In Capablanca's "Chess Fundamentals" this symmetrical oppening is considerd.

[fen ""]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bb4 5.O-O O-O 6.d3 d6 7.Bg5

The author then claims that a long analysis shows that black is forced to 7...Bxc3 since otherwise 8.Nd5 is winning for white. Where can I find this analysis? My engine doesn't seem to find the winning moves.

  • 1
    I think that it helps to reference the page of the book. I think it is page 27, at least in my copy from 1934. Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 13:02
  • 1
    It's page 9 in my version
    – MBolin
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


First, the great Capablanca aside, Bc3 is not forced at all. It is considered the slightly preferred move by Stockfish 10 on my computer, which is fairly strong. In the Mega 2019 database, it occurs 1788 times, and has a winning percentage for white of 54.5%.

Almost equal per the computer (both eval at 0.00, but initially 7...Bc3 is a little better for black at -.07, but then it levels out), and the second most common move per Mega 2019, is 7...Ne7. It actually wins only 47.7% of the time for white but with a much stronger average level of competition at 2271-2288 (these are the average ratings for white and black in that line) compared to 2200-2177 for Bc3. This means that it may actually be a better practical continuation for black. Further study would be required actually examining the games, and deciding what it best for you.

Other alternatives for black at move 7 seem to be much worse.

Lastly, you have to realize that the book was originally written in 1921, so a lot has changed in 99 years (OK, 99 years next month, but he probably did not write it all in December), and overall chess understanding has improved exponentially in that time.

Also, I believe that he might have been influenced by some traps that were well-known then where black continues to try to copy white:

 [FEN ""]

 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bb4 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 d6 7. Bg5 Bg4 8. Bxf6 gxf6 (8... Qxf6 9. Nd5 Qd8 {Other moves are no better} 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Nxb4 a5 12. Nxc6 Qe8 13. Ncxe5 dxe5 14. h3 $18) 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. h3 $16 

Here is another similar copying trap that may have also been on his mind, although it is from a slightly different variation with the bishops on c4 and c5, but it is fun to see. After 11Ne7+, black can no longer copy, and is done!

 [FEN ""]

 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bc4 Bc5 5. d3 d6 6. O-O O-O 7. Bg5 Bg4 8. Nd5 Nd4 9. Qd2 Qd7 10. Bxf6 Bxf3 11. Ne7+ {black can no longer copy} Kh8 12. Bxg7+ Kxg7 13. Qg5+ Kh8 14. Qf6#

These four knights games were more common then, but the teeth have been taken out of them over the many years since.

  • 1
    OK so you're saying more or less that the analysis he mentions no longer exists, in the sense that what was bad for black 99 years ago is not bad anymore because of new moves Capablanca hadn't thought of. Right?
    – MBolin
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 20:16
  • 1
    That is correct. Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 21:19

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