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LCB, Issue #098 --, Meet the Queen's Pawn Game
August 01, 2023

Meet the Queen's Pawn Game

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #098 -- GOTM #68

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In the era of Lasker, Tarrasch, Nimzowitsch, Alekhine, Rubinstein, Capablanca and others, 1.d4 was the most popular opening move. This move emerged as Wilhelm Steinitz introduced the controversial idea of positional chess in the 1870s.

The Romantic players were repulsed by Steinitz's new approach, saying it was unmanly and a disgrace to play with the emphasis on defense rather than attack. This of course the new positional style of which 1.d4 was the main first move.

By the 1910s and 20s the argument had been decisively won by the positional argument and a clear majority of world level games were beginning with 1.d4.

Let's see Jose Raul Capablanca demonstrate the power of the Queen's Pawn Game. In his home town of Havana in 1912 he plays J. Baca Arus.

Meet the Queen's Pawn Game

Capablanca, J.R. - Baca Arus, J. [D02]

GotM #68, Havana, 1912
[Connaughton, Ken]


Queen's Pawn Game


Closed Game

2.e3 e6 3.Bd3 Bd6 4.Nf3 Nd7 5.Nbd2 f5 6.b3 Nh6 7.Bb2 Qf6 8.c4

Game position after 8.c4

White now decides to begin the process of opening the position. He delays showing Black which wing his King will go to.

8...c6 9.Qc2 0-0 10.h3 g6

Black setting up a defensive structure, blunting White's Queen-Bishop battery on the b1-h7 diagonal. His dark squares are though now weakened as a result.


White castles long and will open the position now.


Game position after 11...e5?

Black decides to open in the center but in this he plays into his opponent's hands. The White pieces are much better placed to control the long diagonal and the adjacent light diagonals. He also looks to have the edge in the d-file.

[11...a5; 11...Nf7]


This response is necessary but White is not unhappy. Black's 12th move gives him the chance to spring a tactical combination that starts with this.

12...Nxe5 13.cxd5

The c and d-files are now both open along with the long diagonal. White has ascendency in all and Black will also get stuck with a weak isolated d-pawn.

13...cxd5 14.Nc4!

Game position after 14.Nc4!

The combo continues with this picturesque thrust.

14...dxc4 15.Bxc4+ Nhf7 16.Rxd6!

Game position after 16.Rxd6!

White very cleverly changes the nature of the material sacrifice.16...Qxd6 17.Nxe5The sacrifice has changed from a minor piece to an exchange sacrifice.

17...Be6 18.Rd1

Game position after 18.Rd1

Look how dominant the White pieces are over their Black counterparts.

18...Qe7 19.Rd7 Bxd7 20.Nxd7 Rfc8

The King must be swiftly given room to flee. The earlier decision to weaken the dark squares is coming back to bite. He faces the full glare of the powerful Bishop pair. Oh and a Queen too.

[No time for 20...Qxd7?? as the Black King is about to be surrounded: 21.Qc3 Rfd8 22.Qg7#]

21.Qc3 Rxc4

Game position after 21...Rxc4

Absolutely necessary but probably not enough to save the game.

22.bxc4 Nd6

Finally the King has a flight square but White will exact material losses on Black just the same.

23.Qh8+ Kf7 24.Ne5+

Fantastic and timely intermezzo to retain the Knight.

24...Ke6 25.Qxa8

Game position after

Black has saved his King but has not just relinquished his material advantage but now is down a Bishop and pawn. In the face of this he resigns.


Capablanca, J.R. - Baca Arus, J.

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