Friday, February 22

Havana tournament, Round 5: Marshall, Janowski, Kupchik are victors; Capablanca retains lead

The fifth round of the Havana international chess Masters' tournament produced three decisive games, with David Janowski and Abraham Kupchik registering victories and United States Champion Frank J. Marshall convincingly defeating his Cuban counterpart Juan Corzo in only 17 moves.  Nevertheless, tourney leader José R. Capablanca, despite being  held to a draw by Oscar Chajes, still retains his position atop the scoring table, with a half-point margin over Janowski and a full point over Marshall and Kupchik.

Blanco and Janowski contested a Sicilian Defense which soon reached the endgame, the Queens being exchanged as early as the 8th move.  Janowski battled his opponent's two Knights with his cherished pair of Bishops, pieces for which he has long expressed a pronounced predilection.  The French representative appeared to enjoy a slight advantage through most of the encounter, and at last compelled his opponent's resignation at the 54th move after a difficult struggle:

Jaffe chose the Ruy Lopez against Kupchik and, by virtue of multiple displacements of his Bishop and Queen, netted a pawn in the opening, a decision that soon proved unwise, as the acquisition of the booty cost so much precious time that the second player, vigorously exploiting the chances offered him, had established a virtually winning position by the 20th move.  Soon thereafter a Knight endgame arose with Kupchik in possession of two sound extra pawns, and of whose outcome there could be no doubt.  Jaffe fought on to the bitter end, but in our opinion could well have spared himself at least a dozen moves at the finish, and the reader who glances at the final position may decide for himself whether the proper moment to resign had long since passed:


Marshall's game against Corzo, a battle of national Champions, proved a far more one-sided affair than expected, with the Cuban ace, as Black in a Queen's Gambit Declined, falling victim to a pretty bit of combinative play at the 15th move and then, obviously taken aback, blundering away his Queen two moves later:


Finally, Capablanca, playing Black in a Queen's Pawn Game, found it difficult to make headway against Chajes, despite holding the whip hand, if only lightly, through much of the contest.  The Cuban afterward was most complimentary of his opponent's defense, and demonstrated a trap avoided by Chajes whereby White appears to reach a winning pawn endgame, only to find the tables turned after a surprise rejoinder by Black.  The reader will find this most interesting variation added to the game score below:


Scores after 5 rounds: Capablanca 4; Janowski 3 1/2; Marshall, Kupchik 3; Jaffe, Blanco Chajes 1 1/2; Corzo 1.

The sixth round will be played today.      


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