Friday, October 25

Capablanca in London: Cuban sacrifices Queen in victory over Ed. Lasker

We present a remarkable game played on the occasion of a small simultaneous exhibition given by José R. Capablanca on the 17th inst. at London's Divan Café.  The Cuban ace required less than an hour to make a clean score against seven opponents, among whom was Herr Edward Lasker, himself already a veteran of international Master play and winner of fifth prize at the Scheveningen tournament a few months ago.  That such a player would consent to take a board against the lone performer says much for the high regard in which Capablanca is held by the chess community.

The course of the game, meanwhile, demonstrates the Cuban's genius and at the same time offers a rare example of his fallibility. Capablanca with the White pieces adopted the Ruy Lopez, against which Herr Lasker selected a variation that he has used to achieve two draws against Mr. H.G. Cole in their ongoing match. At his 12th turn Capablanca followed a different path from that taken by Mr. Cole, playing 12.dxe5 in preference to the latter's 12.Bxe4.  The key moment of the contest came at the 14th move when Capablanca unexpectedly sacrificed his Queen, producing a most complicated situation fraught with peril for both parties. Herr Lasker soon thereafter thought it best to return his surplus material in an attempt to reach the safety of a balanced endgame. We leave it to players far stronger than ourselves to judge the wisdom of these decisions.  But we do venture to state that the pawn endgame at the close of the contest, itself worthy of careful study, was - as is understandable, given the circumstances - misplayed by both combatants.  Capablanca's 39.f5? appears to let victory slip away against Black's best defense, while Lasker's 40...Ke5?? turns a drawn position into a loss.  40...Ke6 was required instead, as will be seen from the variations given in the notes.  Still, the final position following 41.h6 is most attractive: after 41...f4 42.g6! Kf6 43.gxh7, the White pawn cannot be stopped.

To the game:

No comments: