Notes on Lilienthal-Capablanca, Hastings 1934-35

Notes on Lilienthal-Capablanca, Hastings 1934-35

Andor Lilienthal’s queen sacrifice is too well-known to go into detail with here, but the stories surrounding the game are quite interesting. First the game:

Andor Lilienthal – José Raúl Capablanca
Hastings, 1 January 1935
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 b6 6. f3 d5 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bh4 Ba6 9. e4 Bxc4 10. Bxc4 dxc4 11. Qa4+ Qd7 12. Qxc4 Qc6 13. Qd3 Nbd7 14. Ne2 Rd8 15. O-O a5 16. Qc2 Qc4 17. f4 Rc8 18. f5 e5 19. dxe5 Qxe4

20. exf6 Qxc2 21. fxg7 Rg8 22. Nd4 Qe4 23. Rae1 Nc5 24. Rxe4+ Nxe4 25. Re1 Rxg7 26. Rxe4+ Kd7 and Black resigned.

All the contemporary sources conclude the game after White’s 26th move, but Lilienthal later revealed that Capablanca played 26… Kd7 and resigned with a smile when he saw that White wins after 27. Re7+ Kd6 28. f6 and 29.Bg3+.

There doesn’t seem to be any published photographs of the game, but a couple of days before, on 28 December, a photographer visited the tournament.

From Capablanca’s 2nd round loss to Thomas.
Lilienthal drew his 2nd round game with Flohr.

The missing autograph

Lajos Steiner gave some background in his book, Kings of the Chess Board (1948):

I was not really surprised when, before the Hastings Christmas Tournament of 1934, Lilienthal half jokingly told me that he would beat Capablanca with a Queen sacrifice, then he would give Capablanca his autograph. Lilienthal could never forget that in Paris a few years previously Capablanca refused to give him his autograph. And, to the surprise of the spectators, Lilienthal’s prophecy came true! Never in his life was Capablanca so crushingly defeated by a Queen sacrifice.

Steiner defeated Lilienthal in a training match in December 1934, shortly before Lilienthal left for Hastings.

In his autobiography, Lilienthal wrote about his first meeting with Capablanca. Some of the details are different from Steiner’s account, though. Translated from the German edition of Lilienthal’s autobiography, Schach war mein Leben (1989):

I was wandering the streets of Vienna when a poster with oversized letters announced: “Capablanca, the world famous Cuban chess master, will play a simultaneous exhibition today at 6 pm in Café Schönbrunn. Admittance 5 Schilling, to play 10 Schilling.” I only had that exact sum, but thought that it would be a long time before another opportunity to encounter a world star would present itself. So I ran to be in time to play the world famous Cuban. I was astounded when I noticed that the majority of the spectators were women. I have never before or after seen that many women at a simultaneous exhibition. Capablanca was a very attractive man and I think that the women were not mainly interested in chess.

The great “Capa” played very quickly and gave his opponents little time to think. Even though I was very excited I played well and in the middlegame won a piece for two pawns. In the end, I was the last player left. The famous grandmaster looked at me in a way that made me lose my nerve, and with a trembling voice I offered a draw. Capablanca accepted so quickly that when I clumsily asked for his autograph on the score sheet, he had already turned towards a pretty woman and hurried off with her.

Lilienthal on the game

Lilienthal annotated the game extensively and also had some comments on Capablanca’s reaction to the loss:

The traditional tournament in Hastings was stronger than the year before. Capablanca, who I played at the memorable Vienna simul, was there. He didn’t remember the then 18-year old Lilienthal. But I longed for revenge; back then I took half a point from the Cuban, and now I wanted to defeat him in a tournament game. (…)

I still recall that his expression and his eyes showed no sadness as he resigned the game. The Cuban was as always elegant, casual, and proper. He congratulated me with a smile and wished me further successes.

The next game

Capablanca and Lilienthal met again two weeks later in the Netherlands, where they gave simultaneous exhibitions and played a consultation game for Dutch radio.

The consultation game was played on 16 January at the VARA studios in Hilversum. Capablanca was paired with Hans Kmoch and Lilienthal with Max Euwe, who also played in Hastings. The game began at 8 pm and at 11.30 pm the broadcast started with Euwe explaining the moves for the listeners at home.

Capablanca & Kmoch – Lilienthal & Euwe
Hilversum, 16 January 1935
1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 c6 3. b3 Bf5 4. Bb2 e6 5. g3 Nf6 6. Bg2 Nbd7 7. O-O h6 8. d3 Bc5 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Rc1 Bh7 11. a3 a5 12. d4 Be7 13. Ne1 b5 14. c5 Ne4 15. Ndf3 Qc7 16. Nd3 Rad8 17. Nfe5 Nxe5 18. Nxe5 Rfe8 19. Nd3 Bg5 20. e3 Be7 21. Qe2 Bf8 22. f3 Ng5

23. e4 dxe4 24. fxe4 f6 25. e5 Bxd3 26. Qxd3 fxe5 27. Qg6 e4 28. h4 Nf3+ 29. Bxf3 exf3 30. Rxf3 Qd7 31. b4 axb4 32. axb4 Qd5 33. Rcf1 Re7 34. Rf4 Qb3

The game had to be stopped here because of the late hour, and the players later agreed to a draw.

The next day, 17 January, at Hotel Carlton in Amsterdam Dutch chess friends celebrated Euwe’s victory in the Hastings tournament.

The Euwe celebration. Left to right: Hollander, Euwe, Kmoch, Lilienthal, and Capablanca.

Rotterdam’s chess federation was celebrating their 40th anniversary, and they invited Capablanca, Lilienthal, and Tartakower to give simultaneous exhibitions on 19 January, each master playing 30 opponents. Lilienthal went down in flames against Mühring, who was strong enough to play for the Dutch team at the unofficial Olympiad in Munich just a year and a half later.

Andor Lilienthal – Willem Jan Mühring
Rotterdam, 19 January 1935
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Nxc6 dxc6 8. O-O e5 9. Bg5 Be6 10. Kh1 h6 11. Bh4 g5 12. Bg3 Qc7 13. Qf3 Be7 14. Qe2 O-O-O 15. a4 h5 16. h4 gxh4 17. Bxh4 Ng4 18. Bg3 h4 19. Bh2 Bc5 20. f3 Nxh2 21. Kxh2 Rdg8 22. Nd1

22… Qe7 (The beginning of an attractive queen maneuver) 23. Ne3 Qg5 24. Ng4 Qf4+ 25. Kh1 Qg3 26. Qe1 Bxg4 27. fxg4 Rxg4 28. Rg1 h3 0-1
Source: De Telegraf, 21 January 1935

Tartakower, Lilienthal, and Capablanca at the simultaneous exhibition in Rotterdam, 19 January 1935.

Lilienthal stayed in the Netherlands until early February when he left for Moscow and another meeting with Capablanca. Finally a game from another simultaneous exhibition, this time a win for Lilienthal:

Andor Lilienthal – Paul van’t Veer
The Hague, 24 January 1935
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Bd3 c6 8. O-O h6 9. Bf4 dxc4 10. Bxc4 Nd5 11. Qe2 N7f6 12. Bg3 Nxc3 13. bxc3 Nd5 14. Rac1 b5 15. Bd3 Bb7 16. e4 Nb6 17. Rfd1 Nd7 18. e5 Re8 19. Nd2 f5 20. c4 a6 21. c5 Nf8 22. Nf3 Bg5 23. Nxg5 Qxg5 24. f4 Qg6 25. Bc2 Qf7 26. Bb3 Rac8 27. Be1 h5 28. Bh4 g6 29. Rd3 Qd7 30. Rcd1 a5 31. Rg3 a4 32. Bc2 Kh7 33. Bf6 Qf7 34. Rh3 Nd7 35. Bg5 Kg7 36. Rdd3 Ra8 37. Rhg3 Kh8 38. Bh4 Rg8 39. Rg5 Rg7 40. Be1 Nf8 41. a3 Nh7 42. Rgg3 Qd7 43. Rh3 Qf7 44. Bb4 Qd7 45. Bb1 Rc8 46. Rd1 Qe8 47. Ba2 Rcc7 48. Rc3 Nf8 49. h3 Qf7 50. g4 fxg4 51. hxg4 Qxf4 52. Rf3 Qxg4+ 53. Kh2 Rcf7 54. Rdf1 Qh4+ 55. Rh3 Qxd4 56. Rhf3 Qd7 57. Rf6 Rxf6 58. exf6 Rf7 59. Bc3 Kg8 60. Rd1 Qc7+ 61. Be5 Qc8 62. Rd6 Ba6 63. Qd2 Kh7 64. Rd8 Qb7 65. Rb8 Qd7 66. Qg5 Bc8 67. Bb1 Kg8 68. Bxg6 Nxg6 69. Qxg6+ Kf8 70. Bd6+ 1-0
Source: Het Vaderland, 3 February 1935

Lilienthal at the simultaneous exhibition in the Hague, 24 January 1935.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *