25 September 2006

Did Capablanca misjudge the Meran?

Continuing with Capablanca's games 'to be studied', the next game to be studied is Capablanca - Bernstein, St.Petersburg preliminary, 1914. Before I get to the position that Capablanca thought was worth analyzing, I have a small observation on the opening.

The game started 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 c6. Here Capablanca noted, 'This and the few following moves constitute a system of defense which had been carefully studied by Dr. Bernstein, and which he had already played against me in one of our two games at Moscow. The previous game had resulted in a draw, after I had had the worst of the opening, due to my failure to bring out the Queen Bishop.'

The game mentioned in the note (Capablanca - Bernstein, Moscow 1914) started 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Bd3. This is a line known as the Meran Variation (ECO D47-49). After the further moves 6...dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6, we have the position shown in the diagram.

(After 8...a7-a6)

Here the players continued 9.O-O (D48) 9...c5 10.dxc5 Nxc5, and the game was drawn after 30 moves. The main line of the Meran is 9.e4 c5 10.e5 cxd4 11.Nxb5 (D49). Theory says that Capablanca had 'the worst of the opening', not because of his 'failure to bring out the Queen Bishop', but because he played 9.O-O and 10.dxc5.

To play through the complete game see...

Jose Raul Capablanca vs Ossip Bernstein, Moscow game 1914

...on Chessgames.com.

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