Thursday, 28 May 2015

HOCCC: Capablanca visits Ipswich

The text and game below are taken from the 28th October 1919 edition of the East Anglian Daily Times. The only alterations made are those necessary to "translate" from descriptive to algebraic notation. There are errors in the comments in the game (e.g. in the note for move 33 it says that g4 would allow chances of a draw when actually it would allow a Black mate in 8 moves). Just over a year later Capablanca became world chess champion.




Senor Capablanca, the Cuban chess master, writing through the manager of his tour, says that the arrangements for the exhibition at the Town Hall, Ipswich, on Thursday evening were excellent, and that he will remember his visit with the greatest pleasure. He states that he had some very interesting games.

We append below what was stated by Senor Capablanca to be the best game played against him. The finish of the game is particularly good, but the play is of interest from the commencement:-

[Event "Simul at Ipswich"] [Site "?"] [Date "1919.10.22"] [Round "?"] [White "Capablanca, J. R."] [Black "Robinson, T."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [Annotator "Comments from original article, author unknown"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "1919.10.28"] [EventType "simul"] 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 {Avoiding the more analysed variations of 2...Qxd5, etc... and also the dangers of the b4 Gambit. Blackburne favours this move. It was also played by Capablanca against Chajes in the New York Tourney, 1915.} 3. Nf3 {Apparently an innovation by Capablanca. 3.d4 or Bb5+ may be played.} Nxd5 4. c4 Nb4 5. d4 Bf5 6. Na3 {Although this move is forced (a privilege seldom granted by Capablanca), Black's knight remains a weakness through the whole game, and the ultimate failure of the defence is brought about by its necessary retreat to a6 on move 24.} e6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O N8c6 10. Qd2 Qd7 11. Qc3 Rad8 12. Rfd1 Bf6 13. Ne5 Qe7 14. f4 Be4 {To prevent White's light-squared bishop attacking Black's f6 knight and obtaining command of the diagonal e4-d5.} 15. Bf3 Bxf3 16. Nxf3 Rd7 17. Nb1 {The knight is now of little used on a3, and must come into play somehow. The move has the semblance of a trap, as the moves which follow are unusual and intricate, but the result is the loss of a move for black and a weak queenside. Such a move as Nb1 would not be played by Capablanca unless something definite lay behind.} e5 18. fxe5 Nxe5 19. Nxe5 Bxe5 20. Nd2 Bf6 21. Nf3 Rfd8 22. Re1 Qf8 23. Qb3 c6 24. a3 Na6 {White is step by step improving his position, and Black gradually goes to pieces (see note to move 6).} 25. Bf2 Re8 {Black cannot allow the command of the open file.} 26. Rxe8 Qxe8 27. Re1 Re7 28. Qxb7 {A brilliant coup, inaugurating the final breakthrough. There appears to be nothing better for Black, as Ne5 was threatened.} Rxe1+ 29. Bxe1 Bxd4+ 30. Kf1 Nc5 31. Qxa7 Be3 32. b4 Qd8 33. Ne5 {g4 would have allowed chances of a draw, but this move is also part of the combination.} Qf6+ 34. Ke2 Ne6 35. Qb8+ Nf8 36. Qxf8+ {And wins, for 36.Kxf8 37.Nd7+ Black king moves 38.Nxf6, and Black has still his bishop en prise. A good example of the skill with which Capablanca takes advantage of small weaknesses, gradually accumulating, until the resulting decisive move is possible.} 1-0


  1. This simul took place on the 22nd October 1919 and was part of Capablanca's 4th European Tour. He won all 40 matches in the Ipswich simul. The tour lasted from 6th August 1919 to 26th February 1920 with Capablanca's overall record being 1515 wins, 89 draws and 41 losses from 45 simultaneous displays.

  2. Post updated to change date of game in pgn.

    Additional information taken from the book "The Unknown Capablanca" (1993) - David Hooper, Dale A. Brandreth