03 June 2021

Replaying Endgames

For the past two months, I have been working my way through Cyrus Lakdawala, Capablanca: Move by Move (2012). This book was allowed to go out of print and copies are hard to find at a reasonable price. However, ebook versions exist, and so I am both reading it on my Kindle app, and reading while playing through the moves within ChessBase. Both the CBV files for ChessBase and the Kindle version were purchased direct from the publisher in one package, Everyman.

This morning, I began the last section of the book, "Capa on Endings". Having failed Lakdawala's question because I failed to foresee White's queenside possibilities, I reinforced the lesson by playing the position against Stockfish. After seeing how Capablanca won the game, beating Stockfish was easy. You can view Capablanca's entire game at chessgames.com.

Lakdawala presents the first 29 moves of Capablanca -- Conde, Hastings 1919 without comment, then poses a question: should White trade knights to enter the pawn ending?

Kindle Screenshot

The game continued:

30.Nxf6 gxf6 31.a4 d5 32.b3

Sockfish deviated from Conde's play here.


Conde played 32...d4

White to move


The only winning move is fairly obvious. White must keep Black's king on his side of the board.

33...h5 34.g3

Komodo's postgame analysis offers another way to win: 34.cxd5 Kxd5 35.h4 Ke4 36.g4 Kxf4 37.gxh5

Black to move
Analysis Diagram

White's powerful doubled h-pawns remind me of a position in Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual.

I opted to uncreatively strive for Capablanca's solution by advancing my backwards pawn.

34...Kc6 35.Kf2 d4 36.Ke2 Kd7 37.g4 h4 38.Kd3 Kd6

White to move

White to move
Capablanca's Position

My position differs from that reached by Capablanca, but the winning idea remains the same. White's king will be in the square of Black's passed pawns, while White will have passed pawns on both sides of the board.


This move was the critical idea that I missed when I answered that White should not exchange knights.

39...axb4 40.g5 fxg5 41.fxg5 Ke5

White to move

42.g6 fxg6 43.fxg6

With passed pawns on the g- and a-files, it is clear that White wins. Against Stockfish, I played the game out to checkmate.

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