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Capablanca move by move

Nivå B-D
Utgivelsesdato Juli 2012
Pris 275 NOK
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En instruktiv og flott samling av 59 Capablanca-partier med det nye pedagogiske konseptet der forfatteren blant annet stiller leseren mange spørsmål underveis.

Capablanca og partiene hans har alltid hatt en slags magisk tiltrekningskraft, og forfatteren erklærer seg selv som en særdeles stor Capa-beundrer. Partiene er inndelt i fem kapitler: 1) Capa on the Attack, 2) Capa on Defence, 3) Capa on Exploiting Imbalances, 4) Capa on Accumulating Advantages, 5) Capa on Endings.

Med denne boka blir mange av Capablancas vakre og sterke partier tilgjengelig for et bredt publikum, som gjerne bør benytte sjansen!

Forfatterens forord

What others could not find in a month’s study, he saw at a glance.
Reuben Fine.

It isn’t easy to write a book about one’s chess hero and remain an unbiased annotator. This is what I wrote about Capablanca in another book: “When it comes to all things Capa, I am one of those love-struck annotators who itches to give every move he played an exclamation mark.” And another: “As a faithful acolyte of Saint Capa, I hope you will forgive me for sneaking in yet another of the Blessed One’s games into the book.” So you see, it won’t be easy, but in this book I try and remain objective, revealing Capablanca’s warts as well as his double exclams.

Capa’s opening play, especially in the earlier part of his career, was uninspiring at best, so we don’t spend much time there. Fischer theorized: “Some kid of 14 today, or even younger, could get an opening advantage against Capablanca...” On the other hand, Capa’s middlegame play, especially when it came to pawn structure and planning, was two or more generations ahead of his time. If you look at his handling of the King’s Indian against Menchik (Game 31), it looks as if a contemporary GM like Karpov or Kramnik plays the white pieces against a C-player who bought books on KID but didn’t bother to study them. Strategically, Capa had a deceptive, elegant way of threading through the maze, the only sighted person among the multitude of his day. He would somehow find a way of removing the complexity of any position, no matter how chaotic, and translate it into a plan which we can all understand. In the late middlegames and endings he has no rival and may well be the greatest player of all time. Only Bobby Fischer could make a case to be his equal in technical endings. Hopefully, after going over the games in this book, some of this will rub off on us!

A Look at Capa’s Career

The four-year-old Jose Raul Capablanca quietly watched his father and a fellow army officer play chess each night. One evening, tot-Capa corrected his father after an inaccurate move and suggested another. When Capa’s father checked the suggested move, it turned out to be an improvement! Don Jorge Capablanca then played his son a game – and lost! He ran out into the street and shouted “A miracle!” after his four-year-old son beat him in his very first chess game. Thus began the career of the most naturally gifted player of all time.

Shortly afterward, the four-year-old Capa attended the Steinitz-Chigorin world championship match in Havana in 1892. This match left a powerful imprint upon his mind. He also watched astounded as the American GM Harry Nelson Pillsbury performed a 16- board blindfold simultaneous display. “Pillsbury’s displays ... electrified me.” Capa’s interests as a youth included such diverse fields as mathematics, history, philosophy, violin and baseball. His parents sent him to the U.S. to study chemical engineering at Columbia University on the strict promise that he avoided playing chess. Luckily for us, he disobeyed them. Legend has it that he breezed through and aced a horrifically complex three-hour engineering problem in just 40 minutes in his final exams.

He quickly earned a reputation in the United States as an unbeatable amateur and earned a match shot in his first real test in 1909 with then U.S. Champion Frank Marshall, a player in the Top 10 in the world, and an overwhelming favourite against the unknown but gifted Cuban amateur. Capa outplayed Marshall both strategically and tactically in two out of three phases of the game. The result was an embarrassingly lopsided +8-1=14 bloodbath in Capa’s favour. Capablanca held his own in the opening (“His heart is not in it,” said Znosko-Borovsky about Capa in the opening stages of the game), and dominated the American in the middlegame and ending, as his pieces glided along with the flow of a concert pianist’s fingers along the keys. Next, Capa toured the U.S. on a simultaneous exhibition tour; the newspaper headlines read: “Beyond all Expectations!” and “Astonishing!” He managed to avoid losing a single game in his first ten simuls. The crushing victory over Marshall earned Capa an invitation to the elite GM event, San Sebastian 1911, where he vaulted to world prominence with a stunning first place finish. Suddenly Capa usurped Rubinstein’s spot as Lasker’s natural challenger. Lasker dodged Capa for a full decade in a world title match. Meanwhile, during the years before and after World War I, Capa lapped up ten first place finishes, often with overwhelming scores, like a hungry cat with a bowl of cream. In short matches, he also beat the likes of Teichmann and Alekhine, among others. Finally in 1921, the pressure in the press grew unbearable for Lasker, who finally agreed to a championship match in Havana. Capablanca methodically broke Lasker down with a never-before-seen level of technical accuracy, defeating Lasker by +4, without a loss in the match.

So difficult was Capa to beat that he went ten years without losing a tournament game, from the St Petersburg tournament of 1914 to New York 1924, where he finally lost a game to Réti. (It was believed the only reason for that defeat was loss of composure when Capa’s rumoured mistress walked into the tournament hall while Capa’s wife – and the press! – also attended!) When he was world champion, his dominance was absolute and his first place finish – without a single loss – was almost a forgone conclusion. In the chess world, Capa was the beginning, the middle and the end, both God and devil – the way Fischer would have been had he continued playing after he won the World title from Spassky. Capa continued to dominate until the unthinkable happened: He lost his world title to Alekhine. A grossly overconfident Capa entered the match unprepared psychologically for the new and improved Alekhine. In the end, Capa lost the match because he had never previously been tested to the degree with which Alekhine pressed him. Capa was simply unprepared for this caprice of fate. The loss of his title had a contracting effect on Capa’s style. Now terrified of defeat, he began to play super safely, a bit like a Petrosian prototype. Nevertheless, he continued to be placed at the very top of elite tournaments and even defeated world champion-to-be Max Euwe +2=8 in a short match as late as 1931.

Capa’s Style

Capa was the consummate incrementalist/minimalist, who would win squeakers by a single tempo in positions everyone else drew. Znosko-Borovsky said that Capablanca was the first player to truly introduce the concept of piece harmony/activity over structure. His opponents rarely failed to look awkward and clunky. Playing over the games in this book, the difference is noticeable. It can be a jarring sight to see a ballerina waltzing with Frankenstein. His strength rocketed from the late middlegame into the ending. The fewer the pieces, the stronger he played. Don’t believe for a second that Capablanca was a pure positional player. He was also probably the best tactician in the world between 1917 and 1927. Capa’s games erupted with “little combinations”, short-range but unexpected shots which he conjured at a glance. He was also capable of combinations and calculations on a grand scale, as in his game against Bernstein from St Petersburg 1914 (Game 8), but was generally too lazy or cautious to enter such positions on a regular basis. In each chapter we encounter three Capablancas: 1. The young, aggressive adventurer, 1901-1915. 2. The mid-years, where Capa ruled as uncontested king at the height of his powers, 1916-1927. 3. In his final period, from 1928 to his death in 1942, we see a very cautious, superpositional player, plagued by health issues like high blood pressure and chronic headaches during his games. Apparently time and poor health managed to kill Capas 1 and 2 by this point. Even in this period he produced many magnificent strategic gems and dazzling endings. Viewing the ease with which he won, the reader may get the feeling that Capa played chess while his opponents played checkers, or some other game. If any of this rubs off, our own play will hopefully turn more subtle and harmonious.

Capa the Greatest?

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, but in my opinion Capablanca was the second strongest player in the history of the game, behind Fischer but ahead of Morphy and Kasparov. Capa easily possessed the most natural talent but was also, unfortunately, the laziest world champion, who couldn’t be bothered to log heavy study hours. Had he been ingrained with the fanatical zeal of an Alekhine or a Fischer, then Capa would most certainly have reached the number one spot. Of course, this is all total speculation and it’s impossible to say who was or wasn’t the greatest. The only marker we go by is to gauge who dominated his peers most in his prime. No player ever logged an impossible, mythical performance like Fischer did immediately before his match with Spassky – not even Capablanca.

The Format of the Book

In the end, this book isn’t so much about Capablanca as it is about us extracting lessons and learning from Capablanca. The Move by Move interactive, question and answer format is designed for the reader to put in a little sweat going through the games. The reader is challenged with exercises in planning, discovering combinations, calculation and critical decisions. Of course, you are not obligated to do the exercises, but if you do put in the work, there will be a payoff in the end. The chapters are arranged by theme: Attack; Defence; Exploiting Imbalances; Accumulating Advantages; and Endgames. Since Capa’s games were rarely one dimensional, several of the games fit into multiple chapters.

Behold, the Awesome Power of Capa!

I became an accidental beneficiary of a Capa-boost in rating. Normally my USCF rating hovers in the 2500-2550 range. As soon as I began work on this book (I looked at so many Capa games that sometimes the pieces began to merge in my blurred vision!) my rating unexpectedly began to climb... and climb... until it reached 2588, only ten points away from my peak rating from 1998. Such a thing is unheard of for a 51-year-old geezer like me. (You know you are old when you have so many candles on your birthday cake that there is no hope of blowing them out.) Was this the result of a placebo effect or perhaps rating inflation? I’m not sure. A sample of one isn’t exactly scientific proof, but I stubbornly maintain that my rating shot up as a result of Capa’s disembodied, ectoplasmic spirit rubbing off. So he gets full posthumous credit for my unexpected rating hike. The revelation of a long dead genius still remains available to us today. After examining Capa’s games in detail you begin to ask yourself the question in each position: Where is the essential core?


Many thanks to editor, Grandmaster John Emms, for offering the opportunity to write a book about my hero. Thanks to Jonathan Tait for the final edit. Thanks also to the Capaphiles, David Hart, Peter Graves and Tom Nelson, for their insightful discussions on all things Capa; and finally, thanks to the pit crew, Nancy, Regional Vice President of Commas, and computer handyman Tim. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. May your play always achieve Capa-like accuracy and harmony.
Cyrus Lakdawala, San Diego, June 2012

Om forfatteren Cyrus Lakdawala

Cyrus Lakdawala er en Internasjonal mester (IM) fra USA som i senere år faktisk må ha blitt verdens mest produktive sjakkforfatter. Likevel leverer han bok etter bok som er både instruktiv, poengtert og leseverdig. Han skriver så lett og vittig at det er mulig å mene at han overdriver, men en Lakdawala-bok er i alle fall langt fra tørr og kjedelig. Det er åpenbart dagens effektive analysemotorer og partibaser som gjør det mulig å levere raskt så mye sjakkstoff på et faglig bra nivå. Lakdawala har tydelig en glimrende oversikt selv og klarer å nå reelt godt fram til alminnelige sjakkspillere kanskje mest på ratingnivå cirka 1200 - 2000.
Detaljert info
Innbundet? Nei
Type Bok
Språk Engelsk
Antall sider 365

Produktet er en del av serien Move by move partisamlinger

Partisamlingene i denne bokserien blir ekstra godt tilgjengelige for den alminnelige leseren. Forfatterne går grundig gjennom partiene på en verbal måte, med forklarende kommentarer og en dialog med leseren.

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