Ideal cocktail punch in chess games: mixing chess strategy with chess tactics in correct proportion

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In the article on Capablanca’s chess games, you have seen the apparent simplicity of his chess play built on good chess strategies . In the present article, you will see another chess game played by him that shows a beautiful example of mingling chess strategy with chess tactics. Capablanca was playing as White against Charles Jaffe (1874-1941) in a 1910 tournament in New York.

1. d4 d5  
2. Nf3 Nf6  
3. e3 c6  
4. c4 e6  
5. Nc3 Nbd7  
6. Bd3 Bd6  
7. 0-0 0-0  


The following shows the position after both players have castled.


The position looks equal and near symmetrical, but I would think that White has a slight advantage because he has a more fluid position with greater space. (Were these two factors included in your chess strategies?) Most of his pieces appear ready to join in the fray whereas Black’s QB is still hemmed in. Capablanca now tries to take control in the center (chess strategy again).

Black of course realized the danger and started exchanges to thwart White from establishing his control. White switched to exerting pressure on h7. To prevent White KN to advance for attacking his King’s position, Black was obliged to advance the RP to h6, but as you know now from your chess strategies, this creates a weakness in Black’s castled position.

Do you also remember your chess strategies to identify the key defender for Black? Obviously the knight. But with White’s QB at b2, all White needed was to advance his QP to attack that defender, elimination of which would seriously jeopardize Black King’s position. Black had to consider that possibility When the White Queen joined the KB along b1-h2 diagonal, and thus advanced his KNP in an attempt to block that diagonal, at the cost of further weakness in his castle.

White immediately took control of the semi-open e-file by his rook (chess strategy again)! See how smoothly White keeps targeting different areas of Black’s Kingside and forcing him to weaken his position step-by-step. In order to open his Queen’s line and to create a counter pressure on White Q, Black started his knight maneuver to h5 with eye on f4. To still keep the knight in gun-sight if it came to f4, White took his QB to c1, simultaneously attacking the weak KRP. White is giving us a chess lesson on how to build up pressure one after another. It was putting Black so much on the defensive that Black was not able to work out any counter-attack!

As a desperate measure to tackle the threats, Black king then moved to g7 to keep his KR ready to occupy h8. Just see how quickly in a span of 9 moves, Black’s position was falling apart from a situation of near equality! Play through the moves 8-16 to see how all these happened.

8. e4 dxe4  
9. Nxe4 Nxe4  
10. Bxe4 Nf6  
11. Bc2 h6  
12. b3 b6  
13. Bb2 Bb7  
14. Qd3 g6  
15. Rae1 Nh5  
16. Bc1 Kg7  


After 16 moves, the position is shown below.


With all his pieces appropriately mobilized and set to attack Black’s King position, White now swoops down like a hawk by his move 17. Rxe6! Did you see this move? The rook is of course taboo because if 17. … fxe6, White forces mate by 18. Qxg6+ and then 19. Qh7+. But the text move helped only to delay the inevitable. Black also tried desperately to open his QB diagonal along a8-h1 to bring QB to e4. All he needed was one move but White was not giving him that chance!

17. Rxe6! Nf6  
18. Ne5 c5   For 18. … Rh8, refer Option A below
19. Bxh6+! Kxh6   For 19. … Qd7, refer Option B below
20. Nxf7+ Resigns  


Option A:

18. Rh8  
19. Nxf7 Kxf7  
20. Qxg6+ Kxe6  
21. Bf5+ Ke7  
22. Re1+ Kf8  
23. Bxh6+ Rxh6  
24. Qxh6+ Kf7  
25. Be6+ Ke7  
26. Qg7+ Ke8  
27. Qf7#  


Option B:

19. Qd7  
20. Qxg6+ Kf8  
21. Bxh6+ Rxh6  
22. Qxh6+ Kxf7  
23. Rxf6+ Ke8  
24. Re1+ Kd8  
25. Rxd6 Qxd6  
26. Qxd6+ Kc8  
27. Re8#  


Didn’t this chess game look to be flowing on its own? Could a computer’s chess play improve on this one?

P.S. Jaffe had his revenge three years later when playing as Black, he defeated Capablanca in a tactical game in a New York tournament!