Tuesday, February 19

Havana tournament, Round 3: Capablanca, Marshall play to draw; Jaffe, Blanco are victors

The third round of the Havana international chess Masters' tournament witnessed the first clash between tourney favorites when United States Champion Frank J. Marshall and José R. Capablanca of Cuba played to a draw in 36 moves.  In other games, Blanco and Jaffe each registered his first victory of the event, the former defeating Kupchik and the latter Chajes.  Meanwhile, Cuban Champion Corzo opened his scoring account after two successive defeats, drawing a long and hard-fought game with Janowski.

Marshall chose a Queen's Pawn opening against his Cuban rival, who responded with a somewhat irregular defense.  The consensus of expert opinion tended to favor the American's chances early on, but after a short skirmish around the 20th move the position seemed level.  Sr. Capablanca later expressed the opinion that he may have missed an opportunity to seize the advantage with a Knight sacrifice at his 25th turn, citing a variation that the reader will find incorporated into the game score below.  That moment having passed, the game proceeded to a peaceful conclusion after further careful play by both sides:

Blanco essayed the Scotch Game against Kupchik and obtained a favorable position out of the opening.  By the 19th move White stood in possession of an extra pawn, booty he soon returned in order to establish a powerful passed pawn on the Queen's Rook file, a pawn whose advance in the endgame, aided by a well-placed Rook and a Bishop in control of the Queening square, quickly brought about the decision:

Jaffe and Chajes contested a Queen's Gambit Declined featuring much thrust and parry on all sectors of the board.  We draw the reader's attention in particular to the passage at arms between the 35th and 41st moves, from which White emerged with an extra pawn in the endgame, an advantage ultimately sufficient for victory despite the stout resistance of his adversary:

Corzo vs. Janowski, a Giuoco Piano, saw clever play on the King-side, during which each player sacrificed the exchange in turn, this tussle leading at last to a Rook endgame in which the French representative, holding an extra pawn, might have been expected to prevail.  Janowski, however, proved unable to overcome the determined defense of his adversary, as Corzo succeeded in reducing the game to a position of Queen and lone pawn against Queen, reaching safety therein by administering a perpetual check.  The Cuban Champion thus tallied his first half-point of the tournament, a harbinger, we are certain, of much more to come:

Scores after 3 rounds: Capablanca 2 1/2; Jaffe 2; Marshall, Janowski, Blanco, Kupchik 1 1/2; Chajes 1; Corzo 1/2.

The fourth round is scheduled for today, with the two leaders, Capablanca and Jaffe, set to meet, the other pairings being Corzo-Blanco, Janowski-Chajes, and Kupchik-Marshall.

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