Edward Winter's Chess Explorations (29)

10/26/2009 – The Editor of Chess Notes investigates a further batch of discrepancies arising from game-scores. Three of them involve Capablanca (against S. Coleman, F.J. Marshall and T.H. Tylor), and two concern Alekhine (against R. Réti and F. Reinfeld). For instance, regarding the famous game Réti v Alekhine, Baden-Baden, 1925 three versions of the score have been found. Can the truth be established?

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Chess Explorations (29)

By Edward Winter

Coleman v Capablanca, Memphis, 1910

In C.N. 6295 Marc Hébert (Charny, Canada) raised the subject of Capablanca’s game against S. Coleman which was given on pages 83-84 of the April 1911 American Chess Bulletin:

Sol Coleman – José Raúl Capablanca
Memphis, 12 December 1910
Bishop’s Opening

1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d3 Nc6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Bd2 Bxc3 6 Bxc3 d5 7 Bb5 dxe4 8 Bxc6+ bxc6 9 Bxe5 Qe7 10 d4 Qb4+ 11 c3 Qxb2 12 Qc1 Qxc1+ 13 Rxc1 Nd5 14 Ne2 f5 15 Bf4 Ba6 16 c4 Nb4 17 O-O Nxa2 18 Rc2 Nb4 19 Rc3 Kd7 20 Rd1 g5 21 Bc1

21...Nd3 22 d5 cxd5 23 cxd5 Nxc1 24 Nxc1 Rab8 25 Nb3 Rb5 26 Nc5+ Rxc5 27 Rxc5 Rb8 28 Rdc1 Rb6 29 Rxc7+ Kd6 30 Rxa7 Kxd5 31 Rxh7 Bd3 32 h3 e3 33 Rd7+ Ke4 34 f3+ Kf4 35 Rxd3 g4 36 Kh2 e2 37 g3+ Resigns.

Mr Hébert commented that the game was discussed by Vlastimil Fiala on pages 72-74 of the Winter 2000 edition of the Quarterly for Chess History, also on the basis of publication of the score in the Commercial Appeal of 18 December 1910. A divergence was noted at move 21, and the rest of the game according to the Commercial Appeal was:

21...Kd6 22 d5 cxd5 23 cxd5 Na2 24 Rc2 Nxc1 25 Nxc1 Rab8 26 Nb3 Rb5 27 Rc6+ Kd7 28 Nc5+ Rxc5 29 Rxc5 Rb8 30 Rdc1 Rb6 31 Rxc7+ Kd6 32 Rxa7 Kxd5 33 Rxh7 Bd3 34 h3 e3 35 Rd7+ Ke4 36 f3+ Kf4 37 Rxd3 Resigns.

The Quarterly gave ‘O-1’ at the end of both versions, but the remainder of the item confirms that Coleman won. The American Chess Bulletin version was included by Rogelio Caparrós in the 1991 and 1994 editions of The Games of José Raúl Capablanca. He too put ‘O-1’ and, also for reasons unknown, gave the venue as New York instead of Memphis and, in the indexes, had a different date (6 November 1910).

José Raúl Capablanca

Marshall v Capablanca, New York, 1911

1 d4 d5 2 e3 Nf6 3 Bd3 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 f4 e6 6 Nf3 Ne4 7 O-O f5 8 Ne5 Nxe5 9 fxe5 Bd7 10 Nd2 Be7 11 Nxe4 dxe4 12 Bc4 b5 13 Bb3 c4 14 Bc2 O-O 15 Bd2 Bc6 16 Qh5 Qe8 17 Qxe8 Rfxe8 18 a4 a6 19 b4 Reb8 20 Ra2 g5 21 Rfa1 Kf7 22 axb5 axb5 23 Rxa8 Bxa8 24 Ra7 Bb7 25 Bd1 Kg6 26 g3 Bd8 27 Be2 Bb6 28 Ra1 h5 29 h4 Ra8 30 Rxa8 Bxa8 31 Kf2 Bd8 32 hxg5 Bxg5

33 Bf1 h4 34 Bc1 Bc6 35 Kg2 Be8 36 Kh3 hxg3 37 Kxg3 Kh5 38 Be2+ Kh6 Drawn.

Such a quiet game seemingly deserves scant attention, but that may not be so. It was played by Marshall and Capablanca in the fifth round of the New York tournament on 26 January 1911 and was discussed in C.N. 6249. Page 9 of the New York Times, 27 January 1911 reported:

‘The game did not produce the exciting play hoped for, as both players were ultra-conservative, taking no chances whatever, the game finally being recorded as a draw after 38 moves.’

Page 49 of the March 1911 American Chess Bulletin made the general remark on the tournament that ‘not a hitch occurred to mar the smoothness of the proceedings’, and the game-score was given on page 58 of the same issue:

However, a report on page 71 of Deutsches Wochenschach, 19 February 1911 (based on an account in the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung) suggested a less pleasant story:

The report was picked up on page 100 of the March 1911 BCM:

What is to be made of all this? The game-scores in the American Chess Bulletin and Deutsches Wochenschach are slightly different (leaving aside the discrepancy over 38...Kh6/Kg6). According to the Bulletin, play from our diagram above continued 33 Bf1 h4 34 Bc1 Bc6, whereas the German magazine gave 33 Be1 h4 34 Bf1 Bc6. In the latter version, 34...Bc6 would indeed deserve a question mark, since Black can play 34...hxg3+. If, though, the game-score in the Bulletin is accurate, the story of a missed win collapses.

Capablanca v Tylor, Nottingham, 1936

In C.N. 5410 Manuel López (Mexico City) drew attention to Capablanca v Tylor, Nottingham, 14 August 1936. After 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 g3 O-O 5 Bg2 d6 6 d4 Nc6 7 O-O Bg4 8 d5 Bxf3 9 exf3 Ne5 10 Qb3 Nfd7 11 Be3 b6 12 Nb5 c5 13 dxc6 Nxc6 14 f4 Qc8 15 Qa4 Nc5 16 Bxc5 dxc5 17 Nc3 Nd4

Alekhine’s tournament book (page 95) gave White’s 18th move as Rfe1.

Our correspondent believes that Capablanca played 18 Rae1 because otherwise, as Kenneth Frey Beckman has pointed out, the game continuation 18...e6 19 Re3 Rb8 20 Qxa7 would have allowed Black to win the exchange with 20...Nc2. Yet Tylor played 20...Rd8, and Alekhine made no comment.

We have copies of Capablanca’s score-sheets of 11 of his games at Nottingham, but unfortunately not the Tylor one. However, contemporary publications support Mr López’s belief that it was the queen’s rook that Capablanca moved to e1; for example, the October 1936 BCM (page 505), Chess Review, September 1936 (page 204) and Hans Kmoch’s tournament book (page 26).

Réti v Alekhine, Baden-Baden, 1925

Alexander Alekhine

C.N. 5632 quoted from page 99 of Chess Lists by A. Soltis (Jefferson, 2002):

‘Against Richard Réti at Baden-Baden 1925, Alekhine omitted two moves that repeated the position in what turned out to be perhaps his finest game.’

Having found three versions of the game-score, we wondered whether the matter was so clear-cut.

  • A) 1 g3 e5 2 Nf3 e4 3 Nd4 d5 4 d3 exd3 5 Qxd3 Nf6 6 Bg2 Bb4+ 7 Bd2 Bxd2+ 8 Nxd2 O-O 9 c4 Na6 10 cxd5 Nb4 11 Qc4 Nbxd5 12 N2b3 c6 13 O-O Re8 14 Rfd1 Bg4 15 Rd2 Qc8 16 Nc5 Bh3 17 Bf3 Bg4 18 Bg2 Bh3 19 Bf3 Bg4 20 Bg2 Bh3 21 Bf3 Bg4 22 Bh1 h5 23 b4 a6 24 Rc1 h4 25 a4 hxg3 26 hxg3 Qc7 27 b5 axb5 28 axb5 Re3 29 Nf3 cxb5 30 Qxb5 Nc3 31 Qxb7 Qxb7 32 Nxb7 Nxe2+ 33 Kh2 Ne4 34 Rc4 Nxf2 35 Bg2 Be6 36 Rcc2 Ng4+ 37 Kh3 Ne5+ 38 Kh2 Rxf3 39 Rxe2 Ng4+ 40 Kh3 Ne3+ 41 Kh2 Nxc2 42 Bxf3 Nd4 43 White resigns.

The Baden-Baden tournament books by Tarrasch (Berlin, 1925) and by Caissa Editions (Yorklyn, 1991).

  • B) 1 g3 e5 2 Nf3 e4 3 Nd4 d5 4 d3 exd3 5 Qxd3 Nf6 6 Bg2 Bb4+ 7 Bd2 Bxd2+ 8 Nxd2 O-O 9 c4 Na6 10 cxd5 Nb4 11 Qc4 Nbxd5 12 N2b3 c6 13 O-O Re8 14 Rfd1 Bg4 15 Rd2 Qc8 16 Nc5 Bh3 17 Bf3 Bg4 18 Bg2 Bh3 19 Bf3 Bg4 20 Bh1 h5 21 b4 a6 22 Rc1 h4 23 a4 hxg3 24 hxg3 Qc7 25 b5 axb5 26 axb5 Re3 27 Nf3 cxb5 28 Qxb5 Nc3 29 Qxb7 Qxb7 30 Nxb7 Nxe2+ 31 Kh2 Ne4 32 Rc4 Nxf2 33 Bg2 Be6 34 Rcc2 Ng4+ 35 Kh3 Ne5+ 36 Kh2 Rxf3 37 Rxe2 Ng4+ 38 Kh3 Ne3+ 39 Kh2 Nxc2 40 Bxf3 Nd4 41 White resigns.

Alekhine’s second volume of Best Games;

Auf dem Wege zur Weltmeisterschaft by Alekhine (Berlin and Leipzig, 1932);

Pages 100-101 of L’Echiquier, May 1925 (notes by Alekhine);

The Baden-Baden tournament book by N. Grekov (Moscow, 1927). It gave Alekhine’s annotations from Shakmaty, which were the same as those published in L’Echiquier;

G. Renaud, in L’Eclaireur du Soir, as reproduced on page 75 of the April 1925 L’Echiquier;

A. Rubinstein in La Nation Belge, as reproduced on page 124 of the June 1925 La Stratégie;

C.S. Howell in the American Chess Bulletin, May-June 1925, pages 94-95;

Les Cahiers de l’Echiquier Français, issue 6 (1926), page 182.

  • C) 1 g3 e5 2 Nf3 e4 3 Nd4 d5 4 d3 exd3 5 Qxd3 Nf6 6 Bg2 Bb4+ 7 Bd2 Bxd2+ 8 Nxd2 O-O 9 c4 Na6 10 cxd5 Nb4 11 Qc4 Nbxd5 12 N2b3 c6 13 O-O Re8 14 Rfd1 Bg4 15 Rd2 Qc8 16 Nc5 Bh3 17 Bf3 Bg4 18 Bh1 h5 19 b4 a6 20 Rc1 h4 21 a4 hxg3 22 hxg3 Qc7 23 b5 axb5 24 axb5 Re3 25 Nf3 cxb5 26 Qxb5 Nc3 27 Qxb7 Qxb7 28 Nxb7 Nxe2+ 29 Kh2 Ne4 30 Rc4 Nxf2 31 Bg2 Be6 32 Rcc2 Ng4+ 33 Kh3 Ne5+ 34 Kh2 Rxf3 35 Rxe2 Ng4+ 36 Kh3 Ne3+ 37 Kh2 Nxc2 38 Bxf3 Nd4 39 White resigns.

    R. Spielmann, Wiener Schachzeitung, May 1925, pages 135-136;

    Deutsche Schachzeitung, May 1925, pages 147-148.

    Position before ...h5

So, did Alekhine play ...h5 on move 22, 20 or 18? Did he really abridge the score, even though his version is by far the most common and despite publication in the Wiener Schachzeitung and the Deutsche Schachzeitung of a version that was shorter still?

When the game was presented on pages 35-40 of Chess Masterpieces by F.J. Marshall (New York, 1928) the United States champion introduced it as follows:

‘At the conclusion of the 1927 New York tournament I asked Dr Alekhine, now the world’s champion, which he considered to be his best game, and was pleased when he selected the one he played against Réti in the 1925 Baden-Baden tournament. I was present when this fine game was played and won the admiration of both the masters and the public. Dr Alekhine thinks he has nothing to add to the notes made by Mr C.S. Howell in the American Chess Bulletin and the comments I made in discussing this remarkable game.’

The game-score followed (version B above), with notes adapted from Howell’s on pages 94-95 of the May-June 1925 American Chess Bulletin. Howell mentioned that Réti had annotated the game in La Prensa (Argentina), and we should like to know which version of the game-score Réti gave.

Reinfeld v Alekhine, Pasadena, 1932

This position arose after 27 Rf1-d1 in Reinfeld v Alekhine, Pasadena, 1932. In C.N. 6291 John Blackstone (Las Vegas, NV, USA) noted a discrepancy over Black’s 27th move and the remainder of the game:

A) 27...Nc3 28 Rxd8+ Qxd8 29 Qd2 Qxd2 30 Nxd2 Bd5 31 e4 Be6 32 Bc4 Bc8 33 Bb5 Be6 34 Bc4 Bc8 35 Kf2 Kf8 36 Bb5 Be6 37 Bc4 Bc8 38 Bb5 Drawn. (Los Angeles Times, 26 August 1932, page A8.)

B) 27...Nb6 28 Rxd8+ Qxd8 29 Qd2 Qxd2 30 Nxd2 Bd5 31 e4 Be6 32 Bc4 Bc8 33 Kf2 Kf8 34 Bb5 Be6 35 Bc4 Bc8 36 Bb5 Drawn. (Various databases.)

We added that Version A was given on page 431 of the Skinner/Verhoeven volume on Alekhine, which also mentioned as a source pages 8-9 of the 11/1932 issue of The Chess Reporter. This version was published too on page 1885 of L’Echiquier, 28 November 1932.

Has Version B, which entails various errors in the final phase, ever appeared in an authoritative publication?

A hybrid version (27...Nb6 28 Rxd8+ Qxd8 29 Qd2 Qxd2 30 Nxd2 Bd5 31 e4 Be6 32 Bc4 Bc8 33 Bb5 Be6 34 Bc4 Bc8 35 Kf2 Kf8 36 Bb5 Be6 37 Bc4 Bc8 38 Bb5 Drawn) is on page 92 of The Games of Alexander Alekhine by R. Caparrós and Peter P. Lahde (Brentwood, 1992).

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All ChessBase articles by Edward Winter

Edward Winter is the editor of Chess Notes, which was founded in January 1982 as "a forum for aficionados to discuss all matters relating to the Royal Pastime". Since then, over 6,350 items have been published, and the series has resulted in four books by Winter: Chess Explorations (1996), Kings, Commoners and Knaves (1999), A Chess Omnibus (2003) and Chess Facts and Fables (2006). He is also the author of a monograph on Capablanca (1989).

Chess Notes is well known for its historical research, and anyone browsing in its archives will find a wealth of unknown games, accounts of historical mysteries, quotes and quips, and other material of every kind imaginable. Correspondents from around the world contribute items, and they include not only "ordinary readers" but also some eminent historians – and, indeed, some eminent masters. Chess Notes is located at the Chess History Center. Signed copies of Edward Winter's publications are currently available.

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