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Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Capablanca Classic and A Classic Bishop Sacrifice.

     Emmanuel Lasker wrote “…the chess student should not trust an analysis merely because he sees it in print. He must examine, he must do his own thinking and by conscientious work he must form his own judgment.” 

The Classic Bishop Sacrifice... 
Chessdotcom has a good three part article by Jeremy Silman on this sacrifice: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3. Jon Edwards has even written an entire book on it, Sacking The Citadel: The History, Theory, and Practice of the Classic Bishop Sacrifice 
     This classic Capa game is a good one to put Lasker's advice in practice, but if you are interested in improving it should be done using actual pieces before checking it out with an engine. I am long past the point where I want to put in that kind of work, but it was enjoyable spending a couple of days, off and on, trying out various moves with engines. I can see where this would be a good game to try and work through with a board then compare your analysis to an engine's. 
     The game is a well known consultation game by Capa against Molina and Ruiz. Lizardo Molina Carranza was the president of the Argentine Chess Club and a strong amateur. 
     In their book on Capablanca (The Unknown Capablanca) Hooper and Brandreth state that Capablanca took these exhibition games very seriously because was trying to build a reputation as a worthy challenger to Lasker. When the game was first published it was proclaimed a brilliant example of the Classic Bishop Sacrifice, but subsequent cold-blooded analysis proved that Capa was not infallible as his opponents missed the best defense. In his early years Capa frequently played attacks as seen in this game, but as he matured they became less frequent. 
     In his classic The Art of Attack In Chess, Vladimir Vukovic set down some practical criterion for the sacrifice to be successful. Vukovic (August 26, 1898, Zagreb – November 18, 1975, Zagreb) was a Croatian chess writer, theoretician, player, arbiter and journalist who was awarded the IM title in 1951. 
     Before playing the sacrifice the basic condition is that the defender should not be able to reject the sacrifice unscathed. In addition, white (for discussion purposed, we will consider white to be the attacker) must have the light squared B, his Queen and a Knight on f3. In addition, he will require supporting pieces in one of various configurations. 

Pawn at e5 and Bishop on c1 
Pawn at e5 and Bishop on f4 
Pawn at e5 and Bishop on d2 
Pawn at e5 and Knight on c3 
Pawns on e5 and h4 
Rook on e1 and Bishop on f4 
Rook on e1 and Bishop on c1 

     Additionally, black normally would have Pawns on f7 and g7 (but not always) and his Queen should be on d8 and his Rook on f8, but that does not guarantee the sacrifice will be correct. What's important is that black's N should not be able to reach f6 and neither his Queen or Bishop should be able to occupy the b1-h7 diagonal. White must also be careful to examine the different escape squares for black's King: the normal ...Kg8 and the scary looking ...Kg6 and ...Kh6.
     It was fun taking a look at the game with Stockfish. Not because a lot of published analysis can be refuted by the engine, but because, as if often the case, the position is really complicated and not as clear cut as some annotators have suggested. The books may sometimes suggest that positions like this are easy to play, but analyzing the possibilities OTB is not so easy...mistakes are likely to be made. 

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