Inspired by Capablanca

Inspired by Capablanca

Playing through the games of Capablanca, one can't help become inspired by the simplicity of his ideas.
It was in the summer of 1997, working through Chernev's "Capablanca's Best Chess Endgames" that I came across his 1909 game against Marshall where he used the idea of a Queenside pawn majority.
This game is timeless. The logic is that both Kings have castled Kingside, thus a Queenside pawn majority is advantageous as the defensive King has further to travel, thus allowing the principle of two weaknesses.
Below is the model game that is recommended in textbooks. Mind you, Alekhine also had a thing or two to say against the Queenside Pawn Majority being that decisive a factor.

Capablanca's Model Game in the Queenside Pawn Majority

Transporting myself nearly 20 years forward, I found myself on the Black side of a Queen's Indian Defence, reaching the following position.

White has just played 19. a3.

I recognised a scheme from Capablanca's game, the possibility to create a Queenside pawn majority.

Exploiting the Knight on e4, Black can play 19 ... d5

The idea is the if 20. cd ed and ... c4 follows.

Otherwise, Black plays 20. ... dc and after White recaptures with a piece, Black strikes with ... b5 and the c4 creating a Queenside pawn majority.

By move 25, I was able to transform the position to the Queenside majority seen below.


What is Black's Priority?

I reached the above position after the exchange of heavy pieces. Black has a protected passed pawn through his Queenside pawn majority.


This is a critical position for Black.


Instinctively one would want to centralise the Black King with 33. ... Kf8 as we are taught to give priority to our King as part of Chess foklore principles.

However, 33. ... Kf8 34. g5! and Black can't break through. White's King is too close to e4, which he will occupy whenever the Black King threatens to get to d5.

White's pawn on g5 restrains both the Black f- and h-pawns, not allowing Black any reserve tempo.


To that end, Black plays 33. ... h6 (or h5) and he has winning advantage. He restrains White's g5.

He'll then get his King to d5 and when the time is right, play ... g5 himself to give him access to the White e-pawn.

We see in a hypothetical variation below, the purpose of ... h6

Black plays ... g5 now, which was made possible by the preparation of ... h6

My Game Annotations and Analysis