Capablanca Wins Greatest Chess Endgame? - Best of the 20s - Capablanca vs. Tartakower

Capablanca Wins Greatest Chess Endgame? - Best of the 20s - Capablanca vs. Tartakower

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Name a more iconic endgame player than third world chess champion, Jose Capablanca. I'll wait.

Now name a more iconic endgame than Capablanca vs. Tartakower, 1924. Capablanca's fluid, natural, and instructive play in this game shows him at the height of his powers. Interestingly, Capablanca did not win this tournament. The great Emanuel Lasker did, while Capablanca finished second to the great and resurgent Lasker. Also, this endgame did not earn one of the three brilliancy prizes - a travesty. History has clearly shown this endgame as one of Capablanca's greatest achievements and as one of the most instructive and inspiring endgames ever played.

Top 10 Games of the 1920s

The game's opening is perhaps not auspicious. Tartakower defends with the Dutch Defense, and Capablanca rejects the more aggressive options available to White to meet the Dutch. His calm, positional approach doesn't immediately yield anything and Tartakower eventually gets a good and even a superior game. Just as Tartakower could have claimed a good position, he slips, allowing Capablanca to reposition with 18.Re1! and 19.e4! After this, Tartakower needs to bail out to the endgame, but it's a difficult one. Capablanca siezes first the h-file (29.Rh1), then the seventh rank (30.Rh7), then he creates a passed pawn (34.Bxf5), and finally he activates his king (35.Kg3!!). To do this, he sacrifices his queenside and many pawns, but the assets he gains far outweigh the dead wood. The finale is an exercise in domination and rapid pawn consumption.

My annotations are below. Enjoy the game!

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