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Chess Fundamentals by José Raúl Capablanca

22. The force of the threatened attack

Failing an opportunity, in the second case, for direct attack, one must attempt to increase whatever weakness there may be in the opponent's position; or, if there is none, one or more must be created. It is always an advantage to threaten something, but such threats must be carried into effect only if something is to be gained immediately. For, holding the threat in hand, forces the opponent to provide against its execution and to keep material in readiness to meet it. Thus he may more easily overlook, or be unable to parry, a thrust at another point. But once the threat is carried into effect, it exists no longer, and your opponent can devote his attention to his own schemes. One of the best and most successful manoeuvres in this type of game is to make a demonstration on one side, so as to draw the forces of your opponent to that side, then through the greater mobility of your pieces to shift your forces quickly to the other side and break through, before your opponent has had the time to bring over the necessary forces for the defence.

A good example of positional play is shown in the following game.

Example 52.

Played at the Havana International Masters Tournament, 1913.

(French Defence) White: J. R. Capablanca. Black: R. Blanco.


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Commenting on White's play in this game, Dr. E. Lasker said at the time that if White's play were properly analysed it might be found that there was no way to improve upon it.

These apparently simple games are often of the most difficult nature. Perfection in such cases is much more difficult to obtain than in those positions calling for a brilliant direct attack against the King, involving sacrifices of pieces.