Grandmaster chess series: The positional chess genius of Capablanca

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With this post, I am starting a chess blog to give insightful and deep chess ideas that I have learned (and still learning) throughout my chess career. The grandmaster chess series will present deep chess ideas that the great masters demonstrated in their games.

The first post is a game of the former world champion José Raúl Capablanca. If you are a regular chess player, you must be familiar with the benko gambit where black sacrifices a pawn in the opening to create open files and an attack on white’s queenside pawns, along with the dangerous fianchetto bishop on g7. Well, this game shows how Capablanca was ahead of his time by playing a similar idea before Benko gambit was even known.

Sacrificing a pawn for nothing, and then making a few positional maneuvers to generate an attack on queenside that white had no choice but to give up material…

Take your time to go through the game, pause for a moment on move 12.Qxa7 and study the position carefully. Try to come up with a plan to attack white’s queenside pawns using open a & b files and g7 bishop… The lesson here is to understand how the harmony of pieces can soon prove to be more overpowering and give a lot more compensation than the sacrificed pawn.

So what does this game teach us about life?

I think the first lesson is to understand what is actually important. As Capablanca says, “the games of the great masters are not played by single moves, but must be played by concerted plans of attack and defense”. A value of a pawn can be ignored if you have a really good understanding about larger concepts such as harmony of your pieces and the importance of a strong attack and it’s psychological impact on your opponent. If you want to be ahead of your time, it is important to really start understanding the deeper secrets of the game you are playing…

This game is very well analyzed in Garry Kasparov’s ‘My great Predecessors vol-1. This book is a must have for all chess players who intend to advance to the next level.

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