R. Reti - J.R. Capablanca 


 Richard Reti (2647) - Jose R. Capablanca (2810)  
Berlin, [Tageblatt] 1928.

[A.J.Goldsby I]

Chernev gives the following introduction to this game: "Nobody, but nobody could afford to make a mistake against Capablanca. Watch him smash a great Master in just a few moves."  (The book, "1000 Best Short Games of Chess." Game # 548, pg. # 273.)

To me, there are many things that are unique about this game. 
# 1.) Reti is [was] a World-class player. [At that time.] To see him lose so quickly was almost unheard of. 
# 2.) Capa's feel for the opening was immense and incredibly uncanny. He could always play the one opening or line that seemed to produce the weakest game in his opponent. 
# 3.) There is a myth that Capa was a great positional player (he was); and an unbelievable endgame player. (Also true.) But the myth was that Capa was not a great tactician. This is simply not true. Capa could literally play like a machine. Here he plays a combo that the computers of 1995 could not find, even with 10 minutes (or more!) of search time. This game helps show just how amazingly accurate Capa's tactics were. 
# 4.) The end of this game, where Capa spins a mating web from seemingly nowhere is both amazing, incredible, AND beautiful! It is truly chess art. 
# 5.) The other myth about Capa was he was just a grubby material grabber. Here he ignores the possibility of restoring the material balance to give mate. 
# 6.) Capa faces an opponent who possibly had prepared a variation in advance. Yet Capa - time and time again - had the ability to find the best moves over the board. (Remember how Marshall had prepared his gambit years in advance, yet Capa found the best moves over the board and won the game.) - LIFE Master A.J. Goldsby I.

1. e4 e5
; 2. Nf3 Nc6; 3. Bb5 d6
Not a bad move - sound according to Opening Principles. But today, "The Morphy Defense" (with 3...a6;) is preferred. 

     [ The normal move order is: 3...a6; 4.Ba4 d6; 5.c3,  and we have transposed back to the game. ]  


4. c3 a6; 5. Ba4
The book move, but not the only good move here for White. We have now transposed to what MCO-14 calls, "The Modern Steinitz Variation." (Page # 53.) 

     [White can also play: 5. Bxc6+!? bxc6; 6.d4, (6.0-0!?), 6...exd4
      7. cxd4
Qd7; 8.Nc3, ("+/=") and White is slightly better.]  


This is [currently] called, "The Siesta Variation," and has seen a number of 'revivals' over the years. It also shows how Capablanca anticipated theory. 

     [ The more 'normal' book move here is: 5...Bd7; with a fairly safe and stolid position. 
       {See MCO-14; pg. # 58, columns # 7-10.} ]  


6. d4!?, I like this, it strikes me as the most energetic. But it is not the best according to modern theory. 
(But I am not sure Reti's instincts were {more-or-less} correct.) 

     [Probably the safest line for White is: 6. exf5 Bxf5; 7.0-0 Bd3; A nice move, gumming up White's normal developmental scheme. 
Be7; 9. Bc2 Bxc2; 10. Qxc2 Nf6; 11. d4, ("=" maybe - "+/=") Source - Modified 'PowerBook.' 
       (This basic line is also given by MCO-14.)  

       A super-safe line for White is: 6. d3 Nf6; 7. 0-0 fxe4!?(Maybe - 7...b5!?)   
       8. dxe4
Be7; 9. Nbd2 Nd7; 10. b4 Nf8; 11. Re1 Be6; 12. Nf1 Ng6; 13. Bb3 Qd7;   
       14. Ne3 0-015. Nd5, ("+/="),  and White is clearly a little better. - Source: [Modified] PowerBook.]   


6...fxe4; 7. Ng5!?
This looks logical, but did Reti miss a tactic? 

     [ White could have played: 7. Nxe5!? {"Unclear,"  - according to most sources.  
       Although my analysis very clearly indicates that White seems to have more than 
       enough play to draw!}]   


7...exd4; (Maybe - '!') The most accurate.   

     [ 7...Bf5?; 8. Qb3!; ("+/-"). ]  


8. Nxe4!
Apparently the most accurate. 

     [ 8. Bb3!? d5!; transposing to the line below. 
             (Not 8...dxc3?!; 9.Nxc3, and White has some compensation for the material)
       Or 8. cxd4?! d59. 0-0 b5; ("-/+") ]  


Black correctly - and naturally - develops ... rather than snatching more material.  

     [ 8...dxc3!?; 9. Nbxc3, and White has some compensation {play} for the material sacrificed. ]  


9. Bg5 Be7; 10. Qxd4!?, ('?!') This seems a little risky.   

     [ The absolutely safest line for White is: 10. Bxc6+! bxc6; 11. Qxd4 0-0;   
        12. Bxf6 Bxf6; 13. Nxf6+ Qxf6; 14. Qxf6 Rxf6; 15. f3, ("=")  

         (but) Definitely not: 10. cxd4?? Nxe4; ("-/+")   

        White (maybe) could try: 10. Bxf6 Bxf6; 11. 0-0, {Unclear?}  
         (Maybe both sides could try: 11. Bxc6+ bxc6; 12.cxd4 Rb8; ("=/+")) ]  


10...b5; 11. Nxf6+ gxf6; 12. Qd5 bxa4!; Chernev says this is the most accurate.   

     [  Chernev writes: "White escapes the worst after - 12...fxg5; 13. Bd1 Qd7;   
         (13...Bd7??; 14. Bh5+ Kf8; 15.Qf7#), 14. Bg4! Qxg4; 15. Qxc6+ Kf7;   
         16. Qxa8, ("+/=")." ]   


13. Bh6, The only move for White.   

     [ Chernev says: "The alternative 13. Qxc6+ Bd7; 14. Qe4 fxg5; ("/+" or "-/+");  
        is not promising." ]   


The best, according to Chernev - who awards this move an exclamation point.   

     [ 13...Bb7?; 14. Qh5+ Kd7; 15. Qf5+ Ke8; 16. Qh5+ Kd7; 17. Qf5+, ("="), allows a draw.   

       Definitely not 13...Bd7??; 14. Qh5#;  

       Some of my students thought that ...Ne5 would be a good move here. 
       But 13...Ne5?; 14. Qxa8, ("+/") is much better for White. ]   


14. 0-0, The most natural.  

     [ 14. Qh5+!? Kd8; ("-/+") ]   


14...Bb715. Bg7 0-0-0!
Chernev awards this no mark at all, but it is actually an improvement over existing book theory! [The theory of that era.] 

     [ An old issue of "Bilguiler's Handbook" (re-do) recommends: 15...Rf8!?;    
       16. Bxf8 Kxf8; ("/+"; maybe "-/+");  But many players of that time may    
       have felt that White had some attacking chances against the Black King.   

       Definitely not: 15...Rg8??; (???) 16. Qxg8+ Bf8; 17. Qxf8#. ]    


16. Bxh8 Ne5!
Chernev writes: "Unconcerned about capturing the Bishop, Black goes about his business of mating the [White] King."  This nice little in-between move also gains time for Black, whose Knight is now one square closer to White's King!   

     [ Also good for Black is: 16...Rxh8; ("/+"; or maybe "-/+").]   


17. Qd1[], Forced. ("Box.")  

     [ Chernev gives the variation: 17. Qd2? Nf3+!; 18. gxf3 Rg8+; 19. Kh1 Bxf3#. ]   


17...Bf3!!;  A truly beautiful move, and deadly accurate. Chernev only awards this move one exclam, but I think it deserves two. 
(The move is hardly obvious. The obvious move is the recapture of the White Bishop at h8.)   

     [ The simple 17...Rxh8; ("/+") is also good for Black. (Maybe - "-/+".);    


       Black could have also won with: 17...Nf3+!; (Maybe -'!!') 18. Kh1,  

           (Definitely not: 18. gxf3? Rg8+; 19.Kh1 Qg4!; ("-/+") and Black is winning.)    

       18...Rg8!; 19. Nd2 Rxg2!; 20. Qxf3,  As sad as it seems, this move is forced. 
       (20. Kxg2?! Qg4+
; 21. Kh1 Ne1+!;  and Black wins.  Of course, definitely not: 20. Qe2?? Rxh2#.)   

        20...Bxf3; 21. Nxf3 Qh3; 22. Rg1,   

          (22. Rae1? Rg4; 23. Nh4 Rxh4; ("-/+") and White cannot prevent mate - on   
           the h2-square - next move.  

       22...Rxf2; 23. Rg8+ Kb7; 24. Rg3 Qh5!; The best.    

          (Black also wins with: 24...Rxh2+; 25. Nxh2 Qxg3; ("-/+")    

       25. Re1 Rxf3; ("-/+") & Black is winning, because if White plays: 26. Rxe7?, 
       then Black plays 26...Rf2, winning. ]   


18. gxf3, White may as well go ahead and take. 

     [ Chernev gives the beautiful variation: 18. Qd4 Rg8; 19.g3 Qh3; ("-/+") followed by mate.  

       LM A.J. analyzes the line: 18. Qe1?! Qh3!; (Maybe - '!!')  

            (The obvious move is also good for a win, i.e. 18...Qg4 ; 19.g3 Qh3; ("-/+")  
               and now White cannot avoid a mate on the g2-square.

       19. gxh3 Rg8+; 20. Bg7 Rxg7#. ]   


18...Qh3; White Resigns.  0-1   

        Chernev explains resignation by giving the following variation(s): 
        If 19. Kh1, then 19...NxP/f3; winning. 
        [With a Knight on f3, Black is threatening to play ...QxP/h2#.]
        {If White does not play 19. Kh1, then the move 19...Rg8+; is decisive, or gives mate.} 
        (If after 19. Kh1, Nxf3; then 20. QxN/f3. Black responds to this with: 20...QxQ+.
         White must play 21. Kg1. Then Black plays: 21...Rg8+, followed by mate next move.)   


The computer says White can play 19. Qd5, ... but then Black can respond with 19...c6!; and mate will follow in eight moves at most. 

Truly a wondrous game, and worthy of inclusion in the list, "The 10 Best Short Games of Chess Ever Played."

Make sure you visit my website at - http://www.ajschess.com/lifemasteraj(The "Best Short Games" Page.) 
You will see this game listed there on that page. (You will also see the list of what I consider to be "The 10 Greatest Short Games of Chess Ever Played.)

This game is a  much  shortened version  of the game that is in my database. That game also includes an in-depth MCO analysis of the opening variation. ("The Siesta Variation.") It also includes much analysis and other comments that was removed from game as it is presented here ... mainly due to space and the difficulty of reproducing the extremely complex variations in this type of format. It also would make the game far too difficult to follow to reproduce it here in its entirety. So I shortened it.
If you would like a copy of this game in the original ChessBase format - which includes the in-depth opening survey and all the extra analysis that was not included here, write me.  

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  This page was last altered, modified or updated on: Friday, April 26, 2013 11:08:27 PM .  


 Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I;  Copyright A.J. Goldsby;  1985 - 2012.

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2013.  All rights reserved.