14 July 2015

Mystery Capablanca Letter

In my most recent eBay post, Affluent Gentlemen Playing Chess, I mentioned,

I had the choice between featuring a Capablanca scoresheet or a painting. Since I had a Capablanca item a month ago in 'Capablanca to His Son', I went with the painting.

The Capablanca auction, titled '1909 Juan Raul Capablanca Cuban Chess Champion Signed Chess Sheet' (Juan!), sold for close to US $2000, 'Best offer accepted'. The description added nothing of importance.

The scoresheet is pictured below. Curious as to what the game might be, I transcribed it.


(Click for a larger version)

My transcription of the game, possibly with errors on my part, is given below.

[Event "1909 Game?"]
[Site "Capablanca Letter on Ebay"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "W"]
[Black "B"]
[Result "0-1"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Be2 h6 9.Nf3 e4 10.Ne5 Qd4 11.f4 Bc5 12.Rf1 Bb6 13.c3 Qd6 14. b4 Nb7 15.Qa4 Bd7 16.Na3 O-O 17.Nac4 Qc7 18.Nxd7 Nxd7 19.Qc2 Rfe8 20. a4 a5 21.Rb1 Rad8 22.Qb3 Ba7 23.Ba3 axb4 24.cxb4 c5 25.b5 Na5 26.Nxa5 Qxa5 27.Bb2 Nb6 28.Qc3 Qxc3 29.Bxc3 Nxa4 30.Be5 Bb8 31.b6 Re6 32.Bc7 Rf8 33.Bd1 Bxc7 34.bxc7 Rb6 35.Ra1 Nb2 36.Bg4 Rc6 37.c8=Q Rfxc8 38. Bxc8 Rxc8 39.Ke2 Rd8 40.g3 Kh7 41.f5 Nc4 42.Ra2 Rd5 43.g4 Ne5 44.Rf4 Nd3 45.Rf1 Ne5 46.Ra4 c4 47.h3 Nf3 48.Rxc4 Rxd2+ 49.Ke3 Ra2 50.Rd1 Ng5 51.Rd8 Ra3+ 52.Ke2 Ra2+ 53.Ke3 Ra3+ 54.Kd2 g6 55.f6 e3+ 56.Ke2 Ne6 57.Rd7 g5 58.Rxf7+ Kg6 59.Re7 Kxf6 60.Rxe6+ Kxe6 61.Re4+ Kd5 62. Rxe3 Rxe3+ 63.Kxe3 Ke5 0-1

The letter mentions Alekhine and 1909, but the first games between Capablanca and Alekhine date to St.Petersburg 1913. I also couldn't find the game in a historical database, so I don't know who the players were. I don't understand Spanish well enough to decipher Capablanca's brief introduction.

As for the game itself, it appears to be between two good players. White has the advantage throughout much of the middlegame, then stumbles in the endgame, and resigns in a theoretically drawn position.

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