>  by  GM Garry Kasparov
          (and D. Plisetsky)  Copyright () by the author, 2003.  Game # 68, page # 210. 
          Published by  EVERYMAN Chess Series,  (formerly Cadogan Books). 
          ISBN: # 1-85744-330-6 (Sept. 28-29, '03. I updated this game - from this book.) 

# 8.)  There were actually several books published on this tournament ... but just about 
          all of these are UN-available today. Probably the most popular was the one done 
          by Tarrasch - in German.  (See # 2.)  There was one done in English - by Watts, I 
          believe - but this one is extremely rare. There was also a book published in 
          Russia, but this book had a VERY small initial run. Additionally, the turmoil caused 
          by the revolution (1917) resulted in enormous upheaval ... many books were 
          simply BURNED by the communists. Layer this over the upheaval in Europe 
          caused by World War I, (1914-1918) and most - or all - of the books that were 
          published during that period were invariably lost. 

          Fortunately for those of us - like me! - whose German is VERY poor, there is 
          now a VERY good book on this tournament! 

          "St. Petersburg, 1914International Chess Tournament."  (Brandreth)  
            {originally} by Siegbert Tarrasch. Translated by Dr. Robert Marxham, and 
            edited by Dr. Dale A. Brandreth. Copyright () 1993, by D.A. Brandreth. 
            Published in 1993 by CAISSA EDITIONS / Yorklyn, Delaware; 1993. 
            ISBN: # 0-939433-17-6

          The author says this is simply a translation of the original, but he is MUCH too 
           modest. There is MUCH additional material ... that was gleaned from dozens 
           of different sources. And while the game annotations are old - and have not 
           been checked by any modern player with a strong computer - this may be the 
           ONLY decent book on this tournament in English. The only catch is that this 
           book {ALSO} was not printed in great numbers, and is already getting a little 
           hard to find. (Many book sellers list it as OUT OF PRINT.) 

           I did NOT have this book when I first annotated this game, I only recently ...     
           (late Nov. 2003) managed to acquire this tremendous book.    

           I may have to go back and add MANY comments and quotes from this book, 
           it is very, very, very interesting and is an excellent source of material!!!

***************

{Several other books - like the one by Pachman - have a fairly good analysis of 
  this game as well.}  

NOTE:  Several students sent me several magazine and newspaper articles - that 
were copied from various archives - on this particular game.

***************************************************************************************************************

(Code Initially)  Generated with  ChessBase 8.0   

 

  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I.  Copyright (c) A.J.G;  2003.  

 

  1 - 0  


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This is a page that I have started many times. About 3-4 years ago, when I first opened this website, I briefly
annotated this game, but never posted it here. (I wanted to do a better analysis of the game than I had done,
previously.) 

I have received countless e-mails asking me when I was going to do it. I am finally getting around to it again 
in a serious way. I finally have a version of this game that I am halfway happy with. 

This is  NOT  my long version of this game, but rather a shorter version I did specifically for my web pages. 
If you would like a version of this game to study on your own, let me know. (I will have to charge a very modest 
fee, mainly to defray the cost of printing, postage fees, that sort of thing.) 


I had another page on this game ... that was posted on my "Excite" web site in approximately 1994. 
But that group of servers went bust a long time back. (Late '90's?) 

***

This page was first posted, (here): Monday,  December 10th, 2001. 
 (The page had no game analysis then, it went unused and sat idle for a very long time.) 
  This page was last updated on: Tuesday, July 18, 2006 .  


 Copyright  (c)  A.J. Goldsby I 

 Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 1975 - 2005.   

    Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2006.  All rights reserved.   


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