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The Chess Machine

The following game was played late in 1918 by Capablanca as White, against Janowski on the Black side. The Cuban was already widely recognized as the world's top chess player, and Capablanca would officially gain the title of World Chess Champion in 1921 after defeating Lasker. In fact, Capablanca played so convincingly during this period that, as a pre-condition to the match, Lasker insisted on resigning the title, saying in their agreement (June 27, 1920), "You have earned the title not by the formality of a challenge, but by your brilliant mastery."

In October of 1918 the Manhattan Chess Club hosted a Masters event, attracting chess players such as Marshall, Chajes and Kostic. The official tournament book includes annotations by the players, and Capablanca's notes for the game below were later polished for inclusion in "My Chess Career," now avaialable as an e-book from ChessCentral.

José Raúl Capablanca vs. David Janowski

[Event "Manhattan CC Masters"] [Site "New York"] [Date "1918.10.29"] [Round "6"] [White "Capablanca, Jose Raul"] [Black "Janowski, David Markelowicz"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D30"] [Annotator "Capablanca, J. R."] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "1918.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "12"] [EventCountry "USA"] [Source "Pickard & Son"] [SourceDate "2002.10.01"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 c6 6. Nbd2 {[I believe this is my own invention. In this position it is probably the best move. The object is to retake with the Knight when Black plays ...dxc4 later on, and thus have two Knights controlling the square at e5.]} Be7 7. Bd3 dxc4 8. Nxc4 O-O 9. O-O c5 10. Rc1 b6 11. Qe2 Bb7 12. Rfd1 Nd5 13. Nd6 $1 {[In order to drive the Bishop to c6 where it will be in the line of White's Rook. Later on it will be seen how this little advantage now acquired is largely the cause of Black's defeat.] } Bc6 14. Ne4 f5 15. Bxe7 Qxe7 16. Ned2 {[Back again, but there is now a "hole" at e5 and it threatens to go there via c4, which influences Black's next move.]} e5 17. dxe5 Nxe5 18. Nxe5 Qxe5 19. Nf3 Qe7 {[Black considered this move a long time. Had he retreated the Queen to any other place, then 20. Bc4 combined in some cases with e3-e4 would have yielded White at least a pawn. This game is remarkable because it would be hard to say which move lost the game, though it is probably 16...e5 or 14...f5, and most likely the former.]} 20. Nd4 $1 cxd4 21. Rxc6 {[%cal Yd3c4]} Nb4 {[There was nothing better as White threatened 22.Bc4.]} 22. Bc4+ Kh8 23. Re6 d3 24. Rxd3 Qc5 25. Rd4 b5 { [This only makes matters worse, but the fact is that Black, besides being a pawn behind, has the inferior position as well.]} 26. Bxb5 Nxa2 27. Bc4 Nb4 28. Qh5 {[%cal Yd4h4]} g6 {[White threatened 29.Rh4.]} 29. Rxg6 Rad8 30. Rg7 ({ After} 30. Rg7 {Black resigned, for if} Kxg7 31. Qg5+ Kh8 32. Rxd8 {and mate follows unless Black gives up the Knight. This is one of those very neat games, very simple in appearance, but very difficult in reality, and only the expert can fully enjoy it. There is no wasted effort, and every move seems to fit in naturally with the previous one and the next.}) 1-0

Capablanca's last remark implies that White played like a "Chess Machine," a clean and simple style which he cultivated. If you want to learn more about Capablanca, the 3rd World Chess Champion, then see complete details on The Chess Machine - a collection of all Capablanca's books and commentary!