Tuesday, January 22

New York tournament, Round 2: All games decisive; Capablanca, Stapfer tied for lead

Those aficionados prone to cavil at the frequency of drawn games in Master chess will find nothing objectionable whatsoever in yesterday's results, as all seven encounters finished decisively, with unexpected reversals of fortune and, let it be said, outright blunders being the order of the day.

To begin with the latter, in Marshall-Kupchik, a Queen's Gambit Declined, the following position was reached after White's 25th move:

  Here Black played 25...g5??, whereupon Marshall instantly replied 26.Ng6+, winning the Queen, and compelling Kupchik's immediate resignation.

Stapfer-Kline, another Queen's Gambit Declined won by the first player, saw a similar oversight, though in mitigation we should note that Black's position was already lost:

Position after 37.Rab7
 Kline here played 37...Qxe4, and resigned upon seeing 38.Bxg5+ in reply.  Still, 37...Qd6, his last hope, would have been met by 38.Rd7, when the Black Queen has no square at its disposal from which to protect the Bishop.

The Morrison-Tenenwurzel encounter saw White win a clear pawn by the 20th move, yet thereafter the young Canadian somehow allowed his position to worsen bit by bit, until ultimately he found himself forced to strike his colors in a Rook endgame.  We give the score for the consideration of our readers:  

In other games, Chajes defeated Zapoleon in a Dutch Defense, Jaffe scored against Liebenstein in a Four Knights' Game, and Janowski topped Rubinstein, who adopted the Sicilian Defense, 1.e4 c5, which we find, at least on occasion, a refreshing change of pace from the usual run of open games generally seen when White begins by advancing his King's pawn.

Finally, we come to Whitaker-Capablanca, the longest and most hard-fought battle of the round.  The Master from Washington, DC by way of Philadelphia seemed at the very least to be holding his own against the Cuban ace through much of their encounter, and had compelled Capablanca to expend far more time than is usual for him in consideration of his moves.  Indeed, at his 56th turn Capablanca thought for a full twenty minutes, and then, taking hold of his Queen, first went to play that piece to c3, before deciding at the last moment to place it on g1 instead.  We cannot recall ever before seeing Capablanca appear so uncertain after long cogitation, which is itself a rarity for him.  No one can know if Capablanca's indecision exerted an influence on his opponent, but the fact remains that Whitaker's reply to Capablanca's 56...Qg1 was most unfortunate, giving away a pawn for no apparent benefit and allowing the Cuban soon to bring the game to a victorious conclusion, as the reader may see below.

Scores after 2 rounds:  Capablanca, Stapfer, 2; Chajes, Jaffe, Janowski, Marshall, Tenenwurzel 1 1/2; Kupchik 1; Whitaker, Kline, Morrison 1/2; Liebenstein, Rubinstein, Zapoleon 0.

The third round will be played this afternoon, the pairings being Capablanca-Janowski, Kline-Tenenwurzel, Kupchik-Whitaker, Liebenstein-Chajes, Rubinstein-Morrison, Stapfer-Jaffe, and Zapoleon-Marshall.    


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