Wednesday, February 27

Havana tournament, Round 9: Capablanca, Marshall again victorious, remain tied for lead; will meet in next round.

The leaders of the Havana international chess Masters' tournament, José R. Capablanca and Frank J. Marshall, both scored victories in yesterday's ninth round, with the Cuban ace tallying his third win in succession and the United States Champion his fifth.  The two rivals thus continue to share first place, their margin over the nearest competitor, David Janowski of Paris, having now grown to a full point after the French representative could only draw his game against Charles Jaffe of New York.  Abraham Kupchik, currently in fourth position, regained some of the ground lost as a result of yesterday's defeat at the hands of Janowski by scoring a quick win over Cuban Champion Juan Corzo, and now trails the Frenchman by one point.  Interest in the tournament, already high at the outset, is increasing by the day as the hotly-contested race between the leaders continues, and with Capablanca and Marshall set to meet in the tenth round, there is speculation that even the spacious playing hall of the Ateneo de la Habana, the tournament venue, may prove inadequate to accommodate all who wish to attend.

Capablanca handled the Black pieces against his countryman Rafael Blanco, who bravely chose the Evans Gambit against his renowned opponent.  At his 12th turn White sacrificed a Bishop, initiating a sequence that ultimately left him with approximate material parity - Rook and pawn against Capablanca's two minor pieces - but bringing about a position in which the weakness of White''s pawns and the activity of the Black forces decided the struggle.  Blanco resigned at the 38th move, during the last ten of which he had stood a full Bishop in arrears:

Marshall sportingly admits that he has experienced rare good fortune in this event, with yesterday's game vs. Chajes furnishing yet another example thereof.  The United States Champion, as first player, gained no advantage whatsoever from a Queen's Gambit Declined, with the judgment of expert players on the scene tending rather to favor Black, owing to the weak, albeit passed, White d-pawn.  A brief flurry of excitement arose when Marshall succeeded in advancing that pawn to d5 in the face of superior enemy forces, but Chajes, unflustered, soon annexed the booty, reaching at the 30th move an endgame in which, by virtue of his material advantage, he could harbor every hope of winning.  But precisely then did fortune play its role, as Chajes at his 31st turn lost a Bishop to a simple "swindle" a mere two moves in length, after which his game was beyond salvation.  The good player, we have heard it said, is always lucky:


Jaffe vs. Janowski saw another Queen's Gambit Declined, in which the players reached a double Bishop endgame after 24 moves, with the second player seeming to hold slightly better prospects, but proving unable to increase whatever small advantage he might possess.  Indeed, it was instead Jaffe who appeared in the ascendancy during then latter stages of the contest, though again no genuine winning chances were to be found.  The two players agreed to a draw at the 68th move, an earlier offer of peace made by Janowski having been rejected by the New York Master:
Corzo selected the rare Ponziani Opening against Kupchik, who, if surprised by his opponent's choice, nevertheless soon obtained a fine game.  At his 12th turn White, according to Sr. Capablanca, ought to have preferred the retreat 12.Nf3, as after 12.Ne4 and the reply 12...f5, White is lost.  For those readers who, like ourselves, find it difficult at first glance to credit the notion that a position of such seemingly ordinary character can in fact already be hopeless, we have inserted in the game score a few variations adduced by our Herr Fritz; all lead to a loss for White, as indeed did the line chosen by Corzo:


Scores after 9 rounds: Marshall, Capablanca 7; Janowski 6; Kupchik 5; Jaffe 3 1/2; Blanco 3; Chajes 2 1/2; Corzo 2.

Today being a free day, the tenth round will be played tomorrow, when as noted the leaders, Marshall and Capablanca, will meet. 

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