Monday, March 4

Havana tournament, Round 12: Marshall draws with Corzo, maintains lead; Capablanca, Janowski narrow gap with victories

United States Champion Frank J. Marshall saw his lead reduced to one point after the twelfth round of the Havana international chess Masters' tournament, the tourney leader playing an exciting draw against Juan Corzo while his closest pursuer, José R. Capablanca, native of the Cuban capital, registered a victory over Oscar Chajes.  France's David Janowski, currently in third place, also narrowed the distance between himself and Marshall, defeating Rafael Blanco in masterful style to  move within one and one-half points of the leader with two rounds remaining.  As Capablanca and Janowski will be pitted against one another in the thirteenth round, and Janowski and Marshall will clash in the fourteenth, a dramatic finish remains well within the realm of possibility.

Corzo and Marshall contested a fluctuating and far from faultless game in a Petroff Defense, with sharp tactics in abundance and each player overlooking opportunities to claim a distinct advantage, two examples of which are cited in the game score below.  The drawn result, most unexpected given the recent form of the combatants, ends a run of seven consecutive wins for the American Champion and five consecutive losses for his Cuban counterpart, and leaves the ultimate issue of the tournament very much an open question:

Capablanca dispatched Chajes with surprising ease in a Ruy Lopez, first weakening and then eliminating his opponent's pawns without allowing the slightest glimmer of counterplay.  A glance at the position after White's 20th and 30th moves will suffice to demonstrate the results of the Cuban's briskly efficient style:

Janowski crafted a fine effort against Blanco in a Dutch Defense, sacrificing the exchange and demonstrating yet again the power of his cherished pair of Bishops.  The Frenchman, who complained of the climate during the recent tourney in New York, seemingly finds the warmth of Havana more to his liking, and has produced a passel of fine games in the current event:

The day's final pairing, Kupchik vs. Jaffe, a Ruy Lopez, proved a tragedy for the first player, who obtained an excellent position only to overlook an obvious bit of tactics at the 24th move, an error costing two pawns.    Yet the game nevertheless remained in approximate balance, White's position having been so strong before his oversight, and many spectators were predicting a drawn outcome when Kupchik committed a second, and this time fatal, oversight with 36.Qf3??, after which the rejoinder 36...Rf5, forcing the win of Queen for Rook, compelled resignation.  With 36.Qe5 White in all likelihood would have held the game:

Scores after 12 rounds:  Marshall 9 1/2; Capablanca 8 1/2; Janowski 8; Kupchik 6; Jaffe 5; Chajes 4 1/2; Blanco 4; Corzo 2 1/2.

The thirteenth round will be played today.

No comments: