Reader Submitted Question on Spielmann – Capablanca (1928)

Rudolf Spielmann

Rudolf Spielmann

Chris,

(Child’s name) and I were playing this game and couldn’t figure out why Spielmann won the game (Jose Raul Capablanca vs Rudolf Spielmann 1928) , since it’s not forced mate.

Thank you.

Best regards,
(Parent)

 

 

Answer:

 

Good question! Capablanca is one of my heroes but Spielmann is possibly the most overlooked chess genius in history. Unfortunate for Mr. Spielmann, he reached his peak in a very difficult time (the 1930’s) for chess players. In this period, sponsors for major events were hard to find and Europe was racing down the road toward WWII. Even still, Spielmann obtained a lifetime even record against the great Capablanca which modern chess players constantly marvel in envy at.

Now for the specifics of your question… The final position of Capablanca – Spielmann, Bad Kissingen 1928 looked like this:

 

Final position of Capablanca - Spielmann, Bad Kissingen 1928

Final position of Capablanca – Spielmann, Bad Kissingen 1928

 

The first thing we notice is that Rudolf Spielmann is threatening a mate in one with Qxg2#. To avoid mate, Capablanca could play (a)Qf3 or (b)pawn to f3. If Q f3:

After 40. Qf3.

After (a)40. Qf3.

Black responds with Qe1+ and Capablanca will aslo lose his queen.

White is in check and will lose his queen.

White is in check and will lose his queen.

 

So now for option (b):

Position after 40. f3.

Position after (b)40. f3.

This is a much better alternative to choice (a) but Capablanca would still lose. Immediately, I spot a nice fork that will win an additional pawn for black.

Position after 40... Qb1+.

Position after 40… Qb1+.

After 41. Kh2 Qxb5 42. Kg3 Qc4 black is ahead by a solid three points of material in an endgame and will eventually be able to convert his material advantage into a win.

Position after 42... Qc4.

Position after 42… Qc4.

Here, Capablanca would avoid trading queens and play something like:

43. Qd2 Qc5 44. Kh2 Be6 45. Kg3 g5 46. Kh2 Kg7 47. Qb2+ Kg6 48. Qd2 Qd5 49. Qc3 Qc4 50. Qe1
Qd4 51. Qb1+ Kg7 52. Kg3 Qe5+ 53. Kf2 Qc5+ 54. Kg3 Qxa5 and black should be able to use his extra force to win the endgame.

Position after 54... Qxa5.

Position after 54… Qxa5.

Capablanca respected Spielmann enough not to waste any extra energy on a forgone conclusion. Even still, I would be very disappointed if one of my students resigned as white where Capablanca did. Queen endgames are notoriously difficult to play properly and resigning in positions like these result in far fewer miraculous comebacks and more importantly the resigning player misses out entirely on important learning opportunities.

 

For those interested in learning more about this incredible chess battle, the entire game is pasted below. Enjoy…

[Event “Bad Kissingen”]
[Site “Bad Kissingen GER”]
[Date “1928.08.17”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Jose Raul Capablanca”]
[WhiteElo “?”]
[Black “Rudolf Spielmann”]
[BlackElo “?”]
[Result “0-1”]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.e3 b5 6.a4 b4 7.Na2 e6 8.Bxc4 Be7 9.O-O
O-O 10.b3 c5 11.Bb2 Bb7 12.Nc1 Nc6 13.dxc5 Na5 14.Ne5 Nxc4 15.Nxc4 Bxc5 16.Nd3
Qd5 17.Nf4 Qg5 18.Bxf6 Qxf6 19.Rc1 Rfd8 20.Qh5 Rac8 21.Rfd1 g6 22.Rxd8+ Qxd8
23.Qe5 Be7 24.h3 Rc5 25.Qa1 Bf6 26.Rd1 Rd5 27.Rxd5 exd5 28.Ne5 Qd6 29.Nfd3 Ba6
30.Qe1 Bxe5 31.Nxe5 Qxe5 32.Qxb4 Bd3 33.Qc5 Qb8 34.b4 Qb7 35.b5 h5 36.Qc3 Bc4
37.e4 Qe7 38.exd5 Bxd5 39.a5 Qe4 0-1

 

If you have a question about chess, feel free to email me at chesslessons@aol.com

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