Saturday, February 16

Havana tournament, Round 1: Capablanca defeats Corzo brilliantly; other games drawn

The international chess tournament in Havana began auspiciously yesterday with a brilliant victory by tourney favorite José R. Capablanca, a native of that city now resident in New York, who defeated Cuban Champion Juan Corzo in a coruscating game.  Capablanca, whose success is both hoped for and expected by his many supporters, thus assumes the early lead in the event, the other three games having been drawn.

The Corzo-Capablanca encounter displayed both players to best advantage, and revealed each as unafraid to sacrifice material in the interest of gaining the attack.  Capablanca, playing Black in a Queen's Pawn Game, left a Rook to be taken as early as the tenth move, an offer his opponent wisely declined.  Corzo for his part later sacrificed a Knight, only to see Capablanca immediately offer his other Rook in return.  And so blow alternated with counter-blow until, at his 27th turn, Capablanca outdid all previous strategems by leaving his Queen en prise, secure in the advantage in position he would obtain should that piece be captured.  Corzo, perhaps taken by surprise, erred in reply, after which the scales of battle soon tipped irretrievably toward the side of his opponent.  Though the tourney has scarce begun, Capablanca's fine effort already ranks as a strong favorite to capture the brilliancy prize.  We invite our readers to examine the game, to which Sr. Capablanca has graciously added a few brief comments.

In other games, Kupchik and Janowski played to a draw in a Queen's Gambit Accepted, with the latter striving in vain for many moves to demonstrate an advantage in an endgame of Rooks and opposite-colored Bishops.

Blanco, playing White in a Scotch Game vs. Chajes, soon won the exchange.  Later, though, in the face of his opponent's determined counterplay - at one point Black enjoyed an advantage of no less than four pawns for the lost exchange - the first player found himself compelled to struggle for the draw, which he achieved at the 53rd move:

Finally, United States Champion Frank Marshall and Charles Jaffe of New York played what at first glance appeared a relatively quiet Queen's Gambit Declined, agreed drawn after 29 moves.  Post-game analysis,  however, demonstrated that Jaffe had missed not one but two chances for advantage: 21...Qh2!, with the threat 22...Bd3, would have been very strong, while at the 25th move either 25...Qa2 or 25...Nd5 (e.g., 26.Rh4 f5 27.Nd2 Qf6) might well have given Black the victory:

Scores after 1 round: Capablanca 1; Kupchik, Janowski, Blanco, Chajes, Marshall, Jaffe 1/2; Corzo 0.

The second round will be played tomorrow, the 17th.     

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