Reshevsky's Margate win over Capablanca, as reported by 64 newspaper

Reshevsky's Margate win over Capablanca, as reported by 64 newspaper

Spektrowski
Spektrowski
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9

Been looking through the electronic archive of the 64 newspaper (it's available at the Russian Chess Federation website for free). Among other things, I found a small report about the Margate 1935 tournament, including the famous Reshevsky (Benjamin Blumenfeld called him "Rzeszewski, the former wunderkind") win over Capablanca. Here's the game, with annotations and denouement by Blumenfeld; I keep his "Rzeszewski" spelling for authenticity.

This rich game gives us a lot of food for thought. We, of course, cannot blame Capablanca for avoiding the equalization with c5-c4: the game of chess is interesting precisely because players seek risky chances, and the human foresight is limited.

Afterwards, Capablanca defended methodically, placing positional and tactical traps (20th, 37th, 48th moves). If we can blame him for anything, it's not individual mistakes or weak moves; it's only one, but very important thing: the defensive strategy as a whole. Methodical defence is often not enough when the opponent has positional advantage that steadily increases. Both Alekhine and (especially) Lasker often, much more often then Capablanca, get into bad, sometimes even losing positions as a result of opening experimentations or inaccuracies, avoiding the drawing paths, etc. But their playing in such cases is different. With sacrifices (of positional or material sorts), they try to change the natural flow of the game and send it into a different directions, complicating the game so much that even the strongest opponent might lose the right way. Even when the subsequent analysis shows that these complications were incorrect and led to a speedy defeat, it's irrelevant. Chess isn't a theoretical research task: it's a struggle that needs to be won. You have to win or save the game, not to make the objectively best move. We cannot guarantee that our criticism of some Capablanca's moves is 100% correct, but we're sure that Lasker, Alekhine or even our Ryumin would have found an opportunity to complicate the game and create a position where anyone could make a mistake. This is especially true for the segment between moves 26 and 31, where the White knight was temporarily out of the game, and White needed time for operations. It's even possible that the desperate b7-b5 gave best practical chances in that position.

Now let's discuss Rzeszewski's play. The maneuver that stopped the Black queenside pawns from moving, starting with the positionally subtle exchange of the dark-squared bishop for a knight and ending with the opening of b-file; the methodical play for exchanging Black's second knight to better expose their weaknesses; the timely kingside operations; the original king maneuver; the deliberation and lack of hurry in exploiting the weaknesses - all this was most impressive. Still, it's too early to say that he's already a serious contender for the world championship. If our evaluation of White's 26th move (f2-f4) is right, then this move is unacceptable for an extra-class player, even more unacceptable than concrete miscalculations or blunders. Also, to evaluate Rzeszewski fully, we need to see how he plays in bad positions.

Anyway, this game is valuable for opening theory and gives great methodical material about open lines, weaknesses and plan creation.