c/o Max Vitek

c/o Max Vitek

This week’s puzzle is a classic tactics position, taken from one of José Raúl Capablanca’s famous games. Renowned for his precise calculation and play, the world champion was playing the black pieces against French-Russian grandmaster Ossip Bernstein in the first round of the Moscow 1914 tournament. After playing a Queen’s Gambit Declined, they ended up in what appeared to be a totally drawn position after a long series of exchanges. Left with only a queen and rook on the board, Capablanca was nonetheless able to find the only winning idea. Can you find the counterintuitive move Capablanca played, taking advantage of white’s uncoordinated pieces? (Black to move.)

Last Week’s Solution: 

  1. c5!dxc5 35. dxc5 Nc8 36. c6! Rb6 37. Rb1 and black resigns

Having maneuvered his pieces into position, Viswanathan Anand unleashed the latent power of the battery between the dark-squared bishop and the white queen with this critical pawn break. After an exchange of pawns, the black queen’s lack of squares is exposed after 36. c6!, revealing the battery’s attack on the queen and forcing either the rook or the knight to block. In this variation, black ends up down an exchange and in a clearly worse position after 37…Bxc6 38. Rxb6 Nxb6 39. Bxb6 Qb8 40. Bxc7

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