Master Game Analysis – Capablanca-Ragozin, Moscow 1936

This master game is another from one of my chess heroes, José Raúl Capablanca. Here he takes on the Soviet Grandmaster Viacheslav Ragozin in the Moscow tournament of 1936.

This was the third of the Moscow tournaments organised by Nikolai Krylenko, head of the Soviet chess association (among other things), and was competed by five Soviet players and five international players. Capablanca won the tournament with a score of 13/18 ahead of players including Botvinnik, Flohr and Lasker.

The focus of the analysis is the endgame, where we see Capablanca’s vision as he slowly but surely improves his position, then works towards coordinating the few remaining pieces in the endgame to help each other achieve a goal. In his book Endgame Strategy, Mikhail Shereshevsky describes this schematic thinking as follows.

The main things that a player is occupied with in the middlegame are the checking of all kinds of tactical blows, and the calculation of combinations and variations. In the endgame things are different. […] In the overwhelming majority of endings it is essential to think in terms of plans. Variations play a secondary role. The main role belongs to schematic thinking, and the possibility of setting up this or that position is checked by calculating variations.

Herman Grooten adds to this in his Chess Strategy for Club Players: The Road to Positional Advantage:

So, in order to play the endgame better, we should not think in ‘moves’, but rather in schemes.

In the game viewer below you can play through the game and variations, and read the commentary. Use the arrows below the board, or click on moves in the annotation section.

 

 

As ever, I would encourage you to set up the game on a real board and play through it. Other than the fact that real chess is played on real boards, it is an opportunity to practise your visualisation skills by visualising variations before you play through them.

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