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Alexander Alekhin pretty much put to rest the idea that Capablanca was the greatest endgame player of his generation, let alone of all time. Akiba Rubinstein was a better endgame player than Capa was. Capa was just better at getting into the won endgames in the first place.
Take a look at these few games:
And this is one of the most famous rook endings of all time. Alekhin's technique was brilliant here!
Here's one B vs N endgame that Karpov won against Kasparov. This may be the one you mean. Start after Black's 44th move for the critical endgame.
Oh, you mean Team Karpov is one of the great endgame "players" of all time. I thought you were saying that Karpov the individual was a great endgame player. Karpov the individual avoids a critical position until after the adjournment (move 40). After the adjournment Karpov gets a good night sleep while his team of crack endgame specialists analyze the game and find the 44th move. There is no risk taking here because the seconds had all night to work it out. That is also the way Team Karpov operated against Krochnoi, avoid a critical position until after the adjournment. You will notice a distinct reduction in Karpov brilliant endgames after they did away with adjournments.
Karpov's skills declined when they did away with adjournments because they did away with adjournments in the 1990s. Karpov was world champion in the 1970s and 1980s. Everybody's endgame skills went down when they did away with adjournments.
Karpov still managed to dominate the likes of Jan Timman in the endgames even in games played without adjournments. His skills diminished due to age, not changes in the rules.
Here's just one example of Karpov's endgame play without an adjournment. The set focus button didn't work again. Start at move 29.
Hmm, saying Karpov wasn't an exceptional endgame player is like saying Michael Jordan was like average in Basketball.
No one is saying that Karpov isn't a good end game player (even by grandmaster standards), but to say he is one of the greatest of all times and support this assertion with games that were worked out by his seconds during adjournments is a bit of a stretch. I don't think Karpov is in the same class as Andersson or Rubinstein.
Here's an interesting quote from Kramnik on Karpov...
"Karpov defeated me in Linares-94 where he scored 11 out of 13. I got into an inferior endgame. However, it did not seem awful. Then I made some appropriate moves and could not understand how I had managed to get into a losing position. Although I was already in theworld top ten, I failed to understand it even after the game. This was one of the few games after which I felt like a complete idiot with a total lack of chess understanding! Such things happen very rarely to top level players. Usually you realise why you have lost. This moment defies description - there is something almost imperceptible about it and so characteristic of Karpov."
I believe this is the game he is referring to, http://www.chess.com/games/view?id=662982#
Alexander Alekhin pretty much put to rest the idea that Capablanca was the greatest endgame player of his generation, let alone of all time.
From everything I've read on the subject, Alekhine barely edged out Capablanca in that match, and Capa was not in his best form. I don't know if you can use just a few examples to make your point there. Anything can happen in a few games, even the best players can blunder due to something as simple as lack of focus. I seem to recall you saying something like every modern GM can play the endgame like Capablanca (correct me if I'm wrong)? Maybe you underestimate Capablanca's endgame skill? I don't know.
I think that just about any player currently rated +2700 can play the endgame better than Capablanca did in his day. Capablanca's strength was not in the technical phase of the game, but in recognising long before his opponents did what endgames were favorable to him.
Capablanca's endgame technique wasn't even the best of his generation. That honor goes to Rubinstein. Since then, just about all top GMs have improved their endgame technique far beyond even that of Rubinstein.
Interesting. I'm in no position to argue, but I wonder if IMs and GMs would agree with you.
The idea that endgame technique has improved dramatically since World War II isn't coming from me, but from IMs and GMs. I'd rather not mention names without their permission though.
Having said that, just take a look at books such as John Watson's Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy: Advances Since Nimzovich.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolay_Grigoriev: he was a very good chess player too.
The idea that endgame technique has improved dramatically since World War II isn't coming from me, but from IMs and GMs.
Oh I'm sure it has, but still, the claim that all modern 2700s are better than Capablanaca in the endgame goes beyond that.
About two years ago, I would have said it was Vladimir Kramnik. But the things that Magnus Carlsen can do in completely even endgames is mindboggling.
Historically, Rubinstein, Smyslov, Andersson and Jon Speelman all deserve special recognition.
If Smyslov fan does not believe Smyslov was the best, then he probably isn't. Just my guess
Magnus Carlsen's endgame skills are absolutely mind boggling. He is neither a virtuoso like Smyslov nor a machine like Capablanca nor a squeezer like Karpov. He is a very optimistic judgemental player (he immediately judges a position and most likely makes the move that he thinks is right in the first few seconds of thought, even after several minutes of thought) based on unbelievable ability to calculate and his feeling for the position. In that sense he is a lot similar to Anand or Fischer than Capa with whom his endgame skills are usually compared to. I might be babbling nonsense here, but just a thought!
Regarding Capablanca, I believe his strength lies in the ability to view the essential features of a position and its proper plan. This is why he was always able to reduce the position to its bare essentials and made his opponents play like patzers. This ability made him a good middlegame and endgame player, but not necessarily the best of all time in either phase of the game.
Although Carlsen is talented and often compared to Capablance, I believe they both play differently. Carlsen has more tenacious energy. He plays to win at all time. On the other hand, Capablanca was more objective. He did not bluff or second guess. When the position was winning, Capa played to win. When the position was equal or worse, Capa played to draw (where given the same position Carlsen may still fight for a win).
How about Petrosian? He had a pretty wicked endgame.
Believe it or not, Tigran's main strength was his superb combinational vision. Yeah, just that!
His playing style was purely positional, erring sometimes to "boring", but ultimately he won most of his positional squeezes using cheap, or not-so-cheap tactics, where he was byte perfect, most of the times.
He was also a superb blitz player, and in his blitz games pieces were flying randomly all over the board.
In the former USSR, there was a joke between chessplayers, which has circulated outside their cycle. More or less, it goes like that:
If Tal sacrifices something to you, then accept, and offer a draw.
If Petrosian sacrifices something against you, then you have just one choice: resign immediately.
If you wonder why a combinational genius, like Tigran, chose to play boring chess, then the answer is rather simple: He believed that tactics are the result of solid, consistent positional play- and in his games, he did just that: positionally outplaying his opponents, and using tactics whenever it was necessary.
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