(2) Jose Capablanca - Molina [D51]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 b6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bxe7 Nxe7

Black's opening play is not to be taken as a model; on 7 cxd5 the reply 7/\exd5 would have been better, and at this point he should certaintly hav played 8/\Qxe7 instead of recalling his knight.

9.Bd3 c5 10.0-0 0-0 11.dxc5?!

This move only has a point if the sacrifice on h7 is correct, other wise it makes it easier for Black to equalize. Since the sacrifice is unsound, 11.Rc1 would have been the right course.

11...Nxc5 12.Bxh7+?!

Capablanca naturally does not consent to make a peaceful move like 12.Be2 against an Argentine amateur. However unsound the sacrifice is, Molina will see for himself that his own position it spoilt.

12...Kxh7 13.Ng5+ Kg6

Black is correct to choose the ...Kg6 variation and the reader armed with the guidance given previously will notice that White's chances of success in this case are dubious, since he does not have the two necessary supporting pieces, but only one, and a fairly weak one at that (the knight on c3)

14.Qg4 f5 15.Qg3 Kh6?

By playing 15...Kf6! Black could have shown that the bishop sacrifice was unsound. White can then still exert some pressure (after 16.Rad1 Bd7 or 16.b4 Na6) but he has not got the time to strengthen his attack decisively, since Black threatens to consolidate his position (e.g. 16.e4 g6 or 16.f4 Rh8). White must therefore take the exchange by 16.Nh7+ with the result that his attack comes to a halt, leaving him without sufficient compensation for Black's material advantage. In addition to 15...Kf6, another move which is better than the one played is 15...f4, which would force White to play for a draw, i.e. 16.exf4 Kf5 17.Qg4 Kh6 18.Qg3 Nf5, etc.

16.Qh4+ Kg6 17.Qh7+ Kf6

[If 17...Kxg5 18.Qxg7+ Kh5

and White obtains a mating attack by 19.f4 or19.Ne2]

18.e4! Ng6 19.exf5?

This makes it easier for Black to defend himself and throws away the opportunity of e5+; it is uncertain whether White now has the advantage or not. Capablanca in his commentary correctly notes that 19.exf5 was not the best move, but he recommends instead 19.f4?, which would not have been good either; Black replies 19...Qd4+

19...exf5 20.Rad1 Nd3!

Against other moves 21.Nd5+ would be decisive; but White is now really threatened with ....Rh8 and has to withdraw his queen, which means that the strongest weapon in his attack has been beaten back.

21.Qh3 Ndf4

Black throws away his chance. With 21...Ngf4 (22.Qh4 Rh8) he could have given White a lot of trouble and perhaps even won the game.

22.Qg3 Qc7 23.Rfe1 Ne2+?

This loses a piece, but Black wold probably lose whatever he played! Thus if

[23...Be6 24.Rxe6+ Nxe6 25.Nd5# ]

24.Rxe2 Qxg3 25.Nh7+

This is the famous intermediate move!

25...Kf7 26.hxg3 Rh8 27.Ng5+ Kf6 28.f4


This game, here given a proper critical commentary for the first time, provides yet another blow against the legend of "The Infallible Cuban". Another interesting point is that Capablanca often undertook attacks agaist the castled king in his earlier years, but extremely rarely, as he became older. This was to a certain extent the result of the progressively greater ability of his opponents and a general rise in standards, but it was perhaps even more because of a gradual waning of enthusiasm under the weight of increasing self-criticism. Unlike Capablanca, Alekhine played in his own style from his youth right till the end, accepting the risk of difficult attacks against the castled king even against strong opponents. Could you play like this?