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  • Analyzing the Defects in Capablanca's Chess (Download as PDF here)

    Capablanca was not just a great chessplayer; he was a phenomenal one. His accomplishments are almost too long to list, too amazing to be fully appreciated, and too remarkable to ever be duplicated by another. This has absolutely nothing to do with his 10x8 chess variant.

    One of the greatest World Chess Champions of all time is still perfectly capable of creating a flawed chess variant.

    This fact does not diminish his chess accomplishments in the least. It would be no different if Capablanca did not bowl very well. Being a grandmaster in chess will not assist you in getting strikes on the bowling alley, and bowling a perfect 300 game will not improve your chess abilities one bit.

    With this in mind, we take an objective look at the Capablanca Chess piece arrangement.

    The Capablanca's Chess starting position
    Rook, Knight, Archbishop, Bishop, Queen, King, Bishop, Chancellor, Knight, Rook

    As shown above, each player has a Pawn in the i-file that is not defended by the pieces in the starting arrangement.

    To the most amateur of chess players, this is "no big deal."

    To someone who is a true chess aficionado with some tournament-playing experience, this is a valid concern.

    To a strong player and an objective analyst, this is an unacceptable playing condition.

    Let's take a look at some of the problems the undefended Pawn in the i-file presents:
    • The first player to move can always make a threat to win the pawn immediately. This never occurs in regular 8x8 chess.
    • The second player to move is, therefore, on the defensive at once. This is not merely from being the half-tempo behind the first player to move; it is due to the defect in the starting arrangement.
    • The i-file is where the King will reside once castled kingside. Castling is suppose to make the King more safe, but in Capablanca's Chess, castling could place the King under immediate attack.
    • Gambit-like strategies or Poisoned Pawn motifs where the Pawn is foresaken will only accelerate one's own demise.

    In the examples shown further down the page, you will see instances of each of these items in detail.

    In Capablanca's Chess, there are three "diagonal-moving pieces" in a row
    The Archbishop, Bishop, and Queen, are all directed towards the vicinity of the weak i-Pawn of the adversary

    Another undesired feature in Capablanca's Chess is the "too many diagonal movers in a row" situation. The Archbishop on square c1, the Bishop on d1, and the Queen on e1 all "reach across" the board diagonally, and there is no symmetry from left to right. There is no "balance of force" in this regard. What makes matters worse is the poor i-pawn is left undefended, and all three of these pieces are aimed towards that area of the board. It is for all of the aforementioned reasons that Ed Trice discovered what is now called Trice's Mate in Capablanca's Chess where white checkmates black in only 6 moves. This checkmate is shown, move by move, in the section at the bottom of this page.

    The Bishops in Capablanca's Chess are poorly placed

    In Capablanca's Chess, the Bishop are "pushed inward" one file compared to their 8x8 chess counterparts. This denies the chess enthusiast the opportunity to fianchetto the Bishop by placing it what would be a primary long diagonal on the 10x8 board.

    Notice the colored diagonals above on the left. There is no way for the Capablanca Bishops to reach either b2 on the queenside or i2 on the kingside. So, that wonderful Reti setup after 1. Nf3 2. g3 3. Bg2 4. O-O on the 8x8 regular chessboard is now an impposibility on the 10x8 Capablanca board. That solid position shown above on the right will have no counterpart in Capablanca's Chess. White it is not a "true defect," it is an undesireable feature that detracts from the enjoyment of playing the game.

    This section showcases some games which emphasize the points made above. Notes will appear as each move is replayed one at a time. Or you can watch a "movie" of the game without these notes and without the need to repeatedly click buttons to go to the next move.

    October 13, 1998 Ed Trice vs.Joel Gehen
    White checkmates in 6 moves
    Quite possibly the single reason why Capablanca's Chess is not widely played today. White constantly goes after the undefended i-pawn, generating x-ray attacks, and then tosses the equivalent of The Scholar's Mate at his opponent. A Chancellor and Queen are sacrificed in turn, and the game ends with an Archbishop solo-checkmate.
    August 19, 2017 Ed Trice vs. Carlos Ramirez
    White traps the black Queen
    This game highlights the defect of the bad location of the Bishops in Capablanca's Chess. Baiting the Queen to capture a poisoned pawn in the b-file, it gets caught in a cleverly-constructed trap.

    Replay Section
    Notes Section

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