Tuesday, March 5

Havana tournament, Round 13: Marshall wins, leads by point entering final round; Capablanca defeats Janowski

Frank J. Marshall and José R. Capablanca, current first- and second-place contenders at the Havana international chess Masters' tournament, both registered victories in the thirteenth round, with Marshall defeating Rafael Blanco and Capablanca besting third-place contender David Janowski.  Entering the fourteenth and final round Marshall, with a score of 10 1/2, leads his Cuban rival by a full point, and thus has assured himself of at least a share of top honors in the event, while Capablanca, who at 9 1/2 enjoys a margin of one and one-half points over Janowski, is likewise certain of second place.  In other games, Oscar Chajes defeated Abraham Kupchik, while Charles Jaffe and Juan Corzo played to a draw.

Marshall vs. Blanco, a Queen's Gambit Declined, soon reached an endgame with two Rooks and six pawns per side, with the United States Champion possessing in addition a Knight against Blanco's Bishop.  The first player gradually made inroads into Black's game, obtaining a passed d-pawn and securing a fine position for his Knight.  At the 40th move Marshall won a pawn, and thereafter steered the game victoriously into port with the steady hand of a Master:


Capablanca and Janowski contested a rich and difficult game in a Ruy Lopez, following the lines of the Cuban's victory over Chajes in the previous round until Janowski chose to deviate from that earlier path, preferring 7...Nd7 to Chajes's 7...exd4.  The veteran Parisian Master, who has played much of this event with youthful vigor, offered a sacrifice of the exchange, securing as compensation excellent posts for his other pieces, in particular his Knight, which stood most powerfully on the d4-square.  Capablanca, in turn, worked steadily to alleviate Black's pressure, first exchanging the well-placed Knight and then preparing a counter-sacrifice of the exchange, a transaction that yielded him an extra pawn in the endgame.  Still, the tense struggle continued, with Janowski skillfully laying clever snares for his youthful antagonist (see, for example, Black's 37...d3), and Capablanca equally skillfully making slow but steady progress toward victory, a goal he at last achieved at the 52nd move.  This was Master chess, no less on the part of the vanquished than that of the victor.  Capablanca thus avenges the defeat suffered at the hands of the same opponent in the first half of the tourney, and, as noted above, assures himself, at the minimum, of second prize; as for Janowski, third prize, notwithstanding this loss, is already his, as Kupchik, the next nearest pursuer, lags two full points behind.

Chajes defeated Kupchik in a Four Knights' Game, with White's pair of Bishops dominating the play throughout much of the encounter.  The fortunes of the two combatants have shifted dramatically in recent days: Chajes, who had recorded but one victory through the first ten rounds, has now scored the full point in three of the last four; Kupchik, by contrast, has lost three games running, and, with a margin of a mere one-half point over both Chajes and Jaffe, and paired tomorrow against Capablanca, he risks losing the fourth prize, which had seemed assuredly his for quite some time.

Jaffe and Corzo faced off in a Queen's Pawn Game, producing a long and hard-fought struggle, fascinating in all its phases.  The fighting spirit of the two players, far removed from the battle for top honors, is to be commended, and we urge our readers - some of whom, we know, are prone to leave unexamined contests with a drawn result - not to overlook this colorful battle:


Scores after 13 rounds:  Marshall 10 1/2; Capablanca 9 1/2; Janowski 8; Kupchik 6; Chajes, Jaffe 5 1/2; Blanco 4; Corzo 3.

The fourteenth and final round will be played tomorrow, March 6, the pairings being Janowski-Marshall, Kupchik-Capablanca, Blanco-Jaffe, and Corzo-Chajes.  

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