See C.N. 11765 below.
Bobby Fischer’s view of Capablanca appeared in the article ‘The Ten Greatest Masters in History’ (on pages 56-61 of Chessworld, January-February 1964):
To what extent did Capablanca prepare for his world championship match with Dr Lasker? In his booklet on the event James Schroeder writes (page 10): ‘He studied Lasker’s games extensively and was well prepared when the match was played.’ But on page 73 of From Morphy to Fischer Horowitz says: ‘Capablanca, be it noted, made no special preparations either, but then, he never did.’
Perhaps it all depends on whether you agree with William Winter (in Kings of Chess, page 92) that Capablanca ‘was proud to consider himself a professional chess player’ or with Harry Golombek (The Game of Chess, page 219) that ‘he never became a chess professional’.
One other little mystery of rather less importance appeals to the imagination. In Chessworld 1964 (volume 1, number 3, page 33) Olga Capablanca describes her late husband as ‘always an early riser’. But Edward Lasker wrote in The Adventure of Chess (page 111), ‘I do not remember his ever breakfasting before I had my lunch’.
Regarding a notable game between Capablanca and William Winter see the report in C.N. 8193 below (Daily Mail, 6 January 1931, page 7).
From page 90 of Achieving the Aim by Mikhail Botvinnik (Oxford, 1981):
‘Capablanca’s calm style, the harmonic combination of very exact positional understanding with a calculation of variations, imparted a particular elegance to the Cuban’s games. With Capa all the pieces played together, they were firmly linked. Capablanca was equally strong in complex and simple positions.’
From Nimzowitsch’s book on Carlsbad, 1929 (Dover Publications, New York, 1981):
‘Capablanca’s games generally take the following course: he begins with a series of extremely fine prophylactic maneuvers, which neutralize his opponent’s attempts to complicate the game; he then proceeds, slowly but surely, to set up an attacking position. This attacking position, after a series of simplifications, is transformed into a favorable endgame, which he conducts with matchless technique.’ (page 43)
On page 1 of the New York Times, 16 February 1927 Capablanca wrote of Nimzowitsch:
‘We believe that his strength is his weakness; he plays such bizarre openings and such complicated games that very often he is just as much puzzled as his opponent, if not more so, as to the best course to follow.’
See the chapter on New York, 1927 in our 1989 monograph on Capablanca.
One might expect chess writers to be capable of reporting correctly the basic details of, at least, a famous event such as the 1927 world championship between Capablanca and Alekhine. It took place in Buenos Aires in 1927. There were 34 games, and Alekhine won with a score of +6 –3 =25.
On page 10 of 100 Classics of the Chessboard, A.S.M. Dickins and H. Ebert state that it took place in New York.
On page 163 of The Literature of Chess John Graham wrote: ‘The final result? Alekhine won by four games to three with 25 draws!’
On page 14 of Karpov-Korchnoi 1978 by Raymond Keene: ‘Matches varied in length from ten games (Lasker-Schlechter 1910) to 35 (Capablanca-Alekhine 1927).’
Ibid., page 124: ‘Most commentators were predicting a long match and the record of 35 games held by Capablanca v Alekhine 1927 appeared in danger.’
Ibid., page 138: ‘... the 35 games of the 1927 Capablanca-Alekhine match’.
Page 50 of the Larousse du jeu d’échecs states that the match lasted three months, and page 371 says that Alekhine was proclaimed world champion after the 27th match-game.
(585, 889 & 1015)
An article by Olga Capablanca on Nottingham, 1936 in the February 1945 issue of Town & Country included this remark about Tartakower:
‘I believe Capa was fonder of him than of any of the others because he admired sincerity next to intelligence, the qualities he looked for in others and were his own main characteristics.’
See too Photographsof Nottingham, 1936.
Alekhine and Réti had opposite views on the worth of Capablanca’s sixth move in his game (as White) against Yates at New York, 1924 (1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 Bg7 5 e3 O-O 6 h3). Alekhine, in the tournament book, said it was ‘not exactly necessary ... after the text-move, Black obtains some counter-play, the defense of which will demand all of the world champion’s care’. Réti, however, calls 6 h3 ‘a move of genius’ (Homenaje a Capablanca, pages 185-186) For him it was ‘the most profound move of the entire game’. He explains its idea as follows (our résumé): if Black is to make the most of the king’s bishop he will need to play, eventually, either ...e5 or ...c5. Capablanca’s plan is to prevent the former, so as to force the latter. This will transfer the battle to the queen’s side, where White will have every chance of securing an advantage, owing to the absence on that flank of Black’s dark-squared bishop. Capablanca, in view of the position of his own bishop in the centre of the board, prevents the centre from becoming the battlefield by 6 h3. He does not allow Black to play 6...Bg4, followed by ...Nbd7 and ...e5.
This well-known position occurred in the tenth match-game between Lasker and Capablanca, Havana, 1921:
White to move
What did Capablanca think of his opponent’s 44 Ke2? In his match book (page 24) he writes, ‘Not a mistake, but played deliberately. White had no way to protect his QKtP’. Similarly, in A Primer of Chess he commented, ‘There is no way for White to save his QKtP. White’s next move is not, therefore, a blunder’.
However, in notes reproduced in Homenaje a Capablanca the Cuban writes, ‘White’s next move is a blunder which facilitates Black’s task’.
An addition on page 266 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves:
In Mein Wettkampf mit Capablanca Lasker gave 44 Ke2 a question mark, without further elucidation.
Richard Forster comments:
‘The point is that after 44 Ke1 Na5 45 Kd2 Rxb3 (45...Nxb3? 46 Kc2) 46 Rxb3 Nxb3+, the rooks are exchanged and White has better drawing chances than in the game, where Black retains his active rook.’
It cannot be often that an annotator misunderstands the result of a game. In The Chess Career of Richard Teichmann (Nottingham, undated) Jack Spence gives the game Capablanca v Teichmann mentioned in C.N. 617. The slip of printing 23 P-B4 instead of 23 P-B3 (both moves are possible in the position) is nothing compared to J.S.’s astonishing claim that the game was drawn, in a bishops of opposite colour ending when the Cuban was a pawn up. How did this mistake arise when the correct score may be found in dozens of different books?
What was Capablanca’s shortest loss in simultaneous play? Chernev’s The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess (page 84) has his 13-move defeat by Kevitz at Brooklyn, 1924. However, on page 65 of the Gazette of the Grolier Club June/December 1975, in an article entitled ‘Chess: A Bibliophile’s View’ by Stephen Weissman, the following item is listed:
‘ – Original game score, signed by the participants, of an 11-move loss suffered by Capablanca against Mary Bain in a simultaneous exhibition. Possibly the shortest game Capablanca ever lost, though a number of masters are known to have treated lady opponents with false chivalry. Mary Bain went on to become one of the best women players in the United States.’
Wanted: moves and details of the occasion.
At last this game can be presented:
José Raúl Capablanca (simultaneous) – Mary Bain
Hollywood, 21 May 1933
Four Knights’ Game
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bb5 Bc5 5 O-O O-O 6 Nxe5 Re8 7 Nd3 Bd4 8 Ne2 Rxe4 9 Nxd4 Nxd4 10 Ba4 Ne2+ 11 Kh1 Nxc1 12 White resigns.
After we appealed for the score on page 58 of the 5/1987 New in Chess, Mr Victor Jiménez López (Murcia, Spain) kindly obliged, quoting an article by Pablo Morán on page 42 of the February 1988 issue of the Spanish magazine Ocho por ocho. At our request, Mr Morán then specified his source: an article by Dr J.A. Seitz on pages 183-184 of the October 1941 issue of Caissa.
Seitz gave ‘21 March 1933’, but it was on 21 May 1933 that Capablanca gave his only simultaneous exhibition in Hollywood. In March he was touring Panama.
There is still a major discrepancy: the American Chess Bulletin (May-June 1933, page 87) carried a brief report of the Hollywood display and stated that Mrs Bain was one of two players to score a draw.
Our efforts to find a local newspaper report have so far been unsuccessful (Hollywood being Hollywood).
Brian Donnell (Portland, OR, USA) points out that the Capablanca-Bain game was published on page 37 of the January 1973 Chess Life & Review, an obituary of Mary Bain by Bob Braine. The date is given as 27 May 1933 (presumably an error for 21), and it is claimed that when Capablanca resigned at move 12, ‘Mary would not accept victory and conceded the game as a draw. Raul graciously accepted’. This all seems very peculiar.
Subsequently, a shorter loss by Capablanca, against A. Kramer, was given in C.N. 2720 (see below). For further discussion of the Bain game, see C.N. 9456.
On pages 303-304 of Capablanca, Leyenda y Realidad volume two, Sánchez reports that some of Capa’s friends asked him for help in arranging to send a Cuban team to ‘the Tournament of Nations at Folkestone, in the United States’. There follows a page of detail about how problems over Alekhine’s blocking of Capa at Pasadena put a stop to any Cuban presence in Folkestone, since the two competitions were being organized by the same group. A splendid addition to our dubious geography file.
The May-June 1912 Wiener Schachzeitung (pages 175-176) reports on a simultaneous exhibition given by Capablanca in Vienna on 21 October 1911, his score being +22 –5 =8. One of the eight draws was secured by Réti. It would be marvellous to find the score of the Capa-Réti game, though the chances must be virtually nil.
From page 396 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves:
‘The most skilful endgame player of all time.’
Description of Capablanca by R. Rey Ardid, in the dedication to his book Finales de ajedrez, volume 1 (Saragossa, 1944).
The following position occurred after Black’s 40th move in the third game of the 1927 world championship match between Capablanca (White) and Alekhine:
Capablanca finished with 41 Nf5+ Kf7 42 Qc7+ and Black resigned. Despite checking this game in about 20 books and magazines, we have found no comment on Capa’s 41st move. And yet it is not the quickest win. White could have played 41 Qf7+, with a forced mate in three more moves. The trouble with 41 Nf5+ is that Black has one possibility of holding out a move longer: 41...Kf8.
On page 70 of Homenaje a José Raúl Capablanca J. Gelabert writes:
‘In my book Glorias del Tablero I wrote a biography of Capablanca which has been translated into almost every language and published in the countries where he demonstrated his skill ...’
We are not aware of any translations at all.
Page 425 of the September 1988 Scacco offers a quiz based on six Capablanca positions. All six contain mistakes (wrong positions, players, dates, venues). Once again it is the dreaded Informator book Encyclopaedia of Chess Middlegames (Belgrade, 1980) that is behind the disarray. See page 200 of the May 1985 BCM.
Christophe Bouton (Paris) points to the Winter v Capablanca game played in the Hastings tournament of 1919 and asks us, ‘Is that you?’
No. We had retired by then.
‘Where openings are concerned, chess masters are like a flock of sheep; everyone follows the first master’s example.’
The writer: Capablanca, in an article on pages 89-91 of Capablanca-Magazine, 31 July 1914.
Harry Golombek’s book Capabanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess has highly inaccurate biographical material and results tables. Some examples were given in C.N. 1080, but the BCM took no notice when it reprinted the book in 1989. It gave just a cursory errata slip (which was itself wrong about a ‘missing’ tournament (Hastings, 1929-30), since it claimed that Capablanca scored three draws, instead of five).
On 22 November 1989, quoting a large number of examples, we informed the BCM Editor that many obvious factual errors had not been corrected. Our letter was ignored for three years, until the BCM (October 1992, page 520) found an exquisitely deceitful way of using it to ridicule us: out of all our corrections the magazine simply mentioned one (regarding Hastings, 1929-30), thus deluding its readers into believing that our complaint about the book merely concerned a single matter of detail.
To set the record straight (about this and other issues), on 5 October 1992 we wrote another letter to the BCM Editor. Naturally it too was suppressed.
See also our article on Capablanca’s books in the algebraic notation. This shows that the BCM neglected to correct about 150 factual mistakes. The Editor of the BCM at the time was Mr Bernard Cafferty.
Compilers of ‘complete games’ volumes are often undecided about whether to include game fragments. Here is one that is seldom seen anywhere:
J.R.Capablanca (simultaneous)-N.N., Moscow, 1935
With Black to move, play went 17... Qh5 18 Be2 Qh4 19 Bxg4 Bxg4 20 Rd4 Rxe3+ 21 Kf1 Re2 22 Nxe2 Bxe2+ 23 Kxe2 Qxd4, and Black won by continuing ...a5.
Source: 64, 3/1935, inside front cover.
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére (New York, NY, USA) offers a ‘tentative reconstruction’ of the preceding moves: 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e3 O-O 6 Nf3 Nbd7 7 Qc2 c6 8 Rd1 h6 9 Bh4 a6 10 a3 b5 11 c5 Re8 12 b4 Ng4 13 Bxe7 Qxe7 14 Bd3 e5 15 dxe5 Ndxe5 16 Nxe5 Qxe5 17 h3.
Hans-Georg Kleinhenz (Munich, Germany) points out that the ChessBase Megabase 2007 contains a game (Oystein Hole v Bjarte Leer Salvesen, Gausdal, 2003) which reached the diagrammed position as follows: 1 d4 e6 2 c4 d5 3 Nf3 c6 4 Qc2 Nf6 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 Nbd7 7 e3 Be7 8 Nc3 O-O 9 Rd1 Re8 10 a3 a6 11 Bd3 b5 12 c5 e5 13 dxe5 Ng4 14 Bxe7 Qxe7 15 b4 Ndxe5 16 Nxe5 Qxe5 17 h3.
The following position, rarely given in chess literature, comes from a simultaneous game played against Shtyren in Moscow in early 1935. Capablanca (White) is what modern stylists call ‘material up’ or ‘up material’, but faces mating threats.
Play continued: 1 gxf7+ Kf8 2 Qb4+ Be7 3 Qxe7+ Kxe7 4 f8(Q)+ Rxf8 5 Bg5+ Rf6 6 exf6+ gxf6 7 Bxf6+ Kf7 8 Bh4+ Kg6 9 Rg4+ Kh5 10 R1f4 e5 11 Rg5+ Kh6 12 Rf6+ Qxf6 13 Rh5+ Kxh5 14 Bxf6 e4 and the game was agreed drawn a few moves later.
Source: 64, 3/1935, inside front cover.
Hanon Russell (Milford, CT, USA) has a collection of thousands of chess documents representing all periods. Its importance for serious historical research is immeasurable, but here we publish, with his kind permission, some lighter fare: masters’ comments on each other in correspondence....
Letter from Bogoljubow to Capablanca, 7 December 1926 (item 78):
‘Apart from the fact that, for instance, Nimzowitsch is very hostile to me and lately has not missed any opportunity to harm me, I cannot expect fair treatment at the hands of Alekhine, Spielmann or Vidmar. ... As far as Nimzowitsch is concerned, you know as well as I do that he, notwithstanding his fairly good results, is hardly a real grandmaster, so that I am really surprised that people make such a ridiculous fuss over him of late.’
Open letter from Emanuel Lasker, April/May 1927 (item 581)^:
On Capablanca: ‘I think not badly of him; he has great faults, as I shall presently explain, and also great virtues, for instance, his word is reliable even where others would falter; but he insists on misunderstanding my motives ...
[Capablanca] looks upon argument as a personal affair. He uses invective, sometimes direct, sometimes covered by a thin veil of inference. He assumes that his opponents, and possibly men generally, are actuated by highly selfish motives. At least, that has been my invariable experience with him for 16 years.
His great fault, from a chessic point of view, is lack of self-discernment. He is, without doubt, a chess master of exceeding merit and rightly belongs in the series of chess champions which starts with Philidor. Yet he is fearsome as if he mistrusted his own powers.
And that has grown on him and threatens to clog the wheels of his own evolution.
... Capablanca is passionately angered by every kind of opposition. That is a great danger to him, too. The genius of chess has been kind and generous to Capablanca, but if he insists on his present ways he will stand still while others advance and in the end cut only a poor figure in the gallery of champions.’
Andrew Kinsman (New Malden, England) has placed on the Internet an analytical query (raised by Neil McDonald) regarding the game between F.F.L. Alexander and Sir George Thomas in the 1919-20 City of London Chess Championship.
In section 25 of Chess Fundamentals Capablanca wrote that after 38 Nf4 Qh6 39 Qc2, ‘I take pleasure in offering the position to my readers as a most beautiful and extraordinary win for Black, beginning with 39...Qh3+!!! I leave the variations for the student to work out’.
Capablanca seldom accorded a move two exclamation marks, let alone three, but Neil McDonald believes 39...Qh3+ to be a blunder, refuted by 40 Nxh3 gxh3+ 41 Kh1 e2 42 Rbb1 exf1(Q)+ 43 Rxf1 Bg6 44 Rc1 Re3 45 Bxg6 hxg6, after which Black may still draw but is hardly winning.
The game has not been widely published, although Fred Reinfeld wrote on page 82 of A Treasury of British Chess Masterpieces (London, 1950) that Thomas’s finish was ‘one of the most beautiful conclusions in the whole range of chess literature’. Reinfeld referred to Capablanca and Chess Fundamentals but did not mention 39...Qh3+.
As mentioned in a footnote on page 34 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves, Sir George Thomas diffidently nominated this game as his best performance. See also The Best Chess Games.
The Czech writers Jan Kalendovský and Vlastimil Fiala are producing a series of detailed books on Alekhine in English. The first (187 pages) was published in 1992 and covered the period 1892-1921; the second (464 pages) takes the story up to 1924.
The second volume contains several interviews with Alekhine in which he expresses a high opinion of Capablanca’s endgame play. For example, page 265 quotes from page 14 of České slovo of 17 June 1923, where the Russian master stated that he felt superior in the opening (‘since Capablanca tends to underestimate its importance’) but added: ‘Naturally, as far as the endgame is concerned, Capablanca has no rival; no-one among the contemporary masters has any chance to beat him in it’.
Just a few years later, Alekhine had a very different assessment of the Cuban. On page 16 of his book Das New Yorker Schachturnier 1927 (Berlin, 1928) he wrote:
‘In the endgame he is not to be feared by a first-class master since here it is only exceptionally that he manages to raise his play above average.’
In fairness to Alekhine, his view may have changed because he drew an inferior rook ending against Capablanca in the fourth round of the 1924 New York tournament (a game which Mark Dvoretsky analysed in depth in an article on pages 36-43 of issue 3 of the American Chess Journal in 1995). On page 2 of his book On the Road to the World Championship 1923-1927 (Oxford, 1984) Alekhine described that game as a ‘revelation’ and wrote, ‘I was convinced that if I had been in Capablanca’s position I should certainly have won that game’.
In fairness to Capablanca, he was ill at the start of New York, 1924. It is, of course, impossible to know whether Alekhine was being sincere in any or all of the statements quoted above.
From page 27 of One-Move Chess by the Champions by Bruce Pandolfini (New York, 1985):
‘With his great abilities and striking good looks, Capablanca was idolized both in and out of the chess world. In a major magazine’s poll in the 1920s, he was ranked as the world’s third most handsome man, right behind Rudolf [sic] Valentino and Ramon Novarro. Cecil B. DeMille even brought him to Hollywood, where he planned to make him a star.’
Wanted: substantiation of any or all of this.
Now we read on page 71 of the Bruce Pandolfini’s book Every Move Must Have a Purpose (New York, 2003) that Capablanca …
‘… once came in third on Esquire magazine’s list of the most attractive men in the world. Back in 1927, only Rudolf [sic] Valentino and Ramon Novarro could claim to be better-looking.’
Given that Valentino died in 1926 and Esquire was born in 1933, we are unsure what to make of this.
The only connection between Valentino and chess that comes to mind is the portrait of him published on page 6 of the 8/2001 New in Chess.
Mention may be made here of a comment by Lajos Steiner about Octav Troianescu on page 45 of Kings of the Chess Board (Roseville, 1948):
‘This young Romanian doctor looks more like a film star than a chessmaster. Faultlessly dressed and dreamy-eyed, he reminds one of Rudolph Valentino.’
C.N. 4229 referred to an Austrian webpage with a collection of chess postcards. Page two of the ‘Herren’ section features the photograph of Rudolph Valentino [links broken] mentioned in C.N. 3097 (see page 108 of Chess Facts and Fables). Further details are sought, and particularly since in the biographies of the silent-film star (1895-1926) we recall no mention of chess.
Luc Winants (Boirs, Belgium) has forwarded to us the photograph of Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926) referred to in C.N. 4758. It comes from the collection of Daniël De Mol, to whom we are also grateful.
We have now found that in the March 1953 issue of Esquire Fred Reinfeld wrote an article which included the following comment:
‘In his youth Capablanca’s stunning good looks ran him a close third to Rudolph Valentino and Ramon Novarro …’
This, of course, was merely a personal comment by Reinfeld, with no indication that any ‘poll’ had taken place. The article was reproduced on pages 14-17 of his book The Joys of Chess (New York, 1961).
It is notable how often the ‘art conceals art’ quote crops up in connection with Capablanca. For example:
‘Capablanca had that art which hides art to an overwhelming degree.’ (H. Golombek, A History of Chess (1976), page 187.)
‘During the last 20 years, Capablanca has contested in successive tournaments and his games form a series of classics, noted chiefly for their grace and simplicity. This simplicity is, of course, the result of that art which conceals art …’ (B. Winkleman, Modern Chess (1931), page 198.)
‘[Capablanca] makes the game look easy. Art lies in the concealment of art.’ (P.W. Sergeant, Chess Pie, issue 1, 1922, page 6.)
(Chess Café, 2000)
Page 34 of the 23 October 1909 issue of the Chess Weekly reported that in Washington that month Capablanca won ‘16 straight off-hand games from Moorman, who in a similar seance with Jacques Mieses two years ago was able to divide the honors with the German master’.
We have biographical information on file about Wilbur Lyttleton Moorman (1859-1934) but no further data about his meetings with Capablanca and Mieses.
Which was the first occasion when chess masters were filmed? The earliest case that comes to mind is the New York, 1915 tournament. From page 91 of the May-June 1915 American Chess Bulletin:
‘… a genuine chess scene, and nothing less than the opening round of this tournament, was reproduced in motion pictures at various theaters throughout the country. On 17 April, on the invitation of the Messrs Pathé-Frères, the players, committee men and other prominent followers of the game repaired to the studio at the plant of that well-known concern and, under the direction of Mr Raymond J. Brown, the editor of Pathé News, posed before the camera which produced the films that were to make the public at large better acquainted with chess, and some of its chief exponents. In the principal sitting, the players were shown seated as paired in the opening round, making their moves, regulating clocks and recording scores, with officials and spectators grouped in the background. In addition, there were separate sittings for Capablanca and Marshall in individual poses.’
John Blackstone (Las Vegas, NV, USA) draws attention to page 3 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 22 April 1915, which has a caption for the above photograph. The newspaper also reports on the film coverage featuring Capablanca, Marshall and other masters. See also New York, 1915: A Chess Photograph.
From page 220 of Schlechter’s Chess Games by Tom Crain (Yorklyn, 1998):
‘Starting back in Pistyan, 1912, up to and including [Vienna, 1915], Schlechter had played 117 competitive tournament games. He lost only twice, once to Tartakower in the Vienna Chess Club anniversary tournament, in 1913, and once to Kaufmann, in Vienna, 1914. An extraordinary record. Even though Lasker had a lower percentage of lost games in his career than Schlechter, Lasker never approached this record. In fact, none of Schlechter’s fin de siècle contemporaries ever approached this record, not Tarrasch, Pillsbury, Maróczy, Rubinstein, no-one. No-one, that is, until Capablanca set his more widely known record. Starting with New York, 1915, up to and including New York, 1924, Capablanca played 112 competitive games (89 tournament games and 23 match games). He lost only twice, once to Chajes in New York, 1916, and the other was his celebrated loss to Réti in New York, 1924. The point is this: not only had Schlechter proved himself Lasker’s equal in 1910, he also proved he was as “invincible” as Capablanca. Schlechter was, indeed, the zwischenzug between the two world champions.’
In fact, Capablanca’s total should read 108, since there were only 19 match games.
On page 93 of the 7/1999 New in Chess Jan Timman referred to 40 Rb6 in the 31st Capablanca v Alekhine match-game as being ‘Fridstein’s recommendation’. (See also the detailed analysis by Hübner on pages 63-64 of the 8/1998 Schach.)
Yet 40 Rb6 is not a recent discovery. Page 212 of the April 1928 issue of Roberto Grau’s magazine El Ajedrez Americano commented:
‘The correct move would have been 40 Rb6, giving up the exchange but obtaining a pawn ending that appears won in the opinion of Capablanca himself. Let us see: 40 Rb6 Nxb6 (it is clear that if Black does not capture the rook 41 Rb8 follows, and Black has no way of taking control of the b-file, which is the key to Alekhine’s chances) 41 axb6 Rb7 42 Bc7 Ke7 43 Ke3 Kd7 44 Kf4 Rxc7 45 bxc7 Kxc7 46 Ke5 Kd7 47 d5!, breaking up the pawn base and winning on account of the king’s position.’
Důras too had recommended 40 Rb6 (‘!!’) on pages 23-24 of the February 1928 Československý Šach, although under the misapprehension that Black’s 39th move was …f4 rather than …g4.
Capablanca v Tartakower, New York, 1924 is, with its remarkable rook ending, one of the most famous games in chess literature, yet the first time it was published was in 1987. That, at least, is the assertion on page 159 of Scaccomania by M. Fox and R. James (Milan, 1988), which gave the score and added: ‘nel 1987, la vedova di Capa, Olga Capablanca Clark, mise in vendita il manoscritto della partita fino ad allora inedita.’
Our thanks to Alessandro Nizzola (Mantova, Italy) for pointing out this strange mistranslation from page 109 of the original, The Complete Chess Addict.
For the late 1930s game preserved by Olga Capablanca, see The Genius and the Princess.
From page 11 of The World Chess Championship: 1951 by W. Winter and R.G. Wade:
‘Like Bronstein, who drew in a simultaneous game against Capablanca at Kiev in 1936, Botvinnik came up against Capablanca in a simultaneous exhibition in 1925 …’
What is known about Capablanca v Bronstein?
Genna Sosonko (Amsterdam) has kindly asked David Bronstein whether he once drew a game against Capablanca in a simultaneous display. Here is Bronstein’s reply:
‘I never played a simul game against Capablanca. I may have been present at the 1936 Kiev event but I certainly did not participate. It is possible that I did see Capablanca there, but if someone had told me that it was Bohatirchuk I would probably have believed him. At the time I was 12 years old and although I did already play chess I was more interested in soccer in those days.’
From page 84 of From Morphy to Fischer by Al Horowitz (London, 1973), in a discussion of Capablanca’s performance at New York, 1927:
‘… the situation reached the height of absurdity in his game with Nimzowitsch, where he had to send a message to his opponent (?) through the tournament director to make better moves or he would be unable, with the best will in the world, to avoid winning!’
Horowitz had written similarly on page 206 of Chess Review, July 1949:
‘The prearranged draw is really the blight upon the game. Even some of the greatest masters are guilty of this sin. On good authority comes the story of the Capablanca-Nimzowitsch, New York 1927, fiasco and its hilarious overtones. Capablanca, having first prize clinched, the story goes, agreed to draw with Nimzowitsch. In so doing, Capablanca would avert the effort and Nimzowitsch would insure half a point against the invincible Capablanca. Hence, both were satisfied. The game, however, did not follow conventional lines and Nimzowitsch mangled the defense. Capa was embarrassed! He requested the referee to intervene and advise Nimzowitsch to improve his play. Otherwise, Capablanca would be compelled to win!’
In the following issue (August 1949, page 225) Norbert Lederer commented:
‘In fairness to Capa, it should be noted that he had already secured first prize since he had a three and a half point lead with only three games to play; these were against Alekhine, Nimzowitsch and Vidmar. Capa announced that, in order not to appear favoring one of the three, who were all in the running for second or third prize, he would play for a draw against each of them, and he so informed me as tournament director. Needless to say, I did not relish this attitude, but there was little I could do about it.
During his game with Capablanca, Nimzowitsch indulged in some fancy play and found himself with a practically lost position. Capa then not only asked me to warn his opponent, but actually had to dictate the next four or five moves which Nimzowitsch played with great reluctance as he suspected a double-cross. However, he did follow instructions and a draw was reached four moves later.’
Capablanca referred to the matter in his tournament report in the New York Times, 27 March 1927, pages 1 and 4:
‘Our game with Vidmar needs only a few remarks. The peculiar position in which we found ourselves with regard to the other three leading competitors made us decide to exert ourselves to play for draws unless our opponents threatened to win, since any defeat at our hands would put any one of them out of the running for a prize, without any benefit to ourselves. Our opponent being satisfied to draw, the game could only have one result.
… The same remarks about our game with Vidmar in the previous round apply to our game with Nimzowitsch, except that here we had a chance to win, of which we did not avail ourselves.’
From the Preface (page vi) of How to Play Better Chess by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1948):
‘But the present type of book – one intended for players who are beyond the beginning stage – is much more difficult to write. How does one select the subject matter?! What A needs to know is familiar to B and of no interest to C.
Looking at earlier books is of no great help. Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals does not indicate any awareness of the problems involved. He does not bother, for example, to explain the moves of the pieces, the nature of checkmate, the details of the chess notation! Yet his book devotes three pages to an ending which has occurred only once, to my knowledge, in the whole history of master play. Again, eight pages are spent on the mate with bishop and knight and the win with queen against rook – although most of us play chess for a whole lifetime without once encountering these problems!
In Lasker’s Manual of Chess we find the same lack of selectivity. The book is long, and demands considerable reading time. It contains pages and pages of abstruse philosophical thinking, which is interesting but of no use to a beginner. There are many composed endings which are artistic but of no practical value; yet Lasker gives slight attention to the endings that actually occur in real games; and he (intentionally!) skimps the openings rather badly.’
There follow three unknown games lost by Capablanca in a simultaneous display in Yurev. (A few years later, the city changed its name to Tartu; located in Estonia, it is also known by its German name, Dorpat.)
José Raúl Capablanca – Kurt Baron Ungern-Sternberg
Yurev, 1 January 1914 [19 December 1913 old style]
1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d3 Bc5 4 Nc3 Nc6 5 f4 d6 6 Nf3 a6 7 Qe2 Bg4 8 Be3 Nd4 9 Bxd4 Bxd4 10 Nd1 Nh5 11 c3 Nxf4 12 Qc2 Bxf3 13 gxf3 Qh4+ 14 Kd2
14…Bg1 (An artistic move, particularly since the bishop subsequently returns to g1 to lock out the other white rook on h1.) 15 b4 Qg5 16 Kc1 Nxd3+ 17 Kb1 Nf4 18 Kb2 Bb6 19 Nf2 Qg2 20 Nd3 Nxd3+ 21 Bxd3 Qxc2+ 22 Kxc2 h5 23 a4 Rh6 24 a5 Ba7 25 b5 Bc5 26 bxa6 bxa6 27 Rab1 Rg6 28 Rhd1 Kd7 29 Bc4 Rf6 30 Rd3 Rf4 31 Bd5 Rf8 32 Bb7 Rh4 33 Bxa6 Rxh2+ 34 Rd2 Rxd2+ 35 Kxd2 h4 36 Bb5+ Ke7 37 a6 h3 38 Rh1 Rh8 39 Bf1 h2 40 Ke2
40…Bg1 41 Kd2 Kd7 42 c4 Kc6 43 c5 Bxc5 44 Bc4 Bg1 45 Bxf7 Rf8 46 White resigns.
Source: Nordlivländische Zeitung, 28 February 1914 (new style).
José Raúl Capablanca – A. Jürgenstein
Yurev, 1 January 1914 [19 December 1913 old style]
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 d3 h6 5 f4 Nc6 6 Nf3 d6 7 Na4 Bb6 8 Nxb6 axb6 9 O-O Na5 10 fxe5 dxe5 11 Qe2 Nxc4 12 dxc4 Bg4 13 b3 Bxf3 14 gxf3 Qd4+ 15 Be3 Qd7 16 a4 O-O 17 Rad1 Qe6 18 Qg2 Nh5 19 Rd5 c6 20 Rd3 f5 21 Qh3 Qg6+ 22 Kh1 fxe4 23 Rg1 Rxf3 24 Qh4 Qf5 25 Rd8+ Rxd8 26 Qxd8+ Kh7 27 Qd2 Qh3 28 Bf2 Nf4 29 Bxb6 e3 30 Qd6 Qxh2+ 31 White resigns.
Source: Nordlivländische Zeitung, 14 March 1914 (new style).
The third game must, we believe, take its place as the shortest known Capablanca defeat, decisively ousting the familiar 1 b4 encounter Capablanca v Kevitz, Brooklyn, 7 March 1924 (a simultaneous game lost by the Cuban in 13 moves).
José Raúl Capablanca – A. Kramer
Yurev, 1 January 1914 [19 December 1913 old style]
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 d3 d6 5 f4 Ng4 6 fxe5 Nf2 7 Qf3 O-O 8 Qg3 Nxh1 9 Qf3 Qh4+ 10 White resigns.
Source: Nordlivländische Zeitung, 14 March 1914 (new style).
On 14 February 1914 the Zeitung reported that during the display the Cuban had been suffering from a cold.
Our collection contains a couple of sheets of stationery with Capablanca indicated as the editor of Chess Features, but we lack information about the context:
See too C.N. 7380.
From pages 30-31 of the March-April 1946 American Chess Bulletin:
‘In 1927 Alekhine played again in New York and he was in a position to make good his challenge, because he had succeeded in interesting the chess circles of Buenos Aires in the match. However, he was fairly hard put to finish second in the tournament.
He explained after the match with Capablanca that in New York he had purposely not played his best in order to mislead the Cuban. However, I am sure this was one of his curious childish attitudes and in reality he played as well as he knew how.’
From Dale Brandreth (Yorklyn, DE, USA):
‘What is the earliest publication of a Capablanca game, excluding any games played in Cuba (which would not have been widely noticed at the time)? The American Chess Bulletin (May 1905, page 204) gave a game from the 1901 match in Havana against Juan Corzo, but the second volume of Bachmann’s Schachjahrbuch für 1905 (page 223) has the game Capa played at the Manhattan Chess Club on 5 January 1905 against J.D. Redding, together with a little item about him entitled “Ein neues Schachgenie”. This 29-move win for Capa is game 167 in The Unknown Capablanca, which took the score from the New York Tribune of 8 January 1905.’
It may also be noted from page 125 of a Rice Gambit Souvenir Supplement in the American Chess Bulletin (1905) that Capablanca (Black) played several offhand games against I. Rice and H. Keidanz which began as follows: 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 g5 4 h4 g4 5 Ne5 Nf6 6 Bc4 d5 7 exd5 Bd6 8 O-O Bxe5 9 Re1 Qe7 10 c3 Nh5 11 d4 Nd7 12 Bb5 Kd8 13 Bxd7 Bxd7 14 Rxe5 Qxh4 15 Rxh5 Qxh5 16 Bxf4 Re8 17 Be5 Qf5.
Under the heading ‘Concentration of errors’, C.N. 93 stated:
On page 64 of Meet the Masters by M. Euwe the match Capablanca-Corzo is discussed:
‘In 1900, when only 12 years old, he beat J. Corzo by four games to nil, with six draws, in a match for the championship of Cuba.’
In fact, the match took place in 1901, not 1900. Capa was 13, not 12; he lost three games, not zero; the match was not for the championship of Cuba.
The year of the match seems to have caused widespread confusion on account of Capablanca’s statement in My Chess Career that he was 12, whereas he celebrated his 13th birthday just after the match had started. Nonetheless, the date 1900 appears only in the index; it is hardly fair to claim that Capablanca forgot the year of the match himself – the facts, correct in all particulars, are given in his book of the Havana, 1913 tournament.
‘Botvinnik-Capablanca, Amsterdam 1938’ is the game heading in Jewish Chess Masters on Stamps by F. Berkovich (Jefferson, 2000), page 108, i.e. in the section written by N. Divinsky. It is an elementary mistake, commonly seen. Botvinnik’s famous brilliancy was played (on 22 November 1938) in Rotterdam, as is recorded by many contemporary sources (e.g. page 106 of Euwe’s book on the tournament).
The bibliography of the Berkovich book (page 132) contains some improbable references, such as items purportedly written by L. Shamkovich and D. Spanier in 1935 and 1934 respectively.
Quiz question: how many games did Capablanca lose in Amsterdam at the AVRO tournament of 1938?
This portrait comes from opposite page 112 of Analysen van A.V.R.O.’s wereld-schaak-tournooi by M. Euwe (Amsterdam, 1938). It is one of several tournament books which show that the Cuban’s losses were as follows:
A list of dates and venues is on pages 299-300 of the October 1938 Tijdschrift van den Koninklijken Nederlandschen Schaakbond:
The answer to the quiz question is thus that Capablanca lost one game in Amsterdam, against Euwe, but it is often misstated that the other three defeats also occurred in the Dutch capital. For instance:
Chess Strategy for the Tournament Player by L. Alburt and S. Palatnik (New York, 2000), page 190
Keres move by move by Z. Franco (London, 2017), page 94
Das Schachgenie Aljechin by I. and W. Linder (Berlin, 1992), page 251
Aleksander Alechin by K. Pytel (Warsaw, undated), page 150
The Sunday Times Book of Chess by R. Keene (Aylesbeare, 2005), page 30
Mikhail Botvinnik by A. Soltis (Jefferson, 2014), page 111.
From page 109 of Lessons in Chess Strategy by Valeri Beim (London, 2003):
‘… throughout history Capablanca, as no other player has managed to do, played the greatest number of important games that help us understand the very essence of the game of chess.’
Who wrote the following?
‘You must be prepared to lose hundreds of games before you qualify yourself as a first-class player.’
The writer was not Capablanca but H. Peachey, on page 61 of Everybody’s Guide to Chess and Draughts (London, 1896).
The Cuban did, of course, express similar sentiments several decades later, and they have been widely quoted, ‘sourcelessly’. See, for instance, page 277 of The Chess Companion by Irving Chernev.
We recall two places where Capablanca made such a remark. Firstly, in the ‘Chess Maxims’ section of A Primer of Chess (page 73 of the London, 1935 edition):
‘You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player.’
Secondly, Capablanca declared in his Last Lectures (page 65 of the New York, 1966 edition and page 69 of the London, 1969 edition):
‘Remember that it is necessary to lose hundreds of games in order to become a good player.’
On page viii of Wonders and Curiosities of Chess (New York, 1974) Irving Chernev wrote that his various columns had ‘created a great deal of interest in the happenings in “the small flat world of chess”, as Gilbert Highet phrased it’.
‘The small, flat world of the chessboard’ was Highet’s phrase in an article, ‘Chess Men’, on pages 18-22 of The Joys of Chess by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1961). A footnote on page 18 stated ‘Copyright 1957 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Reprinted by permission’, but despite owning nearly all of Highet’s books, including about a dozen inscribed copies, we have been unable to trace that article in any of them.
Nor have we yet found the source of a Highet quote reproduced by Chernev in two of his books (i.e. on page 227 of Combinations The Heart of Chess and page 278 of The Chess Companion):
‘Some of Capablanca’s finest games remind me of the compositions of de Falla in their blend of intricacy, elusiveness, dignity and basic simplicity.’
Gilbert Highet’s obituary in the New York Times of 21 January 1978 described him as a ‘classicist, scholar, critic, poet, author and educator’.
Mark N. Taylor (Mount Berry, GA, USA) reports that Gilbert Highet’s remark about Capablanca and de Falla appeared in an article entitled ‘The Small Flat World’ on pages 235-242 of Highet’s book A Clerk of Oxenford (New York, 1954). It is a different essay from the ‘Chess Men’ one which Reinfeld reproduced in The Joys of Chess and whose source we are still seeking.
From Steve Giddins:
‘In the 18 March 2004 chess column of Tverskaya 13, a newspaper published by the Moscow city government, Anatoly Matsukevich raised a question concerning the origins of the tradition of paying appearance fees to players:
“I do not know for sure, but it appears that it all started at the London tournament of 1922. Having invited Capablanca, the organizers concluded a special agreement with him, under which he would receive a certain sum of money, regardless of his result, and in return for which he undertook ‘to play every game at full strength’.”
I am sceptical about this for several reasons.
1. There is nothing in the tournament book about such an agreement.
2. It seems implausible that English gentlemen of the day would have felt the need to bribe the world champion to give of his best in every game.
3. At London, 1922 Capablanca had short draws with Alekhine and Rubinstein. The report in the BCM commented on the disappointment of the spectators.
4. Even if such an agreement did exist at London, 1922, a fee was paid to Lasker at St Petersburg, 1914, as recorded in Tarrasch’s tournament book.
5. In short, is there any truth in Matsukevich’s story regarding London, 1922, and when was the first case of a player receiving an appearance fee for participating in a tournament?’
We recall no report of Capablanca obtaining an appearance fee for London, 1922. Concerning his draw against Rubinstein, the BCM commented (September 1922 issue, page 337):
‘Naturally the fact that Capablanca and Rubinstein were drawn against one another brought many visitors to the hall, and one can naturally understand their indignation when after 13 moves Capablanca proposed and Rubinstein accepted a draw. This playing to the score, as it is called, is frequently done in international tournaments, but if, as we understand, the wish of the leading masters is that the remuneration should be more in accord with the time devoted and comparative to that obtained in other forms of sport, then such tactics will most certainly not tend to their realization.’
On page 9 of The Times, 18 August 1922 (see page 149 of our book on the Cuban) Capablanca, noting that ‘some of the spectators were evidently displeased’, set out his defence.
As regards St Petersburg, 1914, the financial conditions granted to Lasker were reported by B.E. Maliutin on pages x-xi of Tarrasch’s tournament book. Moreover, on pages 154-155 Tarrasch made his well-known remark that Lasker had received the colossal sum of more than 4,000 roubles for his participation but that this was not too high in view of the quality of his play:
‘Lasker hat für seine Mitwirkung auf dem Turnier vom Komitee eine Riesensumme erhalten, über 4000 Rubel. Ich finde das nicht zu hoch. Wenn man solche Partien spielt!’
Page 221 of the English edition (Yorklyn, 1993) incorrectly called the money ‘a travelling sum’, the translator having confused Riesen (colossal) with Reise (journey). By a circuitous, tentative journey of our own we have calculated that 4,000 roubles then would be roughly $41,500 now.
Having so far found no pre-1914 instances of appearance fees in tournament play, we conclude here with a characteristically dire nineteenth-century space-filler (published in the Kentucky State Journal and reproduced on page 104 of the Columbia Chess Chronicle, 15 November 1889):
‘While most of the professionals advocate the “modern school” they all believe in the more-fee system.’
If any reader has information about the position being studied by Capablanca in this photograph we shall be grateful to know.
From Brad Dassat (Oldham, England):
‘The position being studied by Capablanca appears to be from the game Karel Hromádka v Rudolf Spielmann, Pistyan, 1912, at White’s 18th move.’
Karel Hromádka – Rudolf Spielmann
Pistyan, 28 May 1912
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 f4 d5 4 fxe5 Nxe4 5 Qf3 f5 6 d3 Nxc3 7 bxc3 d4 8 Qg3 Nc6 9 Be2 Be6 10 Bf3 Qd7 11 Rb1 Bc5 12 Rb5 Bb6 13 c4 a6 14 Rb1 O-O-O 15 Ne2 h6 16 h4 g5 17 hxg5 hxg5 18 Rf1 Ba5+ 19 Bd2 Bxd2+ 20 Kxd2 g4 21 Bxc6 Qxc6 22 Nf4 Bf7 23 Rfe1 Rhe8 24 Re2 Re7 25 Rbe1 Qa4 26 e6 Qxa2 27 exf7 Qa5+ Drawn.
C.N. 3447 added a group photograph from Pistyan, 1912.
The picture was discussed on page 46 of the March 1915 American Chess Bulletin:
Lecciones elementales de ajedrez
The most notable instance of the Cuban playing against blind opponents was his simultaneous display at Worcester College (United Kingdom) on 28 October 1919. A report in the Worcester Daily Times of the following day was quoted on pages 63-64 of the 2/1999 Quarterly for Chess History, and below is a photograph which accompanied a feature by W.H. Watts entitled ‘Worcester College for the Blind’ on pages 74-76 of Chess Pie No. 2 (1927):
Chess Pie also published a photograph of Alekhine (fourth from the left) when he gave a simultaneous display at the College on 27 January 1926:
On pages 30-32 of the Social Chess Quarterly, January 1931 the then headmaster, G.C. Brown, discussed the school’s strong performance over the years (‘since the foundation of the Chess Club in 1913, of the 89 matches played against other public schools 85 have been won and one drawn’).
Some further jottings. The March 1884 BCM, page 110 had an item ‘Amusements for the Blind’ about the suitability and usefulness of chess. Similar ground was covered by Henry R. Hatherly on page 432 of the November 1889 BCM, with further discussion by Charles Tomlinson and William Wood on pages 483-484 of the December 1889 issue. Page 105 of the Chess Amateur, January 1907 reported: ‘Quite a feature of chess history is the fact that the Daily Mail edition for the blind includes a weekly chess problem in raised Braille character’, and more information about Braille publications, including a sample text, appeared on page 358 of the September 1907 Chess Amateur. In 1908 (April, page 162) and June (pages 242-244 – an article by T. Salthouse) the BCM covered other practicalities concerning chess for the blind. A future item will turn to a nineteenth-century blind player altogether forgotten today.
On page 35 of the 5/2004 New in Chess Boris Spassky commented during an interview:
‘Capa was an aristocrat. Just take his last will. I was reading from his last will here, because these days people are quite ignorant. First of all he asked his son to be a lawyer, to protect the property. Secondly he said that he should be a very good swimmer and a very good boxer, just to be very confident on the land and on the sea (starts laughing). But most of all he asked his son to love his mother.’
Spassky would appear to be referring not to Capablanca’s ‘last will’ but to a letter he wrote to his son in Havana on 7 October 1925, i.e. when José Raúl junior was not yet three years old. On the other hand, we now note a mistake of our own, for in the English translation of the letter on page 135 of our Capablanca book some words (i.e. the reference to becoming a lawyer) have been lost. Our source for the Spanish original was pages 286-288 of the Cuban magazine Ajedrez Revista Mensual Ilustrada, June-July 1964, and below we give a complete translation:
‘Union Club, Havana, 7 October 1925
My dearest son,
You must keep this letter to read it again when you are 21 because things that you do not know and understand now you will know and understand then. First of all, you must always respect and love your mother above all else. Try never to tell her lies; always tell her the truth. Your father, writing these lines, has a reputation throughout the whole world for being a very honest man – very truthful and honourable. Try to imitate me in all this. Be studious and strong so that you can defend your mother and your sister with your head as well as with your hands. Whatever wishes you may have to study a particular thing, remember that in any case you must become a lawyer before anything else, so that you can defend your own interests and those of your family. After you have become a lawyer you can, if you prefer something else, concentrate on whatever you like. Don’t forget that the best period of a man’s life is when he is a student. As a boy this will not seem so to you, but when you have gone through that stage and reached the age of 40 you will see the truth of what I am telling you. On the physical side, there are two things you must know how to do well – swim and box, so that you can defend yourself at sea as well as on land. This does not mean that you should often fight, but that you must be prepared to do so if necessary.
Try to be a man of wide culture. There is nothing in the world as entertaining as books. It is also necessary to be useful to humanity. If you can avoid it, never play cards, smoke or drink alcohol of any kind. These are bad habits which greatly shorten life and weaken men physically as well as intellectually and morally.
Be an honest and good man.
Your father embraces you with all his love.
The envelope was marked as follows:
‘For my son José Raúl
For a photographic reproduction of part of the letter, as well as a German translation of the full text, see pages 124-125 of Das Schachgenie Capablanca by I. and W. Linder (Berlin, 1988). Capablanca wrote the letter shortly before leaving for Europe and the Moscow, 1925 tournament.
Christian Sánchez (Rosario, Argentina) has sent us a letter written by Capablanca which was presented (and billed as previously unpublished) on page 25 of Magazine Actual, May 1997. Below are the original and our English translation:
‘8 December 1927President of the Club Argentino de Ajedrez
Dr Lizardo Molina Carranza
In my opinion, Dr Alekhine was already proclaimed world champion, not only here but throughout the entire world, from the moment when, through the official match referee, Dr C. Querencio, I sent the letter in which I resigned the final game.
Moreover, in similar cases I have always emphatically opposed any act of public ostentation. It is clear that the organizing committee of the match is applying a different criterion.
Given our difference of views with respect to these matters, permit me to refrain from attending tonight at the Chess Club.
As regards my share of the purse, I am asking Mr Ricardo Illa, the official match treasurer, kindly to retain it for me until I go to his office to collect it.
The context is that on 29 November 1927 Capablanca had written to Alekhine (in French) to resign the 34th and last match game, adding ‘you are therefore the world champion’. The day the above-quoted letter was written to Lizardo Molina Carranza (8 December 1927) Alekhine was ‘officially proclaimed world champion’ at the Club Argentino de Ajedrez, as reported on page 123 of the January 1928 issue of El Ajedrez Americano. After an address by Carranza on the significance of the match, Alekhine spoke, thanking the Club for its work and declaring himself against changes to the world title match rules.
A photograph of the ceremony appeared on page 166 of Match por el título mundial (Buenos Aires, 1978). On the far right is Lizardo Molina Carranza, with Alekhine standing on his right. Ricardo Illa is seated, his hands clasped.
Below is a position from a game which Capablanca won against C.P. Dutt in a simultaneous display (+39 –0 =1) in Bristol on 9 October 1920. It was published on page 7 of the Western Daily Press of 11 October 1920.
26...f6 27 Kd3 b4 28 Bd4 Bd6 29 g3 Kf7 30 Bb6 Ke6 31 Kd4 Be5+ 32 Kc5 Bd6+ 33 Kc6 g5 34 Bc5 Bxc5 35 Kxc5 Ke5 36 Kxb4 Kd4 37 a4 Ke3 38 a5 d4 39 a6 d3 40 a7 d2 41 a8(Q) d1(Q) 42 Qe4+ Kf2 43 f4 Qd6+ 44 Kc4 Qa6+ 45 Kc5 Qa5+ 46 Kd6 Qb6+ 47 Ke7 Qxb3 48 Kxf6 gxf4 49 gxf4 Qc3+ 50 Qe5 Qc6+ 51 Qe6 Qc3+ 52 Kg5 Qg7+ 53 Kf5 Qf8+ 54 Qf6 Qc5+ 55 Kg4 h5+ 56 Kh4 Kf3 57 Qg5 Qf2+ (The newspaper did not mention the much stronger move 57...Qd6.) 58 Qg3+ Qxg3+ 59 hxg3 Resigns.
Did Capablanca play 40 h7 (rather than 40 Kf3)?
Later in the same game ...
... did he blunder away his queen with 49 cxb5 (allowing 49...Qg7+, although Black missed the opportunity)?
To kill off, from the outset, any possible suspense, the answer to both questions is, of course, no. Indeed, the Cuban never played any game which reached remotely similar positions.
C.N. 3429 showed the finish of Capablanca v C.P. Dutt in a simultaneous display (+39 –0 =1) in Bristol on 9 October 1920 (Black having just played 26...f6):
27 Kd3 b4 28 Bd4 Bd6 29 g3 Kf7 30 Bb6 Ke6 31 Kd4 Be5+ 32 Kc5 Bd6+ 33 Kc6 g5 34 Bc5 Bxc5 35 Kxc5 Ke5 36 Kxb4 Kd4 37 a4 Ke3 38 a5 d4 39 a6 d3 40 a7 d2 41 a8(Q) d1(Q) 42 Qe4+ Kf2 43 f4 Qd6+ 44 Kc4 Qa6+ 45 Kc5 Qa5+ 46 Kd6 Qb6+ 47 Ke7 Qxb3 48 Kxf6 gxf4 49 gxf4 Qc3+ 50 Qe5 Qc6+ 51 Qe6 Qc3+ 52 Kg5 Qg7+ 53 Kf5 Qf8+ 54 Qf6 Qc5+ 55 Kg4 h5+ 56 Kh4 Kf3 57 Qg5 Qf2+ 58 Qg3+ Qxg3+ 59 hxg3 Resigns.
Our source for the item, posted in 2004, was page 7 of the Western Daily Press, 11 October 1920:
The same newspaper item (though without the errors in the Forsyth notation) was published the same day on page 4 of the Bristol Evening News, and that was the source specified on page 365 of Capablanca in the United Kingdom (1911-1920) by Vlastimil Fiala (Olomouc, 2006):
‘27 Ke3 g4 28 Be4 Be6 29 b3 Kc7 30
Bd3 Kd6 31 Ke4 Bd5+ 32 Kf5 Be6+ 33 Kf6 b5 34 Bf5 Bxf5 35 Kxf5
36 Kxg4 e4 37 h4 Kd6 38 h5 Kd7 39 h6 e3 40 h7 e2 41 h8(Q) e1(Q) 42 Qd4+ Kc7 43 c4 Qe6+ 44 Kf4 Qh6+
45 Kf5 Qh5+ 46 Ke6 Qg6+ 47 Ke7 Qxg3 48 Qxa7+ Kc8 49 cxb5 cxb5 50 Qc5+ Kb8 51 Qxb5+ 1-0.’
The ‘instructive’ nature of the episode lies elsewhere. Misled by how the press had used the Forsyth notation, Fiala gave a mirror-image of the initial endgame position (obviously wrong, since 26...c6 cannot occur when the Sicilian Defence has been played). The reflected image meant that the score had to be ‘corrected’ throughout, and when 36...K-Q5 was interpreted as 36...K-K5 a further error turned that alleged move (...Ke4) into ...e4. Despite subsequent guesswork it was naturally impossible to make sense of the remainder of the score, and at move 51 it was not Dutt who gave up but Fiala.
Gene Gnandt (Houston, TX, USA) notes a webpage with detailed information on Clemens Palme Dutt (1893-1975).
From the Preface (page v) to America’s Chess Heritage by W. Korn (New York, 1978):
‘While many opinions in this book might be my own responsibility, I have tried my utmost to verify and review the facts, statements, documents, and relevant writings as referred to; to rectify erroneous beliefs; explode myths; and provide a complete record of any essential American national chess data.’
As early as page 4 the book refers to ‘William Staunton’, with several other obvious errors in that first brief chapter (such as, on page 7, 1875 instead of 1857 as the year of the New York tournament won by Morphy). A passage on page 110 is baffling:
‘The Spaniard Pablo Morán, in Agonía de un Genio, A. Alekhine (Madrid: Edit. Aguileras [sic], 1972), page 55, hints at Capablanca’s family having left Spain for Cuba – shortly after its discovery by Columbus in 1492 – due to the expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Spain, and the latest persecution there of baptized Jewish “Marranos”. Morán thus emphasizes the ongoing contribution to chess by players of Spanish cultural heritage, regardless of past ideologies.’
We cannot imagine how Korn derived any such understanding from Morán’s book, which merely contained (in a footnote) the following text:
‘Steinitz y Lasker fueron también de origen semita. En cuanto a Capablanca, cubano de origen español, tal vez tuviese alguna gota de sangre judía, como la tenemos todos los españoles, ya que cuando fueron expulsados de nuestra patria en el siglo XV fueron muchos los que se quedaron y mezclaron con el pueblo.’ [English translation: ‘Steinitz and Lasker were also of Semitic origin. As regards Capablanca, a Cuban of Spanish origin, perhaps he had a drop of Jewish blood, as all we Spaniards have, given that when they [i.e. the Jews] were expelled from our country in the fifteenth century many remained and mixed with the people.’]
C.N. 3481 quoted some assertions by Walter Korn about Capablanca’s origins. Another passage on the Cuban’s ancestry was on pages 48-49 of volume one of Capablanca, Leyenda y Realidad by Miguel A. Sánchez (Havana, 1978). Below is the translation given on page 134 of our book on Capablanca:
‘The son of a major in the Spanish army, a native of Navarra, José María Capablanca was a peaceable man urged into the army at the inviolable wish of his father. He was born in Bayamo on 21 January 1862 and 22 years later, on 19 May 1884, he wed the matancera María Graupera Marín, the great-granddaughter of Tranquilino Sandalio de Noda, the learned naturalist. The marriage gave 11 children, but in early 1892 only three of them were taking their first steps: Salvador (born in 1885), José Raúl (19 November 1888) and Alicia (1890).’
We have now been in correspondence with Manuel González Dávila (Madrid) and Fernando Capablanca (Miami, FL, USA). The latter, the son of Aquiles Capablanca, is a nephew of Capa. We begin by quoting our Spanish correspondent’s contribution:
‘Capablanca is an extremely rare surname in Spain. Spaniards have two surnames, and today only 29 people living in Spain have Capablanca as their first surname (i.e. that of their father), and only 24 have it as their second surname (i.e. that of their mother). Of the 29, 14 are of Spanish nationality. All those in the group of 24 are Spanish. These are official figures, obtained from the INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, the Spanish Central Statistical Office).
Fernando Capablanca has carried out a great deal of research and even checked many baptism records (at the main church in Valdepeñas), supplementing them with information gathered from the Archivo General Militar (the Central Register Office of the Spanish Army) in Segovia. It can be reported that Capa’s grandfather, Tadeo Capablanca Broca, was born in Valdepeñas (province of Ciudad Real, Spain). He was married to Bernarda Fernández Brieva and he died in 1885. In the Spanish army he was a “Comandante”, i.e. a commanding officer or commander, usually translated into English as major.
Fernando Capablanca has also told me, with regard to Capa’s father:
“He was actually born in Cuba at the time when Cuba was a province of Spain (and it could therefore be said that he was ‘Spanish’ and not Cuban). In fact, Capa was, technically, also born in Cuba, Spain because he was born in 1888, when Cuba was a Provincia Real – never a Colony. Ironically, I found a letter from my grandfather asking the army HQ to transfer him back to Spain in 1896, a couple of years before the Spanish-American War. The request was refused, and he therefore had to stay in Cuba, where my father and the later siblings were born under a Republic. It seems that half of my uncles and aunts were born in Cuba, Spain and the other half in Cuba, Cuba.”
As regards C.N. 3481, there is obviously almost no relationship between Korn’s passage and Morán’s. Morán’s remark that all Spaniards have a drop of Jewish blood is a very general comment often used in Spain, referring not only to Jews but also Arabs, for instance. It is not a scientific fact (there is no statistical answer to the question, “How many Spaniards have a Jewish ancestor?”).
However, in the light of the research by Fernando Capablanca, I do not think that this is the case if we refer to the surname Capablanca. I have checked this possibility with a relative of mine (my uncle José Antonio Dávila, who is an expert in genealogy, lineage and nobility). It seems to him wholly unreasonable to suppose that the surname Capablanca would have been chosen by a Jew remaining in Spain (based upon the many historical studies that have been made on that subject).
With respect to Korn’s statement about “Capablanca’s family having left Spain for Cuba – shortly after its discovery by Columbus in 1492 – due to the expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Spain, and the latest persecution there of baptized Jewish “Marranos”, I know of no facts to corroborate that.’
Fernando Aquiles Capablanca (Miami, FL, USA) has informed us:
‘I did some research myself at the military archives in Segovia, Rome and Malta. As far as I have been able to determine, the earliest record of any Capablanca arriving in Cuba was my great-grandfather (José Raúl’s grandfather) circa 1830. It also appears that the name was originally Cappabianca from the town of Aversa, near Naples, Italy and transferred to Spain (under the Bourbon Empire) in the early sixteenth century. In fact, I received a document from Malta which may suggest that some of the early members of the family were Crusaders and members of the Order of Malta, as appears to be the case with one Dessio Cappabianca. I often wonder if the name itself refers to the Crusaders’ custom of using a white cape (Cappa Bianca) with the red cross emblazoned on the cape. My grandmother, María Graupera, was Catalonian. I have never come across any papers that would lend support to the theory that my ancestors arrived in Cuba with, or shortly after, Columbus, although it appears now that Columbus himself was either a member of, or was sponsored by, the Order of Malta (not to be confused with the Templars), as indicated by the red cross on the sails of the caravels in which he sailed. I have not seen anything either that would indicate a Jewish connection, and it seems to be unsupported speculation to say otherwise. By the way, I also found baptismal records of many of my ancestors at the main church in Valdepeñas, Spain (La Mancha region, south of Madrid).’
From Christian Sánchez:
‘C.N. 3500 presented a summary of what is known about Capablanca’s origins, and I note that page 156 of the April 1922 issue of “Our Folder” had similar information, given by Capablanca himself:
“Jose Raoul Capablanca was born in Havana, Cuba, November 19th, 1888, and was educated at Columbia University, New York City. He married in Havana, December 29th, 1921, Senorita Gloria Simoni, a member of one of the oldest Cuban families, with an estate at Camaguey. His father, Jose Capablanca, was born in 1863, in Bayamos, Cuba, and is an officer in the Cuban Army. In 1884 he married Matilda Maria Graupera, who was born in Matanzas City, Cuba.
Of his four grandparents, three were born in Spain and one in Cuba.
Mr Capablanca’s early ancestors were Italians, the name was originally Cappa Bianca, meaning White Cloak. They settled in Spain during the reign of Charles IV, and the name became Capablanca.”
The last paragraph indicates that the family was well aware of its Italian origins.
Page 157 has a photograph of Capablanca and his bust, modelled by the famous sculptor Gleb Derujinsky. The article is on Capablanca’s simultaneous display in Philadelphia on 25 February 1922 and includes several endings unknown to me. The only game which I found in databases is wrong: Capablanca v John Welsh Young. The periodical has the correct finish.’
Mr Sánchez has provided the pages in question:
Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) notes at the Gallica website a fine version of the photograph discussed in C.N.s 6583 and 7803.
See too Chess Statues and Sculpture.
Footage of old events (such as living chess displays featuring Capablanca and Alekhine, against Sir George Thomas and Bogoljubow respectively) can be viewed at the following site: http://www.britishpathe.com/.
Let it be imagined for a moment that C.N. 3589, the ‘Queen trapped’ item, had been altogether different. Supposing that it asserted that the shortest game given there, 1 e4 e6 2 d4 Qf6 3 e5 Qf5 4 Bd3, had occurred in a simultaneous exhibition, with Capablanca as Black, and that, upon resigning at move four, the Cuban had furiously overturned the board, injuring two spectators (one of them seriously) and screaming, ‘Chess is not a game, science or sport, but a loathsome waste of time’. End of item. Incredulous readers would obviously then have asked us to specify our grounds for disseminating such a story and would, no doubt, have expressed shock that, in any case, we had not given chapter and verse unprompted. Where did we believe the display had taken place? From which publication had the game-score been taken? How did we know what Capablanca had shouted? But let it be further assumed that we steadfastly ignored all such enquiries and demands, simply deciding that we had written enough and leaving it to other authors or researchers to pursue the matter if they so wished.
The practical outcome of such an episode would be self-evident: whatever reputation this column may have built up over the years for concern about truth, accuracy and decency would, overnight, be in tatters. Yet although the above Capablanca yarn is, intentionally, an extreme invention, its essence corresponds exactly to what is seen day after day regarding chess history and chess masters: unconfirmed game-scores, uncorroborated facts, unproven anecdotes and unsubstantiated quotations. The only difference is that, unless the circumstances are spectacularly outlandish, few eyebrows are raised.
In C.N. 3160 we commented: ‘Proper sources are not optional extras or lace frills; they are required as an integral part of chess writing.’ The remark came back to mind a few days ago when John Donaldson (Berkeley, CA, USA) kindly sent us the following photograph of Capablanca and A.J. Fink:
Mr Donaldson also referred us to a simultaneous game between the two, included in his article on a webpage.
The game, a draw in San Francisco on 11 April 1916, intrigued us, because after its appearance on page 212 of The Games of José Raúl Capablanca by R. Caparrós (Yorklyn, 1991) we marked our copy with a note that at move 35 Capablanca had a forced win (a forced mate, in fact) by capturing on f7. At the time we wished to verify the accuracy of the game-score but were unable to ascertain Caparros’ source. He specified (see pages 154 and 277) that it was one of many games gleaned from ‘local papers and chess magazines’. That was all: ‘local papers and chess magazines’. No titles or dates, let alone page numbers. Other categories of sources vaguely lumped together by Caparrós were ‘Cuban papers’, ‘Cleveland papers’, ‘private research’ and ‘untraceable source’.
John Donaldson has been searching various likely sources for the game, without success so far, which means that it is still not known whether Capablanca really missed such an obvious win at move 35. The score as presented by Caparrós runs: 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 Be7 5 Bf4 Nf6 6 e3 a6 7 Rc1 O-O 8 Bd3 dxc4 9 Bxc4 Na5 10 Bd3 c5 11 dxc5 Bxc5 12 O-O Nc6 13 Ne4 Be7 14 Qc2 Nb4 15 Nxf6+ gxf6 16 Bxh7+ Kg7 17 Qb1 f5 18 Rfd1 Qe8 19 Bxf5 exf5 20 Nd4 Nd5 21 Nxf5+ Bxf5 22 Qxf5 Nxf4 23 Qxf4 Rh8 24 Rc7 Rd8 25 Rxd8 Qxd8 26 Qg4+ Bg5 27 Rxb7 Rh4 28 Qf3 Be7 29 b3 Rh6 30 g3 Qd6 31 h4 Rf6 32 Qg4+ Rg6 33 Qf5 Qd1+ 34 Kg2 Bxh4 35 Qf3 Qxf3+ 36 Kxf3 Bf6 37 Rb6 Bc3 38 Rxg6+ Kxg6 39 Kg4 Kf6 40 f4 Ke6 41 e4 f6 42 Kf3 a5 43 Ke3 Be1 44 g4 Kd6 45 g5 fxg5 46 fxg5 Ke5 47 g6 Drawn. It will be noted that Mr Donaldson’s article gave White’s 33rd move as Qf4, not Qf5. In either case this would mean that Capablanca overlooked a forced mate, but a suggestion now from Richard Forster (Zurich), supported by Mr Donaldson, is that it is far more likely that Capablanca played a third move, 33 Qe4, after which the rest of the game makes sense and no mating line was missed. Whether any error in the moves was a mistranscription by Caparrós has yet to be discovered.
Adolf Jay Fink (1890-1956) was best known as a problemist, and it may be wondered whether, in the photograph above, Capablanca was studying one of his compositions. Page 53 of Chess Pie (1922) stated, ‘Fink is a strong chessplayer and has drawn twice with Capablanca in simultaneous exhibitions’, but it seems that the other game has not been traced.Caparrós’ book on Capablanca can be relied upon for nothing, and below is another score from the same page as the Fink game: 1 f4 d5 2 e3 e6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 b3 c5 5 Bb2 Nc6 6 Bb5 Nd7 7 O-O f6 8 d3 Qc7 9 Nbd2 a6 10 Bxc6 bxc6 11 Nh4 g6 12 e4 Rg8 13 f5 e5 14 fxg6 hxg6 15 Nxg6 Rxg6 16 Qh5 Kf7 17 Nf3 Kg7 18 Nh4 Rg5 19 Nf5+ Kg8 20 Qe8 Bb7 21 Qe6+ Kh8 22 Rf3 Rh5 23 Rg3 Rh6 24 Qf7 Resigns. This, Caparrós stated, occurred between Capablanca and A.M. Isaacson, in New York, 1915, and it has been unquestioningly copied by various databases, but if the score is correct Capablanca missed 24 Qg8 mate. Did he really? It seems obvious that Black played 23...Bh6 rather than 23...Rh6 but, again, Caparrós gave no proper source for the game, merely indicating (see pages 154 and 278) ‘Pittsburgh papers’. A ‘revised 2nd edition’, published by Chess Digest, Texas in 1994, was also dire.
Further to the quoted statement from Chess Pie,1922 that Fink had scored two draws against Capablanca in simultaneous exhibitions, Neil Brennen (Malvern, PA, USA) cites from the Pittsburgh Gazette-Times of 11 June 1916 the following remark by Fink: ‘masters I have met include Capablanca, Marshall and Kostić, a draw from each in simultaneous play’. This means, assuming that the Chess Pie reference to two games was correct, that a second draw between Capablanca and Fink occurred between mid-1916 and 1922, but when?
C.N. 3594 reported Richard Forster’s suggestion, to make sense of the game-score, that at move 33 Capablanca played Qe4, and not Qf4 or Qf5. Now Neil Brennen informs us that the same suggestion was made by Frisco Del Rosario on page 19 of the California Chess Journal, November/December 2002, as follows: ‘Maybe Capablanca played 33 Qe4, which ties the black queen to the bishop, and watches the white squares on the kingside.’
From page 25 of the American Chess Bulletin, February 1909:
A youth with the genius of Morphy, the memory of Pillsbury and the determination of Steinitz; of robust health which he values above rubies; full of a modest joy of living and possessor of habits of life that square with a sensible ideal – as adversary for the present and invincible champion of the world.
Unto such an [sic] one will come support unlimited, friends by the legion, imperishable glory and, possibly, Victory!’
Irving Chernev wrote on page 45 of Curious Chess Facts (New York, 1937):
‘In its issue of February 1909, the American Chess Bulletin carried this appeal: “Wanted – a youth with the genius of Morphy, the memory of Pillsbury, the determination of Steinitz, etc.”
They received a quick reply to this advertisement (the terms of which seemed so difficult) when their own pages recorded, a few months later, the decisive victory of Capablanca, the new chess star, in a match with Marshall.’
Page 51 of the May-June 1937 American Chess Bulletin commented:
‘... Curious Chess Facts misses the point. The underlying thought of that passage, written in the heyday of Dr Lasker’s phenomenal career, was the utter impossibility of anyone, except a superman, winning from him. It was the best we could do at that time in the way of a compliment to tremendous prowess.’
It may, though, be wondered to what extent Chernev really missed the point; certainly he made similar use of the 1909 Bulletin item on pages 37-38 of Wonders and Curiosities of Chess (New York, 1974), as did Fred Reinfeld in the first paragraph of his biography of the Cuban on page 1 of The Immortal Games of Capablanca (New York, 1942).
In contrast, an author who definitely missed the point was Mario Leoncini, on page 43 of Aneddoti di scacchi (Brescia, 2003). After quoting from the Bulletin ‘advertisement’ he bafflingly concluded, ‘It was very difficult to satisfy all the conditions, but many replies came in’. (‘Era molto difficile soddisfare tutte le condizioni ma arrivarono molte risposte.’)
This rare illustration of Capablanca, ‘the young Cuban chess wonder’, is taken from The Topeka Daily State Journal of 7 December 1909:
A better version of the illustration in C.N. 3742 from page 12 of the Topeka Daily State Journal, 7 December 1909:
Having acquired this photograph recently, Eric Fisher (Hull, England) asks: ‘Do you have a record of Capablanca’s game with Carus Colliver, played on 18 October 1919?’
We have found no trace of the moves. The occasion was a simultaneous display by the Cuban (+ 35 –3 = 4) in Thornton Heath, England. Colliver (with the initial J.) was listed on page 5 of the Croydon Advertiser of 25 October 1919 as one of those who secured a draw. See also pages 123-125 of the 2/1999 Quarterly for Chess History.
Perhaps a reader could look into the records regarding Colliver’s tenure of the post of ‘Vice-President Surrey County Chess Association’. Capablanca, of course, was not yet ‘Chess Champion of the World’ in 1919, and his photograph in the montage looks to us like a 1922 shot. It is, in any case, the reverse form of a well-known picture to be found on, for instance, page 67 of Chess Strategy and Tactics by F. Reinfeld and I. Chernev (New York, 1933):
We wonder whether any languages have a special (technical) term for the process, favoured for Russian books, whereby photographs are touched up, apparently by a gloved ten-year-old. Particularly ham-fisted examples will be welcomed, and below we repeat from C.N. 3757 (an item which itself discussed picture-tampering) a photograph of Capablanca and place alongside it the version which appeared as the frontispiece to I. Ilyin-Genevsky’s book Match Alekhin-Capablanca (Leningrad, 1927):
The Capablanca picture was also the basis for an Alekhine-Capablanca sketch found in various sources, such as the plate section of Complete Games of Alekhine, volume three by V. Fiala and J. Kalendovský (Olomouc, 1998):
The photograph of Capablanca shown in C.N.s 3757 and 3901 occupied a full page (23) in Modern Master-Play by F.D. Yates and W. Winter (London, 1929) and was also on page 19 of the third and final issue of Chess Pie, published in 1936:
From page 343 of Shakhmaty by I.L. Maizelis (Moscow, 1960):
Paul Valois (Leeds, England) sends us the chess section of The Tablet, 8 November 1919 (page 612), in which the columnist, Father Eugene O’Sullivan, reported on a discussion with Capablanca. We quote the item in full:
‘Philidor, as I stated last week, began to play chess at the age of six [sic]. Capablanca, the present hero of the chess world, began to play and to win games at the age of four. I had the information from his own lips on Wednesday, when I sat by his side for an hour at a banquet given in his honour. There are one or two other items of interest which I proceed to relate. In the course of conversation I produced a copy of The Tablet article on “The King of Games” and asked him to glance through it. He kindly did so and with evident interest. I thereupon asked him whether I might not have the honour of conveying some little message from him to The Tablet. “Yes, certainly”, he replied; “you can say that I agree with the article generally, and very much so with what it says about the beneficial influence of chess upon the mind and general character. Chess is no idle pastime. It is a mind-trainer, a great educator, and as a Catholic myself I am greatly pleased to see the leading Catholic organ of the English-speaking world devoting serious attention to the claims of chess.” I then trespassed further on his kindness and asked him whether he could say a word that might help those readers of The Tablet who were taking an interest in chess but were as yet only beginners or players of moderate strength. “Could you, Señor, recommend to them any particular course of procedure, or any particular books?” “Books!”, he replied; “no. Any handbook will help in the elementary stages, but one can no more acquire proficiency in chess by means of books alone than he can proficiency in music or painting, or any other art or science, by means of books alone. I am bringing out a three-volume treatise myself on ‘The Fundamentals of Chess’. Of course I think it will be a good and helpful book, but – nemo judex in sua causa. No book, however good, can supply the place of the living teacher. Whoever desires to make satisfactory progress should take lessons from one who is skilled in the game, and the more skilled the teacher the more rapid and satisfactory will the progress be.”
“In a general way, Señor, is there any warning or exhortation which you would give to a player of moderate skill who is desirous of strengthening his play?” “Yes. There are two very common faults to be warned against – one that of the player who is too passive, the other that of the player who is too enterprising. Tell your young Tablet friends to avoid a too passive style as the Devil avoids holy water. The Devil is to be pitied in an atmosphere of holy water; so is a chessplayer in an atmosphere of passivity. No progress is possible for a player with such a style of play. The warning against being too enterprising is for skilled players. Until a fair degree of skill is attained one can hardly be too enterprising, but one can easily be so afterwards, and very often is so. To beginners and players of moderate strength I would say: ‘Don’t be too passive in your play; be enterprising.’ To skilled players I would say: ‘Don’t be too enterprising.’
José Raúl Capablanca
I thought of asking him whether he did not think it better for a man (or woman) to be able to play moderately well than not to be able to play at all. But I did not ask him. He would, I daresay, have agreed with my own opinion that the player of very moderate skill derives quite as much enjoyment and mental exercise from the game as does the skilful master.
Señor Capablanca is in his 31st year. He is a Cuban, of pure Spanish blood. He graduated [not so] at Columbia University. During his present tour in England he has thus far played 920 games in simultaneous performances of 40 each time [not always 40]. He has met the strongest players in London and the provinces in these simultaneous displays. Yet despite the terrible handicap of simultaneity he has lost only 24 games out of this enormous total. And it is not only games of chess that he wins. Wherever he appears Señor Capablanca wins the esteem and affection of everybody by his modesty, his courtesy and his general charm of manner. Vivat!’
Paul Valois has also provided from The Tablet two forgotten specimens of Capablanca’s play. The first, published on 22 November 1919, was introduced as follows:
‘At a simultaneous (40 boards) display given by Capablanca last week, under the auspices of the Thames Valley Chess Club, Father Morgan, of Ashford, Middlesex, put up an excellent fight [as Black]. The game went over 40 moves. After White’s 15th move, the position was as shown in this diagram:
15…b6 16 b4 Nb7 17 Ne4 f5 18 exf6 Bxf6 19 N2c3 c5 20 dxc6 Bxc6 21 Qc4+ d5 22 Qxc6 dxe4 23 Bb2 Rc8 24 Qxb7 Bxc3 25 Bxc3 Rxc3 26 Bxe4 Rxh3 27 Qd5+ Kh8 28 Qxd8 Rxd8 29 Kg2 Rc3 30 Rad1 Rcc8 31 Rxd8+ Rxd8 32 f5 gxf5 33 gxf5 Kg8 34 Kf3 Rd6 35 Rc1 Rd7 36 Kf4 Kf8 37 Rc8+ Ke7 38 Ke5 Nh5 39 Bc6 Nf6 40 Bxd7 Nxd7+ 41 Kf4 Resigns.
... I shall be able to give next week a lively and highly interesting game which a Southwark Catholic drew recently with Capablanca. The game will be given with many notes, which should be of great help to novices and players of moderate strength.’
Noting that the second game did not appear, Mr Valois also provides The Tablet’s chess column of 20 August 1949 (by which time D.M. Davey had taken over from Eugene O’Sullivan, who died in 1948). It included the following:
‘Capablanca’s remarkable insight into position made him excel also at simultaneous displays. On one occasion in 1919 he defeated 39 out of 40, Fr O’Sullivan (my predecessor) being the only player to escape defeat:
José Raúl Capablanca – Eugene O’Sullivan
King’s Gambit Declined
1 e4 e5 2 f4 Bc5 3 Nf3 d6 4 c3 Nf6 5 d4 exd4 6 cxd4 Bb6 7 Nc3 Nc6 8 Bb5 Bd7 9 Be3 Qe7 10 Bd3 Nb4 11 Bb1 d5 12 e5 Ne4 13 Nxe4 dxe4 14 Bxe4 f5 15 Bb1 Nd5 16 Qd2 O-O-O 17 Bf2 Qf8 18 O-O h6 19 a4 a6 20 a5 Ba7 21 Ba2 Be6 22 b4 g5 23 fxg5 hxg5 24 Nxg5 Qh6 25 Nf3 f4 26 h4 Rdg8 27 Kh2 Rg4 28 Rac1 Bb8 29 Rc5 Qg6 30 Rg1
30...Rg3 31 Bxd5 Bxd5 32 Qxf4 Rg4 33 Qf6 Qxf6 34 exf6 c6+ 35 Ne5 Rf4 36 Bg3 Rxf6 37 Rxd5 cxd5 38 Rc1+ Kd8 39 Rc5 Ke7 40 Rxd5 Ke6 41 Rc5 Bd6 42 Rc1 Bxb4 43 Rd1 Kd5 44 Rb1 Bxa5 45 Rxb7 Bd2 46 Nf3 Bf4 Drawn.
And owing to the lateness of the hour Black accepted the proffered draw.’
The reports in The Tablet correspond to no known event, but if they were published on a delayed schedule, and with several factual errors, the likelihood is that both games were played in a display (+36 –0 =4) in Kingston (Surrey) on Wednesday, 29 October 1919. An account on pages 65-66 of the December 1919 Chess Amateur began:
‘Unusual interest was aroused amongst Kingston chessplayers when Señor Capablanca, the world’s champion [sic], paid a visit to Kingston under the auspices of the Thames Valley Chess Club ... Prior to the play Señor Capablanca was entertained to dinner by the committee, the Rev. Father O’Sullivan, vice-president, occupying the chair ...’
The list of defeated players included Rev. W. Morgan. Although Rev. E. O’Sullivan was not listed, a player who drew was Rev. E. ‘Malden’ (with the surname in quotation marks, as for a pseudonym). See also page 64 and pages 132-134 of the 2/1999 Quarterly for Chess History.
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére proposes a tentative reconstruction of the opening of Capablanca v Morgan: 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Bd3 Nc6 4 Ne2 e5 5 c3 Be7 6 O-O O-O 7 h3 exd4 8 cxd4 Bd7 9 Nbc3 Nb4 10 Bb1 Nc6 11 d5 Na5 12 f4 g6 13 e5 Nh5 14 g4 Ng7 15 Qd3.
This illustration appeared on page 497 of The Strand Magazine, May 1914, and we should welcome any information on the occasion:
Page 499 of the same issue had another forgotten photograph of Capablanca, which we reproduce at the start of our Capablanca Goes Algebraic article.
Regarding the latter photograph, see C.N. 10280.
We invite information on a youngster referred to by Nikolai Grekov in his reminiscences quoted (from where?) by J. du Mont on pages 14-16 of Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess by H. Golombek (London, 1947):
‘The following curious episode took place during the 1936 Moscow tournament. In the interval a 13-year-old schoolboy, Pavel Pomoschnikov, approached Capablanca and in fluent French challenged the ex-champion to a game. Not wanting to distress the boy, Capablanca consented. Having lost three games in succession, Pavel Pomoschnikov demanded a handicap of a queen. Capablanca replied that a queen was too much. The boy then solemnly declared that in ten years he would play against Capablanca as an equal and with better success. The Cuban champion advised the young champion to prepare well for the coming match and presented him with an autographed copy of his book on chess.’
From Edward Hamelrath (Dresden, Germany):
Although no additional biographical information comes to mind at this stage, our correspondent’s contribution is an opportunity to raise a point regarding Capablanca’s non-participation in Hamburg, 1910. In chapter IV of My Chess Career (page numbers vary, according to the edition) he wrote:
‘Since reading your book on Capablanca I have become very curious about why he did not play in more major chess tournaments, especially during the period 1911-12, when there were so many great events.’
‘In the summer of 1910 I was invited to take part in the International Tournament at Hamburg. I accepted the invitation, and was ready to start when my physical condition prevented my making the voyage to enter such a strenuous contest. Many comments were made at the time with respect to my withdrawal at the last hour, some of the masters making the silly remark that I had simply been scared away by the strong entry of the tournament. The real reason was, as I have already stated, that I was not in condition to stand such a strain. That I was not afraid, and had no reason to be, I soon proved to the satisfaction of all, when the following year I won the first prize in the strongest tournament that has ever been held: the first San Sebastian tournament.’
Magazines of the time referred to Capablanca’s intended participation in Hamburg, 1910 and to his withdrawal through illness. But what critical comments were made, and which masters accused him of being ‘scared away’?
Many books state that Capablanca studied a thousand rook and pawn endings. The meaning of this in concrete terms is unclear, but what is the source of the story?
Another old matter (see pages 23-24 of Chess Explorations) concerns the position below, which C.N. 1670 gleaned from page 17 of the June 1988 issue of Europa-Rochade:
Capablanca was stated by the German magazine to have had White against an unidentified opponent in an unidentified simultaneous display, and to have won as follows:
1 Qxd8+ Rxd8 2 f8(Q)+ Rxf8 3 Rxf8+ Nxf8 4 Nf7 mate.
Is anything more known about this game?
Concerning living chess, the earliest photograph we have found was included at the end of volume one of Miguel A. Sánchez’s monograph Capablanca, Leyenda y Realidad (Havana, 1978):
‘Se enfrentan Capablanca y Corzo. La partida se reproduce con figuras vivientes. 1912’
However, it was not until Capablanca had lost his world championship title that he became relatively active in living chess. The next photograph shows him with Sir George Thomas at Ramsgate in 1929.
‘Fifty Ramsgate schoolboys, all chessplayers, represented the pieces, and players were mounted on ladders – the type used by tennis umpires’, was the description on page 102 of the May-June 1929 American Chess Bulletin, which also reported on another such spectacle:
‘A “living chess” display was given in the Great Hall of the Regentenbau on 19 August. It was said to be the best ever given. Kissingen made it practically a city function. The “pieces” wore old Bavarian costumes, and their movements were directed by the court jester. The chess side of it was naturally arranged for spectacular purposes. Dr S. Tarrasch played a “skittle” game against E.D. Bogoljubow, and then J.R. Capablanca took the black forces against F.J. Marshall, this game ending in a draw by perpetual check, the white queen making the necessary moves to that end.’
More information about that occasion will be welcomed.
The following year Capablanca played twice against Rudolf Elstner at the Lunapark, Berlin. Both games were prematurely broken off but were given in a brief news item on pages 236-237 of the August 1930 Deutsche Schachzeitung:
José Raúl Capablanca – Rudolf Elstner
Berlin, 19 July 1930
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 d6 5 c3 f5 6 exf5 Bxf5 7 d4 e4 8 d5 exf3 9 dxc6 b5 10 Qxf3 Bxb1 11 Bb3 Bg6 12 O-O Be7 13 Re1 Nf6 14 Bg5 Rf8 15 Qh3.
Rudolf Elstner – José Raúl Capablanca
Berlin, 20 July 1930
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Bd3 c5 5 exd5 Qxd5 6 Kf1 Bxc3 7 bxc3 Nf6 8 Qf3 c4 9 Be2 O-O 10 Ba3 Re8 11 Nh3 Qxf3 12 Bxf3 Nd5 13 Bxd5 exd5 14 Nf4 Be6 15 Re1 Nd7 16 f3 Nf6 17 Kf2.
Below are two photographs of Capablanca in Berlin:
The scores of the above-mentioned games against Thomas and Steiner can be found on pages 114-115 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975). As regards moving pictures of the Cuban and Sir George Thomas playing living chess (in 1936), readers are referred to the Pathé link in C.N. 3491.
Jan Kalendovský (Brno, Czech Republic) notes that the first of the photographs in C.N. 4092 had been published on pages 2-3 of the Prager Presse, 3 August 1930, and he also provides a further shot, from an unknown publication.
La Nación, 1 August 1930, page 1
When did Capablanca first acquire the nickname ‘The Chess Machine’? It is difficult, if not impossible, to say, but we can offer the following quotation from page 98 of the May-June 1921 American Chess Bulletin:
‘Capablanca is a veritable chess machine, if ever there was one. Ajeeb, were he in power today, would have to take a back seat, and way back, too. Only a machine could have done with Lasker what the Cuban did at Havana ...’
In a short item on pages 78-79 of All About Chess (New York, 1971) Al Horowitz wrote:
‘If any game is to be dubbed the “Immortal Zwischenzug”, it is this one, played in the great tournament of New York in 1924.’
After Tartakower’s 9 Bxb8 Capablanca played his famous move 9...Nd5.
The front cover of the Russian edition of his autobiography My Chess Career (Leningrad, 1924):
See also Chess Silhouettes.
What is the earliest known sighting of the well-known story about Capablanca turning up in his tennis gear to resume a game of chess against Yates at Hastings? See, for instance, pages 16-17 of The Bright Side of Chess by I. Chernev (Philadelphia, 1948).
We open the bidding with the following ‘once’ version by G. Koltanowski on page 180 of CHESS, 14 January 1936:
‘Capablanca once turned up to play off an adjourned game against Yates, dressed in white flannels and with a tennis racquet in his hand. Didn’t we chuckle when, four hours later, with the darkness of night outside the congress room, he was still playing – chess, not tennis.’
Koltanowski wrote similarly on page 80 of With the Chess Masters (San Francisco, 1972), but on page 24 of Chessnicdotes II (Coraopolis, 1981) he underscored once again his worthlessness as a chronicler by stating that the episode had occurred ‘in the 1929 tournament at Hastings’ in a game between Capablanca and Vera Menchik.
Now an earlier (and, again, different) version by Koltanowski can be presented, from page 122 of the 1 December 1932 issue of his magazine Chess World:
His account in CHESS spoke of ‘the darkness of night’, but now there is a reference to playing tennis ‘this morning’. More substantively, Capablanca and Yates had only one draw in any Hastings tournament, on 4 January 1930. Koltanowski was there, playing in the Premier Reserves event, but since the Cuban’s game against Yates was not adjourned (it lasted only 26 moves), the confusion continues.
Yet another version of Koltanowski’s anecdote, from page 19 of his book Torneo internacional de Hastings 1935-1936 (Barcelona, 1936):
Avital Pilpel (Haifa, Israel) writes:
‘Moshe Czerniak was a strong player also known for his sense of humor and love of the game. Here are some items from the biography of him by Yochanan Afek and Horacio Volman, Ad Ha’ragli Ha’acharon (Fighting to the Last Pawn), which was published in Israel in 2000.
Page 33 has an excerpt from page 59 of Czerniak’s Toldot Ha’shachmat Mi’reshito ve’ad Yameynu (The History of Chess from its Beginnings to the Present), published in Tel Aviv, 1963:
“In the  Olympiad I had the opportunity to play against Capablanca in two games. In the first the champion had an extra pawn, but a slight inaccuracy was enough for him to miss the win. The draw which resulted greatly annoyed him: ‘I can see the headlines: “Capablanca’s getting old”’, he told me. In the second game he showed that this was not the case; his combination stunned me, as if I had been hit over the head.”
Moshe Czerniak and José Raúl Capablanca, Buenos Aires, 1939
Page 41 provides an extract from Czerniak’s Israel Be’olympiadot Ha’Schachmat (Israel in the Chess Olympiads), published in Tel Aviv in 1979:
“My game with the Norwegian Rojahn in the 1939 Olympiad received opposite comments from two world champions. While Alekhine followed it closely (and even published it with his notes), Capablanca dismissed it with a barb: ‘They call this chess, too?’”
Page 83, from page 94 of Czerniak’s above-mentioned history of chess:
“In the Moscow Olympiad of 1956 I lost my game against Szabó. I missed a chance to win, and obviously was not in a great mood. Szabó started explaining that even if I had not missed the crucial combination he would still have had a chance to draw. A young Russian Jew stopped next to our analysis board and said politely but with complete assurance, ‘you wouldn’t have had a chance to draw in that case’, and instantly started to show us the variations which could have occurred, at lightning speed. His analysis was brilliant and convincing. This was how I met Mikhail Tal.”
Page 123 relates Czerniak’s comment after losing a game in his last tournament (in 1984, when he was aged 74), to the 11-year-old Yinon Boim:
“I was the one who played like a child.”’
The periodical Estrategia ran for six issues, from March to August 1942. The chess pages were conducted by Miguel Czerniak and the bridge section by Adolfo A. Gabarret. The April number had an obituary of Capablanca, and on pages 36-38 Czerniak annotated his loss to the Cuban at the Buenos Aires Olympiad, 1939 (see C.N. 4143).
Having awarded Capablanca’s 13 b4 two exclamation marks, he stated that he considered his reply (13...Bxb4) for nearly an hour, before becoming convinced that Capablanca’s combination was incorrect (‘how optimistic I was!’). In a later note he acknowledged that in accepting the sacrifice he had overlooked that at move 20 he would be unable to capture the white knight en prise at d4.
M. Czerniak and J.R. Capablanca, Buenos Aires, 1939
Annotating the game on pages 135-138 of his posthumous book Gran Ajedrez (Madrid, 1947) Alekhine stated that the line from 13 b4 onwards was ‘a very rare instance in modern chess of a master having to calculate so far ahead’.
Page 284 of our book on Capablanca gave his comments on the game which he drew as Black against M. Czerniak in the 1939 International Team Tournament in Buenos Aires, and C.N. 4143 had further information and a photograph.
The moves: 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nd2 d5 [As shown below, in 1943 Czerniak gave 1 d4 d5 2 Nd2 Nf6.] 3 e3 Bg4 4 f3 Bf5 5 c4 c6 6 Qb3 Qc7 7 Ne2 e6 8 Nc3 Bg6 9 e4 dxe4 10 fxe4 e5 11 dxe5 Ng4 12 Be2 Nxe5 13 O-O Nbd7 14 Nd1 Rd8 15 Qh3 Nf6 16 Ne3 Bb4 17 Nf3 Nxe4 18 Nh4 O-O 19 Nef5 Bc5+ 20 Be3 Bxe3+ 21 Qxe3 Nd2 22 Rf4 Rfe8 23 Qc3 f6 24 Rd1 Bxf5 25 Nxf5 Ng6 26 Rd4 Rxd4 27 Qxd4 Rxe2 28 Rxd2 Rxd2 29 Qxd2 h6 30 h3 b6 31 b4 Ne5 32 c5 bxc5 33 bxc5 Qb7 34 Qd8+ Kh7 35 Ne7 Qb1+ 36 Kh2 Qxa2 37 Qc8 Nf3+ 38 Kg3 Nd4 39 Qe8 Ne2+ 40 Kf3 Ng1+ 41 Kg3 [Ne2+ 42 Kf3] Drawn.
Czerniak annotated the game on pages 234-236 of El Ajedrez Americano, September 1943:
A follow-up analytical article was contributed by V. Fernández Coria on pages 367-341 of the December 1943 issue of the Argentinian magazine:
Czerniak also discussed the conclusion in his book El final. Below is what appeared (with a misprinted date) on page 229 of the third edition (Buenos Aires, 1959):
Christian Sánchez points out that the conclusion of the Czerniak v Capablanca game was on page 223 of the first edition of Czerniak’s El final (Buenos Aires, 1941), with the correct date (1939) and a few minor textual differences.
From page 3 of the April 1933 issue of The Chess Reporter:
‘To the historic roster of eminent Masters taking up residence in good old USA must now be added the name of Capablanca.
He told us about it on the 15-mile drive that brought him into Los Angeles the first of the month, following his arrival by SS California from Panama and Cuba. “I am going to live in North America, probably New York City”, said Capablanca. “Among other plans I have incorporated a Chess News Service to furnish syndicate and special service to journals everywhere.”
... Capablanca pulled out a letter from a personal friend, economist he stated of New York’s largest bank, and proceeded to read extracts. He was highly pleased over his financial friend’s prediction that better times are ahead, and seemed particularly glad that New York, the scene of his education and earlier triumph, is his goal.
Strange as it may sound in these modern days, the “social ego” of Capa is absolutely devoid of publicity-hunting, photographs, press-books or ballyhoo ...’
We have no information on the fate of the ‘Chess News Service’ idea.
The earliest illustration we recall seeing of the Cuban wearing glasses is a sketch in the Budapest, 1928 tournament book.
Page 176 of A Chess Omnibus reproduced from page 48 of Chess Pie, 1922 a photograph of the problemist Antonio Bottacchi (1900-69) which, we suggested, bore quite a resemblance to Capablanca:
Michael McDowell (Westcliff-on-sea, England) points out that there was a small photograph of Bottacchi in the ‘Good Companion Chess Board No. 2’ in The Good Companion Two-Mover by G. Hume and A.C. White (Stroud, 1922). Our correspondent also writes:
‘In September 2005 the Italian problemist Oscar Bonivento published a collection of Bottacchi’s problems, Realismo e Romanticismo nell’arte problemistica di Antonio Bottacchi in 432 problemi commentati. It contains four photographs of him. Two of them confirm a certain resemblance between the young Bottacchi and the young Capablanca, although this disappeared over time as the former became rather portly.’
Also on the subject of Capablanca, C.N. 1418 quoted the following from page 157 of the November 1933 American Chess Bulletin:
‘Fritz Haller, one of the younger generation of Swiss chess experts and a participant in class A at the congress in Berne, is said to bear a striking resemblance to José R. Capablanca when the latter was younger. Haller was born on 16 August 1910.’
C.N. 1442 reported that Fritz (Friedrich) Haller had sent us two photographs of himself. In a letter dated 10 June 1987 he commented to us:
‘Personally I have never considered there to be any resemblance between Capablanca and me, but you must judge for yourself.’
The first comprehensive biographical games collection about José Raúl Capablanca (left) was by José Antonio Gelabert (right). It was entitled Glorias del Tablero “Capablanca” (Havana, 1923), and the photographs above appeared in the slightly different second edition, published in 1924.
Tartakower’s oft-quoted commentary on Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine (see, for instance, pages 3, 18 and 29 of the Baden-Baden, 1925 tournament book published by Caissa Editions in 1991) was presented as follows by Koltanowski on page 52 of the Chess Digest Magazine, March 1972:
‘Tartakower, when Alekhine was stunning the chess world in 1930-33, made this witty remark: “Lasker was world champion, Capablanca is world champion, and Alekhine plays like a world champion.’
Since Alekhine became world champion in 1927, this is just another example of Koltanowski’s difficulty with elementary facts.
From an article by the pitifully undependable George Koltanowski, on page 52 of the Chess Digest Magazine, March 1972:
Koltanowski’s reference to Tartakower was given in C.N. 4279, which pointed out that in the 1930s Capablanca was no longer the world champion. We gave mid-1920s references for the remark, and below is what Bernhard Kagan wrote, without identifying the speaker, on page 344 of Kagans Neueste Schachnachrichten, 1 July 1925:
A similar observation (‘Capablanca has the title, Lasker has the results, but only Alekhine has the style of a real world champion’) appeared in an article by Tartakower in issue 4-5 of Shakhmaty, 1925. It was reproduced on page vii of the Baden-Baden, 1925 tournament book by N.I. Grekov (Moscow, 1927):
Elsewhere, Tarrasch has been named in place of Tartakower. From pages 176-177 of The Great Chess Masters and their Games by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1952):
‘It was the St Petersburg International Tournament [in 1914] that catapulted Alekhine to world fame as a grandmaster and not merely a brilliant player. The main object of attention was of course the duel between Lasker and Capablanca, but Alekhine came very near to stealing the show by thrusting Rubinstein, Nimzowitsch and Bernstein aside and then outpacing Tarrasch and Marshall and coming a fine third to Lasker and Capablanca. It was in this famous tournament that Alekhine first displayed that white-hot fusion of logic and fantasy that was to enthrall chessplayers for three decades; that was to prompt Tarrasch to declare later on that “Lasker used to be the world champion, Capablanca is the world champion, but Alekhine plays as a world champion should play.”’
Given that Alekhine, aged 21, finished well behind Lasker and Capablanca at St Petersburg, 1914 (by a margin of 3½ points and 3 points respectively), it is odd to suggest that he ‘came very near to stealing the show’. What Reinfeld termed ‘a fine third’ was called ‘a poor third’ in the entry on Alekhine in the Oxford Companion to Chess (1984 and 1992 editions) and ‘a bad third’ on page 46 of Championship Chess by P.W. Sergeant (London, 1938).
An earlier claim that Tarrasch made the remark about the three world champions was published on page 86 of Chess World, 1 May 1946, in an article, ‘Glimpses of Alekhine’, by M.E. Goldstein:
‘Before Alekhine defeated Capablanca, Dr Tarrasch, a man not given to fulsome praise, wrote that “Lasker was world champion, Capablanca is world champion, but Alekhine plays as a world champion should play”. To the man in the street, Alekhine was the man to watch – the sacrifice of the queen for a mating attack represented the triumph of mind over matter, which everyone could appreciate. On the other hand, the positional cavortings of a Capablanca or a Rubinstein were beyond the ken of ordinary men.’
When presenting Réti v Alekhine, Baden-Baden, 1925 (under the heading ‘The Gem of Gems’) on pages 110-111 of the 1 June 1946 issue of Chess World, C.J.S. Purdy wrote:
‘We disagree with Mr Goldstein when he says that Alekhine’s chess is easier for the ordinary player to understand than Capablanca’s. Capablanca’s moves may often surprise, but usually their logic is soon apparent after examination. But many of Alekhine’s moves depend on some surprise that comes far too many moves ahead for an ordinary mortal to have the slightest chance of foreseeing it. Alekhine’s chess is like a god’s. One can revere, but never hope to emulate.’
See also our feature article How Many Moves Ahead?
In a letter to us dated 11 February 1972 C.H.O’D. Alexander wrote:
‘Capa was undoubtedly one of the two or three most gifted players who ever lived – but lazy (that’s why Alekhine beat him). Nowadays he would have to work much harder – especially at the openings – than he did. I think Fischer is equally gifted (his style is very much like Capa’s) and a much harder worker; so in fact I put Fischer ahead of him. I’m now inclined to think Fischer the best there has ever been.’
We subsequently asked Alexander how he would place the other main contenders for the title of greatest player ever, to which he replied:
‘Very close – probably 1 Lasker 2 Botvinnik, Capablanca 4 Alekhine, but there are so many different ways of defining “greatest player” which give different answers.’
As regards Capablanca and Alekhine’s respective characters, Alexander informed us:
‘Capablanca was a conceited man (i.e. he thought very well of himself) who liked chess because he excelled at it.
Alekhine was a vain man (i.e. he liked other people to think well of him) who – though he had childish and vicious streaks that Capablanca was free from – did at least really love chess.’
A paragraph from a letter that Harry Golombek wrote to us on 26 February 1972:
Below are two photographs from the 1987 film Capablanca starring César Evora in the title role, from page 10 of the Cuban magazine Bohemia, 26 February 1988:
The carelessly-produced video-cassette case:
Below is a photograph reproduced from a full-page article about the film on page 9 of the Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde, 6 March 1988:
From the report on page 64 of the February 1931 BCM, regarding the Hastings, 1930-31 tournament (at which Capablanca lost to Sultan Khan):
‘A “movietone” was taken of the proceedings one morning, but Capablanca was not “in the picture”. A good joke was provided by the wife of one of the chess correspondents, who wrote to her husband thus: “I have been reading the chess reports (not her husband’s, by the way) and I notice that the Aga Khan has beaten Capablanca.” Nobody enjoyed this one more than Capablanca.’
The Cuban-born writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante (1929-2005) published an essay on Capablanca entitled ‘Capa, hijo de Caissa’ on pages 211-234 of Vidas para leerlas (Madrid, 1998). Many facts were wrong, and it is hard to know what to make of a passage on pages 218-219. It asserted that during the First World War Capablanca was questioned by two counter-intelligence agents from Washington about correspondence which included several moves in chess notation. With a straight face Capablanca said, ‘They are symbols for a freeing manoeuvre’ (as indeed they were, in the Queen’s Gambit Declined) but he then explained, with the aid of a board, that they were chess moves. The complete paragraph featuring this yarn, which we do not recollect seeing elsewhere, is quoted below:
‘Capa permaneció en los Estados Unidos durante la Primera Guerra Mundial, jugando, y se escribía sobre asuntos de ajedrez (¿de qué otra cosa?) con el campeón Lasker, ciudadano alemán y judío patriota. Un día de 1918 vinieron a visitarlo dos discretos caballeros de Washington. Eran del servicio de contrainteligencia que investigaban su correspondencia extranjera, llena de extraños símbolos: 10BXe7 Qxe7 11O-O NXC3 12RXC3 e5. “¿Qué clave es ésta?” Muy serio, Capablanca respondió: “Son símbolos para una maniobra de liberación”. “¿Cómo?”, dijeron los dos agentes al unísono. Capa a carcajadas escapa: “Son signos del ajedrez, una convención internacional.” Después de explicaciones y ejemplos con el auxilio de un tablero y varias fichas, los policías comprendieron. “¡Ah, es como las damas!” “¡Efectivamente – dijo Capa –, como las damas pero con caballeros!” Capablanca se dio cuenta de que la contrainteligencia es lo contrario de la inteligencia. Y sin embargo, sin embargo: Emanuel Lasker había ya inventado un tanque de guerra para el enemigo que era todavía su amigo.’
That managed to fill two-thirds of a page in Vidas para leerlas, but to what purpose and on what grounds?
The well-known Steinitz/Chigorin ‘spy code’ tale, together with a similar one involving Lorenz Hansen, was discussed in C.N. 3345 (see pages 243-244 of Chess Facts and Fables). As regards the assertion in the final sentence quoted above that Lasker invented a tank, we know nothing beyond what appeared in C.N. 3650, namely that the claim was made by Reuben Fine.
C.N. 4421 referred to an essay ‘Capa, hijo de Caissa’ by the Cuban-born writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante (1929-2005) on pages 211-234 of Vidas para leerlas (Madrid, 1998).
Previously, the text had appeared on pages 406-422 of his anthology Mea Cuba (Barcelona, 1992). An English translation of the book, under the same title, was published by Faber and Faber in 1994, with a paperback edition the following year.
Cabrera Infante was unfamiliar with basic facts about Capablanca’s life, and one passage seems particularly odd. From pages 421-422 of the translation (by Kenneth Hall, in conjunction with the author):
‘In the Manhattan Chess Club the Cuban grew close to one of the greatest American players, Frank Marshall, whom he would defeat decisively in 1909. Capablanca was 21 [sic] years old, Marshall 33 [sic]. A very bored Capablanca playing against Marshall nodded off more than once. With a sense of humour often absent from across the chessboard, Marshall tells: “I made the worst move of the game. I woke up Capablanca.” Capablanca proceeded to execute a reveille checkmate.’
The original text was on page 409 of the 1992 Spanish volume:
‘En el club de Ajedrez de Manhattan, Capablanca intimó con uno de los grandes jugadores americanos, Frank Marshall, a quien derrotaría decisivamente en 1909. Capablanca tenía 21 años, Marshall 33. Marshall relata la ocasión en que un muy aburrido Capablanca, jugando en su contra, cabeceó más de una vez. Con un sentido del humor muchas veces ausente del tablero, contó Marshall: “Cometí el peor movimiento del juego: desperté a Capablanca.” Capa ejecutó un jaque mate fulminante.’
What are the origins of this yarn, which are reminiscent of the untrue story about Capablanca falling asleep during a match-game against Alekhine in 1927 (C.N. 5118)? Certainly, though, the Capablanca v Marshall match dragged on, and we pointed out on page 18 of our monograph on the Cuban that the 1927 world title match lasted only eight days longer. The cartoon below appeared on page 33 of the Chess Weekly, 26 June 1909:
Taylor Kingston (Shelburne, VT, USA) writes:
‘Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s account of Capablanca supposedly falling asleep while playing Marshall in 1909 bears a great resemblance to an incident involving Fischer and Bisguier. One account is on page 197 of The Even More Complete Chess Addict by M. Fox and R. James (London, 1993):
“It’s New York 1963, the last round of the American championship. Bisguier and Fischer are equal first. Fischer doesn’t make a move for a long time. Bisguier looks up and sees his opponent is fast asleep. In another half-hour, the great Bobby’s clock will fall, making Bisguier the champ. That’s where we come to the most gracious blunder of all. In Bisguier’s words: ‘I made a bad move. I woke up Bobby Fischer.’ And of course Bobby, after a couple of yawns, went on to collect his fifth US title.”
This is almost identical to what Cabrera Infante reports that Marshall said (“I made the worst move of the game. I woke up Capablanca”). Could he have confused Capablanca-Marshall with Fischer-Bisguier?
Whether he did or not, there is already ample confusion about if and when Fischer may have fallen asleep while playing Bisguier. Contemporary reports on the game which was referred to by Fox and James, and was played in the last round of the US Championship in New York on 3 January 1963, mention no such incident (see, for example, Chess Life, January 1963, page 3; Chess Review, February 1963, page 63 and March 1963, pages 76-77).
Frank Brady’s Profile of a Prodigy (New York, 1973) is unsure, but indicates that it was more likely in the Western Open at Bay City, Michigan, in July 1963. Page 70 describes Fischer playing an all-night set of high-stakes blitz games and then states:
“The next morning, Fischer faced Bisguier, and though perhaps apocryphal, it has been said that he was so tired he actually fell asleep at the board and had to be awakened. It didn’t affect his play, however, as he defeated Bisguier soundly.”
Bisguier himself, though, places the incident at the New York State Open, held in Poughkeepsie, NY in August-September 1963, on page 69 of The Art of Bisguier, Selected Games 1961-2003 (Milford, 2008):
“Paired against Bobby in the New York State Open that year, I noticed that he was taking a long time to move. Then I saw that he’d fallen sound asleep. In a few minutes the flag on his clock would fall, and he’d lose on time. That’s not the way I like to win games, tourneys or titles. So I made what some called my biggest blunder of the tournament. I awakened Fischer. Bobby yawned, made a move, punched his clock and proceeded to beat me. It ended up as Game 45 in his My 60 Memorable Games. Later I heard that Fischer had stayed up late the previous night playing speed chess for money.”
Brady seems to have confused the Michigan and New York tournaments. Whether Cabrera Infante has confused Fischer with Capablanca, I cannot say, but the two accounts are remarkably similar.’
We note that a) the above-quoted text by Messrs Fox and James also appeared on page 149 of The Complete Chess Addict (London, 1987) and b) the Fox/James book was referred to, in another context, in Cabrera Infante’s ill-informed essay on Capablanca. Indeed, he clearly used it for a number of his ‘facts’.
See too C.N. 7441 and Chess and Sleep.
The cartoon in C.N. 5897 abpve provides a reminder of the lack of photographs of the peripatetic match between Marshall and Capablanca in 1909. The illustration below, by C.W. Kahles (1878-1931), comes from page 177 of the Chess Weekly, 1 May 1909. On page 345 of A Chess Omnibus we commented that it had been ‘sketched with some artistic licence’.
Page 17 of our book on Capablanca gave a chart of the time consumed by the Cuban and Marshall in their 23-game match in 1909:
Our source was the June, July and August 1909 issues of the American Chess Bulletin, which omitted the timings only for game 16 (a draw at the Brooklyn Chess Club on 21 May). Information for that game was also absent from the table on page 6 of Imre König’s book on the match (San Francisco, 1955). The match book published in Stockholm in 1916 gave no clock times.
Is there any hope of finding the missing details for game 16?
Capablanca’s victory as White against Janowsky at New York, 1918 (1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 Bg5 Nbd7 5 e3 c6 6 Nbd2 Be7 7 Bd3 dxc4 8 Nxc4 O-O 9 O-O c5 10 Rc1 b6 11 Qe2 Bb7 12 Rfd1 Nd5 13 Nd6 Bc6 14 Ne4 f5 15 Bxe7 Qxe7 16 Ned2 e5 17 dxe5 Nxe5 18 Nxe5 Qxe5 19 Nf3 Qe7 20 Nd4 cxd4 21 Rxc6 Nb4 22 Bc4+ Kh8 23 Re6 d3 24 Rxd3 Qc5 25 Rd4 b5 26 Bxb5 Nxa2 27 Bc4 Nb4 28 Qh5 g6 29 Rxg6 Rad8 30 Rg7 Resigns) was annotated by the Cuban in My Chess Career, and the conclusion was discussed by Bruce Hayden on page 298 of the October 1951 Chess Review. A slightly different version of Hayden’s text appeared on pages 21-23 of his book Cabbage Heads and Chess Kings (London, 1960), as quoted below:
‘I myself kibitzed a Capablanca game, but by mail, and with interesting results. In the great New York tournament of 1918 one of Capa’s masterpieces was his game against Janowsky in the sixth round ...
Capa now played the neat combination 30 Rg7! and Black resigned; for after the forced move of 30...Kxg7 there follows 31 Qg5+ Kh8 32 Rxd8, and Black must lose his knight (32...Nd5) to prevent the two mating threats of Qf6 and also Qg8+.
Many years after, I played over the game as a youngster from My Chess Career, in which Capablanca gives it high praise and adds that “only the expert can fully enjoy it”. It was awarded Second Brilliancy Prize, but I spotted another brilliancy which, I thought, might have obtained the first prize.
The initial move is 30 Qg5. The proffered rook cannot be captured because of mate on the move, and the threat is 31 Rg8+ Rxg8 32 Qf6+ Rg7 33 Rxd8+ and mate on the next move.
The defence of 30...Qxc4 fails against 31 Qf6+ Rxf6 32 Rxd8+, forcing mate; and 30...Nd5 31 Rg7 is sufficient.
When I showed this line to masters and other experts they all gave the defence 30...Qc7. But now the brilliancy really ticks: 31 Rg8+ Rxg8 32 Qf6+ Qg7 33 Rxd8!! and mate is forced again.
So I sat me down and posted off the question. This time I received a reply. You can’t post looks of surprise and disapproval through the mail.
“I have been too busy to examine the variations which you mention”, replied the (by now) ex-world champion, “but doubtless your suggestions are correct.”
It was Brian Harley who in turn kibitzed me by correspondence. His move arrived on a postcard: 30...Rd5!!
Now it appears that all White’s efforts come to naught. Try 31 Rg8+ Rxg8 32 Qf6+ Rg7 33 Qd8+! Rg8! (Black won’t oblige with 33...Rxd8 34 Rxd8+) 34 Qf6+ with a draw by perpetual check.
Whew! What a diabolical move is that rook obstruction on d5. But then what else can one expect from a famous problem composer?
This seems to be Black’s defence all right, but later Joseph Limarzi, of the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC, took a hand at kibitz by mail. His move takes advantage of the black rook on d5, thus, after 30 Qg5 Rd5
This threat of immediate mate now not only counters the defence of ...Qe7 because of the loss of the rook on d5 but also sidetracks neatly any ideas of Black’s for a later sacrifice ...Qxc4.
Against the two defences (a) 31...Rg8 and (b) 31...Rf7 Mr Limarzi’s analysis runs: (a) 32 Rxg8+ Kxg8 33 Qe6+, winning a piece after the black king moves, by 34 Rxd5, for if 34...Qxc4 the black queen is lost by discovery after the rook checks. (b) 32 Rxd5 Nxd5 (not 32...Qxc4 33 Rd8+) 33 Rd6 (attacking the knight and threatening also 34 Rd8+), 33...Nf6 34 Rd8+ Ng8
35 Qf6+! and forces mate prettily.
Nevertheless, though all this is interesting analysis Capa was correct to clinch the win simply with the lucid elegance for which he was famous.’
In Cabbage Heads and Chess Kings Hayden did not mention an editorial interpolation in his Chess Review article: the suggestion of 30...Rd5 31 h3.
Capablanca also annotated the game, briefly, on page 20 of the New York, 1918 tournament book, as follows:
6 Nbd2: ‘d2 seems to be the better post for the queen’s knight and an improvement over the old method of proceeding against this system of defense.’
10 Rc1: ‘Here 10 Nce5 might help to hinder the development of the queen’s bishop.’
13 Nd6: ‘The object of this move is to force the bishop to c6, where it is not well placed.’
14...f5: ‘This is a two-edged sword. If he cannot soon play ...f4 or ...e5, a weakness is created which may prove fatal.’
16...e5: ‘Apparently very strong, but really leads to the loss of the game.’
19...Qe7: ‘Against any other move White would continue with 20 Bc4.’
20 Nd4: ‘The maneuvering of this knight has been really extraordinary, this being his seventh move, and it is now clear he has accomplished quite a bit.’
26 Bxb5: ‘Attacks by 26 Qh5 or 26 Rh4 are inferior to the text move.’
28...g6: ‘White threatened 29 Rh4.’
29 Rxg6: ‘A seemingly possible brilliancy beginning with 29 Rd7 is spoiled, after 29...gxh5 30 Rh6, by 30...Rf7, etc.’
In My Chess Career Capablanca wrote:
‘This game is remarkable because it would be hard to say which move lost the game, though it is probably ...f5 or ...e5, and most likely the former.’
It may be considered strange that in neither My Chess Career nor the tournament book did Capablanca criticize 7...dxc4, although innumerable other contemporary sources also passed over that move in silence.
In the quotations above from Hayden and Capablanca the moves have been converted to the algebraic notation.
Our collection contains a copy of Capablanca’s score-sheet of a game he played four days before his match with Marshall began:
The game seems to have been unpublished until we gave it on page 26 of the Spring 1992 Kingpin. It was subsequently included on pages 65-66 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves, and for ease of reference is reproduced below:
Louis R. Eisenberg – José Raúl Capablanca
New York, 15 April 1909
Two Knights’ Defence
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 d5 5 exd5 Na5 6 Bb5+ c6 7 dxc6 bxc6 8 Be2 h6 9 Nf3 e4 10 Ne5 Qd4 11 f4 Bc5 12 Rf1 Bb6 13 c3 Qd6 14 b4 Nb7 15 Qa4 Bd7 16 Na3 O-O 17 Nac4 Qc7 18 Nxd7 Nxd7 19 Qc2 Rfe8 20 a4 a5 21 Rb1 Rad8 22 Qb3 Ba7 23 Ba3 axb4 24 cxb4 c5 25 b5 Na5 26 Nxa5 Qxa5 27 Bb2 Nb6 28 Qc3 Qxc3 29 Bxc3 Nxa4 30 Be5 Bb8 31 b6 Re6 32 Bc7 Rf8 33 Bd1 Bxc7 34 bxc7 Rb6 35 Ra1 Nb2 36 Bg4 Rc6 37 c8(Q) Rfxc8 38 Bxc8 Rxc8 39 Ke2
39...Rd8 40 g3 Kh7 41 f5 Nc4 42 Ra2 Rd5 43 g4 Ne5 44 Rf4 Nd3 45 Rf1 Ne5 46 Ra4 c4 47 h3 Nf3 48 Rxc4 Rxd2+ 49 Ke3 Rh2 50 Rd1 Ng5 51 Rd8 Rxh3+ 52 Ke2 Rh2+ 53 Ke3 Rh3+ 54 Kd2 g6 55 f6 e3+ 56 Ke2 Ne6 57 Rd7 g5 58 Rxf7+ Kg6 59 Re7 Kxf6 60 Rxe6+ Kxe6 61 Re4+ Kd5 62 Rxe3 Rxe3+ 63 Kxe3 Ke5 64 White resigns.
Capablanca’s concluding note, to an unidentified correspondent, reads:
‘I send you this game which I played the other day so that (barring the ending) you may know how not to play for Black. To make up for the game, I played Jaffe the following day and he never had a ... [rest of text missing].’
Regarding that victory over Jaffe (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 Bg4 9 d3 O-O 10 Nbd2 Na5 11 Bc2 c5 12 Nf1 Qc7 13 Bg5 h6 14 Bxf6 Bxf6 15 Ne3 Be6 16 Qe2 Rfd8 17 h4 Qe7 18 g3 Qd7 19 Nd5 Bxd5 20 exd5 g6 21 h5 gxh5 22 Kg2 Qg4 23 Rh1 h4 24 Qe3 Bg5 25 Nxg5 hxg5 26 Bd1 Qf5 27 gxh4 gxh4 28 Qh6 Qg6+ 29 Qxg6+ fxg6 30 Rxh4 Kg7 31 b4 Nb7 32 Bg4 a5 33 Rah1 Rh8 34 Rxh8 Rxh8 35 Rxh8 Kxh8 36 a3 axb4 37 cxb4 c4 38 dxc4 bxc4 39 a4 c3 40 Bd1 Resigns), see the Addenda in the Dover edition of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (New York, 1993). However, it is asserted there that the game ‘was recorded by Vicente Martínez de Carvajal (1840-1915), discovered amongst his papers after his death, and published in Ajedrez Español, 1953, pages 144-145’, whereas it was recorded by Capablanca himself. J.E. Olavide, the author of the article in question in the Spanish magazine (June-July 1953 issue), stated that he had recently acquired a collection of old papers which had belonged to Carvajal and that these included the score-sheet of Capablanca v Jaffe, written in pencil by the Cuban and with the additional information ‘20 moves an hour’.
By far Capablanca’s rarest work is the 24-page introductory booklet Cartilla de Ajedrez, published in Havana in June 1913. (See page 46 of our book on Capablanca.) The contents were as follows:
Who invented the term ‘Capablanca fright’? The earliest occurrence we recall at present is on page 178 of the December 1925 American Chess Bulletin, in a note by C.S. Howell about 12 Qe1 in the Cuban’s win over Bohatirchuk, Moscow, 1925:
‘“Capablanca fright?” White’s queen side now becomes a weak mess.’
It is surprising that Julius du Mont, who knew the Cuban quite well, made so many factual errors in his memoir in Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess by H. Golombek (London, 1947). A list compiled by us was made available in C.N. 3767, and here we revert to a puzzling case concerning Capablanca and Vidmar. As is well known, on page 17 du Mont wrote about Capablanca:
‘I remember his winning a brilliant game from Dr Vidmar in London, 1922, and laughingly patting the loser on the back, saying: “He always give [sic] me a chance of a brilliancy: he is my meat” – this accompanied by such a charming and good-natured smile that everyone, including Dr Vidmar, had the impression that he had bestowed the finest compliment on his opponent. Who else could make such a remark to his adversary and convey the feeling of the utmost friendliness?’
We quoted this on pages 317-318 of our book on Capablanca and commented:
‘The story cannot be correct, as before London, 1922 Capablanca and Vidmar had met only once, drawing in 20 moves.’
José Fernando Blanco (Madrid) has sent us an article on page 33 of the Corriere della Sera, 12 August 2006 by Matteo Collura about the publication of an unfinished novel, Shah Mat. L’ultima partita di Capablanca by Gesualdo Bufalino (1920-96):
We have yet to see the book. On a matter of detail it will be noted that the fine photograph of Capablanca, from Bettmann/Corbis, is misdated ‘circa 1930’, whereas it was evidently taken towards the beginning of his career.
Three unusual books in our collection with ‘Capablanca’ in the title:
The Capablanca Opening by David T. Chantler (New York, 1977). ‘A novel of intrigue.’
Ahora juega usted Señor Capablanca by Mario Zaldívar (San José, Costa Rica, 1994 and 2000). A novel starring Capablanca, set in the early 1930s.
Capablanca’s real passion by Carlos Garaicoa (Prato, 2005). An illustrated account of the work of Garaicoa, a Cuban artist and architect. It is not about Capablanca, although there is a (misdated) photograph of him playing Marshall on page 177.
At a dinner organized by the Spanish Chess Federation at the Casino de Madrid in December 1935 Capablanca was questioned about his rivals. The Alekhine v Euwe world championship match was then being played in the Netherlands, and the Cuban was guarded on that subject. As for the future, he believed that he himself had the greatest right to challenge for the world title, followed by Flohr (who had enjoyed much success in recent years) and Lasker (regarded by Capablanca as still in the first rank of champions, despite his age). The Cuban had very high praise for Botvinnik, whom he considered more likely to become world champion than such other young players as Lilienthal and Reshevsky. Finally, Capablanca spoke highly of Tartakower, saying that he was, when on form, one of the most redoubtable masters.
The report, published on pages 491-492 of the December 1935 issue of El Ajedrez Español, is given below:
‘En estas contestaciones estuvo reservado respecto al resultado del match Alekhine-Euwe; nos reafirmó en nuestro convencimiento de que en orden de derechos la posición de los candidatos al título mundial son: Capablanca, Flohr (cuyos éxitos en estos últimos años son indiscutibles y de gran valor, según el maestro cubano) y Lasker, quien a pesar de su edad todavía está en primera fila de campeones, a juicio de quien le desposeyó del título mundial. De Botvinnik (el campeón ruso), hace Capablanca magníficos elogios y lo considera con más condiciones para llegar al título máximo que otros jóvenes que se han revelado en los últimos años, como Lilienthal y Reshevsky. También hace elogios de Tartakower, al que estando en forma considera uno de los más temibles grandes maestros.’
Below is an extremely scarce, though poor-quality, photograph of Capablanca and Alekhine in Buenos Aires, which we reproduce from page 2 of the newspaper Crítica, 18 September 1927:
From pages 6 and 17 of the 9 October 1927 issue of Carteles magazine:
From Christian Sánchez we have received the following news report on page 3 of La Nación, 17 December 1926:
At that time it was unknown where the next world championship match would take place and who Capablanca’s opponent would be. In the report the Cuban stated that he was perfectly willing to play against Alekhine, under the London Rules, and that Alekhine now had priority since Nimzowitsch had been unable to obtain financial support for a match in Europe. Page 194 of our book on Capablanca quoted a letter dated 21 September 1926 in which he gave Nimzowitsch until 1 January 1927 ‘to show what you can do towards obtaining the necessary funds for the match’, after which we remarked that ‘the deadline of 1 January 1927 came and went without Nimzowitsch following up his challenge’. The report in La Nación shows that, already by mid-December 1926, Capablanca had been notified of the failure of Nimzowitsch’s attempt.
This photograph of Capablanca and his first wife, which is likely to be new to readers, comes from page 307 of the Illustrated London News, 26 August 1922.
Another Capablanca photograph from Lawrence Totaro (Las Vegas, NV, USA) is given below:
Capablanca is posing with his first wife and their two children. A note on the back of the photograph states that it was taken at their home in Havana, and the date given is 13 April 1927.
On page 17 of the sports section the New York Times of 1 April 1927 reported that Capablanca had returned to Havana after winning the New York tournament:
‘Traffic was blocked for an hour while several thousand persons who greeted the world’s champion cheered, set off aerial bombs and played music.’
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 November 1922, page 17.
Simon Browne (Chelsea, Australia) refers to the participation of Capablanca and Alekhine in the Buenos Aires Olympiad, 1939 and to this comment on page 643 of Alexander Alekhine’s Chess Games, 1902-1946 by L.M. Skinner and R.G.P. Verhoeven (Jefferson, 1998):
‘Although both the French and Cuban teams got through to the final, the pair still did not play each other, since they both opted to take a rest day on the occasion of the France-Cuba match.’
As Mr Browne points out, Alekhine did play in that match, which took place on 14 September 1939. His win, over Alberto López Arce, was given on page 647 of the Alekhine book.
Our correspondent also refers to Capablanca’s explanation of his absence, in an article for the Argentine newspaper Crítica the following day. Below is the English translation from page 295 of our book on the Cuban:
‘Last night’s match between France and Cuba was drawn two-all. I should like to explain my absence, which was due to purely personal reasons.
Neither France nor Cuba was a leading contender in this competition, which meant that from that point of view there was no special significance in whether or not I played. There was only the question of the spectacle itself, which of course could not influence the course of the tournament.
Once more it is necessary to emphasize that the event being held at the Politeama is a tournament for teams, not individuals. A week ago I notified the Argentine Chess Federation that I did not intend to play against Alekhine, and I explained my reasons for this decision.
I made this announcement to the Federation so that my intentions were known in advance, and to prevent disappointment on the part of the public. My not playing yesterday was thus not an act of discourtesy to the Federation, nor a lack of consideration for the Buenos Aires public.
Therefore there was no question, as has incorrectly been stated, of my refusing a favour asked by the Federation. I have, and have always had, the best intentions towards the chess public and the organizing body.’
To some, unfortunately, this statement may be an irresistible springboard for speculation, and especially since it has not been established what reasons Capablanca gave to the Argentine Chess Federation or, indeed, whether he gave them in writing. Nor, incidentally, do we recall any public comment by Alekhine on Capablanca’s refusal to play him in the Olympiad.
The following week both masters wrote to the President of the Argentine Chess Federation, Augusto De Muro, regarding a possible world championship rematch. Page 240 of our book on Capablanca reproduced their respective letters, from page 34 of CHESS, 20 October 1939, and, rather than giving them again here, we quote Fred Reinfeld’s assessment on pages 194-195 of The Human Side of Chess (New York, 1952):
‘Capablanca was pathetically eager, even at this late date, to arrange a return match. He wrote a letter to the President of the Argentine Chess Federation, abounding in such phrases as, “I am disposed to play [...] whenever it can be arranged. ... I have not the slightest objection to make. ... I am disposed to accept this modification. ... Also I will accept whatever [reasonable] modification ... you will have no difficulty in coming to an agreement with me. ... I should be at your service.” Etc., etc.
It was a ticklish moment for Alekhine. Hurriedly snatching at the first available script, he wrapped himself in the Tricolor with great dignity, and sounded the note of “I would [could] not love thee, Dear, so much, loved I not honor more.” He gravely explained that “I am subject to mobilization as an official interpreter in the reserve”. Considering Alekhine’s age and world fame, there is little doubt that he could have obtained the necessary leave, in the period of “the phony war”. But he did not want to play Capablanca, as we know, and this time he adopted a subterfuge which would have served admirably in an Offenbach operetta ...’
It seems to us, though, that much more research is required, in the Argentine Federation’s archives (if any) and in local newspapers, before conclusions of any kind can be reached. The confusion prevailing at the time is reflected in articles in two consecutive issues (November and December 1939) of the chess magazine El Ajedrez Americano, which was published in Buenos Aires. Whereas the former (pages 321-322) spoke of a rematch as a virtually certainty, even stating that the Cuban was remaining in Buenos Aires until it came about, the latter (page 353) referred at length to the financial burden in the aftermath of the Olympiad. The November issue reported the masters’ purported standpoints, without giving sources.
We hope that readers will be able to assist us in piecing together additional facts about this final phase of the Alekhine-Capablanca rematch saga.
Sir George Thomas
Sir George Thomas accused himself of ‘funk’ regarding the conclusion of his game against Capablanca at Carlsbad, 1929.
In this position Sir George (Black) played 47...Rd6, and a draw was agreed upon. However, page 43 of Assiac’s The Delights of Chess (London, 1960) quoted a brief comment he wrote at the end of his game-score:
‘Draw agreed. A case of funk. Black should win the ending.’
On the following page Assiac remarked that ‘readers can easily see for themselves that the game was won for Black, and without much risk either’. We wonder, though, how clear-cut matters are.
On page 53 of the Carlsbad, 1929 tournament book Alfred Brinckmann wrote that the draw after 47...Rd6 was justified, as thorough analysis showed that Black could not win:
Similar analysis was given (without mention of Brinckmann) in the annotations booklet which accompanied the Weltgeschichte des Schachs volume on Capablanca by James Gilchrist and David Hooper (Hamburg, 1963):
See too page 89 of the second volume of the ‘Chess Stars’ book on Capablanca (Sofia, 1997), which also offered only a draw, although one further move (48 Rc7+) appeared in the game itself:
Has a winning method for Black at move 47 ever been demonstrated?
Yasser Seirawan (Amsterdam) writes regarding Capablanca v Thomas, Carlsbad, 1929:
‘A quick impression is that Black should win by direct means after 47 Rd7: 47...b2 48 Rd1 Kb4 49 Rb1 Kb3! 50 f4 Rc1! 51 Rxb2+ Kxb2 52 Kh4 (With the rook now on the first rank the advance 52 f5 is a mistake as 52...Rf1 53 e4 Kc3 makes the task easy.) 52...Rc6! (Covering the h6-pawn, cutting off the white king and preparing to bring the black king into play.) 53 g4 Kc3 54 Kh5 Kd3 55 g5 hxg5 56 fxg5 Ke4, and Black is in time to stop the pawns for a win.
This is by no means an exhaustive analysis, but just a check of the direct line. It is possible that 50 f4 is wrong, but I based my analysis on that move as it seemed to be the main line of others.’
Dennis Monokroussos (South Bend, IN, USA) has now written to us:
‘Regarding the interesting and surprisingly complex Capablanca-Thomas endgame, Yasser Seirawan addresses 52 Kh4 and 52 f5, correctly noting that both moves lose. White has a third possibility, however: 52 Kg4. This prepares to shoulder off the Black king and should be good enough for a draw. For example: 52...Rc6 53 f5 Kc3 54 Kf4 Kd3 55 Ke5 Kxe3 56 f6, with a drawn position. One possibility is 56...Kf2 57 f7 Rc8 58 g4 Kg3 59 Kf6 Kxh3 60 g5 hxg5 61 Kxg5, followed by Kg6-Kg7-f8(Q).’
Yasser Seirawan comments:
‘The idea proposed by Mr Monokroussos is a very good one. His plan of shouldering away Black’s king in the line he gave after 52...Rc6 was certainly missed by me. I likely entertained 52 Kh4 as the main move in order to prepare g2-g4 in one go, so to speak. The move 52 Kg4 invites Black to play 52...Rg1, putting the rook behind White’s g-pawn with the gain of a tempo, which is why I rejected the move. However, White can draw by jettisoning the g-pawn with 52...Rg1 53 Kh5 Rxg2 54 Kxh6 Kc3 55 f5 Rf2 56 Kg6 Kc4 57 h4 Kd5 58 h5, when Black has various tries, but White is fast enough. For example: 58...Kd6 59 h6 Ke7 60 h7 Rg2+ 61 Kh5 Kf7 62 h8(N)+ Kf6 63 Ng6, and the knight escapes thanks to the help of White’s pawns.’
In San Sebastián 1911: El primer SuperTorneo de Ajedrez by Máximo López (Sta Eulalia de Morcin, 2006) our eye was caught on page 102 by a photograph of Capablanca (seated in centre) at the closing dinner in his honour. The book has been published by Editorial Chessy, and the photograph is reproduced below with permission.
Willibald Müller (Munich, Germany) draws attention to the following letter on page 57 of Erich Eliskases, Caballero del Ajedrez by Guillermo G. Soppe and Raúl O. Grosso (Córdoba, 1997):
Page 20 describes the letter as ‘una inédita carta entregada por el presidente de la Federación cubana de Ajedrez’, and readers will certainly recognize its significance in several respects. Below is an English translation:
‘23 October 1939
My dear friend,
I did not reply to you earlier, so as to be able to give you the good news about the agreement on the match for the world championship. It appears that all is going well and that tomorrow everything will be signed.
As the airmail leaves tonight, I can wait no longer to give you the news.
You will understand what this has cost, and especially since Cuba, as usual, has left me in the lurch. If I had had the five thousand here, everything would have been settled better and faster. But that is about to pass into history, and now is the time to turn to the future and not to what has happened. Now, I need in any case two or three thousand pesos to prepare myself, as I have already arranged everything with Eliskases, who seconded Alekhine for his last match with Euwe and who, incidentally, is annoyed with A. There is no better second than Eliskases, but I have to pay him and retain him for two months before the match and then throughout the entire duration of the match, which will be another two months. Please therefore do me the kindness of seeking someone who can speak to the President to see whether it can be arranged for them to send me the money. Do not believe what you are told by the treasury secretary, as I believe that he is deceiving you.
Through Portela, our minister, I am sending you the bulletins of the Nations Tournament.
Señor Portela will be staying at the Hotel Presidente, and I should like you to see him and speak to him about the money I need and how to obtain it.
With best wishes to your family and to the friends and companions of our Federation.
Kind regards from your friend,
Javier Asturiano Molina (Murcia, Spain) draws attention to these reminscences on page 157 of Ajedrez inmortal de Capablanca by M. Euwe and L. Prins (Buenos Aires, 1959):
‘Cuando hablé con Capablanca por última vez – fue en la escalinata del teatro Politeama de Buenos Aires, donde se disputaba el Torneo de las Naciones en 1939 – Capablanca abogaba apasionadamente por un match por el campeonato mundial. “No importa con quién, cómo ni dónde”, me dijo, “con tal que no se permita a Alekhine seguir encerrado más tiempo en su torre de marfil. Tiene que jugar o ser descalificado. Esta situación es una locura. Tiene que jugar, lo ha de hacer ...”’
A number of comments are called for. Firstly, the text appeared at the end of the chapter on the 1927 world championship match, a chapter whose authorship was credited (on page 139) to Euwe. However, Euwe did not participate in or attend the 1939 Olympiad. Secondly, the title page stated that the Spanish text was a translation, by L.A. Asterblum, from the German. Page 166 of that (1952) book by Euwe and Prins, Capablanca Das Schachphänomen, specified, as the Spanish book did not, that the text about the conversation in 1939 was written by Prins. Thirdly, the German is not identical to the Spanish, and below we give a translation direct from the German:
‘When I spoke with Capablanca for the last time – it was on the steps of the Politeama Theatre in Buenos Aires, where the Tournament of Nations took place in 1939 – he passionately argued for a world title match. “It does not matter what, how or where”, is roughly what he said, “as long as Alekhine is no longer allowed to retreat into his ivory tower. He must play or be disqualified. This situation is madness. He must, he must ...”’
We note that the text is absent from the original Dutch edition, Het schaakphenomeen José Raoul Capablanca y Graupera (The Hague, 1949), where it would have been expected on page 173.
Ricardo Velasco (London) mentions a photograph of Capablanca and Alekhine taken in Buenos Aires in 1927 which has been widely disseminated on the Internet in the past year or so, billed as the only existing picture of both masters at the board during their world championship match.
However, another photograph was given on page 4 of the Argentinian newspaper Crítica of 9 March 1942. Since we have only a photocopy, the reproduction below is not of good quality:
A photograph of Capablanca alone at the board appeared on page 3 of El Ajedrez Americano, October 1927:
For Alekhine alone, we turn to La Prensa of 30 November 1927 (another photocopy):
The newspaper’s caption read, ‘El profesor Alekhine junto al tablero donde se jugó la partida final del campeonato’.
As noted in C.N. 4586, a photograph of Capablanca and Alekhine standing together was published on page 2 of Crítica, 18 September 1927:
The previous day the Argentinian newspaper (page 3) had given the following picture by Bravo:
The caricatures of Capablanca and Alekhine below also come from Crítica (11 October 1927, page 4 and 24 September 1927, page 7 respectively):
Olimpiu G. Urcan writes:
‘The picture of Capablanca in C.N. 4814 which was on page 3 of the October 1927 issue of El Ajedrez Americano is part of a rather strange photograph of both Capablanca and Alekhine which has been published in several places. A poor-quality version is on page 330 of Miguel A. Sánchez’s José Raúl Capablanca. A Chess Biography (Jefferson, 2015) with a caption stating that it was published in the 16 September 1927 edition of Crítica and that “though it is a poor image, and probably retouched, it is of extraordinary historical value”.
I have found a better copy on page 38 of the January 1928 issue of Cine-Mundial:’
Marcelo Sibille (Montevideo, Uruguay) draws attention to a photograph on page 27 of the April 1955 issue of the Argentinian magazine Ajedrez:
Christian Sánchez sends the following from the 11 December 1893 issue of a weekly magazine published in Barcelona, La Ilustración Artística, pages 802 (text) and 808 (engraving):
Mr Sánchez comments:
‘This may be the earliest notice of Capablanca outside of Cuba, coming a couple of months after Vázquez’s report in El Fígaro, which is its likely source. (I am following page 3 of your Capablanca book.)’
Andrés Clemente Vázquez wrote two notable articles on Capablanca in the Cuban periodical El Fígaro (8 October 1893, pages 431-432, and March 1897, page 142). The former also dealt with the Mexican chess prodigy Andrés Ludovico Viesca (see pages 52-53 of Chess Explorations), and the full article was reproduced on pages 29-35 of the June 1911 issue of the Cuban magazine Crónica de Ajedrez.
Part of the account of Capablanca’s introduction to chess (on which the above report in La Ilustración Artística was indeed clearly based) reads as follows:
‘Raúl Fausto Capablanca nació en el Campamento del Príncipe (Habana), el 19 de Noviembre de 1888. Un día en que su Sr. Padre, el pundonoroso primer Teniente de Caballería (de la Cabaña) D. José Capablanca y Fernández, se lamentaba de la ausencia de su ilustre Jefe y respe[c]table amigo nuestro, el Excmo Sr. General, D. F. Loño, con cuya particular amistad se ha honrado, y de quien solía ser, frente al tablero de ajedrez, antagonista y víctima, su pequeñuelo le dijo: “Yo me he aprendido las jugadas del General, y si tú quieres perder ahora, juega conmigo.” – Veremos – le contestó el padre – lo que se te ocurre hacer con los peones, las torres y los caballos; – y en pocos minutos el chiquillo le capturó casi todas las piezas y le obligó á rendirse.’
In short, Capablanca said to his father, ‘I have learned the moves [of or from?] the General, and if you want to lose now, play with me’. The boy was referring to his father’s frequent chess opponent, General Loño. The father and son then played a game, and in a few minutes Capablanca had captured virtually all his father’s pieces and compelled him to resign. There are, of course, many other versions of Capablanca’s introduction to chess, but this one was published before he was five years old.
Below we reproduce Vázquez’s second (1897) article:
An English translation of part of this article was given on pages 3-4 of our book on Capablanca. As regards the picture, it may be recalled that a good-quality version was published on page 27 of Chessworld, May-June 1964:
From Christian Sánchez:
‘I can provide an even better quality version of the Capablanca picture than those in C.N. 4918. It comes from page 342 of Andrés Clemente Vázquez’s En el ocaso (Havana, 1898), a compilation of his periodical articles.’
Identifying everyone in this photograph is far from easy, and readers’ assistance will be appreciated.
From Grzegorz Siwek (Warsaw):
‘Among the persons seated are, of course, Capablanca (second from the left) and Botvinnik (far right). Standing on the far right is Grigory Goldberg, who became Botvinnik’s second in his world championship matches in the 1950s. On his right is Jakov Rokhlin (Rochlin), and then comes Botvinnik’s wife Gayane and another chess writer, Samuil Weinstein (Vainstein).’
We now note that a second group photograph taken in the same room was published in the plates section of volume one of Botvinnik’s Best Games (Olomouc, 2000). Weinstein, Rokhlin, Capablanca, Botvinnik and Goldberg were identified in the caption, which also specified: ‘In the interval of ballet “Don-Kikhot”, Leningrad, 1933’. That cannot be correct since the Cuban’s first visit to the Soviet Union in the 1930s was not until 1935.
This picture appeared on page 52 of the March 1924 American Chess Bulletin with the caption ‘Capablanca’s Bungalow Near Havana’.
Information is sought on a game purportedly won by Capablanca at queen’s knight odds in 1919 against an unnamed player: 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 g5 4 Bc4 Bg7 5 O-O h6 6 g3 g4 7 Nh4 f3 8 Nxf3 gxf3 9 Bxf7+ Kxf7 10 Qxf3+ Nf6 11 e5 Rf8 12 exf6 Bxf6 13 d4 Kg7 14 Qh5 Bg5 15 Rxf8 Kxf8 16 Bxg5 Qxg5 17 Rf1+ Ke7 18 Qf7+ Kd6 19 Rf6+ Qxf6 20 Qxf6+ Kd5 21 Qe5+ Kc6 22 Qc5 mate.
The game-score was given on page 658 of 500 Master Games of Chess by S. Tartakower and J. du Mont (London, 1952).
I believe I must buy myself a set of chessmen. I don’t think we have one in the house.’
These words of Capablanca’s were quoted by Olga Capablanca Clark on page 7 of Last Lectures (New York, 1966), and on page 16 the Cuban provided confirmation:
‘I am 53 years old and began to play at the age of four. During those 49 years, and particularly during the first 15 years when I was known as a child prodigy, I received a great number of chess sets as gifts. I especially remember a very handsome and rare set which I tried to hold on to, but which has gone with the others. The result is that today I do not possess a single set. My travels, my changes of residence, and my children did away with every single one.’
The remainder of C.N. 5053 concerned a similar case regarding Reshevsky.
From an article ‘Humour and Chess’ by J. du Mont on page 133 of the May 1941 BCM:
Gene Gnandt points out a report on page 12 of the New York Times, 24 January 1913 about the game between Whitaker and Capablanca in the New York tournament:
‘The result of this encounter was wholly contrary to general expectations, inasmuch as Whitaker, who had played really brilliant chess in the early stages of the game on Tuesday, was considered to have at least a draw in the adjourned position, with a chance of winning. After resumption of play yesterday, however, he played quite indifferently, though the position was an exceedingly difficult one to handle. He was eager to establish an advantage, and this led him to neglect providing a proper defense for his king.
Capablanca had sealed his 51st move, and this proved to be B-Q4. At his 56th turn he studied for 20 minutes, an indication that he, too, found the position one worthy of careful study. Finally, he appeared to have made up his mind, and placed his queen at QB6 without, however, relinquishing his hold upon the piece. Suddenly he switched away from that square and played the queen back to KKt8. Whether this manoeuvre served to distract his opponent in any way did not appear, but Whitaker nevertheless made a move which enabled the Cuban to win an important pawn through a check by discovery. This was inexplicable to the bystanders, who accepted it as a case of nervousness.
Later, Capablanca won the other of Whitaker’s centre pawns and then, getting out his rook, which had been bottled up for a long time, the Cuban soon had the game well in hand.
Whitaker resigned after 66 moves, when the black king rook’s pawn had been advanced to the seventh row and could not be stopped from queening. Thus was spoiled in the last dozen moves what might otherwise have ranked as a real masterpiece in the annals of the game.’
Here, for ease of reference, is the game-score, from page 55 of the March 1913 American Chess Bulletin:
1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 e6 5 e3 Bb4 6 Bd3 c5 7 O-O c4 8 Be2 Bxc3 9 bxc3 Ne4 10 Qe1 Qa5 11 Nd2 Nxc3
12 Bxc4 Nc6 13 Nb3 Qb4 14 Bd3 Na4 15 Qe2 O-O 16 Qh5 f5 17 g4 Qe7 18 gxf5 exf5 19 Kh1 Nb2 20 Be2 Nc4 21 Nc5 b6 22 Qf3 bxc5 23 Qxd5+ Be6 24 Qxc6 Rac8 25 Qg2 cxd4 26 exd4 Qd7 27 c3 Rf6 28 Rg1 Rg6 29 Qh3 Bd5+ 30 f3 Rg4 31 Rxg4 fxg4 32 Qg3 Qf5 33 Rg1 h5 34 h3 Rf8 35 Bxc4 Bxc4 36 Bd6 Rf6 37 Be5 Rg6 38 Kh2 Bd5 39 Qf4 Qc2+ 40 Rg2 Qd3 41 hxg4 Bxf3 42 Rd2 Qf1 43 g5 Qh1+ 44 Kg3 Bd5 45 Rf2 h4+ 46 Kg4 h3 47 Rb2 Be6+ 48 Kh5 Kh7 49 Re2 Qd1 50 Qd2 Qg1 51 Qf4
51...Bd5 52 Rd2 Bg2 53 Kh4 Kg8 54 Rb2 Kh7 55 c4 Qe1+ 56 Kg4
56...Qg1 57 d5 Bxd5+ 58 Qg3 Be6+ 59 Kf3 Qf1+ 60 Ke3 Qxc4 61 Bd4 Qc1+ 62 Rd2 Bf5 63 Qh4+ Kg8 64 Be5 Re6 65 Qd4 h2 66 Qd8+ Kh7 67 White resigns.
The American Chess Bulletin gave Black’s 62nd move as B-B4, but instead of Bf5 some sources (e.g. the Weltgeschichte des Schachs volume on Capablanca) have put Bc4, a move that would leave the pawn at h3 undefended.
We have also received from Gene Gnandt an article in the New York Times, 29 November 1925 (sports section, page S6). It states that on 27 November ...
‘... Capablanca met the united forces of the Bolshevik Commissars in a chess battle. In the apartment of Attorney General Krylenko, who also is President of the Russian Chess Club, the world champion played 17 games simultaneously with the Commissars and Under Secretaries, winning all.
After the exhibition Capablanca told the New York Times correspondent he did not have much difficulty, but agreed that first-class chess demanded more time than the majority of Soviet Commissars are able to give it. He said he regretted the absence of Trotsky, who is said to be a player of high quality.
President Rykof of the Commissar’s Council did not play, but followed the games with keen interest. Another notable absentee was Tchitcherin, whose favorite pastime, however, is music. He is now playing his own chess game on a bigger board in Western Europe.
The proceedings were strictly private, not more than a score of guests being present, and nothing appeared in the Soviet press.’
John Hilbert (Amherst, NY, USA) enquires about a matter discussed on pages 195-197 of our book on Capablanca: Lasker’s allegation that owing to a defective clock he lost 20 minutes during his defeat at the hands of the Cuban at New York on 5 April 1924. We quoted from De Telegraaf of 3 January 1927 Lasker’s strong attack on the tournament organizers in explanation of his refusal to participate in New York, 1927.
Our correspondent asks whether the 1924 clock dispute was public knowledge before Lasker’s article appeared nearly three years later.
C.N. 5080 asked whether the clock dispute in the game Capablanca v Emanuel Lasker at New York, 1924 was public knowledge before Lasker wrote about it in De Telegraaf of 3 January 1927. Luca D’Ambrosio (Bolzano, Italy) cites the following from page 74 of Deutsches Wochenschach, 30 April 1924:
‘Auffällig ist eine Mitteilung, die Dr. A. Seitz, der als Zuschauer dem Turnier beigewohnt hat, über die Partie Capablanca-Dr. Lasker macht. Danach wäre die Niederlage L’s die Folge eines Uhrendefekts. L sei infolge dieses Defekts, der zur Folge hatte, daß im kritischen Augenblick beide Uhren gingen, in Zeitnot geraten u. habe das Remis übersehen.’ [Our English translation: ‘A noteworthy report comes from Dr A. Seitz, who attended the tournament as a spectator, regarding the Capablanca-Dr Lasker game. It states that L.’s defeat was the result of a defective clock; owing to that fault, which caused both clocks to be running at the critical moment, Lasker fell into Zeitnot and overlooked the draw.’]
More generally, our correspondent refers to a sentence written by Seitz on page 146 of the May 1924 Wiener Schachzeitung:
‘Dem Turniersekretär konnte man nicht das Lob allzu großer Unparteilichkeit geben.’ [‘The tournament secretary could not be praised for excessive impartiality.’]
Finally, Mr D’Ambrosio quotes a passage from the report about New York, 1924 on page 3 of volume one of Schachjahrbuch 1924 by L. Bachmann (Ansbach, 1925):
‘Über ihre Aufnahme und ihren Aufenthalt haben sich die Turnierteilnehmer sehr günstig ausgedrückt. Selbstverständlich gab es die regelmässigen Klagen über gewisse Rücksichtslosigkeiten einzelner Meister, wie gewöhnlich so auch hier, auch fehlten nicht Beschwerden wegen Parteilichkeit des Turnierleiters von deutscher Seite.’ [‘The participants in the tournament expressed great satisfaction with their welcome and stay. Of course, there were the regular grievances about certain inconsiderate behaviour by individual masters, as is usual and as occurred here too, and there was no lack of complaints of favouritism by the tournament director, from the German side.’]
Luca D’Ambrosio submits a further report on the dispute regarding the game Capablanca v Emanuel Lasker, New York, 1924 (from Deutsches Wochenschach, 15 June 1924, page 110):
‘The apparent clock defect in the Capablanca-Lasker game. Dr A. Seitz stated in his tournament reports, among personal attacks on the New York tournament director, N.L. Lederer, that Lasker’s defeat against Capablanca was due to a clock defect, as a result of which at the critical moment both clocks were running and L., who was in Zeitnot, overlooked the draw. Ignoring the personal attacks, we briefly mentioned this information on page 74 on the assumption that an explanation would not be lacking. In a communication Mr Lederer has now drawn to our attention the fact that Dr Seitz did not have access to the playing tables and therefore knew of the matter only by hearsay. “I noticed”, observes Mr Lederer in this respect, “that during the game Dr L. did not press the ‘off’ lever on his clock far enough and that both clocks were running. When play was broken off at six o’clock, we noted precisely the time difference, which was around eight minutes. It should be remarked here that Dr L. was not in Zeitnot at any time. On the contrary, before the end of play C. was in considerable Zeitnot and twice after the piece sacrifice did not make the best moves (Qf3 instead of Qe2 and Nxd6 instead of g4 [sic]). When play resumed at eight o’clock both players were, of course, out of Zeitnot, and the move which, according to Dr L.’s analysis, offered Black the prospect of a draw (Bd5 instead of Qe6) took place long after play had been interrupted ... Dr L. has, of course, never made a remark which could be interpreted as meaning that he lost the game for any reasons other than those having to do with chess, and he spoke about his opponent’s play with the greatest respect; he merely remarked that Qe6 was the losing move and that Bd5 would probably have given him a draw, and analysis will surely bring a final verdict on this.” Mr Lederer goes on to express his regret over the derisive and denigrating comments made by Dr Seitz about the committee and the tournament management, which are as unjustified as they are untrue. He says that this could cause the men whom we have to thank for the organization of the tournament not to repeat their efforts, undertaken purely in the interests of chess, if the result of their work is mean-spirited attacks by people who have enjoyed the hospitality of the Manhattan Chess Club and the Hotel Alamac. In the end, Dr Seitz was requested no longer to enter the premises of the Manhattan Chess Club.’
When the Lasker affair blew up in the United States in January 1927, Lederer wrote as follows regarding the clock incident on page 71 of the March 1927 American Chess Bulletin:
The rules for New York, 1924 were given on pages 27-28 of the February 1924 American Chess Bulletin. The time-limit was 30 moves in the first two hours and 15 moves an hour thereafter. The playing hours stipulated there (13.30-17.30 and 19.30-23.30) were subsequently amended to 14.00-18.00 and 20.00-00.00 (American Chess Bulletin, March 1924, page 49). For Capablanca’s score-sheet of his victory over Lasker see page 80 of A Picture History of Chess by Fred Wilson (New York, 1981).
See too Lasker Speaks Out (1926) by Richard Forster.
Christian Sánchez provides an article by Hartwig Cassel (1850-1929) on page 2 of section 3 of the 21 August 1927 issue of La Prensa, although it was written in June (in New York). Cassel reported that in the opinion of the New York chessplayers the Capablanca v Alekhine match would not be of interest, as Capablanca would win easily. He stated that, on the basis of recent tournament results, Lasker and Bogoljubow had a greater right to challenge the Cuban, as Alekhine lacked the requisite stature for the match.
The article was unfortunate too not only in misspelling Cassel’s name on both occasions it was mentioned but also in claiming that in a game between Capablanca and Alekhine at New York, 1927 the following position had arisen ...
... and that Capablanca had played 1 Nd3, the game being drawn a few moves later. Instead, wrote Cassel, 1 Nc6 Bxc6 2 Rxc6 would have caused the loss of Black’s a-pawn, after which Capablanca might well have won the game.
In reality, the above position never occurred, as Alekhine pointed out on page 29 of the February 1928 American Chess Bulletin:
The New York Sun (mentioned by the Bulletin) had as its chess columnist Hartwig Cassel.
On page 97 of his book on New York, 1927 the explanation offered by Alekhine was that a telegraphic error had resulted in 20...Ne4 being given, instead of 20...Nd5, in South American and European chess magazines:
For an English version of the note, see page 308 of the Skinner/Verhoeven book on Alekhine.
A very rare book published in Buenos Aires in 1994, Match por el campeonato de ajedrez Capablanca y Alekhine, reproduces about two dozen letters and telegrams exchanged by the two masters and the organizers, and an item of particular interest is a letter written on 18 October 1927 by Alekhine, in French, on stationery of the Majestic Hotel, Buenos Aires. The recipient was the President of the Club Argentino de Ajedrez, Lizardo Molina Carranza, to whom Alekhine complained of having read in the morning’s newspapers that game 17 would be played at the Jockey Club. Refusing to accept this, Alekhine commented that the previous day game 16 had been played there under conditions contrary to the spirit and letter of the match rules. In view of the unbearable noise in adjoining rooms, Capablanca had been obliged to stop his clock, thereby breaking off the game (an occurrence ‘probably unique in the annals of the world championship’). Finding mental effort impossible in such circumstances, Alekhine had accepted Capablanca’s draw offer despite having the better position.
The two key paragraphs in Alekhine’s letter are given below, with some corrected spelling:
‘A. Mon adversaire, vu le bruit insupportable qui régnait dans les pièces adjacentes à celle où se jouait la partie, se vit obligé à arrêter la pendule, suspendant ainsi de propio avisu [sic] le jeu, chose probablement unique dans les annales des championnats du Monde.
B. Moi-même ne vis d’autre solution pour sortir de cette atmosphère hostile à tout travail mental, que d’accepter la nullité proposée par mon adversaire, dans une position que je considérais avantageuse pour moi et qui, en tout cas, aurait pu donner lieu à une lutte sérieuse et prolongée.’
It may be recalled (see C.N.s 824 and 861) that it was in connection with game 16 that the story arose of Capablanca falling asleep at the board. For example, on page 44 of Le match Capablanca Alekhine (Brussels, 1929) V. Soultanbéieff commented that, according to the United Press, this had occurred while Alekhine was reflecting on his 19th move and that Capablanca was not awoken by the match director until it was his move. A footnote on the same page stated that Alekhine had denied the sensational story.
Alekhine subsequently wrote about the matter in Auf dem Wege zur Weltmeisterschaft (Berlin and Leipzig, 1932), and here we quote the relevant passage from page 178 of the English edition, On the Road to the World Championship 1923-1927 (Oxford, 1984):
‘My decision to agree a draw so early is explained only by the quite unusual circumstances in which this game took place. In fact we were playing in the Jockey Club, not the usual venue, and it was so noisy there that we were forced to adjourn at move 24, i.e. even before the time control, in order to allow time for things to calm down. Later on, however, I was no longer in the mood for deep thought, and the game was agreed drawn without further ado.
Incidentally, the above lines may serve to show that the report that my opponent “fell asleep” during this game was nothing more than the invention of some witty newspaper man.’
We wonder whether any of the above has a bearing on C.N. 2403, which quoted an alleged incident reported on page 140 of the September 1928 Schweizerische Schachzeitung, in an account of the FIDE Congress in The Hague on 2 August. Below is our translation:
‘During one game in the world championship match, Mr Capablanca, who had the move and sufficient time in reserve, ventured to go into an adjoining room, leaving his clock running, in order to analyse the position in depth; this he did for an hour, on his pocket board. Since this case was not covered by the Regulations, the arbiter had no power to intervene. That power is now recognized: players must, except in case of absolute force majeure, remain under the surveillance of the arbiter.’
As mentioned on page 422 of Deutsches Wochenschach, 12 November 1911, at Capablanca’s simultaneous display in Mannheim on 29 October 1911 (+31 –1 =3) one of the draws was secured by Dr Erckenbrecht of Hockenheim. Hans-Georg Kleinhenz (Munich, Germany) has now found the game-score on page 8 of Akademisches Monatsheft für Schach, X. Reihe, Heft 7, February 1912:José Raúl Capablanca – Erckenbrecht
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nf3 Nxe4 5 d4 d5 6 Bd3 Bf5 7 O-O Nc6 8 Re1 Be7 9 c4 O-O 10 cxd5 Qxd5 11 Bxe4 Bxe4 12 Nc3 Bxf3 13 Nxd5 Bxd1 14 Nxe7+ Nxe7 15 Rxe7 Rfe8 16 Bg5 Rxe7 17 Bxe7 Re8 18 Bb4 Ba4 19 b3 Bd7 20 Rc1 c6 21 Kf1 Bf5 22 Rc3 Rd8 23 Bc5 b6 24 Ba3 Rxd4 25 Rxc6 Rd2 26 Bc1 Rxa2 27 h3 h6 28 b4 Bd3+ 29 Kg1 b5 30 Be3 a5 31 bxa5 Rxa5 32 Rb6 Ra2 33 Rb7 Rb2 34 Bc5 Rc2 Drawn.
The photograph below comes from Kh. R. Kapablanka Opyt kharakteristiki by E.A. Znosko-Borovsky (St Petersburg, 1911):
From Oliver Beck (Seattle, WA, USA):
‘In a bookstore I recently came across two boxes of books and other rare and interesting chess material which once belonged to Paul Hugo Little (Litwinsky). C.N. 4935 showed him at the board with Euwe and Alekhine during their game at Nottingham, 1936, in a photograph taken from Chess Review, and I wonder if he was seated there as an indirect result of the disturbance created by Euwe and others during the Flohr v Capablanca game in the third round (see A.J. Mackenzie’s comments on page 3 of the tournament book, as well as Alekhine’s note to Capablanca’s 37th move on page 59), although he may have received that privilege through his donation of prizes (page xiv). I am interested in learning more about this incident, which may have cost Capablanca sole possession of first place.
Little, who died in 1987, was an interesting character. His many notes in the material I acquired show him to have been a stickler for detail and accuracy. For example, among the newer books is a copy of With the Chess Masters which was signed and dedicated to him by George Koltanowski. This, however, did not stop Little from correcting it throughout with a ballpoint pen, finding many of the errors you pointed out on page 160 of Chess Explorations.’
Below are the passages by Alekhine and Mackenzie referred to by our correspondent:
Above: from Alekhine’s notes to Flohr v Capablanca, in the Nottingham, 1936 tournament book (with incorrect diagram)
From A.J. Mackenzie’s round-by-round commentary in the Nottingham, 1936 tournament book
An English translation (by Kenneth Neat) of all Capablanca’s notes to the Flohr game on page 2 of the 20 August 1936 issue of 64 appeared on page 279 of our book on the Cuban. Moreover, C.N. 211 mentioned that on page 166 of The Great Chess Tournaments and Their Stories (Radnor, 1975) A. Soltis expressed unjustified doubts about the account:
‘The only problem with Capablanca’s version of the incident is that the time limit was 36 moves in two hours, not 40. This would mean that Black’s blunder came after the time control.’
There is, though, a simple explanation. C.N. 211 quoted from page 314 of the Australasian Chess Review, November 1936:
‘The players were now so clock-pressed that they had not even been able to write down their last few moves. At any rate, Capablanca had not. Therefore, he did not know that he had made his 36. Hence this clock-blunder when the race was actually over.’
See also pages 432-433 of the September 1936 BCM and, in particular, the note to 37...Qc8:
‘Both players were so short of time they did not even know how many moves they had made. This explains the repetition of moves, and also their meaningless manoeuvres; and also how it happened that Black made a mistake when the time-limit was finished.’
The remainder of C.N. 5292 had a note about P.H. Little.
Page 251 of David DeLucia’s new book (see C.N. 5323) mentions that he acquired from Capablanca’s estate a copy of the mystery novel Death Took a Publisher by Norman Forrest. On the inside cover the Cuban’s widow, Olga, wrote that it was the last book he read. The front cover of our copy of the 128-page paperback is reproduced below:
C.N. 593 quoted from page 80 of Lessons from My Games by Reuben Fine (New York, 1958):
‘Both Alekhine and Capa were anxious to see Euwe do badly. I was rather amused when a most critical situation arose in my game with Euwe and both the ex-world champions whispered suggestions in my ear.’
Fine reiterated that claim about the game (a 19-move draw) on page 33 of his book Bobby Fischer’s Conquest of the World’s Chess Championship (New York, 1973):
‘... at the Nottingham tournament in 1936, when I was playing Euwe, then world champion after his defeat of Alekhine in 1935, both Alekhine and Capablanca spontaneously came up to me during the game to suggest moves, even though I had not asked them to do so.’
Manuel López (Mexico City) raises the subject of Capablanca v Tylor, Nottingham, 14 August 1936. After 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 g3 O-O 5 Bg2 d6 6 d4 Nc6 7 O-O Bg4 8 d5 Bxf3 9 exf3 Ne5 10 Qb3 Nfd7 11 Be3 b6 12 Nb5 c5 13 dxc6 Nxc6 14 f4 Qc8 15 Qa4 Nc5 16 Bxc5 dxc5 17 Nc3 Nd4
Alekhine’s tournament book (page 95) gave White’s 18th move as Rfe1.
Our correspondent believes that Capablanca played 18 Rae1 because otherwise, as Kenneth Frey Beckman has pointed out, the game continuation 18...e6 19 Re3 Rb8 20 Qxa7 would have allowed Black to win the exchange with 20...Nc2. Yet Tylor played 20...Rd8, and Alekhine made no comment.
We have copies of Capablanca’s score-sheets of 11 of his games at Nottingham, but unfortunately not the Tylor one. However, contemporary publications support Mr López’s belief that it was the queen’s rook that Capablanca moved to e1; for example, the October 1936 BCM (page 505), Chess Review, September 1936 (page 204) and Hans Kmoch’s tournament book (page 26).
This position (White to move) arose in the ninth match-game between Capablanca and Euwe in Amsterdam on 8 July 1931. The Cuban played 18 Rfb1 and the following year he discussed the game in a lecture in Havana which was reported on pages 242-243 of the August-September 1932 El Ajedrez Americano. He took issue with Znosko-Borovsky for the way he had criticized 18 Rfb1 ‘in his latest book on errors by grandmasters’. The Argentinian magazine, whose article was entitled ‘Capablanca refutes Znosko-Borovsky’, related (in our translation):
‘All the commentators – added Capablanca – had agreed on one assumption: that I should lose by means of the following continuation: 18...Nc4 (in the game Euwe played 18...O-O) 19 Qxb4 Rd1+ 20 Rxd1 (If 20 Bf1 Qxb4, followed by 21...Rxa1 and 22...Bh3.) 20...Qxb4 and Black would win.
This is clear and logical, but what the critics did not see, as our champion pointed out in his instructive and masterly lecture, is that White would have answered 18...Nc4 with 19 Nxf6+ ...
The main variation, according to Capablanca, would be 19...Kf7 (if 19...gxf6 then 20 Qxf6, attacking the bishop and the king’s rook and winning rather easily, and if instead 19...Ke7 then 20 Qxb4 with check) 20 Qxb4 Rd1+ 21 Rxd1 Qxb4 22 Ne4! and – still according to Capablanca – White should win despite the queen sacrifice. Black has many weak points, and the threats Rab1 and Ng5+ are difficult to neutralize. If, for instance, 22...h6, there would follow 23 Rab1 Qe7 (To protect the b-pawn.) 24 Bd6! Qd7 25 Nc5, followed by 26 Rxb7+, with gradual, decisive pressure.
Capablanca showed many variations to prove that after 22 Ne4!! it is only White who has winning chances.
Position (analysis) after 22 Ne4
Nonetheless, Capablanca declared that the critics were right to consider 18 Rfb1 inferior to 18 Rab1 (as El Ajedrez Americano mentioned in its annotations) but that although the move played by him was not the best it was far from leading to defeat.’
On page 279 of A Primer of Chess (London, 1935) Capablanca supplied the following assessment of 18 Rfb1:
Position after 25 Rd4 (analysis by Capablanca)
On page 213 of Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess (London, 1947) Harry Golombek gave the line ‘18...Nc4! and now if 19 Nxf6+ Kf7! 20 Qxb4 Rd1+ 21 Rxd1 Qxb4 22 Ne4 h6 23 Rab1 Qe7 24 Nd6+ Nxd6 25 Bxd6 Qd7 26 Be5 Qc8 and Black, having weathered the storm, should win easily enough’, without mentioning Capablanca or any other previous annotator. On page 237 of the algebraic edition (London, 1996) John Nunn added a footnote: ‘White can improve by 24 Bd6! winning the b7-pawn, after which White has a clear advantage. A more accurate 22nd move (possibly 22...Kg6) might give Black an edge, but he is certainly far from winning.’ It should be recalled that 24 Bd6! was given by Capablanca during his lecture.
Beyond the above analytical complexities – and see too page 37 of Schachmeister wie sie kämpfen und siegen by Alfred Brinckmann (Leipzig, 1932) – we should welcome clarification of Znosko-Borovsky’s involvement: where exactly did he criticize Capablanca’s play against Euwe at the time? We can find no book of his that would fit the bill, so was ‘book’ an error for ‘article’?
Illustration on page 177 of the December 1922 American Chess Bulletin
Many writers ascribe to Capablanca the axiom ‘Good players are always lucky’. How far back can the remark be traced, attributed to the Cuban or to anyone else?
We have found nothing published during Capablanca’s lifetime but can offer the following:
‘As they say in New York, the good player is always lucky.’
That was written by Reuben Fine on page 88 of the April 1942 Chess Review, when introducing a game between Seidman and Reshevsky. See too page 4 of Fine’s book Chess Marches On! (New York, 1945).
On the other hand, Fine wrote on page 131 of The World’s a Chessboard (Philadelphia, 1948):
‘It’s better to be lucky than good, Capa used to say.’
Fine’s book The World’s Great Chess Games (New York, 1951) had this on page 235:
‘... Capablanca’s profound observation that the good player is always lucky.’
Another specimen of auctorial embroidery:
‘Some years later [after the game Mieses v Capablanca, Berlin, 1913] a disgruntled player at the Manhattan Club was complaining bitterly about a great position he had botched and remarked of his opponent, “He sure is lucky”. Capablanca smiled sagely and rejoined, “Good players are lucky”. He may have had this game in mind.’
Source: page 158 of Impact of Genius by R.E. Fauber (Seattle, 1992).
See Luck in Chess.
Miquel Artigas (Sabadell, Spain) has acquired an even better version of the Barcelona, 1929 illustration than the ones shown in C.N.s 5134 and 5426:
Below is a detail:
Dominique Thimognier (St Cyr sur Loire, France) quotes the final paragraph of Raymond Chandler’s novel, featuring Philip Marlowe, The High Window (1942):
‘It was night. I went home and put my old house clothes on and set the chessmen out and mixed a drink and played over another Capablanca. It went 59 moves. Beautiful cold remorseless chess, almost creepy in its silent implacability.
When it was done I listened at the open window for a while and smelled the night. Then I carried my glass out to the kitchen and rinsed it and filled it with ice water and stood at the sink sipping it and looking at my face in the mirror.
“You and Capablanca”, I said.’
Our correspondent notes four victories by Capablanca in 59 moves (all as White): against J. Corzo (Havana, 1901), Oskam (Middelburg, 1911), Whitaker (Washington, 1915) and Horowitz (New York, 1931).
We add that the first of these was given on page 130 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975), with this concluding note:
‘An endgame of master class, apart from a few hesitations; but even a master would hardly play it as fast – a rate of 147 moves an hour.’
It seems highly unlikely, however, that the game was ever accessible to Chandler. Although published in the Cuban press at the time, it was long regarded as untraceable. It was presented in an article by Paul Leith on pages 325-326 of the November 1960 BCM, following research by Miguel Alemán.
The Oskam game was given on pages 38-39 of our monograph on Capablanca, taken from the Middelburgsche Courant of 9 September 1911. Our book (page 87) also included the Whitaker game, from pages 70-71 of the April 1915 American Chess Bulletin. Both victories occurred in simultaneous exhibitions.
Capablanca’s (tournament) win over Horowitz has always been readily available, without being widely anthologized.
The High Window has a number of references to chess, and particularly in chapter 15, which begins:
‘The chessmen, red and white bone, were lined up ready to go and had that sharp, competent and complicated look they always have at the beginning of a game.
... I opened a little paper-bound book of tournament games published in Leipzig, picked out a dashing-looking Queen’s Gambit, moved the white pawn to queen’s four, and the bell rang at the door.’
Two or three pages later Marlowe says to his visitors:
‘I play over tournament games that have been recorded and published. There’s a whole literature about chess. Once in a while I work out problems. They’re not chess, properly speaking. What are we talking about chess for? Drink?’
Philippe Kesmaecker (Maintenon, France) draws attention to a postcard, owned by Roger Chesnel, in which André Chéron discussed the game Důras-Capablanca, New York, 1913:
It seems strange that Chéron had appealed in the Gazette de Lausanne for what was, even then, a readily accessible game-score. Quite apart from contemporary magazines, it appeared in the Schachjahrbuch für 1913 and The Year-Book of Chess 1914.
Our collection includes a copy of Capablanca’s score-sheet. The times are indicated as five hours for White and two hours 55 minutes for Black.
Luca D’Ambrosio informs us of a new novel about Capablanca, by Fabio Stassi: La rivincita di Capablanca (Rome, 2008):
Information about sites commemorating the birth-place of chess masters is being sought. Our first example is from opposite page 80 of Homenaje a José Raúl Capablanca (Havana, 1943):
Capablanca was born in the Castillo del Príncipe, Havana, where the above tarja was constructed to commemorate his 50th birthday.
This photograph from opposite page 80 of Homenaje a José Raúl Capablanca (Havana, 1943) shows a tarja constructed in 1938 at Capablanca’s birth-place, the Castillo del Príncipe in Havana, to commemorate his 50th birthday:
Now, Yandy Rojas Barrios (Cárdenas, Cuba) sends a set of pictures of the Castillo, courtesy of the Photograph Library of the San Gerónimo de La Habana College and its Director, Eusebio Leal Spengler:
The first three photographs are undated. The others were taken in, respectively, 1928, 1929, 1934, 1935 and 1937.
Olimpiu G. Urcan notes that additions continue to be made to the Library of Congress photograph collection and he draws particular attention to a pair of pictures of Capablanca dated 1915.
The following shot appeared on page 278 of The Golden Dozen by Irving Chernev (Oxford, 1976):
The Library’s conditions for use of its pictures should be noted. A search for chess photographs at the website also yields a good shot of Tartakower and Edward Lasker.
Pages 318-349 of the November 2008 issue of the Moscow magazine Караван (Karavan) have an extensive article Капабланка: гений игры for which we supplied a number of photographs of Capablanca and his second wife. The other illustrations include, courtesy of the Agence France-Presse, a shot of Alekhine outside the Café de la Paix, Paris in 1927.
The photograph of Alekhine was subsequently given in C.N.s 11607 and 11616.
Lawrence Totaro (Las Vegas, NV, USA) sends this photograph of Mae Clarke (1910-92) with Capablanca in 1933:
A typewritten paragraph on the reverse side states that Capablanca ‘was the guest recently of Mae Clarke, actress, on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer set making Turn Back the Clock’.
Capablanca was in Los Angeles in April 1933 (C.N. 4151). We see no mention of him in Featured Player An Oral Autobiography of Mae Clarke edited by James Curtis (Santa Barbara and London, 1996). The two photographs below come from that book:
From our archives:
Stéphane Pilawski (Liège, Belgium) notes Capablanca’s use of ‘Joseph’ as his first forename on the marriage licence application (C.N. 6044) and asks whether other such occurrences can be found. We recall none.
Page 250 of David DeLucia’s Chess Library A Few Old Friends (Darien, 2007) reproduced Capablanca’s identity card, issued by the Belgian Foreign Affairs Ministry and dated 17 July 1935. His name appeared as ‘José Raul Capablanca’.
The ‘standard’ spelling of his second forename is ‘Raúl’, but it may be recalled from The Genius and the Princess that in a love letter (dated 30 April 1935) in our collection Capablanca signed himself ‘Raoul’:
Regarding Bogoljubow v Capablanca, Bad Kissingen, 1928 Irving Chernev wrote on page 238 of Combinations The Heart of Chess (New York, 1960):
‘For Capablanca this victory must have been especially gratifying. It proved once again that Bogoljubow had been deluding himself when he made the statement, “There is nothing more to fear from the Capablanca technique”.’
Where did Bogoljubow make such a statement?
Robert Sherwood (E. Dummerston, VT, USA) draws attention to this passage by Bogoljubow on page ix of his book on the Moscow, 1925 tournament:
Our correspondent’s translation:
‘The sporting result of the tournament is as follows.
It has been shown that advanced age does not preclude the highest achievements. Dr Lasker, who for the third time finished ahead of Capablanca, must without question be considered the most successful master of all time. His play yet again is enterprising and almost youthfully fresh.
Further, it is apparent that Capablanca finds it very difficult to separate himself from his dry style of play. His technique, on the other hand, has been at least equalled by Bogoljubow and is not especially feared by the other masters.’
In an item written in Havana on 30 April 1921 Lasker commented regarding Capablanca:
‘Aus seinen Zügen liest sich sein Gedanke ab, selbst da, wo er listig sein will. Ob er auf Remis oder Gewinn spielt oder zu verlieren fürchtet, sein Zug verkündet laut, was er fühlt. Bei alledem sind seine Züge, wiewohl durchsichtig, keineswegs naheliegend, und oft tief.’
Source: page 30 of Lasker’s booklet Mein Wettkampf mit Capablanca (Berlin and Leipzig, 1926).
We are grateful to Ralf Binnewirtz (Meerbusch, Germany) and Richard Forster (Zurich, Switzerland) for pointing out a mistranslation on page 111 of our book on Capablanca. The various meanings of the German word Züge, which Lasker used three times, include (a) facial features and (b) moves (in chess) – quite apart from (c) trains. From the way the passage begins, (a) would seem a plausible interpretation, but our correspondents inform us that (b) is the meaning throughout.
A revised translation therefore reads:
‘From his moves you can read his thoughts, even when he is trying to deceive you. Whether he is playing for a draw or a win, or is afraid of losing, his move proclaims aloud what he feels. For all that, his moves, although transparent, are by no means obvious and are often deep.’
Wanted: contemporary substantiation of a remark supposedly made by Lasker to Capablanca:
‘A week or so earlier [compared to 26 July 1914] these two masters had met in Berlin, where they played a rapid-transit match of ten games. Capablanca won 6½:3½, and afterwards Lasker is alleged to have said, “It is remarkable: you make no mistakes”.’
Source: The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975), page 168.
Irving Chernev gave the words as ‘It is remarkable; you never seem to make a mistake’ in Chess Review, April 1954 (inside front cover and page 125) and as ‘Young man, you play remarkable chess! You never make a mistake!’ on page 234 of Combinations The Heart of Chess (New York, 1960).
Our collection includes copies of many letters addressed to Capablanca, and three are reproduced below:
C.N. 6133 reproduced a letter dated 28 March 1928 to Capablanca from Carl Laemmle, the President of the Universal Pictures Corporation, which showed the Cuban’s address:
‘Villa Gloria, 4th Ave.,
Buena Vista, Marianao,
Two further letters of which we have copies:
The recipient appears to be the Dutch journalist George Nypels (1885-1977), the then Vienna correspondent of the Algemeen Handelsblad.
Frederick S. Rhine (Park Ridge, IL, USA) notes that on page 61 of our Capablanca chapter in World Chess Champions (Oxford, 1981) we wrote regarding the 1921 match for the world crown:
‘Despite the valiant efforts of the man who had held the title for 27 years, the Cuban could, and did, claim that, far from losing a game in the whole match, not once had he actually been in a markedly inferior position.’
However, Capablanca’s notes to the tenth game, given on pages 59-60, included an observation that in this position (after his 16th move, ...Nb6-d5) ...
... the line 17 Bxf6 Bxf6 18 Bxd5 exd5 19 Qf5 would have left him ‘with a very hard game to defend’.
Given that ‘a markedly inferior position’ is more or less synonymous with ‘a very hard game to defend’, Mr Rhine wonders to what extent there is a contradiction between our statement and Capablanca’s note. We are grateful to him for raising an interesting matter and offer below some non-exhaustive jottings:
1) Capablanca wrote on page 376 of the October 1922 BCM (in his reply to Lasker):
‘The one outstanding feature of the match and the one that most critics overlook is that not once did he have a won game. A feat to be very proud of, as up to the present it is unique in the annals of championship matches.’
On other occasions the Cuban may have phrased the claim differently, but the above is its most prominent occurrence.
2) The annotations in which Capablanca stated that the 17 Bxf6 line would have left him ‘with a very hard game to defend’ were published over a dozen years later, on page 210 of A Primer of Chess (London, 1935):
3) In his match book (published in New York in 1921) Capablanca made no comment on moves 16-18. He merely stated after 15...Bb5:
‘With this move and the following, Black brings about an exchange of pieces, which leaves him with a free game.’
This stands in contrast with his remark in A Primer of Chess (shown in the illustration above) that 15...Bb5 was ‘a weak move which might have given Black a great deal of trouble’.
Thus Capablanca’s initial (1921) assessment of the play around moves 15-17 changed considerably later on.
4) That phase of the game became the subject of close examination, as is shown by the following:
‘Here is the famous position which has appeared all over the world because of Breyer’s sensational analysis giving White the better game. Bogoljubow has subjected this analysis to searching scrutiny, however, and shown that Black can still escape with an even game.’
‘Apart from its intrinsic interest, this analysis is of considerable importance in substantiating the claim that at no stage in his match with Lasker did Capablanca ever obtain a really inferior position.’
‘The position at move 17 may justly be said to be one of the great historic occasions of chess. Had Lasker avoided loss, the course of chess history would have been very different.’
‘It is unique among championship matches in that the winner never seemed to have a lost position. That was Capablanca’s own considered view, and subsequent analysis has done nothing to shake it.’
‘Breyer proposed the illogical-looking 17 Bxf6 as offering White winning chances, but Bogoljubow’s analysis showed that Black had a draw in all variations, and vindicated Capablanca’s claim of never having been in a losing position in his match with Lasker.’
We hope that a master analyst will go into the matter in depth, so that it can be established exactly how strong Lasker’s winning chances would have been after 17 Bxf6.
We add the relevant part of the annotations by Bogoljubow on pages 60-61 of volume two of his work Klassische Schachpartien (Berlin and Leipzig, 1926):
Christian Sánchez points out an interview with Capablanca by Adelardo Fernández Arias in ABC on 12 May 1932.
Many of the standard interview topics were covered. In particular, the Cuban complained about being unable to obtain a rematch with Alekhine and said that FIDE was not strong enough to run the world championship. He was sure that he could regain the title, and especially if Alekhine lost in the early games, which would demoralize him. Capablanca evoked race and climate when stating that Slavs were the best chessplayers. He also commented that he had earned more money from chess than anyone else, although the sums to be derived from the game were not high. He believed that chess should be taught in schools to help children organize their thoughts and, regarding actual play, expressed a particular liking for pawns. Asked about women players, Capablanca named only Vera Menchik, whom he described as ‘very strong’. On the subject of important games, as a curiosity he referred to a simultaneous display in Moscow in 1925 at which the People’s Commissars Rykov and Krylenko were present. He added that Trotsky was a good player, as Lenin had been. Among chessplaying celebrities, he mentioned the pianist Rosenthal.
‘I know at sight what a position contains. What could happen? What is going to happen? You figure it out. I know it!’
The full context of this quote was supplied on pages 85-86 of our book on Capablanca: it appeared in an article by Howard L. Dolde in the Pittsburgh newspaper the Gazette Times and was reproduced on page 99 of the May-June 1916 issue of the American Chess Bulletin. The occasion was a simultaneous display in Pittsburgh (the Cuban’s score being +51 –0 =1) on 3 May 1916.
Now we are able to add the exact reference regarding Dolde’s column: the Pittsburgh Gazette Times of 7 May 1916, sixth section, page 8.
Below is the text published on page 99 of the May-June 1916 American Chess Bulletin, which quoted from Howard L. Dolde’s column in the Pittsburgh Gazette Times of 7 May 1916, sixth section, page 8:
Chess chatterers have availed themselves of the remark, and the following ‘once’ version comes from page 112 of Impact of Genius by R.E. Fauber (Seattle, 1992):
‘In our age of chess databases and rapidly circulated tournament bulletins, Lasker’s accomplishments seem the more awesome. José Capablanca once winked at a friend during a master tournament and gestured to the hall of players worrying [sic] their games. “They think; I know”, he said. Lasker was the opposite. He was never sure, but he was always willing to think about how his opponent’s last move had altered the balance of position and to analyze in long steps.’
Also in the next paragraph (headed ‘The Curse of Capablanca’), almost every assertion by Fauber can be queried:
‘Since Capablanca’s first phenomenal success at San Sebastian, 1911 the Cuban had been trying to get a match with Lasker. The young man was supremely confident, and Lasker was consistently afraid. Put another way, Lasker did not need the money, having pocketed a bundle from 1909 to 1910. Why should he risk his principal asset?’
Postage stamps issued by Cuba in 2008 which feature Capablanca:
The well-known shot of Capablanca at the board was published on page 414 of CHESS, 14 July 1936:
Nick Pinkerton (Bracknell, England) notes that the board position arose in Capablanca’s first-round game against P.S. Milner-Barry at Margate, 1936. The absence of a score-sheet may suggest that the picture was staged, but we have no further information. The game was given on pages 333-334 of CHESS, 14 May 1936 accompanied by a sketch:
A contribution from Olimpiu G. Urcan is this page from Das interessante Blatt of 26 March 1914:
Concerning Capablanca’s play in Vienna against Réti, as well as Fähndrich and Kaufmann, in 1914 see page 72 of our book on the Cuban. The game-scores were given in The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975).
Mr Urcan asks whether it is possible to identify any of the other players in the photograph. In particular, is Arthur Kaufmann there? Our correspondent informs us that he has Kaufmann’s death certificate and will, which show that he died in 1938, and not circa 1940 as given in Jeremy Gaige’s Chess Personalia.
Erwin Huber (Munich, Germany) notes that when the Capablanca v Réti photograph appeared opposite page 81 of Ernst Franz Grünfeld by Michael Ehn (Vienna, 1993) the man standing second from the right was identified as Grünfeld.
Jeremy Silman (Los Angeles, CA, USA) asks about the circumstances of Capablanca’s loss to Roy T. Black at New York in 1911 (a Sicilian Wing Gambit).
Contrary to appearances, the game was played, on 25 January 1911, in a serious event: the national tournament in New York. From page 50 of the March 1911 American Chess Bulletin:
‘Capablanca lost only one game, in the fourth round, when he was opposed to R.T. Black, of Brooklyn. Against him, Capablanca, before he had really settled down to serious work, played a gambit variation of the Sicilian Defense, a course he had reason to regret. It was surprising to find Capablanca, after six games, with a score of 3½ to 2½, yet such was the case and it required six successive wins in the remaining rounds to enable him to get as close to Marshall as he did.’
The same issue (pages 56-57) had the game against R.T. Black, with annotations by Walter Penn Shipley:
Among the few books to have annotated the game are Capablancas Verlustpartien by Fritz C. Görschen (Hamburg, 1976) and the first volume of the ‘Chess Stars’ anthology on Capablanca (Sofia, 1997).
The Cuban, for his part, gave this account towards the end of Chapter IV of My Chess Career (London, 1920):
‘In the winter of 1910-1911 I made another tour of the US. A tournament was arranged in New York, which I entered with the idea of practising for the coming tournament at San Sebastian. The New York tournament started in January. I rode on a train 27 hours straight from Indianapolis, the last city of my tournée, to New York. I arrived at nine in the morning and had to start at eleven the same day, and play every day thereafter. I was so fatigued that I played badly during the first part of the contest. Half of it was over and I was yet in fifth place, though the only opponent of real calibre was Marshall. I finally began to play better, and by winning five [six, in fact] consecutive games finished second to Marshall.’
1 d4 d5 2 e3 Nf6 3 Bd3 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 f4 e6 6 Nf3 Ne4 7 O-O f5 8 Ne5 Nxe5 9 fxe5 Bd7 10 Nd2 Be7 11 Nxe4 dxe4 12 Bc4 b5 13 Bb3 c4 14 Bc2 O-O 15 Bd2 Bc6 16 Qh5 Qe8 17 Qxe8 Rfxe8 18 a4 a6 19 b4 Reb8 20 Ra2 g5 21 Rfa1 Kf7 22 axb5 axb5 23 Rxa8 Bxa8 24 Ra7 Bb7 25 Bd1 Kg6 26 g3 Bd8 27 Be2 Bb6 28 Ra1 h5 29 h4 Ra8 30 Rxa8 Bxa8 31 Kf2 Bd8 32 hxg5 Bxg5
33 Bf1 h4 34 Bc1 Bc6 35 Kg2 Be8 36 Kh3 hxg3 37 Kxg3 Kh5 38 Be2+ Kh6 Drawn.
Such a quiet game seemingly deserves scant attention, but that may not be so. It was played by Marshall and Capablanca in the fifth round of the New York tournament on 26 January 1911 (the day after the Capablanca v Black game discussed in C.N. 6239). Page 9 of the New York Times, 27 January 1911 reported:
‘The game did not produce the exciting play hoped for, as both players were ultra-conservative, taking no chances whatever, the game finally being recorded as a draw after 38 moves.’
Page 49 of the March 1911 American Chess Bulletin made the general remark on the tournament that ‘not a hitch occurred to mar the smoothness of the proceedings’, and the game-score was given on page 58 of the same issue:
However, a report on page 71 of Deutsches Wochenschach, 19 February 1911 (based on an account in the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung) suggested a less pleasant story:
The report was picked up on page 100 of the March 1911 BCM:
What is to be made of all this? We note that the game-scores in the American Chess Bulletin and Deutsches Wochenschach are slightly different (leaving aside the discrepancy over 38...Kh6/Kg6). According to the Bulletin, play from our diagram above continued 33 Bf1 h4 34 Bc1 Bc6, whereas the German magazine gave 33 Be1 h4 34 Bf1 Bc6. In the latter version, 34...Bc6 would indeed deserve a question mark, since Black can play 34...hxg3+. If, though, the game-score in the Bulletin is accurate, the story of a missed win collapses.
‘The Cuban world champion José Capablanca admitted that he learned only from his losses.’
Source: Evans on Chess by Larry Evans (New York, 1974), page 17.
‘... from few won games have I learned as much as I have from most of my defeats.’
Source: Author’s note in My Chess Career by J.R. Capablanca (London, 1920) and quoted on page 40 of Evans on Chess.
The first photograph below, featuring Mordecai Morgan on the right, was published in Walter Penn Shipley by John S. Hilbert (Jefferson, 2003), and is reproduced here with Dr Hilbert’s permission. In the second photograph, which comes from our collection, Capablanca’s opponent may be Isaac L. Rice. We estimate that the pictures were taken in 1915, but information on the occasion is unavailable. The board positions appear similar, if not identical.
Marc Hébert (Charny, Canada) raises the subject of Capablanca’s game against S. Coleman which was given on pages 83-84 of the April 1911 American Chess Bulletin:
Sol Coleman – José Raúl Capablanca
Memphis, 12 December 1910
1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d3 Nc6 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 Bd2 Bxc3 6 Bxc3 d5 7 Bb5 dxe4 8 Bxc6+ bxc6 9 Bxe5 Qe7 10 d4 Qb4+ 11 c3 Qxb2 12 Qc1 Qxc1+ 13 Rxc1 Nd5 14 Ne2 f5 15 Bf4 Ba6 16 c4 Nb4 17 O-O Nxa2 18 Rc2 Nb4 19 Rc3 Kd7 20 Rd1 g5 21 Bc1
21...Nd3 22 d5 cxd5 23 cxd5 Nxc1 24 Nxc1 Rab8 25 Nb3 Rb5 26 Nc5+ Rxc5 27 Rxc5 Rb8 28 Rdc1 Rb6 29 Rxc7+ Kd6 30 Rxa7 Kxd5 31 Rxh7 Bd3 32 h3 e3 33 Rd7+ Ke4 34 f3+ Kf4 35 Rxd3 g4 36 Kh2 e2 37 g3+ Resigns.
Mr Hébert notes that the game was discussed by Vlastimil Fiala on pages 72-74 of the Winter 2000 edition of the Quarterly for Chess History, also on the basis of publication of the score in the Commercial Appeal of 18 December 1910. A divergence was noted at move 21, and the rest of the game according to the Commercial Appeal was:
21...Kd6 22 d5 cxd5 23 cxd5 Na2 24 Rc2 Nxc1 25 Nxc1 Rab8 26 Nb3 Rb5 27 Rc6+ Kd7 28 Nc5+ Rxc5 29 Rxc5 Rb8 30 Rdc1 Rb6 31 Rxc7+ Kd6 32 Rxa7 Kxd5 33 Rxh7 Bd3 34 h3 e3 35 Rd7+ Ke4 36 f3+ Kf4 37 Rxd3 Resigns.
The Quarterly gave ‘O-1’ at the end of both versions, but the remainder of the item confirms that Coleman won. The American Chess Bulletin version was included by Rogelio Caparrós in the 1991 and 1994 editions of The Games of José Raúl Capablanca. He too put ‘O-1’ and, also for reasons unknown, gave the venue as New York instead of Memphis and, in the indexes, had a different date (6 November 1910).
Information sought: who is pictured with Capablanca?
From page 936 of volume five of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004), in the entry on J.H. Blackburne:
‘When the great players of the world met for the London tournament of 1922 he was too ill to attend. In the autumn of that year J.R. Capablanca, the world champion, visited him at his bedside.’
Is any further information available?
Luis Gavilondo (Madrid) is seeking the score of a game played by his elder brother Enrique (1925-70) in a simultaneous display against Capablanca in Pinar del Río, Cuba on 8 March 1941.
At the time, Enrique Gavilondo was the junior champion of Cuba, and our correspondent believes that the game, a draw, was opened by Capablanca with 1 e3.
Pages 304-305 of our book on Capablanca gave the six games of an odds match which he won in Havana in March 1941 against three leading Cuban players. The scores were published in Ajedrez Cubano by Mario Figueredo (Havana, 1941), and from that scarce book we now reproduce nine photographs featuring Capablanca:
It is common knowledge that Capablanca participated in only one Olympiad (Buenos Aires, 1939), though not common enough. From page 35 of The Big Book of Chess by Eric Schiller (New York, 2006):
‘The reigning champion, Jose Capablanca, had played in the initial 1927 Olympiad event.’
From page 72 of Chess Pie, 1922:
Page 316 of our book on Capablanca mentioned that The Times of 30 March 1922 (page 16) had a photograph of the Cuban in Paris playing Aurbach ‘at the table used by the Emperor Napoleon’. The picture is reproduced below:
Can a copy of better quality be found?
The request in C.N. 6481 for a better copy of this photograph has been answered by Eduardo Bauzá Mercére. It comes from page 6 of the picture section of the New York Times, 30 April 1922:
Detail of the board.
Stéphane Pilawski asks us to give a high-resolution copy of what he considers one of the most impressive photographs of Capablanca (the frontispiece to our monograph on the Cuban).
Tony Gillam (Nottingham, England) forwards this cutting from page 12 of the New-York Tribune, 9 February 1913:
John Blackstone (Las Vegas, NV, USA) forwards a feature from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1 July 1926:
For a photograph of Miss Murray see C.N. 5991.
In its report on the Lake Hopatcong, 1926 tournament, the American Chess Bulletin related on pages 87-88 of the July-August issue:
‘Partnered by Marshall, on 13 July Miss Marian Murray played a consultation game against Dr B.M. Anderson Jr of New York and Charles Murray, the girl’s father. The game, a Queen’s Gambit Declined, was drawn in 41 moves. Marshall spoke well of his little ally’s play. ... A tussle on the chessboard between Max Rosen of the Manhattan Chess Club and Miss Murray resulted in favor of the famous violinist.’
In a list of visitors to Lake Hopatcong the same page of the Bulletin mentioned ‘Mr and Mrs Charles Murray and daughter, Marian, Tulsa, Okla.’.
Regarding the simultaneous display, the report in the New York Times of 28 June 1926 (Sports/radio section, page 14) said that the sole player to score even half a point against Capablanca was ‘Miss Marion V. Murray, who is 12 years of age’. This account of the exhibition was published on page 104 of the July-August 1926 American Chess Bulletin:
The Marion/Marian discrepancy needs to be cleared up, as does the question of her age at that time (12 or 14).
Capablanca’s game against Albert T. Leise is available in databases, but the singular circumstances of a simultaneous game played by telephone are worth noting. Leise ‘had been a shut-in most of his life’ stated page 140 of the September-October 1928 American Chess Bulletin, after his death on 30 September that year, at the age of 28. Page 18 of the 1 October 1928 issue of the New York Times reported that Leise ‘had been an invalid at his home since boyhood’ and described him as ‘one of the best known chessplayers in the United States’. Leise was certainly prominent in correspondence chess, and two specimens of his play were annotated by him on pages 212-213 of the December 1921 American Chess Bulletin. See also pages 43-47 of Correspondence Chess in America by Bryce D. Avery (Jefferson, 2000).
Little has been written about the beginnings of Capablanca’s diplomatic career, but Tony Gillam has submitted this report from page 3 of the New-York Tribune, 4 July 1913:
White to move
In a recent ChessBase article about copying we commented on a game (Marshall v Capablanca, fifth match-game, New York, 1909) in which many writers have claimed that White overlooked an immediate win with 45 Qe8+ Kg5 46 f4+ Kg4 (or 46...Kf6 47 Qh8+) 47 Qe2 mate. As is well known, no such win was missed because in the game Marshall’s queen stood not on c6 but on b6.
The oldest citation for the faulty position which was listed by Irving Chernev in his fine scrutiny of the matter (e.g. on page 128 of the May 1951 Chess Review) was ‘Gutmayer’s Schach-Praktiker on page 10’. That book (full title: Der fertige Schach-Praktiker) was originally published in Leipzig, undated but with a Foreword written by Gutmayer in October 1921. The second edition, from the same publisher, was dated 1923. Only the latter volume had the position allegedly from the Marshall v Capablanca game, on page 31:
The mix-up in the diagram and the caption regarding White and Black (as well as the incorrect date – the game was played in April 1909) may be noted. The solution on page 135 also went awry:
Was this the publication to which Chernev was referring, even though he wrote ‘page 10’?
In C.N 2359 we wrote:
‘When Deutsche Schachblätter published the game on page 67 of its 5 September 1909 issue it gave White’s 43rd move as Qc6+ instead of Qb6. After a consequently incorrect diagram following Black’s 44th move the magazine reported that some chessplayers in Hamburg had found that White could have achieved mate or the win of the queen.’
See also the mishandling of this matter by Larry Evans.
José Raúl Capablanca by I. and V. Linder (Milford, 2010) stands out on one account only: its bibliography may be the most error-ridden ever published in a chess book. Although only four pages long, it features dozens of typos and other mistakes (with a far higher total if foreign accents are considered too). For an example we go no further than the first entry (on page 268):
No edition of Chess Fundamentals has contained an After ward (or Afterword) by Cherner (or Chernev). The book in question was My Chess Career.
A photograph on page 66 of the 7-8/1974 issue of the Cuban magazine Jaque Mate:
Full-page article (by Carlos A. Palacio)
From Calle Erlandsson (Lund, Sweden) comes this first-day cover (issued on 1 November 1951) with the signatures of Zenaida Capablanca, Gloria Capablanca de Palacios, Graziella Capablanca, Aída Capablanca and José R. Capablanca Jr.:
Ryan Paulis (Amsterdam) informs us that much Euwe-related footage is now available online, including an unmissable item which features Capablanca speaking.
Note on 6 December 2019: at present, the best available link appears to be on YouTube.
Further to the above items, we are grateful to Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) for these screen-shots of Capablanca and Euwe with Han Hollander (1886-1943)
White to move
This position arose at the end of Janowsky v Capablanca, New York, 1916. White played 46 Rxe6+, and on page 217 of The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played (New York, 1965) Irving Chernev wrote:
‘A spite check. Janowsky must realize there isn’t one chance in a million that Capablanca will move 46...K-R4, and allow himself to be mated.’
Chernev wrote similarly on page 96 of his book on Capablanca’s endings.
Naturally the Cuban played 46...Kh7, whereupon Janowsky resigned. Even so, the following appeared at the bottom of page 39 of Bobby Fischer and his Predecessors in the World Chess Championship by Max Euwe (London, 1976):
The mistake was left uncorrected in the US edition, Bobby Fischer – The Greatest? (New York, 1979). The Dutch version of the book, Fischer en zijn voorgangers (Baarn, 1975), was also wrong. From page 72:
Strangely, the imprint page indicates that the English edition came first and was translated into Dutch by Euwe:
In fact, Bobby Fischer and his Predecessors in the World Chess Championship was dated 1976, not 1975, and did not appear until summer 1977 (BCM, July 1977, page 314). On page vi of the book Euwe wrote:
‘I am very grateful to Mr Steve Wygle of Columbus, Ohio, for his careful reading of the entire manuscript, for his checking of the accuracy of the scores of the games, and for his valuable suggestions on the organization of the material. I wish to thank my friend and collaborator, Dr Walter Meiden, of the Ohio State University, for his suggestions on presentation and style.’
Are more details available about the exact genesis of Euwe’s ‘predecessors’ work?
A paragraph about Euwe by Walter Meiden on page 21 of the April 1982 Chess Life:
‘He was modest and unassuming; he tried to look at things from an unbiased point of view. He insisted on including in The Road to Chess Mastery, which had only master vs amateur games, one that he had lost to Capablanca – Game 7. “I played like an amateur in that game”, he said, and he showed in his marvelously clear way just how Capablanca won.’
The game was played at London, 1922.
Bigelow’s Introduction to Masters of the Chess Board also included, on page ix, this paragraph about Réti:
‘As a composer of endgames he was in a class by himself among the masters. His “positions” were all apparently simple and “natural-looking”, but in the words of the then world champion, José Raúl Capablanca: “Réti’s endings are the only ones worth solving and the only ones to give me trouble.”’
We have no information as to the source of the remark attributed to Capablanca.
The Cuban wrote briefly about Réti’s book on page 82 of A Primer of Chess (London, 1935):
‘There are besides some interesting books of various kinds that are very useful to the expert or near-expert. One of the most interesting is Réti’s Masters of the Chess Board. I refer only to the part written by Réti himself. He died before the book was finished and someone else wrote the last part of the book, which cannot be compared with the first.’
Capablanca’s criticism may mystify readers of the British edition of Réti’s book (London, 1933). It ended with a 23-page section on Alekhine, whereas in the US edition that chapter was followed by further material: brief sections on Grünfeld, Euwe, Sämisch, Colle and Torre, with a single annotated game per master and no discussion. For example, page 420 began:
Page vii of Bigelow’s Introduction (which was also absent from the British edition of the book) supplied an explanation:
We do not read that text as justifying any suggestion of ghosting.
The front cover of Time, 7 December 1925:
The photograph is merely a cut-out from a New York, 1924 group shot (given in C.N. 5372).
A fine portrait published around that time, although taken about a decade earlier, was in a Russian edition of Chess Fundamentals, i.e. the frontispiece of Osnovy shakhmatnoi igry (Petrograd, 1924):
This may be compared with the silhouette of the Cuban shown in C.N. 4113.
Some clarifications are offered regarding Capablanca’s victory over Leon L. Labatt in a simultaneous display in New Orleans in April 1915. Pages 61-62 of Het Schaakphenomeen José Raoul Capablanca y Graupera by M. Euwe and L. Prins (The Hague, 1949) stated that the Cuban had described it as one of the finest games ever played in a simultaneous exhibition and that he would have been proud to play it against a single opponent. See also pages 151-152 of The Unknown Capablanca by D. Hooper and D. Brandreth (London, 1975), which gave Capablanca’s notes to the game, taken (but also adapted) from pages 114-115 of the May-June 1915 American Chess Bulletin. The Cuban’s annotations in the Bulletin were, in turn, slightly different from what had appeared on page 3 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of 22 April 1915, and for the record we show that earlier version:
1 c4 f5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 g3 e5 4 Bg2 Bc5 5 d3 Nc6 6 e3 a6 7 Nge2 Ba7 8 O-O d6 9 Nd5 O-O 10 b3 Ne7 11 Bb2 c6 12 Nxf6+ gxf6 13 d4 Ng6 14 f4 e4 15 Nc3 d5 16 Qh5 Be6 17 Bh3 Qd7 18 cxd5 cxd5 19 Rac1 b5 20 Rf2 Rac8 21 Rfc2 Kg7 22 Bf1 (‘Threatening a4, in due time, and to obtain control of the open file.’) 22...Qb7 (‘To prevent a4, but, as will be seen, not the best move, since it permits White to play g4. Black, to be sure, did not at the time think that his position was quite so delicate that even the best move might not avail.’) 23 g4 (‘The beginning of a very fine and effective combination, of which one might well be proud if played even in a single-handed contest and not in a simultaneous display, as in the present case.’) 23...Qd7 (23....Ne7 would have been better.’) 24 gxf5 Bxf5
25 Nxd5 (‘The deadly stroke that destroys Black’s carefully prepared defense.’) 25...Rxc2 (‘If 25...Bg4 26 Bh3, etc, or, better yet, 26 Rxc8 Rxc8 27 Nxf6! Of course, if 26...Qxd5 27 Rxc8 Rxc8 28 Rxc8, winning.’) 26 Rxc2 Qxd5 (‘Again, if 26...Bg4 27 Bh3.’) 27 Rc7+ Rf7 28 Rxf7+ Kxf7 29 Qxh7+ Ke6 (‘Better would have been 29...Ke8, but in any event the game was lost, as 30 Qxa7 would follow, giving White a game that could be easily won.’) 30 Qg8+ Kd6 31 Ba3+ Kc6 32 Qa8+ Resigns.
A slightly different version of the notes was on page 258 of the July 1915 BCM, although credited to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The introduction to the game in the BCM included this remark: ‘The Cuban master is reported to have stated that he considers it will rank amongst the finest games ever produced in simultaneous chess and he would have been proud had he produced it against a single opponent.’ However, the cutting above shows that the observation ‘will rank among the finest ever produced by a master in simultaneous play’ was not by Capablanca.
We wonder whether the game has ever been annotated in detail. Concerning the exact date, further verification is needed. The Cuban gave three simultaneous displays in New Orleans in April 1915. The Unknown Capablanca (page 151) put 6 April 1915 as the date of the win over Labatt, and the table on page 187 recorded a score of +16 –0 =0 in that exhibition. However, the above newspaper report states that Capablanca won all 19 games, and 19 is also the figure given for that third display on page 114 of the May-June 1915 American Chess Bulletin. Page 224 of the August 1915 issue of La Stratégie had the heading ‘Jouée le avril dans une séance de parties simultanées’. Unsurprisingly, Rogelio Caparrós’ anthology of Capablanca games was far from helpful. Pages 210-211 of the 1991 edition gave the game-score twice, with different dates (6 April 1915 and 9 May 1915). The 1994 (‘revised’) edition had the game once only (on page 196) and plumped for 9 May 1915, i.e. more than a fortnight after the game had appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
This advertisement on an inside cover page of the October 1956 BCM states that the Hollings Chess Salon was established in 1892, but we are also intrigued by the reference to ‘a catalogue of the Chess Library of the late Mr Christopher Ogle’. Does any reader have a copy of that catalogue?
Our interest in Ogle was prompted many years ago by the well-known anecdote regarding London, 1922, and for ease of reference C.N. 3083 is reproduced here:
If chess literature is to feature anecdotes, let them at least have a point. One story, set during the London, 1922 tournament, which has some purpose was related by David Hooper in the Capablanca entry of Anne Sunnucks’ Encyclopaedia of Chess:
‘These two rivals [Capablanca and Alekhine] were taken to a variety show by a patron, Mr Ogle, who recalled that Capablanca never took his eyes off the chorus, whilst Alekhine never looked up from his pocket chess set.’
In the first edition of The Oxford Companion to Chess (the Alekhine entry) the patron was named in full as Christopher Ogle, and in at least one other modern outlet he has been described as a ‘chess patron’. That remains to be demonstrated, but our particular interest is in knowing the source of the Ogle/ogling recollection and whether there are further reminiscences from London, 1922.
From our archives comes this photograph of Euwe during his match with Capablanca in 1931:
Another photograph from the 1931 match, in our 1989 monograph on Capablanca:
C.N. 7058 shows five letters from Euwe to Capablanca, written in 1936, about the world chess championship. See also our feature article on Max Euwe.
John Blackstone forwards this report by Emanuel Lasker in the New York Evening Post of 6 June 1914:
‘St Petersburg, 24 May – The last days of the tourney were exciting. I beat Capablanca, and thus obtained an even score with him. A huge crowd followed the game, and applauded enthusiastically at the end. That was six days ago. The next day I had a bye, and Capablanca, whose nerve was evidently shaken, lost to Dr Tarrasch. This gave me a lead of one point. I won an adjourned game with Alekhine, who stubbornly defended a forlorn hope, and so two rounds remained to be finished, in which I had to meet Marshall and Dr Tarrasch, and Capablanca had to face Marshall and Alekhine.
Marshall played well with Capablanca, and obtained a winning advantage. I was exhausted, and I was in the lead, so I did not press matters with Dr Tarrasch, but was satisfied with a draw. Then, suddenly Marshall began to play badly – so badly that he did not even draw. Thus my lead was reduced to half a point. On the last day Capablanca played Alekhine. The two are friends, and Alekhine had nothing to gain by drawing or winning, whereas Capablanca had to win the game at any price. Under these conditions, I had no doubt that Alekhine would be unable to get up the will-power necessary for a hard contest. This is human nature. One cannot fight without a propelling motive. Alekhine, in fact, lost easily and quickly. So I had to beat Marshall to win the first prize. It was a short, sharp contest. Marshall nearly lost by time-limit, but was mated before.
The varying emotions of these eventful days exhausted me, so that I could not even sit down to write to the friendly readers of the Evening Post. Now, though still fatigued,it is with pleasure that I take up the pen again to write the report.
After the games were finished the committee invited the players to meet at 10 p.m. Many amateurs came at the appointed time, and the room presented then the aspect of a meeting. The seven members of the committee sat behind a large table covered with green cloth, with papers and with five souvenirs worked in gold by Caucasian artisans. In a row before the table the five masters sat. And the crowd sat or stood behind and beside them. Many speeches were made in the Russian language. I understood only the names of the players and a few simple words, but the meaning of the orations was fairly evident, as in a pantomime. When my name was uttered the crowd applauded. I shook hands with the committee, signed my name in a book, and received my honorarium and prizes. This ceremony was gone through with all five winners nearly in the same manner.
After that a supper table was prepared. We sat down to an elaborate meal at 11.30. Vodka was drunk out of small glasses, the “Sakuska” was eaten, which consisted of various kinds of hors d’oeuvres, for instance, salads, smoked fish, herring, etc., and then fish and meat were served hot. Then glasses were filled with champagne and toasts were given.
First, the toast on the five winners of the tourney. Then I spoke on the committee, praising their unselfish labors. Then Mr Saburov began a series of toasts to each of the winners, in the order of their rank. I was hailed as the prize-winner, and many came to drink my health. And then Capablanca’s health was drunk. While people were going to shake hands with him, Mrs Lasker came to me and proposed that I shake hands with him, too. And I thought in that moment that he, being vanquished, could not well come to me without humiliation. So I stood up, went to him, and drank his health. And he shook hands with me warmly. Then the diners became frenzied. They crowded round us, and then round Mrs Lasker, hailing her as the peacemaker.
The dinner then became very enjoyable. Everybody was in good spirits, and did his best to entertain the others. And it was four o’clock before Mrs Lasker and myself departed. Many stayed even later, some until seven in the morning, drinking, talking, singing.’
The article was reproduced on pages 149-150 of the July 1914 American Chess Bulletin under the title ‘The Great Reconciliation’.
Olimpiu G. Urcan sends this article from the 16 March 1924 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (page A11):
Larger version of the second part
Daniel King (London) has sent us a copy of a typescript report by Jean Raoux on Capablanca’s simultaneous exhibition in Bromley, England on 20 December 1919:
‘Mr H.G. Wells, in “Personal Matters”, says that there is no remorse like chess remorse. Every devotee of the game knows that well, and Mr Bernard Shaw, in the mouth of Jack Turner, might even cynically add that remorse of a moral character is light in comparison with that affecting one’s own estimation of personal intellectual excellence. A game of chess is never won from the loser’s point of view, he only failed to win himself through some mistake, obviously due to a momentary mental aberration. “Why on earth did I do this?”or “Why did I not do that?” is a devasting thought, which 39 of the 42 players who opposed the Cuban master harboured on their way home from the Central Hall on Saturday evening.
The meeting was opened by the Mayor of Bromley, Alderman W.L. Crossley who, in a felicitous little speech, extended a hearty welcome to Señor Capablanca. Chess, he understood, had evolved westwards from India, possibly even from China. When it actually came to Bromley he could not say, a very long time ago, certainly. He himself had been one of the first members of the old Bromley Chess Club, and as such felt all the more pleased to receive one of the greatest of modern chess masters.
Responding to this address of welcome, Señor Capablanca expressed in a few words his great pleasure at so cordial a reception. His ambition was to foster chess wherever and whenever possible and he would like to think that his visit would have this result in Bromley.
Mr J.S. Holloway then proposed a vote of thanks to his Worship the Mayor for so kindly lending the distinction of his presence at this meeting, calling upon Alderman F. Gillett, Deputy-Mayor, to second his motion.
Alderman F. Gillett readily endorsed the motion in a witty speech, and ended by also tendering, on behalf of all present, the best thanks of the chess-playing public to Mr Holloway for his untiring and very successful efforts in promoting chess in the district.
Mr Holloway, speaking again, gave some particulars about the display and the rules to be observed. Some strong players had been pitted against Señor Capablanca. Mr Chapman (many times champion of the county), Mr Germann (also an ex-champion of Kent), and Mr Lorch; not omitting the British lady champion, Mrs Holloway.
Preliminaries being over, the Cuban master set to his task in grim earnest. Perfectly cool and collected, without any apparent effort, he passed from board to board, giving his moves almost at once, looking far less concerned, with 42 players to contend with, than any one of his opponents did. As usual, he was partial to the ultra-modern and classical Ruy López and Queen’s Pawn openings, with here and there a “Vienna” or a Centre Gambit to relieve the monotony. All of them he treated very carefully. His plan of campaign was obviously to avoid complications and intricate positions and to see first his own safety. This policy is not adopted for the sole convenience of simultaneous play, but actually constitutes his style, such as will consistently be recognized as Capablanca’s, no matter whether he meets his great rival, Lasker, or amateurs of moderate strength. He hankers not after brilliancies and spectacular combinations.
Many people in this country will remember Marshall’s performances, and will notice the contrast between the two great experts. Marshall is the fighter, as ready to receive blows as to inflict them, risking his king for a brilliant finish, ingenious, clever, and at times sublime, scoring almost fantastic victories and also tasting ignoble defeats. The strain of the struggle is clearly written on his eagle features, his inevitable cigar is a poem in itself. Capablanca does not seem to fight, but rather to demonstrate, with frigid exactitude, the error of his opponent’s conceptions and concludes a three or four hours’ contest apparently as fresh as when he started. He caters for the student of chess, yet he is remarkably popular with all grades of players. The average amateur might prefer to watch a display by a Chigorin, a Marshall or a Nimzowitsch, as being more exciting, hence more entertaining, but whereas he will feel that those masters rely on great imaginative powers – which he himself lacks – and that they are therefore outside his imitative scope, Capablanca gives him the impression that nothing is easier than chess, and that by assimilating his style he can improve his own play considerably. But can he hope to acquire this wonderful intuition into the far ahead possibilities of the game which enables Capablanca to detect a win in an apparently even position? Here lies the characteristic beauty of his style and its justification. Once the win is detected, however remote it may be, nothing else matters, other chances he does not trouble about. From a winning position Tarrasch would want to exact the utmost he thinks it mathematically capable of; Capablanca is content to get from it the narrowest necessary margin to score.
Both the two great schools, the scientific and the imaginative, can claim Capablanca, but not without reservations. The scientific school seeks truth in chess by accumulation of knowledge, the imaginative by ever higher inspiration. Both have had and have their exponents, but both have failed to convince the unprejudiced player of their exclusive excellence. One cannot imagine Capablanca fraternizing unreservedly with the uncompromising orthodoxy of a Tarrasch, and yet less still with the unconventional methods of a Marshall. That he has actually founded a new school, as some people are prone to proclaim, is exceedingly doubtful. At least, it would have but few adepts, for Nature seldom blends in the one same man a mathematician and a poet. Morphy left no school, no player could follow its teaching. He would have been a leader of supermen, but mere mortals could but admire him as we admire Capablanca today.
Capablanca’s steady way of proceeding made it unlikely that any quick results would be attained. One of the earliest was on Mr Th. Germann’s board, where the master had been in difficulties from quite early in the game through accepting a proffered pawn in the centre. Pushing his attack in a very energetic manner, Mr Germann compelled Capablanca’s resignation on the 23rd move, finishing neatly with a sacrifice of a rook. The game is given below. Mr Chapman lost the exchange, from which there was no recovery, in spite of a very gallant fight. Mr Lorch seemed to have good drawing chances all through the game, but finally succumbed. He had at least the satisfaction of being the last to hold out.
Mr H. Holliday, member of the Bromley Chess Club, was playing well, and secured for himself the distinction of a draw. It is to be regretted that he did not take down the score of the game. The only other draw the master had to concede to was to Mr J.H. Whicker, jun. of the Sydenham and Forest Hill Chess Club. Messrs Holliday and Whicker are both young and enthusiastic players, and their success in staving off defeat at the hands of so formidable an opponent will no doubt urge them on to further efforts.
The final score was thus: Señor Capablanca won 39, lost 1, and drew 2. Really a magnificent exploit, which was deservedly very warmly applauded.’
The conclusion of the typescript:
The Capablanca v Germann has been quite widely published. Our archives contain the reports on the display published in The Chronicle and the Bromley Mercury of 24 December 1919. All 42 of Capablanca’s opponents were named, and the latter newspaper had this illustration:
See also pages 346-354 of Capablanca in the United Kingdom (1911-1920) by V. Fiala (Olomouc, 2006), which gave a second game-score from the display, the quick defeat of Major Richard Whieldon Barnett MP.
Jean Raoux was the Secretary of the Bromley Chess Club at the time of Capablanca’s display. Below is his obituary on page 14 of the January 1931 BCM (a few pages after Barnett’s death notice):
C.N. 761 quoted a remark by Sir George Thomas on page 242 of the September 1951 BCM:
‘... It is my firm conviction that either Lasker or Capablanca at his best, and with no more modern equipment than he possessed at that time, could have given the odds of the latest technique to any player of today.’
John Blackstone has forwarded this interview with Capablanca on page C3 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 12 February 1928:
A few gleanings:
‘I confess it did. I never dreamt that my former good form could fail me at such an inopportune time. But Dr Alekhine is worthy of any man’s steel. If you don’t believe it, try it.’
‘I cannot fully explain it and I hate alibis. The fact is that I was not my normal self and I made mistakes that now that I look back upon them are quite unaccountable.’
‘I knew then that the jig was up.’
‘Yes, that was shocking. I cannot recognize myself as the player who lost it.’
‘The opening of the game has been so thoroughly analyzed and masters have the middle-game combinations down so pat that there is little of mystery in the game for them. Given a clear head and good health, there should be no trouble in drawing a game at will.’
The above photograph (Capablanca, Lasker and Alekhine) comes from a webpage of the World Camelot Federation, and we reproduce it with the permission of the Federation’s President and Founder, Michael Nolan (Troy, MI, USA). He informs us that he created it on the basis of this picture:
Here, Capablanca’s opponent is the Camelot and bridge expert Sidney Lenz, while E.V. Shepard (another bridge authority) looks on.
On the subject of Capablanca and Camelot see C.N. 2452 on page 172 of A Chess Omnibus. That item included a quote by Capablanca about the game from a 1930s rules booklet:
Additional quotes about Camelot are given on another webpage of the World Camelot Federation.
See too our article A Fake Chess Photograph.
This photograph of Capablanca playing Camelot against Anne Morgan (first shown in C.N. 3024) comes from the Diario de la Marina (Havana), 10 March 1942:
‘[Capablanca] had a better conceit of himself than had Alekhine, but was a much nicer and much better-liked man. Alekhine was qualified as a lawyer and had a powerful intellect. He was the only man I ever met who was arrogant without being conceited. What do I mean by arrogant? He treated inferiors as if they were inferiors – but he very rarely made Capablanca’s mistake of taking his own powers for granted.’
Source: page 139 of Not Only Chess by Gerald Abrahams (London, 1974).
Tony Bronzin (Newark, DE, USA) quotes from page 471 of Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick (Boston, 1999) an account of a concert at Madison Square Garden on 9 June 1972:
‘The New York Times alone ran three stories on the show, with the headline of Chris Chase’s piece, “Like a Prince from Another Planet”, summing up the overall reaction. “Once in a great while”, Chase concluded, “a special champion comes along, a Joe Louis, a José Capablanca, a Joe DiMaggio, someone in whose hands the way a thing is done becomes more important than the thing itself. When DiMaggio hit a baseball, his grace made the act look easy and inevitable ... Friday night, at Madison Square Garden, Elvis was like that. He stood there at the end, his arms stretched out, the great gold cloak giving him wings, a champion, the only one in his class.”’
Mr Bronzin wonders whether the ellipsis between the words ‘inevitable’ and ‘Friday’ indicates the omission of a description of Capablanca by Chase, but we note from the original article (New York Times, 18 June 1972, page D14) that such is not the case:
See too Chess
From our archives comes this photograph of Capablanca with his daughter Gloria (circa 1941):
Writers on Mikhail Botvinnik tend to pass over a significant article which he contributed to International Championship Chess by B. Kažić (London, 1974). Published on pages 244-250, it is entitled ‘Botvinnik on his Meetings with World Champions’ and discusses Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine and Euwe. An observation from page 248:
‘Alekhine’s was a complex character. As soon as he felt any signs of hostility, he would shoot out his quills like a porcupine. When people were kind he felt bound to behave in the same way.’
We should like to know whether Botvinnik’s original text is available, since the English version is sometimes defective. For example, page 247 has the following regarding AVRO, 1938:
‘The tournament marked the greatest in Capablanca’s entire career.’
A word such as ‘failure’ or ‘disappointment’ seems to be missing after ‘greatest’.
There is an interesting passage on pages 246-247, concerning the period after Hastings, 1934-35:
‘At the invitation of S.O. Weinstein, Capablanca came to the Soviet Embassy in London and immediately agreed to play in Moscow. It was a while before Capablanca actually came. Weinstein inconsiderately asked him about a possible match with Alekhine and suddenly the Cuban changed colour! He glared and could not calm down for a long time. Capablanca and Alekhine remained enemies for the rest of their lives.
Capa was phenomenal at calculating positions, but he was also a shrewd tactician. At the tournament in Moscow I played Black and skilfully brought the game to even play, when, unexpectedly, Capablanca in the end “overlooked” a man!? But – no! White had, in fact, been preparing a quiet move and a variation in which he actually took the pawn. All of this was artfully concealed.’
The description appears to concern the play in connection with Capablanca’s move 19 Rxa7 against Botvinnik in the Moscow, 1935 tournament, with the curious variation featuring 22 Kf1. Below is the relevant part of the tournament book (page 135), with notes by Ilya Rabinovich:
See too pages 92-93 of the English edition of the tournament book (Yorklyn, 1998). Botvinnik’s own notes appeared in the first volume of his Best Games series; for instance, on pages 181-183 of the English edition (Olomouc, 2000).
Three photographs taken during the game come to mind. The first was published opposite page 216 of Homenaje a José Raúl Capablanca (Havana, 1943) and opposite page 16 of Botwinnik lehrt Schach by H. Müller (Berlin-Frohnau, 1967):
Next, there is a shot included in the plate section of Botvinnik’s autobiography K Dostizheniyu Tseli (Moscow, 1978):
A third photograph may be viewed online at the RIA Novosti website.
Botvinnik’s autobiography (page 51) mentioned the game, stating that he arrived ten minutes late because he had forgotten his glasses. That passage is on page 42 of the English translation, Achieving the Aim (Oxford, 1981).
Olimpiu G Urcan points out an interview with Capablanca conducted by Ed Hughes and published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 18 February 1931, page 24:
The two-volume set In Memoriam by David DeLucia has now been published, in a limited edition of 150 copies. It is truly a phenomenal production.
David DeLucia has kindly allowed us to reproduce (from volume two, page 239) this photograph of Capablanca inscribed in May 1933:
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére has found this game on page 3 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 28 August 1919:
The moves are garbled at the end of the first column. Our correspondent suggests that the most likely missing move is 16 h3, which gives the following:
José Raúl Capablanca – Philip Walsingham Sergeant
Simultaneous exhibition, City of London Chess Club, London, 6 August 1919
Three Knights’ Game
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nd5 Ba5 5 Bc4 Nge7 6 O-O d6 7 c3 Nxd5 8 exd5 Ne7 9 d4 f6 10 dxe5 dxe5 11 b4 Bb6 12 a4 a6 13 a5 Ba7 14 Ba3 Bg4 15 Qd3 Nc8 16 h3 Bxf3 17 Qxf3 Nd6 18 Bb3 O-O 19 c4 Bd4 20 Rad1 Kh8 21 Qd3 Qd7 22 Bc2 g6 23 Bc1 Rae8 24 Kh1 Nf5 25 Qf3 Nd6 26 Qe2 f5 27 Bh6 Rf7
28 c5 Nb5 29 Qc4 Na3 30 c6 Qd6 31 Qb3 Nxc2 32 Qxc2 Qxd5 33 cxb7 Qxb7 34 Qc4 Rd7 35 Be3 Qb5 36 Qxb5 axb5 37 Rfe1 Red8 38 Bg5 Rf8 39 Rxe5 Bxe5 40 Rxd7 Kg8 41 Rd5 Re8 42 Rxb5 Bd6 43 g3 Re4 44 Rb8+ Kf7 45 a6 Resigns.
The newspaper stated that the game-score had been supplied by J. Walter Russell. The report of the séance on page 298 of the September 1919 BCM provides the information that Black was Philip W. Sergeant.
John Blackstone draws attention to an article ‘Capablanca’s Brain Would Not Do in Sports’ on page 1 of the Sporting Section of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 5 March 1922.
Luca D’Ambrosio forwards this caricature of Capablanca from page 15 of the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten of 24 March 1927:
Another specimen, from page 3 of El Mundo Deportivo, 29 September 1929, has been supplied by Dominique Thimognier (Fondettes, France):
The recent publication by Caissa Editions of Pasadena 1932 International Chess Tournament by Robert Sherwood, Dale Brandreth and Bruce Monson (Yorklyn, 2011) prompts us to reproduce a letter from Capablanca to Henry MacMahon (which is referred to on page ii, and whose full text was transcribed on pages 232-233 of our book on the Cuban):
Gene Gnandt has found an article by Capablanca on page 9 of the Evening Post (New York), 22 July 1916. We have transcribed it below:
‘Emanuel Lasker in a Contemporary’s Eyes
Chess master not a peculiar type of individual
Capablanca, the Cuban Player, in an Estimate of the Abilities of the World’s Champion – His Personal Characteristics – Tarrasch and Teichmann as They Appear in Tournaments – Tarrasch, Only, Prepares for Contests
By José Raoul Capablanca
I have frequently heard the remark that a chess master must be a peculiar type of individual. He must not be one who sticks close to the golden mean of conduct, but rather one who approaches extremes, if not in physical, at least in mental, characteristics. With this statement I must say on the strength of my associations with the chess masters of the world, that I am not wholly in accord. It is true that they are, with few exceptions, men of great mental powers.
In this connection there come to my mind the mental pictures of three of my worthiest German opponents – Emanuel Lasker, Tarrasch and Teichmann. I shall speak of these three not only because their pre-eminence demands it but also because my observation of them makes me believe that they possess some of that picturesqueness and oddity suggested by the usual caricature of the chess master.
Lasker, to my mind, is the typical Bohemian, chastened, however, by a large fund of common sense and knowledge. He is one of those long-haired individuals indifferent to dress, a brilliant conversationalist, an inveterate smoker of cigars, and sipper of black coffee, one whose person seems to be an appropriate decoration of a Bohemian café – a Samuel Johnson, without his discourtesy, transported to a Russian café.
Lasker’s conversational powers
Lasker’s conversational power is exercised in a peculiar way. One must first engage him in conversation before he will talk. He is not of that kind of conversationalist who approaches another and, by the brilliance of his talk, gathers around him a host of admiring auditors. His unassuming and courteous manner is not calculated to produce this sort of thing. But he would rather betake himself, unaccompanied, to a café and, like the great Napoleon, sit at one of the tables, listening to the conversation of others. Here, sometimes, Lasker prefers to do some of his thinking. Usually, however, he reserves this function for the long walks for which he is known. He is eager to know the thoughts and opinions of others, never judges them harshly; but takes them all for what they are worth. This attitude he also maintains in chess, lending a willing ear to all discussions.
As for Lasker’s picturesqueness of dress, I have been under the impression that he had long since dismissed the question of dress as one of the unnecessary annoyances of life. I recall a very amusing incident in this connection, when Lasker visited New York. He had been invited by the Manhattan Chess Club to give an exhibition of simultaneous play. Special preparations were made in his honor. That evening Lasker evidently thought the occasion worthy of his wearing a Tuxedo. As he entered the room I heard a slight titter and, looking up in the direction of the sound, I saw that Lasker had come to us that evening with his cravat untied and dangling down upon his shirt. When his attention was politely called to this, he thanked his informant very politely and, endeavoring to correct this breach of the conventions, made several quick passes with his hands in the vicinity of his throat and made a knot that passes description. In this fashion he played through the evening.
Champion a deep thinker
Furthermore, Lasker is a thinker and a philosopher of the true type – such a one as, I have often felt, Plato might have delighted in shutting up in one of his towers, far from the madding crowd, to think only for the welfare of his republic. As a matter of fact, I believe that Lasker would have liked this job, for to be a philosopher of repute is an ambition very close to the heart of the worthy doctor. His predilections, however, lie in the field of mathematics, a fact that probably accounts for his scientific accuracy and inevitableness of result when he plays chess. A professor of mathematics, his love for the subject is very keen, and his capacity for work in this connection knows no bounds. Were it not for the fact that there is an application of Lasker’s knowledge of mathematics to the game he plays I should think of him along with that mathematician whose only claim to fame was the fact that he started out – and succeeded in his attempt – to discover something in mathematics that had positively not even a suspicion of a practical application to anything in this world.
As for Lasker’s method of play, I say, what is commonly conceded, that he is a genius at chess, one well worthy of the distinction of champion of the world. As a tactician, there is no-one of equal ability. Always ready to meet an emergency, however unexpected, he never finds it necessary to come to a game weighted down with the memory of a bookful of variations. He has the faculty of anticipating sooner than his opponent the crux of a situation, and has the power of seeing more. This seems to be common knowledge among those with whom he plays; and as a consequence they seem to play under a handicap. This genius of Lasker’s is reinforced by his accomplishments in mathematics, which assist him in being extremely accurate in games that assume a special aspect, and that adapt themselves to mathematical calculation.
In my own games with Lasker, what I have said of him was verified. There was at all times evidence of his far-seeing vision, his accuracy and quickness of perception. Lasker, however, is generally but not consistently a slow and deliberate chessplayer. Yet, were it not for the fact that I have beaten Lasker at rapid chess, he would be considered the foremost rapid chessplayer in the world.
When I speak of Tarrasch, I feel that I should be very cautious, lest I say something that may offend him. For Tarrasch is one of those who outdo themselves in their efforts to appear scrupulously correct. He is extremely fastidious, sensitive and possessed of a superabundance of pride, which, I should not say, is offensive in his case. When I think of Tarrasch, I see his inevitable boutonnière, his carefully soaped moustache, his immaculate and fashionable clothes. If anything disturbed the orderly appearance of his attire, it was a crime; but if anything caused his moustache to lose its peculiar outlines, it was sacrilege. Tarrasch also believed that he was born to radiate his brilliance especially before the ladies. One day during the San Sebastián tournament a lady was announced. Immediately Tarrasch was on the qui vive. He started from his seat, drew himself up to his full height, settled himself in his clothes so that every crease and fold were in their proper places, assumed a military bearing, threw out his chest, brushed an imaginary speck from his coat and strode to the door to receive the lady. Although he was not well acquainted, he stood there delivering himself of numerous and courtly bows.
But the picture of Tarrasch during tournament play is one hard to forget. He has all the appearance of a diminutive Spartan. I have seen him in important games staring fixedly at the chess board for fully an hour, so intently that one would think his sight was piercing the table, perfectly rigid, not even the smallest muscle twitching, straight-backed and with an almost painful seriousness in his face – a living statue.
The method of Tarrasch differs from that of Lasker. To my mind, Tarrasch is a very weak tactician. Coming always well prepared to his matches, he becomes terribly flustered in emergencies and at unexpected developments. He thinks long and painfully over his moves, for to Tarrasch the loss of a game is worse than the tortures of hell. I recall at San Sebastián, when, after going through all the preliminaries of assuming a military bearing and curling his moustache, he invited me for a walk. He then discussed with me at great length the best opening for the game he was to play Vidmar on the following day.
Richard Teichmann is a player who combines the qualities of both Lasker and Tarrasch. Like Lasker, Teichmann has Bohemian tendencies. He is an accomplished linguist; cannot extend himself to his best effort unless his whiskey and soda are at close call; and is clever at all games of cards and billiards. Work is no virtue with him, despite his massive bulk. As soon as his money is gone, he sets about to play chess.
As a result of an explosion, Teichmann lost the sight of one eye. And I recall with what amusement, in the midst of a brilliant gathering at Petrograd, we received the observation of a spectator that, if Teichmann could see so much in chess with one eye, what might he be capable of if he possessed two?
Teichmann won his first tournament at Carlsbad in 1911, after 20 years of play, and only after he had gone to Switzerland to prepare himself for the event. Up till then, by a strange coincidence, he had to content himself with fourth places generally. In recognition of this achievement, his friends conferred upon him the title of Richard the Fourth.
Chess to Teichmann is a pastime pure and simple. He is a keen student of the game, but plays it mostly for the pleasure that a pastime gives. He is one of those erratic players. When he has the upper hand, his play is of the most masterly kind, but at other times he is weak. Like Lasker, he does not find it necessary to come prepared. But on account of his peculiar indifference, and his disinclination to disturb the serenity of his temperament, he frequently contents himself with a draw.’
From Manuel Fernández Díaz (Estepa, Spain) comes this photograph of Capablanca which appeared on page 192 of the Madrid publication La Ilustración Española y Americana, 30 March 1911:
Readers are invited to examine closely the board set-up.
When submitting the photograph of Capablanca given in C.N. 7582, Manuel Fernández Díaz (Estepa, Spain) noted that, despite appearances, the board position does correspond to an actual game, i.e. Capablanca v Ossip Bernstein, with 24 Rc1 being played. Marcelo Sibille (Montevideo, Uruguay) has also mentioned this to us.
Below is the full column (with many factual errors) on page 192 of La Ilustración Española y Americana, 30 March 1911:
Source: Falkirk Herald, 25 October 1911, page 7.
From Olimpiu G. Urcan:
Cheltenham Looker-On, 18
October 1919, page 17
Caption: ‘Señor Capablanca, with Lieut.-Col. Ashburner and other members on the steps of the Cheltenham Chess Club’
Further to this well-known photograph of Capablanca and Lasker in Moscow in 1925 (see, for instance, page 310 of Chess Facts and Fables), Christian Sánchez notes a brief sequence of moving pictures of the two champions (at about 15:40:40). [Addition on 16 November 2012: the material is no longer available at the link indicated.]
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére has provided a fine copy (reference: AR_AGN_DDF/Consulta_INV: 259945) from Argentina’s Archivo General de la Nación, courtesy of the Ministerio del Interior, Obras Públicas y Vivienda:
Our correspondent comments that the board position shows a slight variation from their game in the first round of the 1925 Moscow tournament: 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e3 e6 5 Nf3 Nbd7 6 Bd3 dxc4 7 Bxc4 c5 8 O-O a6 9 dxc5 Nxc5 10 Qxd8+ Kxd8 11 Rd1+ Ke8 12 Be2 Be7 13 b3 Bd7 14 Bb2 Rd8 15 Rd4 Bc6 16 Rxd8+ Kxd8 17 Rd1+ Bd7 (instead of 17...Kc7, as played by Lasker) 18 Ne5:
Further information is in C.N.s 3513 (included in a feature article) and 7658.
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére has found an article by Hermann Helms on page 2 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of 9 June 1921 which includes the following:
‘In years to come, when someone other than Capablanca will undertake the labor of publishing a complete collection of the champion’s games, many an interesting score, treasured for years among the chess enthusiasts’ most prized possessions, will no doubt come to light. The Eagle is able to print today the details of a stubbornly fought game which Capablanca won in a western exhibition against H. Burde, one of the leading players in Clinton, Ia.
Mr Burde says that, after conclusion of play, Capablanca referred to it as a “good game”. The loser was particularly impressed by the fact that 11 of the Cuban’s moves were made with his king’s knight. “Capablanca’s knights”, he adds, “seem more erratic than anybody else’s”.’
The game-score given by Helms:
José Raúl Capablanca – H. Burde
1 d4 e6 2 c4 f5 3 Nc3 c6 4 Nf3 Bb4 5 Bg5 Qa5 6 Qc2 Nf6 7 Bxf6 gxf6 8 e3 d6 9 a3 Bxc3+ 10 bxc3 Nd7 11 Be2 Nf8 12 O-O Ng6
13 Ne1 Bd7 14 Bh5 Ke7 15 f4 Rhg8 16 Nd3 Rg7 17 c5 Qc7 18 c4 d5 19 cxd5 exd5 20 Rab1 Re8 21 Rb3 Kf8 22 Qf2 Bc8
23 Ne1 b6 24 Nf3 Re4 25 Bxg6 hxg6 26 cxb6 axb6 27 Rfb1 b5 28 Rc1 Qd7 29 Rbc3 Bb7 30 Nd2 Re8 31 Nb3 Qc7 32 Nc5 Ba8 33 Na6 Qd6 34 Nb4 Rc7 35 Qf3 Re4 36 Rc5 Ree7 37 R1c3 Kf7 38 Qf2 Ke6 39 Qc2 Kf7 40 Nxd5 Resigns.
‘Capablanca played 24 Rxc6.’
From page 501 of the September 1976 Chess Life & Review, in an article ‘Breaking the Law’ by Tim Krabbé:
After citing the above text in C.N. 1089 we mentioned that Mr Krabbé had replied to our enquiry as to the source of the story by referring to page 220 of Wereldkampioenschap Schaken 1948 by Max Euwe (Lochem, 1948):
Mr Krabbé also informed us that he recalled Donner’s comment on the story, ‘He made that up’.
Ross Jackson (Raumati South, New Zealand) asks for more information about this photograph, which he acquired recently from a vendor who stated that it was taken in Havana in 1935:
Part of a painting of Capablanca is visible on the wall:
Olimpiu G. Urcan notes that the portrait is by Esteban Valderrama, as shown in the 11 June 1933 edition of Diario de la Marina:
A painting of Capablanca by Valderrama dated 1938 is the frontispiece of The Immortal Games of Capablanca by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1942) and is on the front cover of the 1990 Dover edition:
Regarding this photograph, owned by Ross Jackson (Raumati South, New Zealand), we note that the painter Esteban Valderrama is standing on the left. On his left, next to Capablanca, is the fencer Ramón Font.
This photograph, owned by Ross Jackson (C.N.s 7727, 11563 and 11571), is one of several of Capablanca with the fencing champion Ramón Fonst (1883-1959).
In addition to ‘Fonts’ (see below), the spelling ‘Font’ is seen, as in Glorias del Tablero “Capablanca” by José A. Gelabert (Havana, 1923):
During a visit to the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí in Havana in 1986 we discovered a number of further photographs of Capablanca and Fonst:
Bohemia, 20 January 1918, page 13
The inversion of the names Alfredo de Oro (billiards) and Armando Marsans (baseball) in the original edition of our book on Capablanca was corrected in the second printing of the hardback and in the paperback.
Two further photographs from the same occasion were found in Bohemia (exact sources not currently to hand):
Page 318 of El Fígaro, 13 June 1915:
As ever, copies of better quality will be welcome. The final photograph above was reproduced in a feature in Bohemia, 31 August 1952, page 140:
Larger version (with caption)
A further picture:
It comes from a Capablanca memorial page in the Diario de la Marina, 10 March 1942:
Ross Jackson reports that he owns a copy of Capablanca’s A Primer of Chess (New York, 1935) inscribed to Esteban Valderrama:
Michael Clapham (Ipswich, England) possesses a large (68cm x 52cm) print of Valderrama’s portrait, with an indistinct inscription by the artist in the top right-hand corner:
From page 9 of Capablanca move by move by Cyrus Lakdawala (London, 2012):
‘Capa easily possessed the most natural talent but was also, unfortunately, the laziest world champion, who couldn’t be bothered to log heavy study hours.’
The extent of the Cuban’s laziness is, of course, a legitimate subject for discussion, but so too is the output of a chess writer who cannot be bothered to log light study minutes.
On pages 240-244 Lakdawala annotates ‘J.R. Capablanca – Allies, Consultation game, Bradford 1919’ and writes on page 240:
‘Question: Who were the allies in this game?
Answer: England, the United States and France? I have no idea who they were. Probably a few master-strength players from the region.’
Pages 101-102 of our book on Capablanca discussed his visit to Bradford in 1919, and gave the game in question, with full particulars (including the allies’ names: J.W. Perkins, E. Shackleton and J.W. Morton):
Incidentally, page 268 of Capablanca in the United Kingdom (1911-1920) by V. Fiala (Olomouc, 2006) compounded the error in The Unknown Capablanca by inserting a note from page 93 of the Hooper and Brandreth book into the wrong Bradford game, thereby inviting the reader to note Capablanca’s ‘late castling’ in a game in which he castled at move six.
In the ‘Bibliography’ on page 6 of Capablanca move by move Lakdawala includes our monograph on the Cuban, yet he appears unaware of anything in it. For instance, he goes astray on page 17 by stating that a famous victory by Capablanca with the French Defence (Havana, 1902) was won against ‘J. Corzo y Prinzipe’ (sic – y Príncipe), whereas pages 9-10 of our book demonstrated that White was his brother, Enrique Corzo. On the first page of his Introduction Lakdawala gives the forename of Capa’s father as ‘Jorge’ instead of José María, a mistake which may or may not have been copied from a book referred to in C.N. 6642, José Raúl Capablanca by I. and V. Linder (Milford, 2010). He also believes (page 136) that Capablanca won New York, 1927 3½ points ahead of Alekhine.
Little more will be said about Capablanca move by move, although a comment on page 8 may be quoted:
‘So difficult was Capa to beat that he went ten years without losing a tournament game, from the St Petersburg tournament of 1914 to New York 1924, where he finally lost a game to Réti. (It was believed the only reason for that defeat was loss of composure when Capa’s rumoured mistress walked into the tournament hall while Capa’s wife – and the press! – also attended!)’
In reality, of course, Capablanca lost a tournament game at New York, 1916 (to Chajes). As regards the ‘rumoured mistress’ tittle-tattle (which deviates from the Carlsbad, 1929 versions discussed in C.N. 4712), what kind of writer and publisher would even contemplate printing such a thing?
Source: page 137 of Dynamic Chess by R.N. Coles (London, 1956). In the 1966 Dover edition, the passage is on page 135.
C.N. 2105 (see page 155 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves) asked where, if anywhere, Capablanca wrote the ‘full of holes’ remark. Reiterating the question (which remains unanswered today), C.N. 3961 added a passage by Reuben Fine that we had found on page 3 of The Chess Correspondent, May-June 1942:
From page 18 of Capablanca: A Primer of Checkmate by Frisco Del Rosario (Newton Highlands, 2010):
Finally, an extract from pages 40-41 of Capablanca move by move by Cyrus Lakdawala (London, 2012), in a discussion on 1 d4 f5 2 e4:
In short, Lakdawala credits Del Rosario for material which the latter lifted from C.N. 3961, and Lakdawala’s insertion of the ‘full of holes’ remark in the story of a Mexican pupil is a plain fabrication, as is his claim that Capablanca called 2 Ne2 ‘perhaps a refutation’.
Before Cyrus Lakdawala’s Capablanca move by move is returned to the shelf, a passage from page 316 may be noted:
Faulty punctuation apart, a more scrupulous publisher than Everyman Chess would have made Mr Lakdawala either verify the matter or delete the paragraph. Readers deserve better than talk of an article ‘titled something like’ and ‘a quote which went something like’.
For more details of the Larsen matter, see the remainder of C.N. 10345 and our feature article Bobby Fischer Miscellanea.
The start of Hans Kmoch’s annotations to Capablanca v Yates, Bad Kissingen, 1928 on page 259 of the Wiener Schachzeitung, September 1928:
Good-quality photographs of the 1921 Lasker v Capablanca match are scarce, and more details are sought about the shot below, from page 175 of Grandmasters of Chess by Harold C. Schonberg (Philadelphia and New York, 1973):
From Olimpiu G. Urcan :
‘C.N. 7815 reproduced the above photograph from page 175 of Grandmasters of Chess by Harold C. Schonberg. It was taken not during the 1921 world title match against Lasker but at New York, 1918. From page 3 (photogravure section) of the 22 December 1918 edition of the Baltimore Sun:
In C.N. 9911 I contributed the picture below from page 394 of Cine-Mundial, June 1921:
It too was taken at New York, 1918, being a cropped version of the picture given by me in C.N. 10910 from the photogravure section (unnumbered page) of the Baltimore Sun, 1 December 1918:’
C.N. readers will have seen here most of the photographs of the old-timers used in Modern Chess Preparation by Vladimir Tukmakov (Alkmaar, 2012). They may also note that the picture of Tal on page 70 has been reversed, and below we give the correct version (Tal in play against Sliwa in the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad), from page 29 of the tournament book:
From page 15 of the Tukmakov work, concerning the celebrated Lasker v Capablanca game at St Petersburg, 1914:
‘The young Cuban, who was confidently leading the tournament, needed only not to lose with Black against the current World Champion in order to claim overall tournament victory.’
Some myths endure no matter how often they are disproved, or how easily. Reviewing From Morphy to Fischer by Al Horowitz (London, 1973) W.H. Cozens commented on page 159 of the May 1974 BCM:
‘Horowitz does fall into one historical error – one which has been made by other writers before him – when he speaks [on page 69] of “Lasker’s last-round victory over Capablanca” at St Petersburg, 1914.’
See too, for instance, Larousse du jeu d’échecs. The game was played in the seventh of ten rounds in the final section.
Unfounded claims about the involvement of Tsar Nicholas II in the St Petersburg, 1914 tournament are discussed in Grandmasters.
Paul Herzman (Brooklyn, NY, USA) quotes from page 138 of Don Andrés and Paquita The Life of Segovia in Montevideo (Milwaukee, 2012):
‘[On 19 May 1936] they had tea with composer Sergei Prokofiev, his wife, and the great Cuban chess player José Raúl Capablanca. Our two artists shared one of the other legs of the tour through the Soviet Union with Capablanca, whose second wife, Olga Chagodaev, was Russian ... [Capablanca married her in 1938.]
[After 15 June 1936] they went to Kiev. In the Ukrainian capital they again met Capablanca, with whom they shared several walks; they also attended one of his chess matches.’
Capablanca referred to Segovia on pages 13-14 of Last Lectures (New York, 1966):
‘Several years ago, in the Russian city of Kiev, I ran across Andrés Segovia, the great Spanish guitarist. We had known each other for some time; he as a lover of chess, and I as a lover of music! He was to give a concert and I a simultaneous exhibition. Both of these events were to take place in the great concert hall of Kiev, and naturally each of us invited the other to his performance. The simultaneous exhibition had been arranged for 30 students, boys and girls between ten and 16 years of age. Segovia, his wife and I arrived in the hall in due course, and I noted Segovia’s amazement at the spectacle which met his eyes. The huge hall was completely filled, and its balcony held more than a thousand girls who had come to watch the play. All were students and had learned to play chess in their respective schools. On the stage 30 boys and girls had been seated in a rectangle as is customary in such exhibitions. Most of them were boys, all of them ready to do battle with me. In each corner there had been placed a particularly strong adversary. In back of the players there was a crowd of boys and girls with their teachers and in back of them the guests. It was truly, as Segovia said, a phenomenal spectacle. There were at least three thousand people in the hall, almost all of them children.’
Page 193 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975) lists two 30-board simultaneous exhibitions in Kiev, on 18 and 19 June 1936.
In one of the displays his opponents included Isaac Lipnitsky (1923-59), as mentioned on page 6 of Vadim Teplitsky’s Russian monograph on Lipnitsky (Bat Yam, 1993):
‘Izya Lipnitsky also participated in that simultaneous exhibition, but we know nothing about how he played against Capablanca.’
The same page, together with an endnote on page 103, indicates that the Cuban faced 29 boys and one girl. Can any further details be found in Russian-language sources of the time?
Vitaliy Yurchenko (Uhta, Komi, Russian Federation) refers to pages 107-117 of Kapablanka Vstrechi c Rossiey by A.I. Sizonenko (Moscow, 1988), which comprises a chapter on the Cuban’s visit to Ukraine in 1936. Our correspondent notes, in particular, a brief paragraph on page 114:
Translation: ‘One of these games [played during the simultaneous exhibitions in Dnepropetrovsk] Capablanca lost to a young first-grade player I. Boleslavsky, a future grandmaster.’
As recorded on pages 193-194 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975), Capablanca gave 30-board displays in Dnepropetrovsk on 22 and 23 June 1936.
Olimpiu G. Urcan draws attention to chapter 31 (pages 318-322) of volume four of Nicolas Slonimsky: Writings on Music (New York and London, 2005).
The chapter also includes a discussion of Sergei Prokofiev (see too Сергей Прокофьев и шахматы).
From Eduardo Bauzá Mercére comes this cutting from page 3 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 20 November 1919:
The first game is indeed extraordinary, and we seek further details. 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 Bc5 5 Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6 Ke2
6...Nxe4 7 Nxd8 Nd4+ 8 Kd3 b5 9 Bb3 Nc5+ 10 Kc3
10...Ne2+ 11 Qxe2 Bd4+ 12 Kb4 a5+ 13 Kxb5 Ba6+ 14 Kxa5
14...Bd3+ 15 Kb4 Na6+ 16 Ka5
16...Nb4+ 17 Kxb4 c5 mate.
Addendum: Olimpiu G. Urcan notes the following on page 3 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 26 November 1919:
Regarding the 17-move game given in C.N. 7968, Fabrizio Zavatarelli (Milan, Italy) refers to an article which notes that the play occurred in a nineteenth-century game between Reinisch and Traxler. Our correspondent adds that the score was published in Jan Kalendovský’s compilation of Traxler games, i.e. on page 14 of Program XII. ročníku šachového turnaje (Brno, 1987):
The booklet states that the game was played in Hostouň on 20 March 1890, and the following page gives the source as Zlatá Praha, 14 October 1892.
Afterword (16 June 2015): Thomas Niessen (Aachen, Germany) points out that the 1892 publication can be viewed online.
From Michael Negele (Wuppertal, Germany):
Source: Wiener Bilder, 21 June 1936, page 6.
Harold Kjallberg (Sussex, WI, USA) observes that the above photograph (Capablanca v Riumin, Moscow, 1936) casts doubt on the move order (1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 d6 3 Nc3 Nbd7 4 e4 e5 5 d5 Nc5 6 f3 Be7 7 Be3 O-O 8 b4 Ncd7 9 Bd3 Ne8 10 Nge2 g6 11 O-O a5 12 a3 Ng7 13 Bh6 f6) given in various sources, including the Russian-language tournament book (of which an English translation was published in 1988 by Caissa Editions) and our 1989 monograph on Capablanca. He comments:
‘In the photograph, the black knight has already moved from e8 to g7. Owing to the camera angle, the black queen on d8 and the black bishop on e7 obscure the view of the black pawn on g6.
It is fairly easy to determine that White has made exactly 11 moves, and since the button on his clock indicates that it is his turn to move, both sides have made 11 moves. However, the black pawn is still on a7.
This photographic evidence suggests to me that the currently recognized move order for the game is incorrect and that the moves played were 11 O-O Ng7 and then 12 a3 a5.’
Olimpiu G. Urcan points out that a clearer version of the photograph is available online. From that copy we give the detail below:
There follow Capablanca’s annotations to the game, as published in the Russian Bulletin of the tournament (special issue of 64), 18 May 1936:
As mentioned by our correspondent, the same move order appeared in the Moscow, 1936 tournament book, where the annotations were by Riumin (who gave 11...a5 a question mark).
However, we note that a different version of the score (11 O-O Ng7 12 Bh6 a5 13 a3 f6) was given on page 179 of the June 1936 Deutsche Schachzeitung ...
... and on page 393 of CHESS, 14 June 1936:
Below, furthermore, is an extract from page 6 of the tournament book edited by E.G.R. Cordingley (London, 1936):
Cordingley wrote in his Foreword:
‘The games and the notes as transcribed and translated here were obtained from the special issue of the Russian Chess Paper 64, which is not readily available to the average person ... The names of the annotators (Capablanca, Botvinnik, Flohr, etc.) are not given as my hazy knowledge of the language might attribute to them errors they never committed, but I have endeavoured to extract lines of play that will help the average player when reading over the games.’
Can a reader trace Cordingley’s version of the moves in an issue of 64, and perhaps even an explanation in the Soviet magazine of the discrepancy in the game-score?
Page 135 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975):
The source for the game highlighted was specified on page 201 as ‘Original score’. Hooper had shown it on page 15 of the January 1968 Chess Life:
And, for the sake of completeness, a minor matter from page 141 of the April 1968 issue:
We note that Capablanca’s score-sheet clearly gave Black’s 11th move as 11...Kg7, and not 11...Kg8 as in The Unknown Capablanca. Moreover, White’s 26th move was Rae1, and not Rad1 as given in the two editions of the Capablanca book by Rogelio Caparrós and, subsequently, in databases.
The score as recorded by Capablanca:
José Raúl Capablanca – Enrique Corzo
Havana, 20 October 1901
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 f5 3 Nxe5 Nc6 4 Qh5+ g6 5 Nxg6 Nf6 6 Qh4 Rg8 7 Nxf8 Rg4 8 Qh6 Rxe4+ 9 Kd1 Ng4 10 Qh5+ Kxf8 11 Qxf5+ Kg7 12 d3 d5 13 Qf3
13...Nxf2+ 14 Qxf2 Bg4+ 15 Be2 Bxe2+ 16 Qxe2 Rxe2 17 Kxe2 Qe8+ 18 Kd2 Qg6 19 Kc3 d4+ 20 Kb3 Na5+ 21 Ka3 Qd6+ 22 b4 Nc6 23 Bd2 a5 24 Kb2 Nxb4 25 Na3 Ra6 26 Rae1
26...Nxd3+ 27 cxd3 Rb6+ 28 Ka1 Qxa3 29 Rb1 Rxb1+ 30 Rxb1 Qxd3 31 White resigns.
Many annotators of the 12th game in the 1972 world championship match (Fischer v Spassky) referred, on or around move 16, to Ståhlberg v Capablanca, Margate, 1936, although only for that earlier game’s theoretical significance.
Gideon Ståhlberg – José Raúl Capablanca
Queen’s Gambit Declined
Margate, 23 April 1936
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Nbd7 5 Bg5 Be7 6 e3 O-O 7 Rc1 c6 8 Bd3 h6 9 Bh4 dxc4 10 Bxc4 b5 11 Bd3 a6 12 a4 bxa4 13 Nxa4 Qa5+ 14 Nd2 Bb4 15 Nc3 c5 16 Nb3 Qb6 17 dxc5 Bxc5 18 Nxc5 Qxc5 19 Bg3 Bb7 20 O-O Rfd8
21 Nb5 Qb4 22 Nd6 Bd5 23 e4 e5 24 exd5 Qxd6 25 Rc6 Qxd5 26 Rxa6 Rab8
27 Rd6 Qb7 28 Bf5 Qb5 29 Re1 Rb7 30 h3 Re8 Drawn.
The game was published on pages 326-327 of CHESS, 14 May 1936 without notes but with this commentary:
‘Capablanca got into difficulties against Ståhlberg, but the latter ran short of time and decided to accept one of Capablanca’s offers to draw. Under the rule which stated that no game should be agreed drawn before 30 moves had been played by each side, the two contestants had to play on a further few moves before handing in their score-sheets. The play now became amusing, both players unconsciously relaxing; first Ståhlberg made a slip which would have lost a piece, and then Capablanca similarly made a move which allowed the possible gain of a pawn. Naturally these mistakes were not exploited since the agreement to draw had been reached. Readers may amuse themselves by looking for them.’
The game was annotated languagelessly on pages 194-195 of volume two of the ‘Chess Stars’ work on Capablanca (Sofia, 1997), and below is page 159 of the Swedish magazine Schackvärlden, June 1936:
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Nbd7 5 Bg5 Be7 6 e3 O-O 7 Rc1 c6 8 Bd3 h6 9 Bh4 dxc4 10 Bxc4 b5 11 Bd3 a6 12 a4 bxa4 13 Nxa4 Qa5+ 14 Nd2 Bb4 15 Nc3 c5 16 Nb3 Qb6 17 dxc5 Bxc5 18 Nxc5 Qxc5 19 Bg3 Bb7 20 O-O Rfd8 21 Nb5 Qb4 22 Nd6 Bd5 23 e4 e5 24 exd5 Qxd6 25 Rc6 Qxd5
26 Rxa6 Rab8 27 Rd6 Qb7 28 Bf5 Qb5 29 Re1 Rb7
30 h3 Re8 Drawn.
As shown in C.N. 8169, page 159 of Schackvärlden, June 1936 stated that after 25...Qxd5 the players agreed to draw the game, although another five moves needed to be made. According to the magazine, Capablanca should have played 26...Rxa6 instead of 26...Rab8 ‘??’, and Ståhlberg could have won with 30 Bxe5.
The ‘Chess Stars’ book on Capablanca mentioned in our earlier item gave 26 Rxa6 a question mark, suggesting instead 26 Qc2 ‘!?’, with 27 Rd1 to follow. A question mark was also appended to 26...Rab8, the recommendation being 26...Nc5 ‘!’ 27 Rxf6 (if 27 Rxa8 Qxa8) 27...gxf6 28 Qg4+ Kf8, with a clear advantage to Black.
Instead of 30 h3 the book proposed 30 Bxe5 ‘!’ Re8 31 Bxf6 Rxe1+ 32 Qxe1 Qxf5 33 Bc3, with a clear advantage to White.
Schackvärlden commented on Ståhlberg’s gentlemanliness in adhering to the draw agreed earlier, but did he have a won game at any stage and, in particular, with Bxe5 at move 30? And how does all this tie in with the references in CHESS to Ståhlberg’s ‘slip which would have lost a piece’ and Capablanca’s ‘move which allowed the possible gain of a pawn’?
From Yasser Seirawan (St Louis, MO, USA):
‘An amusing comedy of errors, to be sure. It seems quite dangerous to agree to a draw and then play on to a specified number of moves before stopping.
Certainly, 26 Rxa6 was a bad error, and with 26...Nc5 Capablanca could have turned the tables decisively.
The immediate 26 Rd6 would still allow White to keep some advantage.
The favor was returned immediately by 26...Rab8, a bad move because 26...Nc5 is so much better.
Instead of 27...Qb7 (?!), either 27...Qc5 or 27...Qa5 would be better. The disadvantage of 27...Qb7 is that the queen does not protect the d8 rook, which makes the pin on the d-file hard to disentangle.
After falling into a terrifying pin on the d-file Black would seem lost. Although the suggestion 30 Bxe5 is a fine one, I think that 30 Rxe5 is far stronger, as Black is then tied and tethered. The critical continuation seems to be 30...Qxb2 31 Re1, when the solution to Black’s problem of the d-file pin remains a mystery to me.’
From Michael Spiekermann (Menden, Germany):
‘Concerning an earlier stage of the game Ståhlberg v Capablanca, Margate, 1936 ...
... White played 21 Nb5. It seems that 21...axb5 22 Rxc5 Nxc5 would have given Black a winning advantage. For example, 23 Be5 Nxd3 24 Bxf6 gxf6 25 Qh5 Kg7 26 Qxb5 Ba6. Consequently, an alternative such as 21 Ne4 would be better.
I note, though, that on page 128 of the second edition of Capablancas Verlustpartien by Fritz C. Görschen (Hamburg-Bergedorf, 1976) 21 Nb5 was given an exclamation mark.’
Below we add the relevant section on page 195 of the second ‘Chess Stars’ volume on Capablanca, published in 1997:
Olimpiu G. Urcan provides a copy of the photograph referred to in C.N. 4257 (Capablanca at the Café de la Régence in 1922), as well as others from the same newspaper:
The Times, 30 March 1922, page 16
The Times , 17 August 1922, page 12
The Times, 12 April 1929, page 18.
As ever in such cases, information about copies of better quality will be appreciated.
A good copy of Capablanca in play against Vidmar is given in London, 1922.
Olimpiu G. Urcan has forwarded a number of chess items published in the Daily Mail in the 1920s and 1930s:
Daily Mail, 7 August 1922, page 6
Daily Mail (Atlantic Edition), 12 November 1925, page 3
Daily Mail, 16 November 1928, page 17
Daily Mail, 6 January 1931, page 7
From page 3 of the Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, WA), 19 September 1922:
The same feature was published in other US newspapers in September/October 1922. The assertion that Capablanca’s annual income was $10,000 may result from a misunderstanding over the London Rules, which had just been agreed upon (‘The champion will not be compelled to defend his title for a purse below $10,000’).
Source: American Chess Bulletin, November 1918, page 234. The item came from the Evening World, 23 September 1918 and concerned a meeting of the Correspondence Chess League of America.
From page 189 of Master Chess by Lodewijk Prins (London, 1950):
‘For a lover of chess it was a real delight to see Capablanca play. Playing over his brilliant games one would hardly believe that this man would sit at the board as if some comedy were being performed before his eyes and would seize any opportunity to rise and walk around with a smile on his face.’
A game (from a 31-board display) submitted by Eduardo Bauzá Mercére:
José Raúl Capablanca – Charles W. Phillips
Chicago, 24 November 1909
1 e4 d5 2 e5 c5 3 f4 Nc6 4 c3 d4 5 Nf3 Bg4 6 h3 Bxf3 7 Qxf3 e6 8 Bb5 Nge7 9 d3 a6 10 Ba4 Rc8 11 Nd2 dxc3 12 Bxc6+ Rxc6 13 bxc3 Nd5 14 Ne4 Be7 15 O-O
15...Nxc3 16 Bb2 Nxe4 17 dxe4 c4 18 Bc3 Qd3 19 a4 O-O 20 Rab1 Qxf3 21 Rxf3 Rb8 22 a5 b5 23 axb6 Rcxb6 24 Rxb6 Rxb6 25 f5 Bc5+ 26 Kh2 Rb3 27 f6 g6 28 h4 h5 29 Kg3 Kf8 30 Kf4 Ke8 31 Kg5 a5 32 g4 Bb4 33 White resigns.
Source: Chicago Tribune, 28 November 1909, page 4:
From page 206 of the April 1928 Chess Amateur:
‘Aaron Sayers, aged 53, with no means of support, but with a passion for chess, and alleged to be known in Ireland as a champion chessplayer, was brought before the magistrate at Bow Street Police Court on 15 March, accused of obtaining credit by fraud at a tea-shop. The five nephews who were not aware of his destitute condition heard of the charge and at once rallied round him. The magistrate placed him on probation for 12 months.’
Two contemporary newspaper reports on the ‘teashop chess champion’ from Ireland:
Manchester Guardian, 16 March 1928, page 11
Daily Mail, 16 March 1928, page 7.
David McAlister (Hillsborough, Northern Ireland) has traced references to ‘A. Sayers’ in the Irish press during the period 1914-27:
‘In the 1914 Leinster Championship he was the runner-up to Charles J. Barry. The latter was the reigning champion, and Sayers seems to have qualified to meet him, the format probably being two all-play-all tournaments with four (probably) qualifiers playing a semi-final before the winner faced the previous year’s champion. Two future Irish champions, Philip Baker and Thomas George Cranston, played in Sayers’ section. Sources: Weekly Irish Times, 21 March 1914, page 16 (there is also a reference to Sayers playing in the Armstrong Cup, the league competition for Dublin clubs) and the Weekly Irish Times, 16 May 1914, page 24.
I have also found a reference to Sayers on board one for the Cairo Chess Club (named after its premises, the Café Cairo) in a friendly match with the Rathmines Chess Club (Weekly Irish Times, 24 January 1914, page 19).
The Irish Times of 6 December 1919, page 7 reported on his game against Capablanca in a simultaneous exhibition in Dublin earlier that month:
The conclusion given in that newspaper report was used on page 339 of Capablanca in the United Kingdom (1911-1920) by V. Fiala (Olomouc, 2006), although with the misspelling “Sayer”, an erroneous position and an unexplained continuation (“1 a3”, even though it was Black’s move). It is, however, difficult to understand what the newspaper meant by white pawns on “K.Kt. sq.” and “Q.sq.”.
In 1924 Sayers competed in the major section of the Tailteann Games, where he came second to Lord Dunsany. There were two qualifying groups and then a final section of six (Irish Times, 19 August 1924, page 6).
In the 1925-26 league season he was a member of the Sackville Chess Club team which won the Armstrong Cup, as reported in the Irish Times, 16 April 1926, page 11, 20 April 1926, page 11, 30 April 1926, page 11 and 5 May 1926, page 10.
In 1927 Sayers played on board 13 in the Belfast v Dublin match; see my article The Time Traveller, which has a photograph of him.’
Olimpiu G. Urcan has found the game below (from a 32-board simultaneous display) on page 4 of Section Two of the Sunday Oregonian, 13 May 1917:
José Raúl Capablanca – Frank Sternberg
San Francisco, 11 April 1916
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bc4 d6 4 d3 Nc6 5 f4 Bg4 6 Nf3 Nd4 7 O-O Nxf3+ 8 gxf3 Be6 9 Kh1 Qd7 10 f5 Bxc4 11 dxc4 O-O-O 12 b4 Qc6 13 Qd3 g6 14 Bg5 Be7 15 Bxf6 Bxf6 16 Nd5 Bh4 17 f6 Qd7 18 b5 Qe6 19 a4 Bxf6 20 a5 Bg5 21 b6 axb6 22 axb6 c6
23 c5 Kd7 24 Ra7 Rb8 25 Nc7 Qe7 26 Rd1 Rhd8 27 cxd6 Qf6 28 Na6 Ke8 29 Nxb8 Rxb8 30 d7+ Kf8 31 Rda1 Kg7 32 Ra8 Qd8 33 Rxb8 Qxb8 34 c4 c5 35 Qd5 Be7 36 Ra7 Resigns.
Patsy A. D’Eramo (North East, MD, USA) forwards a game from page 5 of the Washington Post, 12 October 1919. It was played in a simultaneous exhibition (+45 –0 =3).
José Raúl Capablanca – Robert D. Hamilton
Cleveland, 13 January 1919
1 f4 d5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 b3 Nf6 4 Bb2 Bf5 5 e3 e6 6 Be2 Bd6 7 O-O O-O 8 Ne5 Bxe5 9 fxe5 Nd7 10 d4 f6 11 exf6 Nxf6 12 Nd2 Nb4
13 Rxf5 exf5 14 Ba3 c5 15 c3 Nc6 16 Bxc5 Re8 17 Nf1 Ne4 18 c4 Nc3 19 Qc2 Nxe2+ 20 Qxe2 b6 21 cxd5 Qxd5 22 Ba3 f4 23 Rd1 Rad8 24 Bb2 Rd7 25 Qf2 fxe3 26 Nxe3 Qh5 27 g4 Qg5 28 Rd3 Ne5 29 Rd2 Nxg4 30 Nxg4 Qxg4+ 31 Qg2 Re1+ 32 Kf2 Qe6 33 Qa8+ Kf7 34 Qf3+ Kg8 35 Qa8+ Kf7 36 Qf3+ Kg8 Drawn.
Capablanca began the Rice Memorial tournament (New York, 1916) with eight successive wins, but drew in the ninth round:
Jacob Carl Rosenthal – José Raúl Capablanca
New York, 28 January 1916
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 Nbd7 5 e3 Bd6 6 c5 Be7 7 b4 c6 8 a3 Qc7 9 Bb2 O-O 10 Bd3 e5 11 dxe5 Nxe5 12 Nxe5 Qxe5 13 Qc2 Qh5 14 Ne2 Ne8 15 O-O-O a5 16 h4 axb4 17 axb4 Bf6 18 Nd4 Nc7 19 f3 Qh6 20 Qd2 Re8
21 Rde1 Ra2 22 Bb1 Bxd4 23 Qxd4 Ra4 24 Bc2 Ra8 25 g4 Nb5 26 Qd3 Rf8 27 Reg1 Re8 28 Re1 Bd7 29 h5 f5 30 gxf5 d4 31 Kb1 Drawn.
Sources: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 29 January 1916, page 3; American Chess Bulletin, April 1916, page 86; The Rice Memorial Chess Tournament, New York, 1916 by P.W. Sergeant (Leeds, 1916), page 65.
The occasion was described, without the game-score, on page 10 of the New York Sun, 29 January 1916:
And on page 6 of the New York Times, 29 January 1916:
Regarding the final position ...
... P.W. Sergeant wrote in the tournament book:
The same text was reproduced on page 168 of the March 1927 Chess Amateur. Burn’s annotations in The Field had also been given on page 82 of La Stratégie, March 1916.
The game appears incorrectly in some databases (with 21 Rhe1 instead of 21 Rde1, or 21...Ra7 instead of 21...Ra2). The former mistake can be found too on page 182 of volume one of the ‘Chess Stars’ collection of Capablanca’s games (published in 1997), which thus had extensive analysis of positions which did not arise in the game:
From Eduardo Bauzá Mercére:
José Raúl Capablanca – Albert Whiting Fox
Washington, D.C., 20 November 1915
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O d6 6 Bxc6+ bxc6 7 d4 exd4 8 Nxd4 c5 9 Nf3 Bb7 10 Nc3 Be7 11 Qd3 O-O 12 Re1 Nd7 13 Ne2 Bf6 14 Ng3 Ne5 15 Nxe5 Bxe5 16 f4 Bf6 17 c3 Re8 18 Nf5 Re6 19 Ng3 Qe8
20 f5 Re7 21 Bf4 Bh4 22 Re2 Bxg3 23 Qxg3 Rxe4 24 f6 g6 25 Rxe4 Qxe4 26 Re1 Qd5 27 Qg5 Rc8 28 Re7 Qxg5 29 Bxg5 Bd5 30 b3 h5 31 c4 Be6 32 Kf2 a5 33 Ke3 a4 34 Kd2 axb3 35 axb3 d5 36 Kc3 d4+ 37 Kc2 Ra8 38 Kb2 Rb8 39 Kc2 Drawn.
Source: Washington Post, 28 November 1915, page 2:
From page 147 of the November 1926 American Chess Bulletin:
The comments about Black’s 19th and 22nd moves are noteworthy.
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 O-O d6 5 d4 exd4 6 e5 dxe5 7 Nxe5 Bd7 8 Nxd7 Qxd7 9 Re1+ Be7 10 c3 O-O-O 11 Bxc6 bxc6 12 Qa4 Bc5 13 cxd4 Qxd4 14 Qa6+ Kb8 15 Be3 Qb4 16 Na3 Rhe8 17 Nc2 Qb6 18 Qa4 Bxe3 19 Nxe3 Ne4 20 Rac1 Nc5 21 Qa3 Nd3 22 Rc3
22...Qd4 23 Rb3+ Kc8 24 Qa6+ Resigns.
From pages 138-139 of the February 1923 Chess Amateur, at the end of the well-known simultaneous game Capablanca v Santasiere, New York, 1922:
‘A game which the chessplayer will no doubt read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. White’s moves make one harmonious whole, and there is not a jarring note.’
This is reminiscent of a remark by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth about Capablanca v Germann, Miller and Skillicorn, London, 1920 on page 93 of The Unknown Capablanca (London, 1975):
‘This is one of those “inevitable” games so typical of Capablanca’s style: he seems to win without his opponent’s having made any perceptible error; he achieves an illusion of continuity, whereas it is self-evident that chess is a series of separate steps.’
From pages 151-152 of Chess Traps, Pitfalls, and Swindles by I.A. Horowitz and Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1954):
In the initial diagram the white queen should be on c1. We do not know the basis for the co-authors’ statement that after the move Qh6 Nimzowitsch merely ‘took one look at the position’ before ‘quietly’ capturing the knight. Indeed, we cannot say when either player became aware of the mating line; on page 470 of the December 1928 BCM J.H. Blake wrote that it was pointed out by Alekhine.
The world champion annotated the game deeply in the Basler Nachrichten, 8 September 1928:
The full notes, incorporating some further remarks, were reproduced on pages 164-167 of the October 1928 Schweizerische Schachzeitung:
A different German version of Alekhine’s notes appeared, via Tidskrift för Schack, on pages 252-255 of Kagans Neueste Schachnachrichten, August 1929.
From pages 377-378 of the December 1928 Deutsche Schachzeitung:
When the Deutsche Schachzeitung had annotated the full game on pages 273-274 of its September 1928 issue, the ‘insidious pitfall’ was overlooked, the following being the note to 13...Bxc3:
‘Es drohte Sc3-e4. Dennoch sollte sich Schwarz lieber die beiden Läufer erhalten, z. B. 13...Kh8! 14 Se4 Le7 als Tg8 und Tg6.’
Similarly, the notes in The Field, reproduced on pages 83-84 of the January 1929 Chess Amateur, stated after 13...Bxc3:
‘To stop Kt-K4. Better, however, would have been 13...K-R1 14 Kt-K4 B-K2, followed by ...R-Kt1 and ...R-Kt3.’
On pages 27-29 of Schachjahrbuch 1928 by L. Bachmann (Ansbach, 1929) the moves 12...O-O 13 Qh6 Bxc3 14 bxc3 Kh8 were given without comment. Nor was the mating trap mentioned in C.S. Howell’s annotations on pages 137-138 of the September-October 1928 American Chess Bulletin.
A detailed set of annotations appeared in Tartakower’s German-language tournament book. See too the coverage of the game on pages 37-41 of Aaron Nimzowitsch 1928-1935 by Rudolf Reinhardt (Berlin, 2010), or pages 39-43 of the English edition (Alkmaar, 2013)
A snippet from page 324 of Pump Up Your Rating by Axel Smith (Glasgow, 2013), a highly interesting book:
In the bas quartiers of the Internet this Janowsky quote appears regularly and sourcelessly. As mentioned on page 396 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves, it comes from Capablanca’s Lectures book:
This adds the worthwhile information that Janowsky often expressed such a view about the endgame, and that Capablanca strongly disagreed with it.
Janowsky’s ‘I detest the endgame’ comment, recollected by Capablanca, was also quoted on page 396 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves.
See Janowsky Jottings.
A recent acquisition is a photograph taken, we estimate, circa 1912:
From Oliver Beck:
‘In Julien Gracq’s Un beau ténébreux (Paris, 1945) a character’s chess is described as follows:
“Il joue remarquablement, avec une prédilection pour les parties fermées, la Sicilienne, l’Ouest-Indienne, comme tous les joueurs qui sentent ces relations secrètes de case à case qui sommeillent sur l’échiquier, cette puissance explosive latente qui dort dans chaque pièce, et dont l’appréhension intuitive fait toute la supériorité du jeu de fakirs, comme Alekhine, comme Breyer, comme Botwinnik, sur les géomètres [Gracq’s emphasis] de l’échiquier qu’étaient un Morphy ou un Rubinstein” (pages 67-68 in the 1983 José Corti edition).
This description, with the somewhat surprising insertion of Breyer between Alekhine and Botvinnik, may be better understood in light of Gracq’s comment in Lettrines 2 (Paris, 1974):
“... puis, en 1929, le livre de Réti: Modern Ideas in Chess, qui est un peu le Manifeste du Surréalisme échiquéen, me donna à Londres tout un été de découverte et de bonheur” (page 176 in the 1978 José Corti edition).
Elsewhere in Lettrines 2, Gracq describes an encounter with E. Znosko-Borovsky:
“Une fois, avec le président du cercle d’échecs de Quimper, nous y conduisîmes Znosko-Borovsky, célèbre joueur d’échecs, que nous avions invité dans notre ville pour une conférence et une séance de simultanées; avec sa moustache taillée en brosse, il avait l’air d’un gentil et courtois bouledogue. Je ne sais pourquoi je le revois encore parfaitement, silhouetté au bord de la falaise, regardant l’horizon du Sud: il y avait dans cette image je ne sais quoi d’incongru et de parfaitement dépaysant. Il ne disait rien. Peut-être rêvait-il, sur ce haut lieu, à la victoire qu’il avait un jour remportée sur Capablanca” (page 38).
Gracq’s reference to Capablanca v Znosko-Borovsky, St Petersburg, 1913 may not seem unusual; it was annotated in the illustrative games section of Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals and touched upon in Chapter VII of My Chess Career. However, it causes me to wonder whether Znosko-Borovsky ever mentioned it in his writings. Also, considering Capablanca’s incredible success during his second European tour, how much attention was paid to Znosko-Borovsky’s victory at the time?’
Znosko-Borovsky discussed part of his victory over the Cuban on pages 152-156 of his book The Middle Game in Chess (London, 1922). The full score was published, with notes by both Znosko-Borovsky and Capablanca on pages 189-190 of issue 22 of Les Cahiers de l’Echiquier Français (1930), incorrectly labelled a tournament game:
Capablanca’s earliest set of notes to the game appeared on pages 19-20 of the January 1914 issue of La Stratégie:
Both French publications stated that the game ended 41 Kd2 Rxd4 42 White resigns, whereas in Chess Fundamentals Capablanca wrote that he resigned after 40...Re1+.
The game was widely published at the time, without receiving special attention.
A game submitted by Luc Winants shows the difficulties in establishing the key facts about simultaneous displays.
Our correspondent has provided two cuttings, from Louis van Vliet’s chess column in the Sunday Times, 19 May 1929, page 4, and 26 May 1929, page 4:
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 c5 4 Ngf3 Nc6 5 exd5 exd5 6 Bb5 Qe7+ 7 Qe2 Qxe2+ 8 Kxe2 Bd7 9 dxc5 Bxc5 10 Nb3 Bd6 11 Bg5 f6 12 Bh4 Nge7 13 Bg3 Nf5 14 Bxd6 Nxd6 15 Bd3 Nb4 16 Rad1 Nxd3
17 Rxd3 Bb5 18 Nfd4 Bxd3+ 19 Kxd3 Nc4 20 Rb1 Kf7 21 Ne2 Rhe8 22 Nc3 Ne5+ 23 Ke2 Rad8 24 Kf1 d4 25 Nb5 d3 26 cxd3 Nxd3 27 Na5 Re7 28 Nc4 a6 29 Nbd6+ Kf8 30 a4 Red7 31 Nf5 Nc5 32 Nfe3 Nxa4 33 g4 b5 34 Na5 Rd2 35 b3 Nc3 36 Rc1 Nd1 37 Nf5 Rxf2+ 38 Ke1
38...Re8+ 39 Kxd1 Rf1+ 40 Kd2 Rd8+ 41 Kc2 Rc8+ 42 White resigns.
The first Sunday Times cutting stated that Capablanca resigned at move 44. The game was not dated, and it is a rare case where the list of exhibitions on pages 180-194 of The Unknown Capablanca by D. Hooper and D. Brandreth (London, 1975) does not help. There was, though, a brief report on pages 213-214 of the June 1929 BCM:
‘Señor Capablanca left London for Paris on 17 May. Since the events reported in our last number he has given two displays. The first was at Whitchurch, Salop, at the invitation of Sir Kenneth Crossley, where he won all 35 games.’
However, a correction was printed on page 251 of the July 1929 BCM:
‘We regret to find that an error crept into our report (page 214) of Señor Capablanca’s simultaneous display at Shrewsbury. We stated that the Master won all the games, but this was not so, as in one game he was defeated by D.E. McNab.’
The spelling ‘McNab’ (as opposed to ‘MacNeb’, given three times in the above newspaper reports) is supported by other BCM items about chess in Shropshire (e.g. on page 114 of the March 1938 issue), but there is also a discrepancy over whether Capablanca played 30 or 35 games at Combermere Abbey. Biographical details about the winner of the above game are also sought.
From page 299 of volume one of Ajedrez integral (Havana, 2003):
(For some reason, the book often repeated a game’s venue. Thus the following page had a game played in 1925 by Alekhine and Rabinovich at ‘Baden-Baden Baden-Baden’.)
The Capablanca v Zirn encounter comes from pages 43-44 of our book on the Cuban, which specified that the game-score, taken from Diario de la Marina, was a reconstruction proposed to us by Rob Verhoeven and Eliezer Agur.
Below, difficult to reproduce clearly, is Capablanca’s garbled column on page 11 of Diario de la Marina, 1 December 1912, which we found in the mid-1980s at the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí in Havana:
Black to move
The above position was given in William Winter’s Chess for Match Players, i.e. on pages 231-232 of the original 1936 edition and, as shown below, on page 232 of the revised 1951 work:
There is an obvious resemblance to the conclusion of Capablanca’s famous victory over Bernstein in Moscow, 1914 (given in My Chess Career), but what is the origin of this version?
From page 75 of the 5/2014 New in Chess, in the lamentable ‘Fair & Square’ column:
What is known about this alleged remark of Capablanca’s, beyond its availability on a number of websites which document nothing?
Fred Reinfeld mentioned his visit to the New York, 1927 tournament on page 161 of The Great Chess Masters and Their Games (New York, 1952), in the chapter on Capablanca:
‘The other masters were so clearly outclassed that comparison was piteous. I attended the tournament one day to catch a glimpse of the grandmasters. Capablanca looked sleek, poised, quite sure of himself. The others were fearfully nervous – Sorcerer’s Apprentices, all of them, in the presence of the master magician. In any other man, Capablanca’s air of assurance would have made a distasteful impression – but not in his case: he looked so distinguished, so authentically a great man, that the predominant reaction was one of awe.’
Page 101 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975) gave the conclusion of a game between A. Ettlinger and Capablanca (New York, 1907):
1...Nc4 2 Nxc4 dxc4 3 Rxc4 Kd5 4 Rc8 Ke4 5 Re8+ Kd3 6 Rxe2 fxe2+ 7 Ke1 Bc7 8 Bf4 Ba5 9 Bd2
9...f4 10 gxf4 Bd8 11 White resigns.
The book quoted some remarks by Emanuel Lasker and specified, on page 200, that the source was the New York Evening Post, 17 April 1907.
Below (barely legible, alas) is that column of Lasker’s in the Evening Post (page 6), as well as the correction published on page 7 of the following day’s edition:
The full game-score has not been found. The finish is seldom seen in chess literature, although it was discussed on page 78 of Surprise in Chess by Amatzia Avni (London, 1998).
There are brief references to Alfred K. Ettlinger in our book on Capablanca. See too pages 170-171 of the April 1987 BCM and page 551 of the December 1987 issue.
From page 1 of the sports section of the Chicago Daily Tribune, 26 December 1925:
The game occurred in the simultaneous exhibition mentioned on page 99 of the January 1926 Chess Amateur:
‘Señor Capablanca, who left London for Havana on Monday, 14 December, gave a monster simultaneous display on the previous afternoon at the Maccabaeans Club, Oxford Street. He contested 56 games, winning 34, losing four and drawing ten, eight games being left unfinished after four hours’ play. One of the winners was a Russian boy of 15, named Rivkine.’
The January 1926 BCM (page 25) reported a different score:
‘Of the hundred or more players anxious to take a board, the limit was reached when 46 were seated: a wise decision, as only four and a half hours were available for play. The Cuban moved with his usual ease and rapidity, and the display was nearing its end when a group of spectators gathered round the young Russian Rifkine were heard to sound an alarm, which culminated in a cheer, announcing the Champion’s first defeat (by the youngest of his opponents). Shortly after, the remaining eight or ten games were adjudicated, and Capablanca conceded three wins, to J. Birnberg, M.E. Goldstein and R.F. Goldstein respectively. The final figures were 34 wins, eight draws and four losses.’
That tally corresponded to what had appeared on page 8 of the Times Literary Supplement, 17 December 1925, which had a reference to Y. Rifkine:
A photograph of the display was published on page 18 of the Times, 14 December 1925:
A better version of the photograph of Rivkin in C.N. 8841 comes from page 20 of the Daily Mirror, 15 December 1925:
Daniel King (London) informs us that he has been reading Portraits and Reflections by Stuart Hodgson (London and New York, 1929) and, in particular, the chapter about Capablanca on pages 73-79:
C.N. 2790 (see page 312 of Chess Facts and Fables) referred to the book, in connection with the Mason quote at the start of the Capablanca chapter. A number of errors may be noted, such as the sleep story (discussed in C.N. 5118), an imagined age difference of only two years between Capablanca and Alekhine, and a misquotation on the final page reproduced above. In the Author’s Note in My Chess Career the Cuban wrote ‘conceal’, and not ‘reveal’.
The well-known figures featured in Hodgson’s book include King George V, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Sir Austen Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini and Sir John Simon.
Below is the obituary of [John] Stuart Hodgson on page 5 of the Manchester Guardian, 11 May 1950.
A forgotten photograph from page 511 of The Graphic, 30 April 1921:
Gerard Killoran (Ilkley, England) writes concerning Capablanca’s draw against Sidney Bernstein in a simultaneous exhibition and shows that when writing to us about the game in 1987 (see A Great Chess Figure) Bernstein forgot not only certain details but also the fact that he had annotated the game on page 6A of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 27 December 1928. Mr Killoran provides the cutting:
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e5 3 dxe5 Ng4 4 e4 h5 5 Be2 Nxe5 6 f4 Ng4 7 g3 Bb4+ 8 Nc3 Qe7 9 Qc2 Nc6 10 Nf3 h4 11 gxh4 Rxh4 12 Bd2 Rh3 13 O-O-O Bxc3 14 Qxc3 Nf2 15 Qxg7 Nxh1 16 Rxh1 Qf8 17 Qg2 Rh8 18 Rg1 d6 19 Bc3 f6 20 Qg6+ Qf7 21 Bxf6 Qxg6 22 Rxg6 Kf7 23 f5 Rg8 24 Ng5+ Kf8 25 h4 Ne5 26 Bxe5 Rxg6 27 fxg6 dxe5 28 h5 Kg7 29 Nf7 Kf6 30 Nh6 Be6 31 Bg4 Bxg4 32 Nxg4+ Kg7 33 Nxe5 Rh8 34 Kc2 Rxh5 35 Nd3 Rh2+ 36 Kc3 Kxg6 37 a4 Drawn.
White’s 34th move was recorded as 34 Kc2, and not 34 Kd2 (as given by Rogelio Caparrós’s books on Capablanca and, subsequently, in databases).
From pages 361-362 of Mannheim 1914 and the Interned Russians by A.J. Gillam (Nottingham, 2014):
‘Capablanca in his article Chess in the Last Three Years published in Bohemia, a German language Prague newspaper on 20 January 1918, commented that ...’
It is not mentioned how the author researched such a German-language Prague newspaper, and it would be fascinating to see a copy.
Pages 89-92 of our book on Capablanca gave, under the title ‘Chess in the Last Three Years’, an article by him which we found on page 13 of the 20 January 1918 issue of the Spanish-language Cuban magazine Bohemia.
The concluding paragraph of Harry Golombek’s notes to Colle v Capablanca, Carlsbad, 1929 on page 187 of Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess (London, 1947):
‘This game is Capablanca at his best, full of subtle touches for the full exploitation of positional weaknesses. After the game Colle is reported to have said: “It seems to me I did not make a weak move, but that my opponent played some very strong ones.” This feeling was very familiar to most of Capablanca’s opponents.’
Golombek gave no source for the remark by Colle, but the following was Victor Soultanbéieff’s final note in his comments on the game in L’Echiquier, November 1929, pages 502-503:
‘Partie très instructive et typique du style de Capablanca qui profita avec habileté et précision de quelques faiblesses presqu’imperceptibles dans la position de son adversaire qu’il créa par des manœuvres raffinées.
Ce qui surprend dans la présente partie c’est que les Bl. perdirent sans commettre de fautes visibles. “Il me semble que je n’ai pas fait de coup faible, dit Colle après la partie, mais mon adversaire joua des coups très forts.” Combien de victimes de Capablanca pourraient en dire autant!’
Dominique Thimognier has found this photograph on page 8 of the Czech publication Pestrý týden, 27 April 1929:
One of a number of photographs supplied by Olimpiu G. Urcan from The Graphic, in C.N. 10302:
13 April 1929, page 63
As regards announcing an attack on the rook (C.N. 9011), we note a caricature of Capablanca in the Argentinian publication La Vida Moderna, 28 June 1911 which was reproduced on page 64 of Los años locos del ajedrez argentino by Juan Sebastián Morgado (Buenos Aires, 2013). The author has kindly provided the ‘chess consultation’ cutting:
From page 63 of the book:
‘El semanario La Vida Moderna, aprovechando la presencia de Capablanca en el país, publica una caricatura muy graciosa, haciendo un chiste sobre este tema. Pueden verse a Capablanca (sentado, jugando), Gil y Lisandro de la Torre, entablándose este diálogo:
Interventor Gil: Señor Capablanca ¿Verdad que sólo se anuncia el jaque al rey?
Capablanca: Solamente al rey.
Interventor Gil: Pues este señor dice que debo anunciar el jaque a la Torre.’
Mr Morgado has sent us this translation:
‘Taking advantage of Capablanca’s presence in the country, the weekly publication La Vida Moderna had a very amusing cartoon, making a joke about this topic. It showed Capablanca (seated and playing), Gil and Lisandro de la Torre having this dialogue:
Interventor Gil: Señor Capablanca, is it true that check is announced only to the king?
Capablanca: Yes, only to the king.
Interventor Gil: But this gentleman says that I have to announce check to the rook.’
Our correspondent also explains the context:
‘There is a pun based on the fact that “this gentleman” was Lisandro de la Torre and that torre is the Spanish word for rook or tower. The political situation in the Santa Fe province was complicated; the elected governor had been removed by the central government, and Anacleto Gil had been appointed to replace him. Lisandro de la Torre was a very popular representative whose political career was in the ascendancy.’
From pages 125-126 of The Fireside Book of Chess by I. Chernev and F. Reinfeld (New York, 1949):
The description ‘a unique knight fork’ may seem an exaggeration. No details about the occasion were given by Chernev and Reinfeld, but the game was won by Capablanca against William G. Morris in the second round of the National Tournament in New York, on 23 January 1911 and was published on page 55 of the March 1911 American Chess Bulletin:
Both players are in the group photograph shown in C.N. 7871. Regarding Morris (misnamed ‘Harry Morris’ on a number of webpages which give his loss to Capablanca), below is the report of his death on page 140 of the May-June 1919 American Chess Bulletin:
That report was referred to unquestioningly in Jeremy Gaige’s Chess Personalia (Jefferson, 1987), but the unpublished 1994 edition had an amendment:
Patsy A. D’Eramo has found a cutting in the Chicago Daily Tribune, 21 February 1909, page 4, which refers to Capablanca and Banks and states:
‘In offhand games the brilliant young Cuban, however, won 11 games and lost only one – this to Newell Banks, the promising young expert at checkers who also plays an excellent game at chess.’
Our correspondent also notes reports about Capablanca in the Kansas City Times of 26 January 1909, page 5, and 6 February 1909, page 8.
From the main page of chessgames.com, 12 March 2015:
From page 6 of the Evening Despatch (West Midlands, England), 8 January 1914:
Can the board position be identified?
White to move
This position was discussed at length by Capablanca in the section ‘The danger of a safe position’ in Chess Fundamentals (London, 1921). As mentioned on page 22 of our book about him, he had analysed the ending on pages 117-118 of the Chess Weekly, 8 January 1910:
Page 310 of our book also noted that the following year Capablanca examined the position in a lecture in Buenos Aires, as reported on pages 54-56 of the Revista del Club Argentino de Ajedrez, April-June 1911:
However, an item in T.R. Dawson’s Endings column on pages 297-298 of the July 1927 Chess Amateur should be noted:
Below is the material referred to in the penultimate paragraph, from Dawson’s column on pages 297-298 of the July 1926 Chess Amateur:
Are the analytical and theoretical observations of Orrin Frink correct, and can the full score of the Marshall v Rosenthal game be found?
White to move
From Karsten Müller (Hamburg, Germany):
‘In general, Orrin Frink is right. The position is drawn. The move 1 Rc7+ given by Capablanca in Chess Fundamentals is indeed met by 1...Kd6 2 Rb7 Ke5 3 Rb5+ Kf6=, as Frink states. Another line runs 1 Rb7!? Rd5 2 f6 Rg5+ 3 Kf1 Rf5 4 f7 Kd6 5 Rxb4 Ke7 6 Rb7+ Kf8= despite White’s three extra pawns.
However, Frink makes a mistake in the line 1 f6 Rd6 2 Rc7+. Now, Black must play the active 2...Kd4, when he manages to draw in the resulting pawn race, or 2...Kd5. But 2...Kb6? loses owing to 3 f7 Rg6+ 4 Kf1 Rf6, and now 5 Re7 Kc5 6 Rb7 Kd5 7 h4 Rf4 8 h5 Ke6 9 h6 Rxf7 10 h7 and White wins.’
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére has found this game on page 7 of La Nación, 31 August 1914:
Our correspondent believes that Black was Teodoro Becú, who was mentioned in, for instance, a crosstable on page 115 of the October-December 1909 Revista del Club Argentino de Ajedrez.
José Raúl Capablanca – [Teodoro] Becú
Buenos Aires, 30 August 1914
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Be7 5 O-O b5 6 Bb3 d6 7 a4 Bd7 8 axb5 axb5 9 Rxa8 Qxa8 10 Nc3 Qb7 11 d4 b4 12 Nd5 Bg4 13 dxe5 Nxe5
14 Nxe5 Bxd1 15 Ba4+ Kd8 16 Nc6+ Kc8 17 Ndxe7+ Nxe7 18 Nxe7+ Kd8 19 Nc6+ Kc8 20 Rxd1 f6 21 Be3 h5
22 Rd5 Rh7 23 Ra5 Kd7 24 Nd4+ Ke7 25 Bc6 Qc8 26 Nf5+ Kf7 27 Bd5+ Resigns.
C.N. 741 (see page 118 of Chess Explorations) mentioned that in his Who’s Who entry Alekhine included canoeing as a hobby. We have no further information, or about Capablanca’s possible interest in boating, as suggested by the photograph below, from our collection, in which he is holding a copy of the British magazine The Motor Boat:
Concerning Capablanca’s well-known game against Campos (São Paulo, 16 August 1927), below are Réti’s annotations in the Morgenzeitung, as reproduced on pages 121-122 of the April 1928 Deutsche Schachzeitung:
As shown in our article on David Hooper, C.N. 3227 mentioned a cutting which he sent us for safe keeping on 10 May 1990 regarding a set of games between Capablanca and Delmar. Hooper commented:
‘This is the only written reference I found to a match against Delmar on 27(?) September 1908. It will almost certainly be from Diario de la Marina (Havana) ... As I understand this match, Capablanca, offering pawn and move, undertook to win every game. I believe he won the match, probably picking up a good stake – he desperately needed money at the time.’
Now, Christian Sánchez has forwarded us the remainder of the newspaper item (a report by Juan Corzo in Diario de la Marina, 27 September 1908), together with a full transcription:
‘El Morphy cubano
Capablanca da ventaja a los maestros
El bien querido amigo de los amateurs ajedrecistas cubanos, por serlo él mismo, D. Arístides Martínez, insustituible Presidente del Manhattan Chess Club de Nueva York y pródigo Mecenas del juego ciencia en Cuba y los Estados Unidos, da cuenta, en reciente e interesante epístola, dirigida al entusiasta Presidente de la Sección de Ajedrez del Ateneo, D. León Paredes, de la última hazaña allí realizada por Raúl Capablanca, quien ha acreditado con ella que merece el calificativo hiperbólico de maestro entre los maestros.
Alguien indicó al notable jugador americano Mr Eugenio Delmar que el adolescente cubano, con quien siempre perdía mano a mano, estaba dispuesto a contender con él dándole peón y salida de ventaja, lo que aceptó en la seguridad de que no perdería un solo juego ni concedería al osado retador el consuelo de unas modestas tablas.
Júzguese cual no sería su asombro al ver que Raúl le ganaba cinco juegos consecutivos y uno de ellos anunciándole mate en 5 jugadas después de haberle entregado la Dama en correcto y brillante sacrificio.
Teniendo en cuenta que Delmar ha sido Champion del Estado de Nueva York y que es todavía uno de los más fuertes y experimentados paladines del Manhattan, su derrota recibiendo partido a manos de “Capa”, como llaman a nuestro campeón en el club neoyorkino, coloca a éste por encima de casi todos los maestros contemporáneos.
El Morphy cubano merece, pues, su glorioso apodo, habiendo sido Delmar para él lo que Owen (“Alter”) fue para el Aguila luisianesa, la piedra de toque de su genio prodigioso y de su enorme fuerza.
Después de la noticia referida cabe asegurar que no sabremos lo que puede dar de sí Capablanca hasta que se bata de igual a igual con el Dr. Lasker.
El Sr. Paredes, haciéndose intérprete de los sentimientos de todos los aficionados al ajedrez en Cuba, ha enviado una muy expresiva felicitación a Raúl por su valioso triunfo, agregando que deseamos verlo pronto figurar en un torneo internacional de maestros en la seguridad de que el pabellón de la estrella solitaria estará en buenas manos y quedará a notable altura.
Russell Miller (Vancouver, WA, USA) sends two games which have been found by Casey Bush on page 4 of the Sunday Oregonian, 23 April 1916. They were the only simultaneous games which Capablanca did not win during his stay in Oregon.
José Raúl Capablanca – R.T. Leonard
Portland, 6 April 1916
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4 c6 4 Nc3 e6 5 e3 Bb4 6 Bd3 O-O 7 O-O Nbd7 8 Qc2 h6 9 Ne2 dxc4 10 Bxc4 Re8 11 e4 e5 12 Qb3 Qe7 13 dxe5 Nxe4 14 Ned4 Nb6
15 Bxf7+ Qxf7 16 Qxb4 c5 17 Qe1 Qd5 18 Nb5 Re7 19 Nc3 Nxc3 20 Qxc3 Bg4 21 Bf4 Bxf3 22 gxf3 Rf8 23 Rfd1 Qf7 24 Qxc5 Rc7 25 Qd6 Rc6 26 e6 Qg6+ 27 Bg3 Rxd6 28 Rxd6 Nc4 29 Rd4 Qxe6 30 Kg2 Qf7 31 Rf4 Qd5 32 Re4
32...Rxf3 33 Kxf3 Nd2+ 34 Ke2 Nxe4 35 Rd1 Nxg3+ 36 hxg3 Qxa2 37 Rd2 b6 38 f4 a5 39 Ke3 b5 40 g4 a4 41 g5 hxg5 42 fxg5 b4 43 Kf4 Qf7+ 44 Kg4 Qf8 45 Rd4 a3 46 bxa3 b3 47 White resigns.
José Raúl Capablanca – H. Kurth
Portland, 6 April 1916
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O Bc5 6 c3 b5 7 Bc2 d6 8 d4 Bb6 9 dxe5 dxe5 10 Qxd8+ Kxd8 11 a4 Bb7 12 axb5 axb5 13 Rxa8+ Bxa8 14 Na3 b4 15 Nc4 Nd7 16 Rd1 f6 17 Ba4 bxc3 18 bxc3 Kc8
19 Rxd7 Kxd7 20 Ncxe5+ fxe5 21 Nxe5+ Ke6 22 Nxc6 Bxc6 23 Bxc6 Rf8 24 Bd5+ Ke5 25 h4 Bxf2+ 26 Kh2 Bxh4 27 g3 Bd8 28 Bf4+
28...Rxf4 29 gxf4+ Kxf4 30 Kh3 g5 31 Kg2 h5 32 e5 h4 33 e6 g4 34 Kh2 Be7 35 Kg2 Bd6 36 Kh1 Kg3 37 Bc6 Kf4 38 Ba4 h3 39 Bd7 g3 40 Bc6 g2+ 41 Bxg2 hxg2+ 42 Kxg2 Ke3 43 White resigns.
Another simultaneous game can be added, from page 5 of the Sunday Oregonian, 4 June 1916:
The score goes awry towards the end of the first column, but ...Ra7 was evidently played, and we therefore give the game as follows:
José Raúl Capablanca – A.K. Trenholm
Portland, April 1916
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O b5 6 Bb3 d6 7 Ng5 d5 8 exd5 Nxd5
9 Nxf7 Kxf7 10 Qf3+ Ke6 11 Nc3 Ne7 12 d4 c6 13 Re1 Kd7 14 Nxd5 cxd5 15 Rxe5 Ra7 16 Bxd5 Nxd5 17 Rxd5+ Bd6
18 Rxd6+ Kxd6 19 Bf4+ Kd7 20 Re1 Qg8 21 d5 h6 22 Qe3 Qxd5 23 Qxa7+ Bb7 24 f3 Rf8 25 Qe3 Qf7 26 Rd1+ Bd5 27 Qa7+ Ke6 28 Qxa6+ Kf5 29 Qd6 Be6 30 Re1 Re8 31 g4+ Kf6 32 Qd4+ Kg6 33 Qd3+ Kf6 34 Be5+ Ke7 35 Qd6 mate.
Christian Sánchez has found online a clearer version of the chess column on page 5 of the Sunday Oregonian, 4 June 1916 from which we took the Capablanca v Trenholm game:
A book just received, José Raúl Capablanca. A Chess Biography by Miguel A. Sánchez (Jefferson, 2015), provides a dramatic illustration of how chess scholarship has developed, in some fields, since the 1970s. The author’s two-volume work Capablanca, leyenda y realidad (Havana, 1978) has been expanded and improved beyond all recognition.
Olimpiu G. Urcan writes:
‘A copy of Miguel A. Sánchez’s José Raúl Capablanca. A Chess Biography (C.N. 9434) has just reached me. Having an interest in the career of Mona May Karff, I was immediately struck by the sub-standard treatment of Capablanca’s loss to her in a simultaneous exhibition (+19 –2 =1) at the Marshall Chess Club, New York on 6 November 1941. Although Sánchez referred to Karff on page 471 as a “former United States Women’s Chess Champion and the strongest female player in the country”, the endnote on pages 533-534 has, in addition to a speculative attempt to drag in medical points, a statement by Sánchez that it was “an unexpected defeat”.
After 16 Qxf6 Sánchez wrote that “White has a winning position”, whereas Karff had some compensation for the pawn because her queen and rooks were more actively placed, but what is most disheartening is Sánchez’s discussion of how the game ended: he gave the conclusion as 25 Re1 Rxg3+, making no mention of the more natural and stronger continuation 25…Qxg3+ 26 Kh1 Rxa2. Moreover, he claimed that it was unclear whether Capablanca’s 25th move was 25 Re1 or 25 Qe1:
It is inexplicable why Sánchez referred merely to the Caparrós book and a database, ignoring the obvious primary source, the American Chess Bulletin. Page 99 of the September/October 1941 issue gave the game-score, and I see no reason to doubt that the finish was as recorded by the Bulletin, i.e. 25 Qe1 Rxa2+:
1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 Nf6 4 Bg2 d6 5 d3 Bg4 6 Nf3 Nd4 7 h3 Nxf3+ 8 Bxf3 Bxf3 9 Qxf3 e5 10 Bg5 Be7 11 Bxf6 Bxf6 12 Nd5 Rc8 13 c4 Qa5+ 14 Kf1 Rc6 15 Nxf6+ gxf6 16 Qxf6 Rg8 17 Qf3 Rb6 18 Qe2 Qb4 19 b3 Ra6 20 Kg2 Qa5 21 Rhf1 b5 22 f4 exf4 23 Rxf4 bxc4 24 dxc4 Qc3
25 Qe1 Rxa2+ 26 White resigns.
Sánchez’s endnote 33 is very poorly written: “… after having reached material and positional advantage”, “Starting in Buenos Aires, 1927, the frequency ...”, “and draw”, “Caparro’s”, “... the end of the game appears different”, “Confusion arose because the two versions of the games and it is not clear which one was the real 25th move …”, and “Big Database 2012 give”.
Incidentally, if Sánchez had consulted the American Chess Bulletin he could have quoted this snippet about the game:
“To Miss Karff, first to turn in the report of a victory, was awarded a copy of Capablanca’s Chess Primer, autographed by the author. Louis J. Wolff, captain of the Columbia varsity team of which the Cuban was a member, paid a finely phrased tribute to Capablanca in introducing him to the large audience. There was a bit of sardonic humor, he remarked, in the thought that a player winning from the master should receive a primer.”’
The conclusion of the 1941 game between Capablanca and Mona Karff received a full page (364) in American Chess Art by Walter Korn (London, 1975) with the caption ‘Position in diagram with colors reversed’. The final moves were therefore given as ‘1 Q-B6 Q-Q1 2 RxRPch’.
Olimpiu G. Urcan has forwarded a report in the 5 February 1942 issue of the New York Sun (Sports section, page 28):
‘The Falkirk Herald of 7 January, received here yesterday, reprints from the New York Sun the score of the game which Miss N. [sic] May Karff won from José R. Capablanca when the Cuban master gave his exhibition of simultaneous play at the Marshall Chess Club. The chess editor, A.J. Neilson of Glasgow, who has been conducting his weekly column for upward of 40 years, comments on this game as follows:
“With the lesser-pieces exchanged, and only the heavy-metal and plenty of pawns remaining, Miss Karff worked in quite an uncommon finish; her queen and apparently widely-separated rooks suddenly co-operating in deadly style – a surprise for Capa no doubt!”’
Our correspondent observes:
‘Although it remains unclear when exactly the game-score was first given in the New York Sun, it was indeed reproduced on page 8 of the 7 January 1942 issue of the Falkirk Herald, with 25 Qe1 Rxa2+ as the conclusion (and a slightly inaccurate final tally for Capablanca in the display).’
Further to his comments in C.N. 9447, Mr Urcan specifies that Miguel A. Sánchez described the game as ‘an unexpected defeat’ for Capablanca because he considered that White had achieved a ‘material and positional advantage’. The remark did not relate to Mona Karff’s general status or playing strength.
Notwithstanding our own brief observations in C.N. 9434 about the book’s (self-evident) superiority over Sánchez’s two-volume work in Spanish (1978), it is disconcerting to see so many obvious errors on the page following the Capablanca v Karff game (i.e. in the bibliography, on page 535).
A random dip has also revealed the inclusion, even, of the Lasker ‘two male pigeons’ yarn (page 198) and, on page 399, unscholarly treatment of Capablanca’s game against Mary Bain: ‘The story goes that ...’; ‘According to some versions ...’; ‘according to others ...’ The next paragraph turns to another topic, beginning: ‘It is fair to assume that ...’ The following paragraph affirms that a story ‘is almost certainly apocryphal, and probably stemmed from the fact that ...’ A few lines later, a ‘rumor’ is mentioned, but deemed ‘also probably untrue’. The final sentence of that paragraph begins, ‘It is also said that ...’, and two lines later comes another ‘probably’.
To state the obvious, or what ought to be, great wariness is required over ‘community’ websites which, instead of trying to get matters correct from the outset, allow individuals, usually unnamed, to post whatever they choose. The onus is placed on others to try to make rectifications if they can be bothered.
In the particular case of Wikipedia, the quality of chess entries varies enormously (C.N. 5919 named two good ones, and there has been considerable overall improvement to the site since then). Discernment remains essential, and quoting Wikipedia is not a step to be taken lightly.
In C.N. 8110 (see Chess: The Need for Sources) a correspondent pointed out that in The Immortal Game by David Shenk (New York, 2006) ‘details of Spassky’s chess career are attributed to a Wikipedia entry’. Recent books with no qualms about citing Wikipedia include Miguel A. Sánchez’s volume on Capablanca (C.N. 9456); see pages 509 and 527. From the latter page:
‘According to Wikipedia ... But according to the more reliable version of Andy Soltis in ...’
McFarland books really should do better than that.
In C.N. 11311 (see below) a Cuban correspondent referred to ‘a Spanish version of Miguel A. Sánchez’s McFarland book, entitled Capablanca, leyenda y realidad (Havana, 2017 – although it did not appear until 2019)’.
The bare bibliographical details in catalogues and listings (including Books about Capablanca and Alekhine) are liable to seem confusing, and we therefore show some information from the book itself:
A 405-page paperback, it was published by Ediciones Unión, Havana, with 2017 on the imprint page but June 2018 at the very end of the book:
An explanatory note is on page 8 (with McFarland’s name misspelt):
The typographical rigour of the McFarland edition has gone, as have large sections of the text and most of the indexing.
Given the possibility of bibliographical confusion, below is a list, expanded from the entries in Books about Capablanca and Alekhine, of the various editions of Miguel A. Sánchez’s work:
Bruce Monson (Colorado Springs, CO, USA) sends a bizarre article by George Koltanowski, concerning ‘a prewar living game’ between Capablanca and Nimzowitsch, from page 11 of the 25 September 1966 edition of the San Antonio Light:
Position after 20 bxa6
‘The combination here is unique in the literature of chess games. Where else can one find a rook’s pawn on the sixth rank stronger than a queen?’
Source: page 24 of Solitaire Chess by I.A. Horowitz (New York, 1962). Horowitz had not included that curious remark when his article, ‘Spielmann Outspielmanned’, was published on page 9 of Chess Review, January 1955.
The full game-score, for ease of reference: 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 Nd7 4 Nc3 Ngf6 5 Bg5 Bb4 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Qa4 Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 O-O 9 e3 c5 10 Bd3 c4 11 Bc2 Qe7 12 O-O a6 13 Rfe1 Qe6 14 Nd2 b5 15 Qa5 Ne4 16 Nxe4 dxe4 17 a4 Qd5 18 axb5 Qxg5 19 Bxe4 Rb8 20 bxa6 Rb5 21 Qc7 Nb6 22 a7 Bh3 23 Reb1 Rxb1+ 24 Rxb1 f5 25 Bf3 f4 26 exf4 Resigns.
As shown on pages 167-168 of our book on Capablanca, the Cuban annotated the game in an article on pages 1 and 2 of the New York Times, 13 March 1927. Among his comments: ‘We have been warmly congratulated by amateurs and experts alike for the manner in which we conducted the attack.’ He also provided notes on pages 245-248 of A Primer of Chess (London, 1935).
In the 1920s, other annotators included Maróczy (Kagans Neueste Schachnachrichten, April-June 1927, pages 304-305) and Alekhine in Das New Yorker Schachturnier 1927. (The English translation of the notes on pages 116-117 of the ‘21st Century Edition!’ (Milford, 2011) made no attempt to capture Alekhine’s prose style.) Réti gave the game in Masters of the Chess Board.
On page 143 of The Immortal Games of Capablanca (New York, 1942) Fred Reinfeld presented Capablanca v Spielmann as follows:
‘This might well be considered the classic Capablanca game. It shows his proverbial clean-cut and logical simplicity in its most attractive form.’
It was also the game that Harry Golombek picked for the section on Capablanca on pages 222-224 of The Game of Chess (various editions). The introduction stated:
‘Here is a game that seems perfectly natural once one has played through it; but no-one, save Capablanca, could have produced it.’
A detailed set of annotations, by John Nunn, was published on pages 149-152 of an anthology which he co-wrote with Graham Burgess and John Emms: The Mammoth Book of The World’s Greatest Chess Games (London, 1998). From the introduction:
‘Capablanca had the unusual ability to dispose of very strong opponents without any great effort. At first glance, there is little special about this game; the decisive combination, while attractive, is not really very deep. The simplicity is deceptive; a closer look shows that the combination resulted from very accurate play in the early middlegame.’
This photograph of Spielmann and Capablanca in the New York, 1927 tournament is in our monograph on the Cuban:
From the Preface to The Golden Dozen by Irving Chernev (Oxford, 1976):
Below is the Lasker v Capablanca game with annotations by another master, Nimzowitsch, on pages 36-39 of volume one of Schachmeisterpartieen des Jahres 1914 by Bernhard Kagan (Berlin, 1914):
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Bxc6 dxc6 5 d4 exd4 6 Qxd4 Qxd4 7 Nxd4 Bd6 8 Nc3 Ne7 9 O-O O-O 10 f4 Re8 11 Nb3 f6 12 f5 b6 13 Bf4 Bb7 14 Bxd6 cxd6 15 Nd4 Rad8 16 Ne6 Rd7 17 Rad1 Nc8 18 Rf2 b5 19 Rfd2 Rde7 20 b4 Kf7 21 a3 Ba8 22 Kf2 Ra7 23 g4 h6 24 Rd3 a5 25 h4 axb4 26 axb4 Rae7 27 Kf3 Rg8 28 Kf4 g6 29 Rg3 g5+ 30 Kf3 Nb6 31 hxg5 hxg5 32 Rh3 Rd7 33 Kg3 Ke8 34 Rdh1 Bb7 35 e5 dxe5 36 Ne4 Nd5 37 N6c5 Bc8 38 Nxd7 Bxd7 39 Rh7 Rf8 40 Ra1 Kd8 41 Ra8+ Bc8 42 Nc5 Resigns.
As listed on page 226 of Aron Nimzowitsch On the Road to Chess Mastery, 1886-1924 by Per Skjoldager and Jørn Erik Nielsen (Jefferson, 2012), Nimzowitsch’s notes were published in Johannes Behting’s column in Rigasche Rundschau, 6 June 1914 (new style). Mr Skjoldager has forwarded us the full page:
The most extensive set of notes to the Lasker v Capablanca game that we have seen in recent years is on pages 177-181 of John Nunn’s Chess Course (London, 2014).
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére has submitted seven games played by Capablanca in simultaneous displays in 1911 and 1914:
José Raúl Capablanca – Guillermo Van Rees
Buenos Aires, 7 May 1911
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 O-O Bc5 5 c3 d6 6 d4 Bb6 7 Bg5 O-O 8 d5 Ne7 9 Nh4 Nxe4 10 Qh5 Nxg5 11 Qxg5 h6 12 Qh5 Qe8 13 Nd2 f5 14 Qxe8 Rxe8 15 g3 Rf8 16 Kg2 Bd7 17 Rae1 Kh8 18 Nhf3 c6 19 dxc6 Bxc6 20 h4 e4 21 Nd4 Ng6 22 Nxc6 bxc6 23 Be2 d5 24 h5 Ne5 25 f4 Nd7 26 Rd1 Nf6 27 b4 a5 28 b5 c5 29 a4 Rad8 30 Rfe1 Rfe8 31 Bf1 Nxh5 32 Kh3 e3 33 Nf3 d4 34 cxd4 cxd4 35 Ne5 Kh7 36 Bc4 Nf6
37 Bf7 Ne4 38 Bxe8 Nf2+ 39 Kg2 Rxe8 40 Rb1 d3 41 Nc4 d2
42 Nxb6 dxe1(Q) 43 Rxe1 Nd3 44 Re2 Nc1 45 Re1 Nb3 46 Nc4 e2 47 b6 Nc5 48 Kf3 Nxa4 49 Rxe2 Rb8 50 Re6 Nc5 51 Re5 Nb3 52 Ke3 a4 53 Rb5 Kg8 54 b7 Kf8 55 Ne5 a3 56 Rxb3 a2 57 Ra3 Rxb7 58 Rxa2 Rb3+ 59 Kf2 g5 60 Ra7 Rb2+ 61 Ke3 Rb3+ 62 Nd3 Rb5 63 Rh7 Rb6 64 Nc5 Rc6 65 Kd4 Kg8 66 Rd7 g4 67 Rd5 Rf6 68 Ke5 Kg7 69 Ne6+ Kg6 70 Rd6 Kf7 71 Ng5+ Resigns.
Sources: La Nación, 8 May 1911, page 10 and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 15 June 1911, page 2.
José Raúl Capablanca – Jorge Nollmann
Buenos Aires, 7 May 1911
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e5 Nfd7 6 Bxe7 Qxe7 7 Nb5 Na6 8 c3 O-O 9 f4 f6 10 Nf3 fxe5 11 fxe5 Rf7 12 Bd3 Nf8 13 O-O Bd7 14 Na3 Nb8 15 Qd2 h6 16 Rf2 c5 17 Raf1 cxd4 18 cxd4 a6 19 Nc2 Nc6 20 Ne3 Qb4 21 Qd1 Kh8
22 Bb1 Ne7 23 Nh4 Rxf2 24 Rxf2 Nh7 25 a3 Qa4 26 Bc2 Qb5 27 Rf7 Nf5 28 Nexf5 exf5 29 Bxf5 Be8 30 Re7 Qxb2 31 Bxh7 Kxh7 32 Nf5 Rc8 33 Rxg7+ Kh8 34 Rg8+ Kh7 Drawn.
Sources: La Nación, 8 May 1911, page 10 and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 15 June 1911, page 2.
José Raúl Capablanca – María Teresa Alonso
Buenos Aires, 29 June 1911
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 d6 4 Bxc6+ bxc6 5 d4 Bg4 6 dxe5 dxe5 7 Qxd8+ Rxd8 8 Nfd2 Nf6 9 f3 Be6 10 b3 Bc5 11 Bb2 Nd7 12 Nc3 O-O 13 Nd1 f5 14 Ke2 Rf6 15 Ne3 f4 16 Nec4 Rg6 17 Kf1 Rh6
18 h4 Rh5 19 Ke2 Bf7 20 Na5 Rh6 21 Ndc4 [La Prensa did not specify which knight moved: ‘21 C4A’.] 21...Re8 22 Rad1 Bxc4+ 23 Nxc4 Bd6 24 Ba3 c5 25 Rd2 Rg6 26 Kf2 h5 27 Rhd1 Ree6 28 Na5 Kh7 29 c4 Rg3 30 Nb7 Reg6 31 Kf1 and Black resigned a few moves later.
Source: La Prensa, 30 June 1911, page 15.
José Raúl Capablanca – Manuel Augusto Molina
Buenos Aires, 29 June 1911
1 e4 e5 2 d4 exd4 3 c3 dxc3 4 Bc4 cxb2 5 Bxb2 Bb4+ 6 Nc3 Bxc3+ 7 Bxc3 Nf6 8 e5 d5 9 exf6 dxc4 10 Qe2+ Be6 11 fxg7 Rg8 12 Rd1 Qe7 13 Nf3 Nd7 14 O-O O-O-O 15 Qe3 Nb6 16 Qh6 Rxd1 17 Rxd1 Bf5 18 Bf6 Qe2
19 Re1 Qxa2 20 Qh5 Bg6 21 Qh3+ Kb8 22 Ne5 Qd2 23 Rf1 Qf4 24 Ng4 Bf5 25 f3 Nd7 26 Ba1 f6 27 Qh6 Qd6 28 Nxf6 Nxf6 29 Qxf6 Qxf6 30 Bxf6 b5 31 g4 Be6 32 Kf2 c6 33 Re1 Bd5 34 Re7 a5 35 Ke3 b4 36 Be5+ Ka8 37 Kd4 c3 38 Kc5 Resigns.
Source: La Prensa, 30 June 1911, page 15.
José Raúl Capablanca – Rolando Illa
Buenos Aires, 29 June 1911
Queen’s Pawn Opening
1 d4 d5 2 e3 Bf5 3 c4 e6 4 Qb3 b6 5 Nc3 Nf6 6 Nf3 Be7 7 Ne5 O-O 8 Bd2 c5 9 dxc5 bxc5 10 cxd5 exd5 11 Qb7 Nbd7 12 Nc6 Qe8
13 Qxa8 Qxa8 14 Nxe7+ Kh8 15 Nxf5 d4 16 exd4 g6 17 Ng3 cxd4 18 Nce2 Re8 19 O-O-O Qd5 20 Kb1 Rb8 21 Bc3 dxc3 22 Rxd5 Rxb2+ 23 Kc1 Resigns.
Source: La Nación, 30 June 1911, pages 9-10.
José Raúl Capablanca – Mariano Viaña
Buenos Aires, 20 September 1914
Four Knights’ Game
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bb5 Bb4 5 O-O O-O 6 d3 d6 7 Bg5 Bxc3 8 bxc3 h6 9 Bh4 Bg4 10 h3 Bxf3 11 Qxf3 g5 12 Bg3 Nd7
13 d4 Qe7 14 Rad1 Kg7 15 Qf5 Rad8 16 f3 Qf6 17 Qxf6+ Kxf6 18 Bf2 Kg6 19 Rb1 Nb6 20 h4 f6 21 g4 Rb8 22 Kg2 Kg7 23 Be3 Na5 24 Bd3 Nac4 25 Bc1 a5 26 Kf2 Rh8 27 Be3 Nxe3 28 Kxe3 Nd7 29 Bc4 Nf8 30 Bd5 b6 31 a3 Nd7 32 Be6 Rhd8 33 Bxd7 Rxd7 34 d5 c5 35 Kd3 Kf7 36 Kc4 Ke7 37 Kb5 Rc7 Drawn.
Source: La Nación, 21 September 1914, page 9.
José Raúl Capablanca – Mariano Viaña
Buenos Aires, 4 November 1914
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 d3 d6 5 Bg5 Be6 6 Qf3 Nbd7 7 Nge2 h6 8 Bxf6 Nxf6 9 O-O O-O 10 Bxe6 fxe6 11 Qh3 Qe7 12 Kh1 Rf7
13 f4 exf4 14 Nxf4 e5 15 Ncd5 Nxd5 16 Nxd5 Qd7 17 Qxd7 Rxd7 18 Rf3 c6 19 Nc3 Rf8 20 Raf1 Rdf7 21 h3 g6 22 Nd1 Kg7 23 Rxf7+ Rxf7 24 Rxf7+ Kxf7 25 g3 d5 26 Kg2 Kf6 27 Kf3 a5 28 exd5 cxd5 29 Ne3 Bxe3 30 Kxe3 b6 31 c4 Ke6 32 b3 Kd6 33 a3 Kc6 34 b4 Kd6 35 Kd2 Kc6 36 Ke3 Kd6 Drawn.
Sources: La Nación, 5 November 1914, page 9 and La Prensa, 5 November 1914, page 11.
Concerning Capablanca’s 40-board simultaneous display in Paris on 11-12 November 1911, below is the report on page 412 of La Stratégie, November 1911:
A photograph was published on page 12 of the 24 December 1911 issue of the Österreichische Illustrierte Zeitung:
From Dominique Thimognier comes this report on page 4 of Le Temps, 13 November 1911:
Regarding Basile Samsonoff, the only player to defeat Capablanca, Mr Thimognier also provides a cutting from page 2 of La Tribune de Lausanne et Estafette, 1 December 1911:
Our correspondent adds that the following year Samsonoff played in the Swiss championship in Lausanne, and we give below part of the report on page 159 of the September 1912 Schweizerische Schachzeitung:
Dominique Thimognier sends these cuttings:
Excelsior, 14 May 1922, page 2
Excelsior, 15 May 1922, page 2
Excelsior, 16 May 1922, page 1 (Larger version)
Excelsior, 16 May 1922, page 2
Capablanca’s loss to Pape (1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5 5 Ng3 Bg6 6 h4 h6 7 Nf3 e6 8 Ne5 Bh7 9 c3 Nf6 10 Qb3 Qc7 11 f4 Bd6 12 Be2 O-O 13 Bd2 c5 14 Bf3 Nc6 15 Bxc6 bxc6 16 Rc1 Rab8 17 Qa4 Rxb2 18 Nc4 Bxf4 19 Nxb2 Bxd2+ 20 Kxd2 Qf4+ 21 Kd1 Qxg3 22 Qxc6 Nd5 23 Qa6 Qxg2 24 White resigns) is known, having been published on pages 159-160 of the July 1922 issue of La Stratégie with Pape’s annotations in L’Action Française.
Mr Thimognier adds that the only other game from the 40-board display that Capablanca did not win was given on page 5 of Excelsior, 28 May 1922:
José Raúl Capablanca (simultaneous) – Victor Kahn
Paris, 15 May 1922
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 Nf6 4 Bg5 Nbd7 5 e3 Be7 6 Nbd2 O-O 7 Rc1 c6 8 Bd3 Re8 9 O-O Nh5 10 Bxe7 Qxe7 11 Ne5 Nhf6 12 f4 c5 13 Qf3 cxd4 14 exd4 Qb4 15 Rc2 dxc4 16 Ndxc4 Nb6 17 a3 Qe7 18 Nxb6 axb6 19 Rfc1 Qd6 20 Qf2 Bd7 21 Nc4 Qc7 22 f5 Rac8 23 Ne5 Qd8 24 fxe6 Bxe6 25 Rxc8 Bxc8 26 h3 Be6 27 Bc4 Qc7 28 Rc3 Qd6 29 Bxe6 Qxe6 30 Rc7 Re7 31 Qc2 h6 32 Rc8+ Re8 33 Rxe8+ Nxe8 34 Qc4 Qe7 35 Qc8 Kh7 36 Qd7 Qxd7 37 Nxd7 Kg6 38 Kf2 Kf5 39 Ke3 b5 40 g4+ Kg5 41 Ne5 Nd6 42 Nf3+ Kf6 43 b3 Ke6
44 Ne1 f5 45 Nd3 g5 46 Ne5 f4+ 47 Kd3 Kd5 48 Nd7 Ke6 49 Nc5+ Kd5 (‘R3D’) 50 Nd7 Ke6 51 Ne5 Kd5 52 Nd7 Ke6 53 Ne5 Kd5 54 Nd7 Ke6 Drawn.
As regards the first Excelsior cutting shown above, Mr Thimognier notes in particular Capablanca’s concluding remarks from his conversation with Roger Valbelle:
‘Je ne me laisse pas absorber. Je suis resté un an et demi sans toucher une pièce. Je ne m’entraîne même pas pour un match. Je n’avais pas joué depuis trois mois lorsque j’ai gagné celui de La Havane. Le souvenir revient tout seul quand il le faut.’
From page 58 of the March 1927 American Chess Bulletin:
Patsy A. D’Eramo has found Capablanca’s game on page 4A of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 25 March 1927:
Charles Seymour Whitman – José Raúl Capablanca
New York, 25 March 1927
1 d4 f5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 f3 d5 4 Nh3 c5 5 Nf4 cxd4 6 Qxd4 Nc6 7 Qa4 d4 8 Nb5 e5 9 Nd3 Bd7 10 Bg5 a6 11 Bxf6 gxf6 12 Qc4 axb5 13 Qxb5 Nb4 14 Qc4 Rc8 15 Qb3 Nxc2+ 16 Kf2 Nxa1 17 Qd1 Nc2 18 f4
18...e4 19 Ne1 d3 20 exd3 Qb6+ 21 Kg3 Qe3+ 22 Kh4 Qxf4+ 23 Kh3 Qh6+ 24 Kg3 Bd6+ 25 Kf2 Qe3 mate.
A rare photograph of Capablanca (‘Juan de’) from page 67 of the Österreichische Illustrierte Zeitung, 12 October 1913:
Tartakower is often attributed the remark that it is better to sacrifice the opponent’s pieces, but on what basis?
On page 1 of the New York Times, 16 February 1927 Capablanca wrote about Vidmar:
‘In London, in 1922 (where from the beginning he was a contender for chief honors), while talking about one of the weaker participants, he made the following typical remark:
“He has not learned yet to sacrifice his opponents’ pieces instead of his own.”
He meant, of course, that while a good many players will always look for a chance to sacrifice something in order to obtain a so-called brilliant victory, the real player knows that a sacrifice is only a means to an end, a weapon only to be used when no safer course is available.’
The full article is on pages 154-156 of our monograph on Capablanca. As shown on page 249, the Cuban made similar points in a lecture in Cuba on 25 May 1932.
Further to C.N. 9862, we dip into some of Dermot Morrah’s chess writings (mainly book reviews), and we begin with a correction to Capablanca’s A Primer of Chess which he offered on page 206 of the Times Literary Supplement, 28 March 1935:
‘... it is not true that a bishop in the centre of the board commands just as many squares as a rook.’
The relevant passages were on pages 8 and 9 of the London, 1935 edition of A Primer of Chess:
‘It is interesting to note that because of the nature of the Rook’s move, it commands the same number of squares no matter where it is put.
‘It should be noticed that because of the nature of its movements a single B can move only over 32 of the 64 squares of the board. When in the centre of the board, however, it commands just as many squares as the Rook, which can move all over the board.’
The same wording appeared in the first US edition (New York, 1935), but we also have an edition which the American publisher, Harcourt, Brace and Company, brought out in the 1940s, with ‘A wartime book’ on the imprint page. Concerning the bishop, on page 9 ‘it commands just as many squares as the Rook’ was changed to ‘it commands just one square less than the Rook’. That amended wording is also in the various paperback editions of A Primer of Chess published in the United States in the latter part of the twentieth century. Page 5 of the algebraic version produced by Cadogan Chess, London in 1995 had ‘it commands one square less than the rook’.
Richard Jones (Bologna, Italy) asks for information about the widespread attribution to Capablanca of the phrase ‘une petite combinaison’.
We begin with a second-hand citation:
‘Just a little combination (une petite combinaison, as Capa would put it), but if one sees this combination as the final link in White’s strategic plan, the conception cannot fail to enchant.’
Source: a note by Nimzowitsch to 16 Nfg5 in the game Capablanca v Becker on pages 56-58 of Carlsbad International Chess Tournament 1929 (New York, 1981).
Courtesy of the Cleveland Public Library, below is the full game in the original Russian edition (Leningrad, 1930) of Nimzowitsch’s book:
A number of later writers have also given the phrase in a mixture of French and English.
Michael Clapham (Ipswich, England) reports that his copy of Capablanca’s A Primer of Chess (London, 1935) has this errata sheet attached to page 1:
Our copy of the book has a much shorter list:
Even in the pre-Internet age, some people required only a few words or lines to give themselves away in terms of unfairness and/or inaccuracy. From page 10 of The Collier Quick and Easy Guide to Chess by Richard Roberts (New York, 1962):
That is the full ‘potted biography’ of Staunton. On the same page the entry on Capablanca began:
A careful writer would have avoided ‘and uncle’, ‘23’, ‘cajoled’ and the airy assertion about women.
Our archives include a poor-quality photocopy of pages 169-170 of Canadian Chess Chat, August 1963, and we are grateful to the Cleveland Public Library for sending us the photograph on page 169:
From page 170:
‘Diplomats – Actual and Potential
Fred M. Wren
The attached photograph was taken by me in front of my 1931 home in Scheveningen, Netherlands.
The hatless, smiling gentleman on the left was the then Canadian Trade Commissioner to Holland, Dick Bower of Winnipeg. Although his playing strength in chess never quite reached mine, his diplomatic prowess far exceeded mine, and when I last heard from him a few years ago he was Canadian Ambassador to Argentina.
The gentleman on the right was, of course, Cuba’s gift to diplomacy and chess, Ambassador-without-portfolio and ex-champion of the world, José Capablanca. The hotel in which he made his headquarters for the match with Max Euwe was diagonally across from my home.
The child in the picture was my son, Bill, who eventually became very proficient in chess, gave it up for bridge, graduated from McGill in 1951, spent several years in Formosa, Laos and Thailand, and is now working on the Chinese Desk in the US State Department in Washington.’
Richard Jones raises the question of whether Capablanca was a poor loser, and particularly in the immediate aftermath of his match defeat by Alekhine in 1927.
As shown on pages 202-206 of our monograph on the Cuban, his public statements about Alekhine’s victory were generous. The conclusion of the match was discussed on pages 348-350 and 521 of Miguel A. Sánchez’s 2015 book on Capablanca, but a properly documented account of what happened in Buenos Aires at the end of November 1927 remains to be written. With optimum use of source material, the chess historian must try to show what is certain, what is probable, what is unlikely and what is untrue, and at every stage the reader is entitled to ask, ‘Where did that come from?’ With erratic use of source material, Miguel A. Sánchez often makes do with a mixture of facts, assertion, imagination and speculation.
Concerning Capablanca’s letter of resignation of game 34, we do not know when the original first became public. One book which reproduced it (on a page chiefly comprising the fake Alekhine-Capablanca photograph) was Umkämpfte Krone by R. Stolze (East Berlin, 1986):
Correct French would have been desirable.
On page 521 of his book Sánchez characteristically referred to ...
‘... the text, originally written in French, although with some grammatical inaccuracies (probably because of Capablanca’s state of mind) and later fixed ...’
Concerning Capablanca’s letter to Alekhine dated 29 November 1927, which was shown in C.N. 10022, Thierry Lafargue (Mont de Marsan, France) draws attention to an article entitled ‘Le séjour de Karpov à Paris’ by Roland Lecomte on page 197 of Europe Echecs, July 1976. It recorded that at a reception in his honour in Paris on 2 June 1976 Karpov was presented with the original letter, which had been bequeathed to the Ligue de l’Ile-de-France by its late Honorary President, Louis Sol. The document ‘est destiné à être la possession du champion du Monde en titre’.
The relevant parts of the report:
Mr Lafargue asks where Capablanca’s letter is today.
C.N. 2101 (see page 315 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves and Chess Grandmasters) referred to a report on page 28 of the January 1914 Deutsche Schachzeitung that Capablanca had drawn a game against Prince Gedroiz, aged ten, in a simultaneous display in St Petersburg in 1913:
A news report on page 9 of the New York Tribune, 8 January 1914:
As ever, it is painfully difficult to obtain access to Russian sources of the time.
Dominique Thimognier has sent us an article on page 163 of the November-December 1950 issue of L’Echiquier de Paris:
There are some evident factual errors but also a number of tantalizing points, such as the reference in the penultimate paragraph to newspaper photographs of the young Prince Alexis Gedroiz in play against Capablanca, Znosko-Borovsky, Lasker and others.
Mikhail Sokolov and Yuri Kireev (Moscow) have forwarded some pages from Russian sources. In their references below, publication dates are in the old style, whereas the dates of events are given in both the old style and the new style:
Larger version of the photograph
Regarding photographs taken on this occasion, and a link to the Gallica website, see Capablanca’s Simultaneous Displays.
Yuri Kireev (Moscow) provides page 22 of the 2/1914 edition of Столица и усадьба. The article by E.A. Znosko-Borovsky features Prince Gedroiz/Gedroits:
Mr Kireev comments that the cartoon includes Capablanca even though he was not a participant in the event concerned, the All-Russian Tournament in St Petersburg (won jointly by Alekhine and Nimzowitsch).
Also from Yuri Kireev and Mikhail Sokolov:
The above photograph was published on page 22 of Kapablanka Vstrechi c Rossiey by A.I. Sizonenko (Moscow, 1988). A virtually identical shot is on-line at the Gallica website.
Prince Gedroiz is standing on the far left of the above photograph.
This portrait has been found by Olimpiu G. Urcan on page 394 of Cine-Mundial, June 1921:
The lecture by Capablanca in Havana referred to on page 26 of Iberia, June 1927 (C.N. 9936) has been provided by Miquel Artigas:
Page 118 of the May 1957 Chess World discussed a game between L. Awdiew and Peter Kalinovsky, Melbourne, 1956-57 which began 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 Bf5 5 Qb3 Qb6 6 Qxb6 axb6 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 Nxd5 cxd5 9 e3 Nc6 10 Bd2 e6 11 Bb5 Bd6 12 O-O Ke7 13 Rfc1 Rhc8 14 Ne1 Rc7
15 Nd3. ‘What did Black do now? Answer on page 124.’
As mentioned on page 124, the answer had already been published (‘prematurely’) on page 104 of the April 1957 issue: after 15 Nd3, ‘Black simply won a piece. If you haven’t seen it yet, you soon will’.
Page 118 pointed out that the position after 10 Bd2 had occurred in a Capablanca game (his famous victory as Black against Janowsky, New York, 1916), and we show Irving Chernev’s note on page 304 of The Golden Dozen (Oxford, 1976):
The ever-fallible FatBase database had three versions of the 1916 game, one played in New York (4...Bg4), one played in New Delhi (4...Bf5) and one played in New York (4...Bf5) with Janowsky (White) named as the winner.
Databases show a number of games which reached the position after 10 Bd2, the only pre-1916 instance being Swiderski v Marshall, Hanover, 8 August 1902. From page 111 of the tournament book:
From page 147 of Chess World, 1 August 1946:
‘When Capablanca died, and when Lasker died, and when Alekhine died, something of every true chessplayer died, and our special memorial numbers were designed to re-incarnate these great masters in the minds of our readers. From our articles, many players now know Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine better than they ever knew them while they lived.
In chess, very much more than in other sports, great players are a very part of the game, and not to know their play is simply to be not a chessplayer. The reason is simple: a Wimbledon final by Wilding or an innings by Trumper are now “one with yesterday’s 7,000 years” or exist merely as vague images in the minds of a small and ever diminishing number of surviving spectators. But Capablanca’s games can be played over again and again by chessplayers anywhere and any time just as Capablanca played them. Certainly there are many who can “play chess” and have never played over a Capablanca game, but anyone who confesses to it is not recognized as a chessplayer among chessplayers.
And yet he may be able to beat some players in the real chess world. That does not matter. He is still not one of them. Chess is not only a game but an art.’
From page 4 (Section Six) of the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, 30 January 1916:
From Luc Winants:
‘In the chess column on page 4 of the Antwerp newspaper Neptune, 5 May 1924 I have found a game from a simultaneous exhibition by Capablanca at the Brooklyn Chess Club on 7 March 1924 (an event referred to on pages 124-125 of your book on Capablanca).
Paul de Vries of Antwerp had won the “Minor” (or second category) Championship of Belgium in 1923.
There are mistakes in the notation. At move 16 it is not specified which rook moved to d1, but I have assumed that it was the queen’s rook, since otherwise 23 Qe3 makes no sense. In the newspaper, moves 26 and 27 were inverted.
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O b5 6 Bb3 Be7 7 Re1 d6 8 c3 O-O 9 d4 Bg4 10 Be3 Na5 11 dxe5 Bxf3 12 Qxf3 dxe5 13 Nd2 c5 14 Bd5 Nxd5 15 exd5 f5 16 Rad1 e4 17 Qg3 Bd6 18 Bf4 Rf6 19 Bxd6 Rxd6
20 b4 Rxd5 21 bxa5 Rxd2 22 Rxd2 Qxd2 23 Qe3 Qxe3 24 fxe3 Rd8 25 Rf1 g6 26 g4 Rd5 27 gxf5 gxf5 28 c4 bxc4 29 Rc1 Kf7 30 Rxc4 Ke6 31 Kf1 Kd6 32 Ke2 Rd3 33 Rc2 Kd5 34 a4 c4 35 Rb2 c3 36 Rb8 Kc4 37 Rb6 c2 38 Rxa6 Kb3 39 Rb6+ Ka2 40 Rc6 Kb2 41 White resigns.’
The coverage of the display on pages 50-51 of the March 1924 American Chess Bulletin was based on material published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 8 March 1924, page 12 (report) and 13 March 1924, page 14 (games against Steiner, Perkins, Schleifer, Tholfsen, Cohen and Kevitz). The 8 March 1924 report:
In the Bulletin ‘S. Steimer’ became ‘S. Steiner’, but in view of the reference to the Rice-Progressive Chess Club it should be noted that in 1924 H. Steiner was a member of that Club (see, for instance, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 31 December 1924, page A3). Material in the newspaper is easily checked via the link given in C.N. 8688 (see Chess History Research Online).
The best-known games in the 7 March 1924 exhibition were Capablanca’s win against Erling Tholfsen (given in The Unknown Capablanca by Hooper and Brandreth, though misdated 1923) and his short loss (with 1 b4) to Alexander Kevitz (published in Chernev’s 1000 Best Short Games of Chess).
Carteles, August 1919, page 58
Carteles, August 1919, page 59
Carteles, September 1919, page 36
Page 51 of Great Moments in Chess by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1963) stated that Capablanca ‘went on to defeat Frank Marshall in a match by 9-1, a score not too far from Lasker’s world championship match victory over Marshall two years earlier by 7-0’.
Both scores are wrong.
Stéphane Pilawski asks about a simultaneous game with clocks, Capablanca v Ribera, Barcelona, 1935, on pages 97-98 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975):
Concerning the position below, our correspondent asks on what grounds it is stated that Black played 19...Nf5:
Firstly, we point out that the source (El Ajedrez Español) specified on page 200 of The Unknown Capablanca did not have 19...Nf5. As shown on pages 257-258 of our book on Capablanca, the Cuban annotated his win (‘de lo que recuerdo’) in an article on pages 3-6 of El Ajedrez Español and gave Black’s 19th move as ...Qe8:
That version of the score (with 19...Qe8, and not 19...Nf5) was published, with a translation of Capablanca’s notes, on page 92 of the April 1936 Chess Review and has appeared in a number of popular works, e.g. on pages 225-226 of The Fireside Book of Chess by I. Chernev and F. Reinfeld (New York, 1949) and on pages 234-235 of Chernev’s Combinations The Heart of Chess (New York, 1960). However, on pages 416-417 of 1000 Best Short Games of Chess (New York, 1955) Chernev gave the 19...Nf5 version.
An early appearance of the game with 19...Nf5 was on pages 104-105 of Deutsche Schachblätter, 1 April 1936:
It will be noted that the game was dated 29, and not 14, December 1935 in the German magazine.
Finally, here is Raymond Keene’s contribution on this famous game, in an article about Kasparov and Karpov on page 28 of CHESS, July 1988:
Juan Carlos Sanz Menéndez (Alcorcón, Spain) notes the coverage on pages 1982-1984 and 1993-1994 of Els Escacs a Catalunya, January-February 1936 and, in particular, the fact that on page 1994 the score of Capablanca v Ribera had 19...Nf5, and not 19...Qe8:
Our correspondent also points out an article about Ángel Ribera Arnal by Joaquim Travesset, as well as a column by Ramón Rey Ardid on page 14 of La Vanguardia, 20 December 1935 which confirms that the ten-game simultaneous display with clocks in Barcelona was on 14 December 1935.
Following on from C.N. 10291 (The Sphere) and C.N. 10302 (The Graphic), Olimpiu G. Urcan has provided a set of chess pictures published in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News. Two relate to Capablanca.
25 March 1911, page 137
21 February 1920, page 871
C.N.s 2032 and 9843 (see Chess Anecdotes) discussed a groundless old yarn about Znosko-Borovsky and Capablanca. Some further citations:
Of Capablanca’s own games it has been written, with justice, that they breathe a serenity, a lucid crystal clarity, a type of model perfection. Indeed, that they are the product of supreme chessboard art.’
Raymond Keene, on page 40 of The Times (Review Section), 19 November 1988;
Of Capablanca’s own games it has been written, with justice, that they breathe a serenity, a lucid crystal clarity, a type of model perfection. Indeed, that they are the product of supreme chessboard art.’
Raymond Keene, on page 236 of Keene On Chess (New York, 1999);
Of Capablanca’s own games it has been written, with justice, that they breathe a serenity, a lucid crystal clarity, a type of model perfection. Indeed, that they are the product of supreme chessboard art.’
Raymond Keene, on page 237 of Complete Book of Beginning Chess (New York, 2003);
Raymond Keene, on pages 40-41 of World Chess Championship Kramnik vs. Leko (Aylesbeare, 2004);
Raymond Keene, on page 34 of Vishy’s Victory (2007);
Raymond Keene, on page 21 of Battle of Bonn (2008);
Raymond Keene, on page 58 of Carlsen-Anand Match for the World Chess Championship (Bronx, 2013).
As regards the second paragraph in each of those seven passages, the uncredited writer of the ‘lucid crystal clarity’ remark was Harry Golombek, on page ix of Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess.
From page 2 of the October 1920 Chess Amateur:
‘Mr W. [sic – V.] L. Wahltuch writes in Manchester Weekly Times that, after the Hastings Congress last year, Mr Capablanca remarked of Mr R.H.V. Scott, who has now achieved the highest honour in British chess: “Mr Scott is decidedly an aggressive player, and if success depended on a bold attack or sacrifice he could certainly be counted upon to obtain it. His manner of play, however, is decidedly wrong, as he often sacrifices material without sufficient cause, and frequently when it is quite unnecessary for the purpose of achieving success. I fear that unless he completely changes his style he will not progress far.” We have not seen many of the games Mr Scott played at Edinburgh, so cannot express any opinion as to whether he has “changed his style”. His performance is a good one, as the competitors were a good lot ...’
In its report on Scott’s victory in the British championship in Edinburgh, page 306 of the October 1920 BCM commented:
‘Scott has an excellent “nose” for attack and has some exceedingly “chessy” ideas. During the Congress he put a much greater restraint on himself than is his wont, and we believe this to be the reason he so improved on his previous records.’
The frontispiece of that issue of the BCM:
If a reader can trace the above-mentioned Manchester Weekly Times item, we shall be grateful. Information is also sought on the circumstances and context of Capablanca’s observations.
Together with Capablanca and Scott, Wahltuch was a participant in Hastings, 1919. From his obituary on pages 270-271 of the October 1953 BCM:
‘Here he refused the offer of a draw from Capablanca (later to be godfather of his third daughter), and in trying to win he lost a game of 51 moves. Against the other prizewinners (these included Kostić) he drew.’
From our archives (and also shown in C.N. 2862):
The position will be discussed, with background historical information, in the next C.N. item.
The position in Walter Penn Shipley’s letter shown in the preceding C.N. item:
White to move
The game was between H. Blumberg (Columbia University) and R. (not H.) Lob (Oxford University) in the Eighth Intercollegiate Cable Match, 21 March 1908. The following day the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (section 5, page 7) reported on the outcome of the match:
‘Philadelphia, 21 March. ... When play ceased at 6:30 o’clock this evening, the Americans had the advantage, with a score of 2½ points to 1½, two games remaining unfinished. Thereupon draws were offered to the Britons on the two boards, but the latter declined, preferring that they be adjudicated upon by Referee Walter Penn Shipley of this city. Mr Shipley would not give his decision on the spot, and stated it might be a week before his opinion was given. The opinion is freely expressed by experts in attendance here tonight that the Americans will retain their lead after the adjudication, and in that way win the match and the trophy.’
The game was mentioned briefly on page 170 of the April 1908 BCM:
‘On Board 4, Lob played the P-KB4 defence to the Ruy López, which is very popular at Oxford just now. The game was very even, although at the close of time Lob claimed a win. The general opinion was that it would be given in England’s favour.’
On the basis of a Reuter telegram a number of English newspapers reported that Shipley had indeed accorded a win to Lob. For example, from page 10 of the Morning Post, 3 April 1908:
A correction was published on page 6 of the Morning Post, 20 April 1908:
Below is Shipley’s column on page 7 of the magazine section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 April 1908 (with Cambridge, instead of Oxford, mistakenly indicated in connection with Lob, and with Shipley referring to himself in the third person):
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 f5 4 Nc3 fxe4 5 Nxe4 d5 6 Ng3 Bg4 7 h3 Bxf3 8 Qxf3 Nf6 9 Nh5 Qd6 10 Nxf6+ gxf6 11 Qf5 Ke7 12 c3 h5 13 h4 Bh6 14 b3 Rag8 15 a4 Qe6 16 Ba3+ Kd7 17 Qxe6+ Kxe6 18 g3 a6 19 Be2 f5 20 O-O-O Bf8 21 Bb2 Bd6 22 Rde1 Rd8 23 Kc2 Rdf8 24 d4 e4 25 Rhg1 f4 26 c4 Nb4+ 27 Kb1 c6 28 gxf4 Rxf4 29 Bc3 a5 30 Rg7 Be7.
When Blumberg annotated the game on page 95 of the May 1908 American Chess Bulletin he quoted Shipley’s observations on the final position:
The above text omits many details about the game and the players given in C.N. 10519.
David McAlister has found this game in the Dublin Evening Herald, 2 March 1935, page 8 (moves 1-19) and 9 March 1935, page 8 (moves 20-33):
José Raúl Capablanca (simultaneous) – James J. Doyle
Dublin, 5 December 1919
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Be7 4 Nc3 Nf6 5 Bf4 a6 6 c5 O-O 7 e3 Re8 8 Bd3 Nbd7 9 h3 Nf8 10 g4 g6 11 Bg3 N8d7 12 b4 c6 13 a4 Bf8 14 O-O Bg7 15 b5 a5 16 b6 h5 17 Bc7 Qe7 18 g5 Nh7 19 h4
19...e5 20 Ne1 exd4 21 Bd6 Qe6 22 exd4 Bxd4 23 Bxg6 Bxf2+ 24 Rxf2 fxg6 25 Ne2 Ndf8 26 Qd3 Bd7 27 Ng2 Kg7
28 Raf1 Qe4 29 Qc3+ Kg8 30 Rf7 Ne6 31 Ng3 Qg4 32 Rxd7 d4 33 Qc4 Resigns.
Mr McAlister also notes that J.J. Doyle wrote an account of Capablanca’s two 40-board displays in Dublin (4 and 5 December 1919) on page 4 of the Irish Independent, 10 December 1919. The penultimate paragraph:
‘In my own case I can only say that, while I have been lucky enough to score an occasional game in simultaneous exhibitions with other masters who have visited Dublin from time to time, Blackburne, Lee and Teichmann, I have never experienced stronger attacking play than Capablanca’s, and I simply crumpled up before his powerful onslaughts on both evenings.’
Finally, our correspondent provides a photograph of Doyle with Lilienthal in the Dublin Evening Herald of 8 January 1935, page 10:
C.N. 10515 gave some ‘once’ quotes from Chess Words of Wisdom by Mike Henebry (Victorville, 2010), and one more will suffice for now, from page 371:
‘Rueben [sic] Fine once said, “What others could not see in a month’s study, he saw at a glance” (Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings, Irving Chernev).’
Why mention Chernev when Fine’s famous remark is easily found on page 111 of his book The World’s Great Chess Games (New York, 1951 and London, 1952)?
Fine had originally published his words on page 288 of Chess Review, October 1943:
It will be noted that Fine consistently wrote ‘What others could not discover’, and not ‘see’, which was Chernev’s small misquotation in Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings, Combinations The Heart of Chess and The Golden Dozen. Chernev put ‘discover’ in Wonders and Curiosities of Chess. The respective page numbers in these four Chernev books are 60, 227, 279 and 55.
When Cyrus Lakdawala gave the Fine sentence, sourcelessly, on page 7 of his book on Capablanca (C.N. 7742), the verb was ‘find’.
Finally, there is the individual who took Fine’s words and presented them as his own:
Source: page 37 of The Batsford Chess Encyclopedia by Nathan Divinsky (London, 1990).
Black to move:
Position after 14 hxg4
Black played 14...Bg5, but would 14...Ng5 have been preferable? Evidently not, given that White then wins a piece with 15 Nxe7+.
The position arose in the sixth match-game between Capablanca and Marshall in 1909 in Morristown, NJ (and not New York, as stated in Golombek’s 1947 monograph on the Cuban). From page 36 of Capablanca’s 1920 book My Chess Career:
In the 1966 ‘unabridged and corrected republication’ of My Chess Career from Dover Publications, Inc. the text was the same, although on page 34.
A particular surprise is that Capablanca’s note was reproduced unquestioningly on page 227 of the first volume of Kasparov’s Predecessors series:
Various translations of Capablanca’s book (into Russian, Serbo-Croat, Czech and Spanish) gave the same note, but page 61 of the 2016 French edition (C.N. 10582) had a translator’s footnote:
‘Il semble que sur 14...Cg5, Capablanca ait oublié 15 Ce7+ qui gagne une pièce pour les Blancs. Peut-être veut-il dire 14...Cf6.’
Capablanca may indeed have meant 14...Nf6, and not 14...Ng5. The existence of the move ‘Kt-Kt4’ in the previous note could have led to a typesetting mistake.
A faulty game-score seems an unlikely explanation, the previous moves being well established from publications of the time. They include pages 187-188 of the 8 May 1909 Chess Weekly, which had Capablanca’s exclusive annotations (with no comment at move 14):
Page 49 of volume one of the 1997 ‘Chess Stars’ work on Capablanca followed 14...Bg5 with a brief note, ‘14...Ng5?? 15 Ne7 +–’, but did not mention that Black’s move had been put forward in My Chess Career. When was the ‘14...Kt-Kt4’ mistake in Capablanca’s book first pointed out?
Vitaliy Yurchenko notes that page 35 of volume one of José Raúl Capablanca Avtoportret genia by S. Voronkov (Moscow, 2006) stated outright, in quoting Capablanca’s remark about 14...Ng5, that he overlooked the reply 15 Nxe7+:
John Hilbert reverts to C.N. 2169 (see page 330 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves), which sought corroboration of a claim by William M. Russell (American Chess Bulletin, April 1927, page 82) that Capablanca learned from A.W. Fox ‘his art of stalling and waiting for his opponent to blunder’.
Our correspondent notes that page 4 of the Washington Sunday Star, part five, 12 December 1915 quoted a compliment by Capablanca about Fox:
Capablanca’s quoted words: ‘Fox ... was one of the most promising young players in the world at the time he gave up chess to engage in newspaper work, and I still think he is the best odds giver I have ever seen.’
Dr Hilbert adds that in a 26-board simultaneous display in Washington on 20 November 1915 it was only Fox’s draw that denied Capablanca a clean score. Source: part five of the Sunday Star, 28 November 1915, page 4, which gave the (familiar) game-score.
Below is the conclusion of William M. Russell’s above-mentioned article on New York, 1927:
See too The Fox Enigma.
Gerard Killoran sends a game from page 2 of the Sunday Oregonian, 6 August 1916:
José Raúl Capablanca (simultaneous) – J.H. Smith
San Diego, 15 April 1916
1 f4 e6 2 Nf3 d5 3 b3 b6 4 Bb2 Bb7 5 e3 Nf6 6 Be2 Bd6 7 Ne5 O-O 8 O-O Qe7 9 d3 h6 10 g3 Nh7 11 Nd2 Ba3 12 Bc3 a6 13 Ndf3 Bc5 14 Qd2 a5 15 Bb2 Ba3 16 Bxa3 Qxa3 17 g4 Qd6 18 Qe1 Nc6 19 d4 Ne7 20 Qh4 c5
21 g5 hxg5 22 fxg5 g6 23 Bd3 cxd4 24 Ng4 f5 25 Nf6+ Nxf6 26 gxf6
26...Rf7 27 fxe7 Rh7 28 Qf6 dxe3 29 Ng5 Qxh2 mate.
Our correspondent also reports that page 6 of the 16 November 1919 edition of the same newspaper had this game (bare score):
José Raúl Capablanca (simultaneous) – Charles F. Bauder
Philadelphia, 28 September 1918
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 c6 5 Bg5 Nbd7 6 e3 Qa5 7 Nd2 Bb4 8 Qc2 Ne4 9 Ndxe4 dxe4 10 Bh4 e5 11 Be2 O-O 12 O-O
12...f5 13 c5 Nf6 14 dxe5 Bxc3 15 bxc3 Nd5 16 c4 Qxc5 17 Qb2 Qb4 18 Qxb4 Nxb4 19 Be7 Na6 20 Bxf8 Kxf8 21 f4 Nb4 22 Rfc1 c5 23 a3 Nc6 24 Rd1 Be6 25 Rd6 Ke7 26 Rb1 Na5 27 Rbd1 b6 28 h3 g6 29 Kh2 Rb8 30 g4 Rb7
31 Rxe6+ Kxe6 32 gxf5+ gxf5 33 Rd6+ Ke7 34 Rh6 Kf8 35 Rh5 Rf7 36 e6 Rf6 37 Rxh7 Rxe6 38 Rxa7 Rh6 39 Bf1 Rd6 40 h4 Rd2+ 41 Kg3 Ra2 42 h5 Rxa3 43 h6 Rxe3+ 44 Kh4 Kg8 45 Bh3 Rxh3+ 46 Kxh3 Nxc4 47 Kh4 Nd6 48 Kg5 Nf7+ 49 Kg6 Nh8+ 50 Kf6 Nf7 51 Rxf7 Resigns.
From page 416 of El Ajedrez en la Argentina by José Pérez Mendoza (Buenos Aires, 1920):
See also the portrait in C.N. 11349.
Yandy Rojas Barrios notes (further to C.N. 10266 above) a case of misidentification on page 154 of Bohemia, 15 November 1953, where Capablanca was said to be with ‘Alhekine’ in 1927:
Our correspondent also refers to another photograph in C.N. 11266, from Carteles, September 1919, page 36:
He adds that the following was on pages 36-37 of Social, April 1919:
Rafael de Pazos is also in a group photograph opposite page 80 of Glorias del Tablero “Capablanca” by J.A. Gelabert (Havana, 1923):
From page 137 of The Sketch, 6 May 1914:
The photograph also appeared on page 35 of the Cuban magazine Bohemia, 15 March 1942:
As quoted in Capablanca v Alekhine, 1927, Kmoch’s article ‘My Personal Recollections of Capablanca’ on pages 362-363 of Chess Review, December 1967 included this paragraph (page 362):
‘In Kissingen , my contact with Capablanca became rather close. We had long walks together, usually talking about the world championship in reference to which Capablanca always used the expression “my title”, making it seem that the title had only incidentally and temporarily strayed to Alekhine. More than once he explained to me how I could make a lot of money. Very simple: just organize the return match against Alekhine and bet as much as possible on me; you will win, that much is absolutely sure.’
On page 363 Kmoch wrote:
‘Capablanca used to see incredibly much with but a single glance at the board. There still rings in my ears Réti’s lament: “No sense in showing him a composition because he sees the solution before you have finished setting up the position.”’
Stéphane Pilawski refers to a consultation game on pages 22-24 of Capablanca’s My Chess Career (London, 1920) and on page 103 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975):
Position after 35 bxc5
‘Both books mention that at move 35, recapturing White’s pawn on c5 would be of little use to Black because after 35...Bxc5 36 Rf4 Rxf4 37 Bxc5 Qe8 38 gxf4 White would win easily. However, 35...Bxc5 36 Rf4 Rxf4 37 Bxc5 (Bxf4 is better) 37...Qf5 would win the exchange for Black, after which White suddenly stands much worse. Consequently, after 35...Bxc5 it is better for White to exchange bishops by 36 Bxc5, and if 36...Rxc5, 37 Rxh5 wins for White.’
Mr Pilawski also comments on the discrepancy regarding the players’ names in the two books, and below are the relevant pages:
Hooper and Brandreth subsequently issued an errata list which stated concerning game 108 that Curring should read Cutting. That amendment was incorporated into the second, revised edition of The Unknown Capablanca, published by Dover Publications, Inc., New York in 1993:
In My Chess Career Capablanca did not indicate that he had a consultation partner. Nor was reference made to Réti as an ally in a 1914 game against Kaufmann and Fähndrich; we commented on the matter on page 267 of the June 1986 BCM after an earlier item in the Quotes & Queries column (March 1986, page 122) had mentioned both that game and the Ruy López game under discussion here (with, in the latter case, the spelling ‘Currington’).
My Chess Career gave no particulars about the venue and date of the Ruy López game. The introduction to the relevant chapter, on page 14 (page numbers vary in other editions):
The index (page 211) had ‘J.R.C. – Davidson and Ferguson, 1907’. The Unknown Capablanca, in contrast, gave a specific date (28 June 1908), while, as also shown above, the second game involving the same players was headed ‘New York, June 1908 (?)’. The sources for the games were specified as follows on page 200:
Various editions of My Chess Career showed little rigour. On page 40 of a version‘newly edited and revised by Lyndon Laird’ (Corsicana, 1994) the game had the heading ‘New York, 1906-1908’, whereas the date in the game index (page 237) was 1906. A 1937 translation of Capablanca’s book published in Yugoslavia had 1907 and the spelling ‘Fergson’. There are also Russian and Italian translations – published long after The Unknown Capablanca – which give the date as ‘1906 or 1907’.
As usual, the editions of Capablanca’s games by Rogelio Caparrós (Yorklyn, 1991, Barcelona, 1993 and Dallas, 1994) contributed nothing except confusion. Despite specifying that his source for the two games was The Unknown Capablanca, Caparrós put forward a specific date for the second game, 29 June 1908, without explanation. Although in both headings ‘Cutting’ was the spelling used, this was abbreviated in the index to ‘Cur’.
About that player we can offer no information, but the names of both H. Davidson and R.W. Ferguson appeared in an earlier report, on page 35 of the February 1907 American Chess Bulletin:
Page 9 of Wasa Schackklubb by Peter Holmgren (Tallinn, 2017) has a photograph of Stoltz in play against Capablanca, and we are grateful to Mr Holmgren for permission to show it here:
The occasion was a seven-board simultaneous display with clocks in Stockholm on 4 November 1928. Page 244 of our book on Capablanca gave information about the event, as well as his loss to Stoltz (taken from page 16 of Stockholms-Tidningen, 5 November 1928). The game was also published on pages 16-17 of the December 1928 issue of Tidskrift för Schack.
Gerard Killoran (lkley, England) points out that a photograph of Capablanca in Dublin can be found in the archives of Raidió Teilifís Éireann by searching for ‘Capablanca’ in the Stills Library box.
Regarding claims about Capablanca’s sporting prowess, we note that comparisons with Bill Tilden and Bill Johnston were made by Willard H. Mutchler in his chess column on page 9 of the Society section of the Washington Post, 10 August 1924:
It is naturally not our practice, as a matter of principle, to reproduce eBay items, but Gianluca Cremasco (Verona, Italy) draws attention to this offer (asking price: $4,499) from Aranjuez, Spain:
The individual on the right bears little resemblance to Capablanca. Concerning the signature, readers may draw their own conclusions after comparing it with what can be found in a 1935 letter which we own, written by Capablanca to his future wife and shown in The Genius and the Princess:
Regarding the 1937 Euwe v Alekhine world championship match, C.J.S. Purdy wrote on page 80 of Chess World, 1 May 1946:
‘Although for sheer accuracy it could not compare with the Alekhine-Capablanca match, it was, on the whole, the greatest chess match ever played.’
As an example of quotes which swirl around unaccompanied by a source, Stéphane Pilawski points out that the following text has a page to itself at the start of the 2016 translation (by Pascal Golay) Ma Carrière échiquéenne (Capablanca):
‘On n’a jamais que l’âge auquel on a commencé à jouer aux échecs, car après on cesse de vieillir.
José Raúl Capablanca.’
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére forwards this photograph (reference AR_AGN_DDF/Consulta_INV: 74493) from Argentina’s Archivo General de la Nación, courtesy of the Ministerio del Interior, Obras Públicas y Vivienda:
‘José Raúl Capablanca
La mano tranquila y clásica
del campeón del mundo
Christian Sánchez has provided the article ‘El ajedrez en la Argentina’ by Gabriel Mario Gómez on pages 68-81 of Todo es Historia, August 1995. The first two pages:
The assertion in the caption on page 69:
‘La mano del ajedrecista cubano José Raúl Capablanca moviendo una pieza durante una partida por el campeonato del mundo realizado en Buenos Aires en 1927.’
The photograph was taken prior to the world title match against Alekhine, the first game of which began on 16 September 1927. The date 15 September 1927 was stamped on the reverse of the copy which was shown in C.N. 10616, from Argentina’s Archivo General de la Nación, courtesy of the Ministerio del Interior, Obras Públicas y Vivienda (reference AR_AGN_DDF/Consulta_INV: 74493):
Olimpiu G. Urcan provides page 17 of Diario de la Marina, 5 November 1927:
Olimpiu G. Urcan notes that a search for sakk on the Magyar Világhíradók website provides film coverage of Budapest, 1928 (notably featuring Capablanca) ...
See too Chess
Masters on Film. That feature article also discusses the
1925 Soviet film Chess Fever.
From John Donaldson:
‘I have found the following game in the papers of the late John W. Collins located in Lily Library at Indiana University:
José Raúl Capablanca (simultaneous) – Roland Horner
Philadelphia (early 1920s)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nge7 4 d4 exd4 5 Nxd4 d5 6 exd5 Qxd5 7 O-O Bd7 8 Bxc6 Nxc6 9 Re1+ Be7 10 Nxc6 Qxd1 11 Rxd1 Bxc6 12 Bf4 O-O 13 Bxc7 Bf6 14 c3 Rfe8 15 Nd2 Rac8 16 Bg3 Ba4 17 Nb3 Re2 18 Rab1
18...Rce8 19 h3 h5 20 Rd2 h4 21 Bf4 b6 22 Rxe2 Rxe2 23 Nd2 Bc2 24 Rc1 Bd3 25 Be3 Kh7 26 a4 a6 27 Rd1 b5 28 axb5 axb5 29 Nf3 Be4 30 Rd2 Rxd2 31 Nxd2 Bd3 32 Bd4. The game was adjudicated a win by Capablanca.
Source: a letter from Horner to John Collins dated 15 November 1970. The game was played at the Franklin Chess Club in the early 1920s. Schuyler Jackson, a friend of Horner, played alongside him.
Hooper and Brandreth’s table in The Unknown Capablanca has simultaneous displays in Philadelphia on 25 February 1922, 18 November 1922, 8 March 1924 and 11 October 1924, but no further details about the Horner game have been traced so far.’
Further to C.N. 4039, Patsy A. D’Eramo sends this cutting from page 11 of the Manchester Guardian, 8 January 1935:
The Capablanca v Croft game is familiar. Below is the score of the Cuban’s victory over Joseph:
1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 Nbd7 5 Bg5 g6 6 cxd5 cxd5 7 g3 Bg7 8 Bg2 O-O 9 O-O b6 10 Rc1 Bb7 11 Qa4 h6 12 Bf4 Nh5 13 Be5 f6 14 Bf4 e5 15 Be3 Kh7 16 Nd2 exd4 17 Bxd4 Ne5 18 Rfd1 Re8 19 Nf1 Bc6 20 Qb3 Nc4 21 Ne3 Rc8
22 Ncxd5 Nxe3 23 Bxe3 Bxd5 24 Qxd5 Qxd5 25 Bxd5 f5 26 Rxc8 Rxc8 27 Bb3 Rc7 28 Rd2 Nf6 29 Bf4 Re7 30 f3 Nh5 31 Bd6 Rd7 32 Be6 Rd8 33 b3 Bf8 34 Bb4 Bc5+ 35 Kg2 Rxd2 36 Bxd2 and wins.
Readers interested in information about David Joseph (1896-1984) will find his entry in Jeremy Gaige’s Chess Personalia a helpful starting-point. Above all, Joseph’s name is associated with an endgame composition published, for instance, on page 104 of the outstanding book Test Tube Chess by A.J. Roycroft (London, 1972):
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére has provided a photograph (reference AR_AGN_DDF/Consulta_INV: 74488) from Argentina’s Archivo General de la Nación, courtesy of the Ministerio del Interior, Obras Públicas y Vivienda. Taken in Buenos Aires in June 1911, it features Rolando Illa and José Raúl Capablanca:
Below we reproduce two familiar games with Capablanca’s annotations on pages 67-70 of the Revista del Club Argentino de Ajedrez, July-September 1911:
See too C.N. 9553.
Gerard Killoran has provided this game from page 1 of the Sunday Oregonian, 18 June 1916, section two:
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 Na5 9 Bc2 O-O 10 d4 Nc6 11 Nbd2 Bg4 12 h3 Bh5 13 d5 Nb8 14 Qe2 c6 15 dxc6 Nxc6 16 a4 b4 17 Bd3 a5 18 Bb5 bxc3 19 bxc3 Qc7 20 Nb3 Bd8 21 Ba3 Ne8 22 Qd3 Bf6 23 Nfd2 Na7 24 Nc4 Nc8 25 Ne3 Nb6 26 c4 Be7 27 Nf5 Nc8 28 Nxe7+ Qxe7 29 g4 Bg6 30 Rad1 Qg5 31 Kg2 h5 32 f3
32...Kh8 33 Qd2 Qd8 34 c5 Qf6 35 cxd6 Nexd6 36 Bxd6 Rd8
37 Bc7 Rxd2+ 38 Rxd2 Ne7 39 Red1 h4 40 Rd8+ Rxd8 41 Rxd8+ Kh7 42 Bxa5 Qg5 43 Bd2 Qf6 44 Bb4 Nc6 45 Rd6 Qf4 46 Be1 Ne7 47 Bxh4
47...Bxe4 48 Nd2 Bd5 49 Bd3+ g6 50 Ne4 Bxe4 51 Bxe4 f5 52 Bg3 Qc1 53 Rd7 fxe4 54 Rxe7+ Kg8 55 fxe4 Qb2+ 56 Bf2 Qb4 57 Rxe5 Qxa4 58 h4 Qa1 59 Rg5 Qf6 60 Be3 Kh7 61 h5 gxh5 62 Rxh5+ Resigns.
To begin at the end, an immediate question is why Black resigned after 62 Rxh5+. We note that, strange to say, the game had already appeared in the Sunday Oregonian the previous month, i.e. on page 1 of section two of the 21 May 1916 edition, and that according to that earlier publication the game finished with the blunder 62...Kg6:
As regards the concluding reference to the Palo Alto Times, California, is it possible to find the game in that publication?
Concerning the first Sunday Oregonian cutting, it is unclear what the heading meant by ‘From the Bulletin’. (The game was not published in the American Chess Bulletin.)
The first 32 moves were given in the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Room Newsletter of 21 November 2014:
This is at variance with the information in the second cutting above (ostensibly the same column, although all 62 moves were given there), and there is a discrepancy over Simkins/Simpkins.
Chess sources of the time had ‘Simkins’, and Mr Killoran has found on page 2 of the Daily Palo Alto, 15 April 1914 a chess news item which mentions ‘H.W. Simkins, editor of the Palo Alto Times’. Our correspondent also reports that the 1891-92 register of the Leland Stanford Junior University, Palo Alto has an entry for a student named Henry Walter Simkins.
Further information from ancestry.com: California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985 (online database).
This cutting from page 18 of the New York Tribune, 18 April 1915 has been submitted by Gerard Killoran :
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 b5 5 Bb3 Na5
6 Bxf7+ Kxf7 7 Nxe5+ Ke7 8 d4 d6 9 Bg5+ Nf6 10 Nc3 Bb7 11 Nd5+ Bxd5 12 exd5 Ke8 13 O-O dxe5 14 dxe5 Qxd5 15 exf6 Qxd1 16 Raxd1 gxf6 17 Bxf6 Rg8 18 Rfe1+ Kf7 19 Bc3 b4 20 Rd7+ Kg6 21 Re6+ Kf5 22 Rf6+ Kg5 23 Rd5+ Kh4 24 Rf4+ Rg4 25 Bf6 mate.
Establishing the exact date of the game is not straightforward, and particularly since New Orleans chess columns of the time are elusive. An obvious first port of call is the chart of Capablanca’s simultaneous displays in The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975). Pages 186-187 list three exhibitions in New Orleans at that time:
1 April 1915: +15 –0 =0
3 April 1915: +16 –1 =2
6 April 1915: +16 –0 =0.
None of these corresponds to the score given in the New York Tribune (+19 –0 =0), but when the results of Capablanca’s US tour were published on page 114 of the May-June 1915 American Chess Bulletin the list (which included no dates) had the following for New Orleans:
a) +16 –0 =0
b) +16 –1 =2
c) +19 –0 =0.
Of the two 19-board displays, only c) appears feasible for the Capablanca v Morse game, and not solely because the Cuban made a clean sweep. Regarding b), the American Chess Bulletin stated that Capablanca played all the games with the black pieces.
Corroboration of the American Chess Bulletin tallies comes from these reports:
Page 2 of the Picture and Sporting section of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 2 April 1915
Page 3 of the Picture and Sporting section of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 7 April 1915
It remains to be discovered what information New Orleans newspapers may have contained.
On the subject of Capablanca’s visit to New Orleans, see too the discussion in C.N. 6943 related to his brilliancy against Leon L. Labatt in the third display.
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére notes that the figures given in the American Chess Bulletin, as opposed to those in The Unknown Capablanca, are corroborated by a report on page 6 of section two of the New York Tribune, 11 April 1915:
Our correspondent provides three more cuttings which add complications:
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2 April 1915, page 8
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5 April 1915, page 8
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 7 April 1915, page 8
The report on the first display, held on Thursday, 1 April 1915, referred to 15, and not 16, boards, ‘at most of which there were groups of players consulting’. The figure 15 (which was given by The Unknown Capablanca) was repeated by the newspaper in its 5 April edition. Regarding the second display, in which Capablanca played Black throughout, the Times-Picayune reported that there were 19 boards, but with 30 players consulting on them. Nineteen players were named, and they included Percy H. Moise. The third cutting above did not name Capablanca’s opponents in the display on 6 April 1915, in which the Ruy López game in C.N. 10739 seems to have been played.
Mr Bauzá Mercére wonders whether the New York Tribune of 18 April 1915 misprinted Moise’s name as ‘Morse’. Moise was a prominent figure in New Orleans chess, and had other encounters with Capablanca. See, for instance, pages 69-70 of The Unknown Capablanca. Our correspondent also refers to page 98 of the May-June 1916 American Chess Bulletin, which reported that in late April that year Capablanca won two simultaneous consultation games in New Orleans and that one of his opponents was P.S. [sic] Moise.
The above cutting from page 4 of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, 28 January 1919 has been supplied by Eduardo Bauzá Mercére, who adds this game from page 7 of the 16 February 1919 edition:
José Raúl Capablanca (simultaneous) – Charles Edward
New Orleans, 30 January 1919
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 d6 4 d4 exd4 5 Nxd4 Bd7 6 Nc3 Nf6 7 O-O h6 8 Nde2 a6 9 Ba4 b5 10 Bb3 Na5 11 Ng3 Nxb3 12 axb3 Be7 13 Nf5 Bxf5 14 exf5 O-O 15 Re1 Qd7 16 Qf3 d5 17 Bf4 Rfe8 18 Be5 c6
19 g4 Nh7 20 Qg3 f6 21 Bf4 Bc5 22 Qd3 Rxe1+ 23 Rxe1 Ng5 24 Bxg5 hxg5 25 Kg2 Bb4 26 Re6 Re8 27 Qe2 Rxe6 28 fxe6 Qe7 29 h4 gxh4 30 f4 Bxc3 31 bxc3
31...g5 32 fxg5 fxg5 33 Qe5 a5 34 Qb8+ Kg7 35 Qe5+ Kg8 36 Qb8+ Drawn.
The report in the Times-Picayune, whose game heading had the misspelling ‘Patterson’, stated:
‘Mr Capablanca, subsequently commenting on the play, remarked that his adversary had played a good game.’
Despite its innocuous title, the editorial below (L’Echiquier, December 1927, pages 783-784) delivers a message which may be summarized as ‘good riddance to Capablanca’:
As a contrast to the editorial reproduced in C.N. 10810, below is an article by C.S. Howell on pages 194-196 of the December 1927 American Chess Bulletin:
The column below from page 26 of the Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 November 1924 has been forwarded by Gerard Killoran:
1 Nf3 Nf6 2 d4 d5 3 c4 e6 4 Bg5 Nbd7 5 e3 Be7 6 Nbd2 Ne4 7 Bxe7 Qxe7 8 Bd3 Ndf6 9 Rc1 c6 10 O-O O-O 11 Bxe4 Nxe4 12 Nxe4 dxe4 13 Nd2 f5 14 c5 Bd7 15 Nc4 Be8 16 b4 Qg5 17 f4 Qh6 18 Ne5 Kh8 19 Qe1 Rg8 20 h4 Qf6
21 g4 fxg4 22 Kh2 h5 23 Kg3 g6 24 Qc3 Rg7 25 Nc4 Qf5 26 Nd6 Qd5 27 Qc2 a5 28 bxa5
28...Rxa5 29 Nxe8 Ra3 30 Rfe1 g5 31 hxg5 h4+ 32 Kxh4 Rh7+ 33 Kg3 Rh3+ 34 Kg2 Rxa2 35 Nf6 Rxc2+ 36 Rxc2 Qf5 37 Rcc1 Kg7 38 Rb1 Kg6 39 Rh1 e5 40 dxe5 Qe6 41 Rbf1
Here the game was adjourned and adjudicated, as stated below.
John Hilbert, who has made a particular study of Capablanca’s visits to Philadelphia, informs us that he had the game on file, without publishing it, and that the final position had been given by Shipley in the same newspaper on page 21 of the 26 October 1924 edition:
The Capablanca v Beckman game is known, having been published on, for instance, page 96 of the February 1925 BCM.
Capablanca’s visits to New Orleans have been discussed in C.N.s 6943, 10739, 10744 and 10746. An addition from Gerard Killoran concerns a game against L.L. Labatt and C.F. Buck on page 4 of the Feature Section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, 21 May 1916:
1 d4 e6 2 c4 f5 3 e3 Nf6 4 Bd3 b6 5 Ne2 Bb7 6 O-O Be7 7 Nbc3 O-O 8 a3 Nc6 9 b4 Qe8 10 f3 a6 11 Bb2 Qh5 12 Ng3 Qf7 13 Qd2 Bd6 14 c5 Bxg3 15 hxg3 Ne7 16 Rac1 Rac8 17 Qe2 Nh5 18 Kf2 b5 19 Rh1 g6 20 Rh3 Nd5 21 Rch1 Ndf6 22 Kg1 Rce8
23 Nd1 d6 24 g4 fxg4 25 fxg4 Ng7 26 Nf2 e5 27 g5 Nfh5 28 Ng4 Qe6 29 dxe5 dxc5 30 Nf6+ Nxf6 31 gxf6 Nh5
32 Rxh5 gxh5 33 Bxh7+ Kh8 34 Qxh5 Resigns.
The game is not unknown. It appeared in both editions of the Capablanca games anthology by Rogelio Caparrós (Game 291 and Game 289 respectively), in each case with the wrong year, 1915. The ‘exact’ date given by Caparrós was 29 April 1915, even though his own book noted elsewhere that on that day Capablanca defeated Edward Lasker in the New York tournament. The Mega Database 2018 also goes astray, with 3 April 1915 as the date of the consultation game against Labatt and Buck.
From page 98 of the May-June 1916 American Chess Bulletin (see C.N. 10744):
‘Capablanca’s visit to New Orleans during the last week in April was one long to be remembered by the chessplayers in the home of Paul Morphy. Simultaneous consultation, off-hand and quick-fire games were all alike won by the young master, who did not allow so much as a draw. Early in the week he encountered 19 opponents at the New Orleans Chess, Checkers and Whist Club. He won them all. The fourth evening was devoted to the playing of two simultaneous consultation games, the one against Judge L.L. Labatt and C.F. Buck and the other against J.M. Gehl, P.S. [sic] Moise and S.H. Fox. The master won both. His engagement was brought to a close on Saturday evening with an exhibition against 18 opponents, all of whom he defeated in a little over two hours.’
The Cuban’s commitments in New Orleans thus ended on Saturday, 29 April 1916, and Eduardo Bauzá Mercére notes that that was the date of the game against Labatt and Buck. He has provided three cuttings:
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 24 April 1916, page 3
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 30 April 1916, page 11
New Orleans Times-Picayune, 7 May 1916, page 11.
This game, submitted by John Hilbert, was played in a 24-board simultaneous display at the Franklin Chess Club:
José Raúl Capablanca – LeRoy Smith
Philadelphia, 29 May 1926
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Bd3 O-O 7 O-O c6 8 Nbd2 h6 9 Bh4 Nh7 10 Bxe7 Qxe7 11 e4 Ng5 12 Nxg5 Qxg5
13 f4 Qg6 14 cxd5 cxd5 15 f5 exf5 16 e5 Qb6 17 Nb3 Nxe5 18 Bxf5 Nc4 19 Bxc8 Raxc8 20 Qh5 Qg6 21 Qxg6 fxg6 22 Rxf8+ Rxf8 23 Re1 Nxb2 24 Re5 Nc4 25 Re7 Rf7 26 Re8+ Kh7 27 Nc5 h5 28 Ne6 Rf5 29 h4 Nd6 30 Re7 Rf6 31 Ng5+ Kg8 32 Rd7 Nf5 33 Rxd5 Rd6 34 Rc5 Kf8 35 Rc7 Nxd4 36 Rxb7 Ra6 37 Rf7+ Kg8 38 Rd7 Ne6 39 Nxe6 Rxe6 40 Rxa7 Re1+ Drawn.
Source: Philadelphia Public Ledger, 13 June 1926.
The exhibition is listed on page 190 of the revised (New York, 1993) edition of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth but was absent from the first edition (London, 1975).
John Hilbert forwards another game:
W.A. Ruth and W.H. Hughes – José Raúl Capablanca
Philadelphia, 6 January 1910
Queen’s Pawn Opening
1 d4 c5 2 c3 e6 3 Bf4 Qb6 4 Qd2 d5 5 e3 Nf6 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 Qc2 Bd7 8 Nbd2 Rc8 9 Qb3 Qxb3 10 axb3 Nh5 11 Bg3 Nxg3 12 hxg3 cxd4 13 exd4 Bd6 14 Bd3 h6 15 Ke2 O-O 16 Ne5 Nxe5 17 dxe5 Bxe5 18 Rxa7 Bc6 19 Rh5 Bf6 20 Nf3 Ra8 21 Rxa8 Rxa8 22 Kd2 Ra1 23 Nd4 Bd7 24 f4
24...e5 25 Ne2 Bg4 26 Rh2 e4 27 Bc2 Ra2 28 Nd4 Rxb2 29 White resigns.
Source: Philadelphia Item, 9 January 1910, which stated: ‘With much still to hope for, Messrs. Ruth and Hughes graciously resigned on their 29th turn owing to the necessity of terminating the game.’
Regarding the occasion, the newspaper reported:
‘Philadelphia chessplayers turned out en masse on Thursday afternoon and evening on the occasion of José R. Capablanca’s exhibition at the Mercantile Library Chess Association – one of the most interesting chess events in this city for many years.
In the afternoon Capablanca played simultaneously against two strong consultation teams, one composed of N.T. Whitaker, S.T. Sharp and T.C. Rafferty. On the other team W.A. Ruth and W.H. Hughes were without the assistance of Lewis Hopper, who was detained by sudden illness.’
White to move
Capablanca played 47 Kh4 and eventually won after 47...Nxe4 48 h6.
The game has been submitted by John Hilbert on the basis of notes which he took many years ago, and we are also grateful to Eduardo Bauzá Mercére for providing the relevant newspaper columns.
Firstly, the score of the game, which was played in a 17-board simultaneous exhibition at the Franklin Chess Club:
José Raúl Capablanca – W.H. Snowden
Philadelphia, 19 November 1915
1 f4 d6 2 e4 Nc6 3 Nf3 e5 4 Bb5 Nf6 5 Nc3 Bg4 6 d3 Be7 7 O-O O-O 8 Bxc6 bxc6 9 h3 Bxf3 10 Qxf3 h6 11 fxe5 dxe5 12 Kh1 Qd7 13 Nd1 Nh7 14 Ne3 f6 15 Nf5 Kh8 16 Qg4 Bd6 17 Nxh6 Qxg4 18 Nxg4 Bc5 19 Be3 Bb6 20 a4 a5 21 Bxb6 cxb6 22 Ne3 Ng5 23 Nc4 Rab8 24 c3 Ne6 25 b4 axb4 26 cxb4 b5 27 axb5 cxb5 28 Ne3 Nd4 29 Nd5 Rf7 30 Ra3 Ne2 31 Rfa1 Rfb7 32 g4 Kh7 33 Kg2 Kg6 34 h4 Kf7 35 Ra7 Nd4 36 Rxb7+ Rxb7 37 g5 Nc2 38 Rf1 Kg6 39 gxf6 gxf6 40 Rxf6+ Kh5 41 Kh3 Ne1 42 Rf5+ Kg6 43 Rxe5 Nxd3 44 Re6+ Kh7 45 h5 Rg7 46 Rb6 Nf2+ 47 Kh4 Nxe4 48 h6 and wins.
Source: the chess column of David A. Mitchell in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, 15 December 1918, page 18:
A report on the exhibition had appeared on page 6 of the Philadelphia Inquirer, 21 November 1915:
From page 65 of the March-April 1923 issue of Šah (published in Maribor):
The above is part of a photograph of Capablanca in play against Yuly Sosnitsky on page 82 of the February-May 1914 Wiener Schachzeitung:
From the Daily News (New York), 3 December 1922, page 46 (section two):
Gerard Killoran has forwarded a simultaneous game published on page 39 of the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, 21 February 1909:
1 Nf3 d5 2 d4 Bg4 3 Ne5 Bh5 4 Nc3 f6 5 Nd3 b6 6 Nf4 Bf7 7 e3 g5 8 Nd3 Nc6 9 h4 gxh4 10 Rxh4 h5 11 Nf4 a6 12 Nxh5 Qd6 13 Qf3 O-O-O 14 Bxa6+ Kb8 15 g4 Nb4 16 Bd3 Nxd3+ 17 cxd3 e5 18 dxe5 Qxe5 19 e4 dxe4 20 Nxe4 Bg6 21 Bd2 Qxb2 22 Bc3 Qa3 23 Ke2 Rh6 24 Qh3 Be7 25 Nhg3 Rxh4 26 Qxh4 Bb4 27 Bxb4 Qxd3+ 28 Ke1 Bxe4 29 Nxe4 Qxe4+ 30 Kf1 Qxb4 31 Re1 Qc4+ 32 Kg2 Qxa2 33 Qh7 Qa5 34 Rc1 Qa7 35 Qe4 Qa3 36 Re1 Nh6 37 Re3 Qa1 38 Qe7 Rg8 39 f3
39...Nf5 40 White resigns.
Of the two versions of Black’s surname in the newspaper heading, Jaynes is correct. Page 15 of our book on Capablanca pointed out that this game was the first loss in his first simultaneous tour of the United States and, on the basis of a transcript from page 10 of the Minneapolis Tribune of 23 January 1909 (a column too faint to reproduce) received from a local library, gave the victor’s name as P.N. Jaynes. We note now that the Tribune of the time had many references to F.N. Jaynes, and that page 37 of the 31 January 1909 edition named him as Fremont N. Jaynes.
The game was included without a source in Rogelio Caparrós’ volumes on Capablanca with the misspelling Jayne and with 33...Qa4 instead of 33...Qa5.
Concerning Fremont N. Jaynes’ full name, yet to be established beyond doubt, Gerard Killoran notes that ‘Fremont Nathan Jaynes’ appears in a non-chess report in column five of the St Paul Globe, 27 May 1899, page 8.
A key position from a remarkable game:
White to move
This is the first game in José Raúl Capablanca Sekrety masterstva by A. Bezgodov (Rostov-on-Don, 2018), with a bizarre heading on page 11:
By what process can Buenos Aires, 1914 become New York, 1906? It was a consultation game, against Molina and Ruiz, played in the Argentinian capital on 17 September 1914; moreover, Capablanca’s first move was 1 f4 according to the Cuban himself, who annotated the game in his 1920 book My Chess Career.
The game has been highly praised. See, for example, Lessons in Chess Strategy by Cozens, The Unknown Capablanca by Hooper and Brandreth and The Golden Dozen by Chernev. In the diagrammed position, each book gave the Cuban’s move 30 b3 two exclamation marks, and Cozens remarked:
‘The white pieces, all of which are focused on the black king, have one forgotten and unsuspectedly powerful ally – the QRP! After 31 P-R4 a passed pawn must come into being on the far left, and its advance will create a deadly extra threat, which will be one too many for Black’s fully occupied defenders.’
In the previous note, after 29...Raf7, Cozens observed that ‘Black is approaching the state of affairs known as Zugzwang’, and Reinfeld used that term twice in his annotations in The Immortal Games of Capablanca.
‘This game is characterized by some unusually fine combinative play, including some moves that must have been uncommonly difficult to discover. It is easy to foresee the brutal sacrifices and their sequel, but to make a sacrifice intuitively and follow it up unconcernedly with quiet waiting moves whose cumulative force finally crushes the enemy – that is consummate chess artistry.’
‘A very beautiful game, played to perfection throughout’, commented Hooper and Brandreth, although a computer check suggests several alternative wins (including 30 Bxf6, followed by 31 Rhg3). It would be interesting to see a strong master’s detailed annotations today.
Below is the game, ‘which I feel sure will please both the dilettante and the connoisseur’, as given by Capablanca in My Chess Career: 1 f4 e5 2 e4 Bc5 3 Nf3 d6 4 Nc3 Nc6 5 Na4 Bb6 6 Bb5 Bd7 7 Nxb6 axb6 8 d3 Nge7 9 O-O O-O 10 f5 f6 11 Bc4+ Kh8 12 a3 Be8 13 Be6 Bh5 14 Qe1 Qe8 15 Qh4 Nd8 16 Ba2 Bf7 17 c4 c5 18 g4 Ng8 19 Bd2 b5 20 g5 fxg5 21 Nxg5 Nf6 22 Rf3 bxc4 23 Nxh7 Nxh7 24 Rh3 Bg8 25 Bxc4 Rf7 26 Kh1 b5 27 Bd5 Raa7 28 Rg1 Rf6 29 Bg5 Raf7 30 b3 Qf8 31 a4 bxa4 32 bxa4 Qe8 33 a5 Nc6 34 a6 Nb4 35 Bxf6 Nxd5 36 Bxg7+ Rxg7 37 Rxg7 Kxg7 38 Qh6+ Kh8 39 Qxd6.
‘And after a few more moves Black resigned’, wrote Capablanca. Ignoring that, some writers have stated that the allies resigned on move 39. Whatever additional moves were played have yet to be traced.
The game is not in any of the issues of the Revista del Club Argentino de Ajedrez available to us, although pages 69-71 of the July-September issue had a general article by Enrique G. Ruiz on Capablanca’s stay in Argentina. It was reproduced on pages 423-424 of El Ajedrez en la Argentina by José Pérez Mendoza (Buenos Aires, 1920). The earliest appearance of the game that we can quote at present is on page 4 of part 5 of the Sunday Star (Washington, DC), 7 February 1915. The allies’ names were garbled, but Capablanca’s own notes were presented:
Position before 30 b3
Concerning Capablanca v Molina and Ruiz, Buenos Aires, 1914, Eduardo Bauzá Mercére notes a slightly earlier publication with the same annotations by Capablanca and the same misspelling of the allies’ names, on page 12 of the New York Sun, 31 January 1915:
Another game annotated by Irving Chernev in The Golden Dozen was Capablanca v Villegas. From page 294:
Chernev also annotated the game in Logical Chess Move by Move.
Below are the loser’s notes, from pages 78-79 of the Revista del Club Argentino de Ajedrez, July-September 1914:
Although the heading states that the game was played on 15 September 1914, page 58 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975) had 19 August 1914, it being specified on page 199 that the score had been published in La Prensa, 23 August 1914.
C.N. 10945 showed a letter from Capablanca to Prokofiev which began as follows:
The first paragraph of W.H. Watts’ ‘General Account of the Tournament’ in the Hastings, 1922 book by Alekhine:
‘During the early days of the London International Tournament of 1922 it was rumoured that the energetic Hastings Club were organizing a Masters’ Tournament. It was hoped that the participation of both Capablanca and Lasker would be secured, but first one and then the other dropped out for reasons it is unnecessary to go into here.’
In fact, plans for a tournament in Hastings involving Capablanca, Lasker, Alekhine and Rubinstein were in the public domain well before London, 1922 began. Page 257 of the June 1922 Chess Amateur carried a report from the Morning Post that the plan ‘aims at no less than a World Champions’ tournament. The present and past champions and the two candidates for the title ...’:
From page 9 of the 20 May 1922 edition of the Hastings and St Leonards Observer:
Capablanca’s refusal to participate was explained in detail in a letter published on page 7 of The Times, 26 May 1922, which is on page 120 of our book on the Cuban.
The Dover reprint of the New York, 1924 tournament included a few post-1924 photographs, including this one:
The phrase ‘meet for a game’ appears to be captionese, but is any more information available regarding the occasion?
From page 184 of the Australasian Chess Review, 9 July 1936, in a report written during the Moscow, 1936 tournament:
‘Among the great, Capablanca can be great, because he does not have to play to avoid draws. He has not Alekhine’s gift for beating inferior players, but when all the competitors are of his own class, he can give free rein to his natural style – classical simplicity.’
A book by Czerniak, ‘The History of Chess’ (Tel Aviv, 1963), has been mentioned to us by Moshe Rubin (Jerusalem). It includes many reminiscences, and our correspondent has forwarded a file comprising the original Hebrew text of these vignettes, alongside his translation into English. See too C.N. 4143.
An occasional inaccuracy by Czerniak will be noted (such as Rubinstein’s year of death). One remark is worth considering in conjunction with C.N. 11039:
‘In 1939 Capablanca admitted to me that “for some reason” it was difficult for him to beat even quite weak opponents (he was referring to average-strength masters) ...’
A third observation about Capablanca’s play in the 1930s:
Source: an article entitled ‘Chess Theory is Grey’ by Salo Flohr on pages 157 and 180 of CHESS, March 1967. No information about the article’s provenance was supplied, or about the circumstances of Capablanca’s alleged incipient lamentation.
A famous brilliancy by Capablanca (White) against Juan Corzo, Havana, 1901:
The Golden Dozen by Irving Chernev (Oxford, 1976), page 284
Virtually the identical text had appeared on pages 175-176 of The Chess Companion.
The ‘commentator’ in question was Fred Reinfeld, in The Immortal Games of Capablanca (New York, 1942). In My Chess Career (London, 1920) Capablanca wrote:
‘Today, very likely, I would simply have played Q-Q2 and won also, but at the time I could not resist the temptation of sacrificing the queen. At any rate, the text move was the only continuation which I had in mind when I played P-K6.’
From later in the same game, where Capablanca played 46 Kf2:
Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings by Irving Chernev (Oxford, 1978), page 7
Neither Capablanca nor Reinfeld mentioned 46 Kg3. On pages 228-230 of Combinations The Heart of Chess Chernev made no adverse comment on either 29 Qxb5 or 46 Kf2.
See Chess Annotations.
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére has forwarded some photographs which he took on 30 January 2019 at the Club Argentino de Ajedrez, Paraguay 1858, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, 1120, Argentina. In the shot below, the Club’s display of the board and pieces used for the 1927 world championship match is intended to show the final position in the decisive 34th match-game, after 82 Re7:
Mr Bauzá Mercére notes that the black rook is on h2, and not h1 as in the game.
We add page 4 of the Argentine newspaper Crítica, 29 November 1927:
From Lasker v Capablanca, Moscow, 3 June 1936:
‘“What about the backward pawn?”, shrieks the pious student, brought up on sound positional principles. The answer is that there ain’t goin’ to be no backward pawn.’
That remark by C.J.S. Purdy was quoted on page 217 of The Immortal Games of Capablanca by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1942) and on pages 259-260 of Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings by Irving Chernev (Oxford, 1978). Neither book mentioned the source: Purdy’s annotations on pages 283-284 of the Australasian Chess Review, 8 October 1936.
The game continued 20 Nh5 Qb7 21 Bg5 f6 22 Be3 Nc7 23 Qd1 Rd8 24 Rd2 Kh8 25 a3 Rbc8 26 Bf2 d5.
Why is it so hard to find photographs of the 1921 world championship match in Havana? There was no Cuban chess magazine at the time, and we have yet to locate pictures in the host country’s mainstream press.
From page 153 of Masters of the Chess Board by Richard Réti (London, 1933), in the chapter on Capablanca:
‘In a sense, chess is his mother tongue.’
On the Internet we have seen no occurrences of the exact original German text, as published on page 279 of Die Meister des Schachbretts (Mährisch-Ostrau, 1930):
‘Das Schach ist ihm gewissermaßen Muttersprache.’
C.N. 5557 made an analogous comment about Nimzowitsch’s dictum ‘First restrain, next blockade, lastly destroy’ (‘Zuerst hemmen, dann blockieren und schließlich vernichten’).
On page 157 of Winning with Chess Psychology by Pal Benko and Burt Hochberg (New York, 1991) Benko wrote:
‘About a year after Lasker’s death, Capablanca died, and a book appeared in Hungary containing 300 of his games, many of them annotated by grandmasters. Although Lasker remained my idol, Capablanca’s games taught me technique and enabled me, at age 17, to become a master.’
On page 4 of Pal Benko My Life, Games and Compositions by P. Benko and J. Silman (Los Angeles, 2003) Benko recalled:
‘I avidly studied a book of Capablanca’s 350 best games (this was my first chess book and the Cuban quickly became my chess hero).’
The book was by Ferenc Chalupetzky and László Tóth (Kecskemét, 1943). It had 319 numbered games and some fragments.
From page 9 of the Illustrierte Kronen Zeitung, 15 November 1927:
Afterword on 10 November 2020: Miriam Friedman Morris (Pomona, NY, USA) adds that the sketches were by her father, David Friedmann (1893-1980), whose work was also shown in C.N.s 3510, 4125 and 4132.
The image in C.N. 11297 reminds Eric Fisher (Hull, England) of this sketch in F.P. Wildman’s chess column in the Yorkshire Weekly Post, 26 June 1909:
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére provides some further photographs taken by him at the Club Argentino de Ajedrez, Buenos Aires, on 25 March 2019:
Yandy Rojas Barrios writes:
‘In their match in Havana in 1901, Capablanca won games 4, 8, 9 and 11, and Corzo won games 1, 2 and 13. The result is customarily given as +4 –3 =6. Although there has been much debate about the status of the final 13th game, little has been said about game 12.
In the chapter on the match in My Chess Career (London, 1920) Capablanca wrote:
Capablanca’s fourth victory was in game 11, before which the match score was +3 –2 =5 in his favour. Even so, he also stated that his fourth win was the final game of the contest:
On pages 36 and 37 of Capablanca Biografía (Havana, 1990), Jorge Daubar referred to the 12th game as the last:
Daubar had also produced the games collection Así jugaba Capablanca (Havana, 1988). From page 11:
The ‘12.12.’ indicated that, according to Daubar, that draw with the Ruy López was the last of the match. On the same page the Dutch Defence game, won by Corzo, was numbered not 13 but zero (‘0-0’):
The following page explained that the Dutch Defence game was not included in the total match score (which Daubar therefore gave as +4 –2 =6):
On page 84 of volume one of Capablanca, leyenda y realidad (Havana, 1978) Miguel A. Sánchez wrote that 5½ points were required to win the match and that, therefore, a draw in the 12th game was enough for Capablanca:
This does not make sense because after 11 games Capablanca already had 6½ points.
In José Raúl Capablanca. A Chess Biography (Jefferson, 2015) Sánchez asserted on page 84 that by drawing the 12th game Capablanca won the match:
There was this endnote on page 506:
As shown below, page 4 of Diario de la Marina of 16 November 1901 did indeed state that the winner of the match would be the player who made the better score from seven games, draws not counting:
David Hooper and Dale Brandreth wrote, correctly, on page 116 of The Unknown Capablanca (London, 1975):
However, page 80 of a Spanish version of Miguel A. Sánchez’s McFarland book, entitled Capablanca, leyenda y realidad (Havana, 2017 – although it did not appear until 2019), had the following about game 12:
The corresponding endnote 39 on page 96 affirms that in the Havana Chess Club it was customary to play out all the games of a match even if the final overall result of the contest would not be affected:
Although that clarification was provided to explain why game 13 was played, it could also have been applied to game 12.
In short, it seems to me that contrary to what Daubar and Sánchez have written, the final score must either include both games 12 and 13 or exclude both. It is illogical to include only game 12.’
Noting that the Argentinian weekly magazine Caras y Caretas is available via the digital collection of the Biblioteca Nacional de España, Olimpiu G. Urcan has forwarded these items:
26 March 1921
16 April 1927
17 September 1927
17 September 1927
10 December 1927
Page numbers are not indicated in the material presented online by the Library. Although the interview with Capablanca conducted by Ernesto E. de la Fuente (17 September 1927) was hurried and contains evident factual errors (about his chess beginnings and the Cleveland simultaneous display), Capablanca’s remarks on Alekhine and on training/preparation/intuition are noteworthy.
Olimpiu G. Urcan informs us that he has acquired from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision the right to post on his Patreon webpage a brief audio file of Capablanca speaking in English during the AVRO tournament, on the occasion of his 50th birthday (19 November 1938).
C.N. 11340 gave an exchange of letters between Capablanca and Andrew Bonar Law.
Carlos León Cranbourne (Buenos Aires) has provided a third set of photographs, relating to Capablanca and Alekhine and including their 1927 world title match:
From page 197 of The Games of José Raúl Capablanca by Rogelio Caparrós (Dallas, 1994):
The same shambles was in the earlier editions of the book, published in Yorklyn, 1991 (pages 211-212) and in Barcelona, 1993 (page 159).
Regarding the ‘increible’ game against Eddingfield, see C.N. 4996.
The Bird’s Opening game was discussed in C.N. 3594, which pointed out that the version proffered by Caparrós would mean that Capablanca missed 24 Qg8 mate, whereas it may seem obvious that Black played 23...Bh6 and not 23...Rh6.
Position after 23 Rf3-g3
C.N. 3594 added that the only source given by Caparrós for the game was ‘Pittsburgh papers’, but now Patsy A. D’Eramo provides the chess column on page 3 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 10 June 1915:
Our correspondent notes that in the Bird’s Opening game Black was C.B. Isaacson, and not ‘A.M.’ as stated by Caparrós, and that his 23rd move was indeed given as 23...Bh6. Moreover, the Ruy López game which Caparrós also ascribed to ‘A.M. Isaacson’ was against A.S. Jameson.
The Capablanca v Jameson game-score was included in the coverage of the display in the American Chess Bulletin, March 1915, pages 42-46, with ‘A. Stedman Jameson’ on page 43 and ‘A.J. Jameson’ on page 45.
The exhibition took place in the auditorium of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY) on 12 February 1915. The Bulletin reported that Capablanca ‘was on his feet fully seven hours’, facing 84 opponents on 65 boards and scoring +48 –5 =12. Spectators joined in the deliberations, and ‘Capablanca, at a conservative estimate, had opposed to him the wits of perhaps 200 persons’. For further information, and particularly on the time consumed, see Capablanca’s Simultaneous Displays.
Wijnand Engelkes (Zeist, the Netherlands) notes an article by Max Euwe on pages 664-665 of the 12/1947 issue of the Dutch magazine Op den uitkijk and, in particular, the former world champion’s comments on chess administration in Cuba on the latter page:
In summary, Euwe referred to the tensions between the two chess organizations in Cuba. The unofficial one, which bore Capablanca’s name, had become smaller but owned premises donated by the Cuban Government. Euwe felt obliged to decline an invitation to go there, as he was in Cuba as the guest of the official organization. He also strove to allay his hosts’ fears that the Cuban Government might take offence at his refusal to visit a building which it had given. Furthermore, Euwe observed that the official chess body was not anti-Capablanca, whereas the other organization tended to exaggerate (being ‘more Capablanca than Capablanca himself’).
C.N. 3454 (see too Chess and Hollywood) showed a small, poor-quality photograph of Capablanca at the chessboard with Finis Barton (1911-78). Now, Olimpiu G. Urcan has found another shot, on page 10 of Part II of the Los Angeles Times, 11 April 1933:
Can a high-quality copy of the photograph be found?
Regarding the game referred to, see Capablanca v Steiner (Living Chess).
The photograph shown in C.N. 3454 has been traced to page 2 of the North American Chess Reporter, April-May 1933. Below, courtesy of the Cleveland Public Library, is a fine copy:
Firstly, for ease of reference, C.N. 4996 is reproduced:
From page 172 of the July-August 1916 American Chess Bulletin:
After giving the game in an article about the Cuban on pages 56-58 of the 5/1987 New in Chess we commented:
‘Either this was the most incompetent game of Capablanca’s life or else, infinitely more probable, E.S. Harvey took the moves down incorrectly. Perhaps an ingenious reader can suggest how they could be amended to make sense.’
Some attempts at reconstruction have been undertaken, but we wonder whether it is possible to find out more about the game in the local press of the time.
Nothing has yet been found on the archival front.
As regards the game-score, on 1 February 1994 Stephen Berry (London) wrote the following letter after we had enquired whether he could resolve the puzzle:
On 8 January 2001 we took the matter up in Richard Forster’s ‘Puzzles and Mysteries’ column at the Chess History Center (no longer available online), and Dan Heisman responded on 29 January 2001:
‘Well, with a little license and dozens of tries over an hour or so, I managed to come up with a score that makes some sense. But it assumes some rotten scorekeeping, or at least illegible handwriting (I would love to see a photo of the original score).
The first key is that ...f5 does not make sense, and later leads to all kinds of problems – I don’t think Capablanca dropped a piece as was possible in many of the actual lines. So what did Capablanca do? Rc6 is a nice move, and blocks all those Qxd7 and Qxb6 lines (and in descriptive, R-B6 could easily be misread as P-B5). But then why did Capablanca play Rxc2 leaving the N en prise? Answer: a pair of missing moves: ...h6 and Qd3 (this explains ...g5 later also and the lack of White back rank threats).
So now what about R-R5? That is probably Q-R5. That leaves one last puzzle – on Nc4, how come no Nxe3 next move? Because White was losing and not a good scorekeeper, he omitted Rd3 and Rcc2, the logical sequence.
So the game was possibly: 1 d4 d5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 e3 c5 4 dxc5 e6 5 b4 a5 6 Ba3 axb4 7 Bxb4 Na6 8 Bb5+ Bd7 9 Bxa6 Rxa6 10 Qe2 Qa8 11 Nb5 Bxb5 12 Qxb5+ Nd7 13 a3 Rc6 14 Nf3 Bxc5 15 O-O h6 16 Qd3 O-O 17 Rfe1 Rfc8 18 Nd4 Bxd4 19 exd4 Rxc2 20 h3 Nb6 21 Re3 Qa4 22 f3 Qa6 23 Qf1 Qxf1+ 24 Kxf1 Rb2 25 Be7 Rcc2 26 Bh4 Nc4 27 Rd3 g5 resigns.
Now here’s the kicker: No matter what the correct score, in the late opening Capablanca missed a brilliancy: 11...Rxa2! 12 Nc7+ Kd8 13 Nxa8 Rxa1+ wins, as 14 Kd2? Ne4+ 15 Kd3 loses to Bb5+. Found by friend Fritz6, who aided in confirming the logic of Capa’s moves.’
In a post later the same day Richard Forster commented that 15...h6 looked a little artificial, and he added:
‘I suggest the transposition 15...O-O 16 Qd3 h6, as the pawn move makes more sense here (to prevent 17 Ng5 Nf6 18 Bc3 with some attack).’
The game-score thus tentatively proposed, incorporating that transposition, is 1 d4 d5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 e3 c5 4 dxc5 e6 5 b4 a5 6 Ba3 axb4 7 Bxb4 Na6 8 Bb5+ Bd7 9 Bxa6 Rxa6 10 Qe2 Qa8 11 Nb5 Bxb5 12 Qxb5+ Nd7 13 a3 Rc6 14 Nf3 Bxc5 15 O-O O-O 16 Qd3 h6 17 Rfe1 Rfc8 18 Nd4 Bxd4 19 exd4 Rxc2 20 h3 Nb6 21 Re3 Qa4 22 f3 Qa6 23 Qf1 Qxf1+ 24 Kxf1 Rb2 25 Be7 Rcc2 26 Bh4 Nc4 27 Rd3 g5 28 White resigns.
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére provides the following photograph from Argentina’s Archivo General de la Nación, courtesy of the Ministerio del Interior, Obras Públicas y Vivienda (reference AR_AGN_DDF/Consulta_INV: 259951):
The reverse side states ‘Caras y Caretas - 25 Abr 1911 - Archivo’. This is a fine version of the portrait given in C.N.s 5235 and 9596. For a different shot of Capablanca at the same board and also showing his game against Bernstein, San Sebastián, 1911, see C.N.s 7582 and 7587.
Inventory item 260062 in the Archivo General de la Nación:
Mr Bauzá Mercére comments:
‘The reverse merely has “José Raúl Capablanca – Atento a una jugada de ajedrez”, and the stamp states “Caras y Caretas – 25 Jul 1925 – Archivo”. The board position is from the 12th game of the Capablanca v Marshall match, 13 May 1909, after 7 d3 or 7...Be7. The signature “Lacalle Gutiérrez” (bottom left) may give a clue.’
Thirdly, inventory item 260060 in the Archivo General de la Nación:
This is a fine version of a photograph in Chess Pictures in The Sphere. For another shot of Capablanca which shows the same game (Margate, 1936), see C.N.s 6204 and 6199.
Regarding this photograph of Capablanca given in C.N. 11445, Lonnie Kwartler (Chester, NY, USA) notes that the board may look wrongly positioned:
However, as pointed out by Rudy Bloemhard (Apeldoorn, the Netherlands), it appears to be a case of the a-file being blocked from view by the rim of the board.
On the subject of possible misunderstandings in photographs of board positions, C.N. 5514 showed this picture from page 26 of the February 1931 American Chess Bulletin:
In C.N. 5124 a correspondent, Ola Winfridsson, suggested that nothing was necessarily amiss:
‘It all depends on the original shade of the squares of the chessboard; in some old black and white photographs and films, lighter colours appear darker than darker colours.’
C.J.S. Purdy on pages 184 and 185 of Chess World, 1 August 1949:
‘Have you noticed that the López tends to win long games and lose short ones? There’s a reason. In the López White sacrifices development for long-term theoretical advantages. Sometimes Black’s advantage in development tells quickly.’
‘Boiling water is the most efficient for washing dishes but it will scald you if you’re not very careful. The López is like that. White has certain theoretical assets which he has purchased at the cost of development. He must try not to give Black a chance to capitalize his gain in development with a sharp attack – unless, as in the Marshall, he gets a pawn or something, with a good chance of holding it.’
After a reference to Capablanca v Marshall, New York, 1918, Purdy’s article (page 184) had a comment which is quoted on page 328 of our book on the Cuban:
‘Capablanca was the gambit-killer of all time.’
Yuri Kireev and Mikhail Sokolov send this cartoon from the Moscow tournament bulletin, 64, 29 May 1936, page 4:
White to move
In this simultaneous game Capablanca played 27 g4, and the finish was 27...Bxg4 28 Qxg4 Rg5 29 Nf7+ Resigns.
Concerning his 27th move, Black (H.L. Brooke) wrote:
‘I intended 27...Bd5, and awaited Capablanca’s return, but just before he again reached my board I took a second and fatal look, and was ensnared by the prospect of trapping the white queen. For such a childish idea I afterwards apologized, for it was idiotic to imagine that he, of all men, would permit that. He, of course, was highly amused, and, in fact, so was I.’
It was gratifying to be able to include the full game (Bradford, 7 October 1919) on pages 101-102 of our book on Capablanca, gleaned from the Yorkshire Observer Budget of 18 October 1919:
Now, basic biographical information is sought about H.L. Brooke. He was a non-fatal casualty of the Charfield train crash on 13 October 1928, as reported in a Yorkshire Observer Budget item which was reproduced on page 28 of the November 1928 Chess Amateur:
This caricature is given at the start of Glorias del Tablero “Capablanca” by J.A. Gelabert (Havana, 1923) and at the end of the second edition (Havana, 1924):
Yandy Rojas Barrios writes:
‘Concerning this widely-disseminated caricature by Conrado Massaguer, I can add that page 23 of the March 1923 edition of the magazine Social, which Massaguer edited, had another one of Capablanca:
A colour version was on the back cover of the January 1924 issue:
It is curious that the well-known 1922 caricature does not appear in any edition of Social that year.’
Below is an article by Andrés Clemente Vázquez on page 142 of the Cuban publication El Fígaro, March 1897:
A translation of part of the article is on pages 3-4 of our monograph on Capablanca.
In raw scrapbook form, some Capablanca items are reproduced from our archives:
For a translation of the interview with Capablanca, see page 117 of our monograph on him.
A letter from Capablanca to the Argentinian master Luis R. Piazzini:
Marcel Klemmer (Bad Segeberg, Germany) raises the subject of a famous early photograph of Alekhine and Capablanca, of which a colourized version can be found on the Internet, and asks who the figure on the left is:
The above is the best-quality version of the photograph available to us, and readers’ assistance in identifying the figures on the far left and far right will be appreciated.
The demonstration board shows the final position in the first over-the-board encounter between the future world champions, an exhibition game played in St Petersburg on 14 December 1913; see pages 11-12 of Hooper and Brandreth’s The Unknown Capablanca. Our monograph on the Cuban had a small version of the photograph, cautiously captioned ‘St Petersburg, 1913/14’.
I. and V. Linder gave the picture in their Russian-language books on Capablanca (2005, page 183) and on Alekhine (2006, page 228), but whereas the former stated that the occasion was their first over-the-board meeting (i.e. in 1913), the latter asserted that it was their first tournament game, at St Petersburg, 1914 (an event which began in April):
When the Linders reproduced the photograph again, in 2011, on page 45 of another book on Capablanca, the date went back to 1913:
A figure standing on the right (also currently unidentified) is almost entirely visible in the version of the picture on page 38 of A.I. Sizonenko’s 1988 volume on the Cuban:
Similarly, on page 77 of a 1992 book on Alekhine by Y. Shaburov:
For bibliographical details concerning all these works, see Books about Capablanca and Alekhine.
Did the photograph appear in any Russian publications of the time, and, to reiterate our German correspondent’s enquiry, can the player on the left be positively identified?
A detail of the board position:
The position depicted occurred around move 18 in the Capablanca v Alekhine exhibition game (St Petersburg, 14 December 1913) mentioned in C.N. 11577.
Yuri Kireev and Mikhail Sokolov (Moscow) send this early publication of the Alekhine v Capablanca photograph, on page 8 of the 50/1913 issue of the weekly magazine Весь мир:
In C.N. 11577 Marcel Klemmer asked whether the player on the far left could be identified.
Colin Patterson (Cullercoats, England) has suggested Alexander Evenson, who won a tournament in St Petersburg in late 1913. For purposes of comparison, Yuri Kireev and Mikhail Sokolov (Moscow) have provided two group photographs:
Source: Петербургская газета, 19 December 1913, page 4. Our correspondents clarify the caption as follows: Standing, from left to right: Verlinsky, Smorodsky, Rosenthal, Evenson, Rozenbaum or Gartmanis; Seated: Lyangleben, Rozanov, P.P. Saburov, Rozenbaum or Gartmanis, Malyutin.
Source: Нива issue 7, 1914, page 4. Standing, from left to right: Levitzky, Alapin, Evenson, Flamberg, Alekhine, Gregory, Bogoljubow; Seated: Salwe, Sosnitsky, Malyutin, P.A. Saburov, Kutler, Levenfish.
A sort-out of our Capablanca archives has resulted in many C.N. items on the Cuban this month, and below are photographs published on pages 166 and 167 of the February 1964 issue of Ajedrez (Havana), in an article by Alberto Entralgo entitled ‘Ajedrez en Las Villas’:
These two scans have been provided by the Cleveland Public Library.
Regarding the simultaneous display by Capablanca at Westminster on 2 December 1919, see Chess and the House of Commons.
Chess Pie, 1922, page 17
This photograph, which has inspired many front covers of Capablanca books, is on page 85 of Fred Wilson’s A Picture History of Chess (New York, 1981) with the following caption:
‘Capablanca in 1922, when he was at the very height of his powers.’
However, the picture had been published the previous year, on page 33 of Capablanca’s book on his world title match against Lasker:
The picture credit in Chess Pie was to a London firm, Walshams Ltd.
A woodcut by Erwin Voellmy on page 145 of the October 1927 Schweizerische Schachzeitung:
A comment about this cigarette card is on page 279 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves, but we recall no photograph on which the picture may have been based.
From page 19 of the book on the 1966 Olympiad in Havana:
Wanted: more information about this painting, which is based on the Bad Kissingen, 1928 group photograph.
Page 362 of the October 1971 BCM gave this shot:
Two appearances of the painting on the front cover of the Cuban periodical Jaque Mate:
The photograph below, showing a commemoration of the 1921 world championship match, was taken at the National Museum of Sports, Havana by Bernardo Alonso García and was sent to us in 1994 by Armando Alonso Lorenzo (Prov. Ciego de Avila, Cuba):
The Introduction (page 5) to Play Like a World Champion José Raúl Capablanca by Bill Jordan (‘Amazon Fufillment’, Wrocław, 2019) begins with a paragraph which was considered good enough to reproduce on the back cover:
Observations by Capablanca on a game played two weeks before he died were mentioned by Joseph Platz on pages 41-42 of Chess Memoirs (Coraopolis, 1979).
Platz’s victory over J. Fulop in a Metropolitan Chess League match:
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e5 Nfd7 6 h4 c5 7 Nb5 f6 8 Bd3 a6 9 Qh5+ Kf8 10 Nd6 Bxd6 11 exd6 fxg5 12 hxg5 Qe8 (‘According to Capablanca, who was a spectator and analyzed the game with me later (just one week before his death), this is best as White was threatening Rh3.’) 13 Bg6 hxg6 14 Qxh8+ Kf7 15 Qh7 (‘Capablanca said that 15 Qxe8+ Kxe8 16 Rh8+ Nf8 17 dxc5 was necessary because Black would now have a satisfactory defense with ...Nf8.’) 15...cxd4 16 O-O-O Nc6 17 Rh3 Nde5 18 Rh4 Ne7 19 dxe7 Qxe7 20 Qh8 Resigns.
The bare score of the game, played in a Manhattan Chess Club v Bronx-Empire City match, was published on page 36 of the March-April 1942 American Chess Bulletin and on page 294 of The Golden Treasury of Chess by Francis J. Wellmuth (New York, 1943). The venue and date (Manhattan Chess Club, 21 February 1942) were announced by Hermann Helms on page 14 of the Brooklyn Eagle, 5 February 1942, and the results appeared on page 15 of the 26 February 1942 edition.
Emanuel Lasker’s absence from New York, 1927 was due to a bitter dispute with the organizers of New York, 1924, and he issued a lengthy statement on the affair at the end of 1926. Much confusion and additional controversy arose because the text was published – in German, Dutch, Spanish and English – with many variants and discrepancies. Richard Forster (Winterthur, Switzerland) has sifted through all available versions of the statement in a special article presented here: Lasker Speaks Out (1926).
Yandy Rojas Barrios forwards this page from the magazine El Estudiante (Cárdenas), 29 February 1912, which has details of Capablanca’s visit to the city on 19-23 February:
‘The item has been preserved in the Libro de Actas y Correspondencia del Museo y Biblioteca Pública de Cárdenas (today the Museo Oscar María de Rojas), and was sent to me by the Cardenense writer, historian and museologist Ernesto Aramis Álvarez Blanco, whose brother is the grandmaster Aramis Álvarez.’
In the 1980s we acquired a poor-quality photostat of a report on Capablanca’s visit to the Mechanics’ Institute, San Francisco in part two of the San Francisco Bulletin, 13 April 1916.
The copy below – better, but a fine version of the photograph is still being sought – has been sent to us by John Donaldson:
A report by E.J. Clarke on pages 100-101 of the May-June 1916 American Chess Bulletin
From Olimpiu G. Urcan:
‘I am currently finalizing a pictorial biography of Capablanca, comprising some 450 high-quality photographs, illustrations and cartoons of the Cuban, many of them little-known and recently unearthed in archives and other sources. I shall be very grateful for assistance from private collectors, historians and researchers who can provide further such images not readily accessible in the standard digital repositories or on the Internet.’
Anyone able to assist is invited to contact Olimpiu G. Urcan direct by e-mail.
By way of example, our correspondent shares a picture discovered in morgue archives of the New York Sun and digitized upon request. It was taken during a simultaneous display (+28 –1 =3) on 14 December 1936 at the Marshall Chess Club, New York:
In connection with the photograph in the preceding C.N. item, we give the report on pages 156-157 of the November-December 1936 American Chess Bulletin:
Capablanca’s win over John C. Rather is also on page 166 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975). As mentioned in C.N. 521, Mr Rather told us that he was aged 16 at the time, and below is an extract from his letter to us, dated 16 June 1983:
For detailed coverage of Capablanca v Corzo, Havana, 1909 see C.N. 11878 (contribution from Yandy Rojas Barrios).
Below are two photographs of the Club Capablanca (calle Infanta 54, Havana) taken by Bernardo Alonso García, the copyright owner, and sent to us in 1994 by Armando Alonso Lorenzo (Prov. Ciego de Avila, Cuba):
Page 3 of Crítica, 17 September 1927:
From The Chess Tinsleys:
As mentioned on page 99 of our book on Capablanca, E.S. Tinsley drew with the Cuban in a simultaneous display at the Gambit Chess Rooms, London on 18 September 1919 (BCM, October 1919, page 342). The report below appeared in The Times, 19 September 1919, page 8:
The game was misdated ‘1918’ in three editions of Capablanca’s games compiled by Rogelio Caparrós (Yorklyn, 1991, Barcelona, 1993 and Dallas, 1994). The score was also given on pages 245-247 of Capablanca in the United Kingdom (1911-1920) by V. Fiala (Olomouc, 2006), from The Times Weekly Edition, 10 October 1919.
Below we now show that column by E.S. Tinsley (page iv):
The column has been forwarded to us by Eduardo Bauzá Mercére, courtesy of the New York Public Library (General Research Division).
In the Fiala book there were, of course, a few mistranscriptions of the Times Weekly Edition annotations. Moreover, Tinsley gave White’s second move as Nc3, and not Nf3.
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 Bb5 d6 5 d4 exd4 6 Nxd4 Bd7 7 O-O Be7 8 Nde2 O-O 9 Ng3 Ne5 10 Bxd7 Qxd7 11 f4 Ng6 12 b3 Rad8 13 Bb2 c6 14 Qd4 Rfe8 15 Nf5 Bf8 16 Rad1 Nxe4
17 Nh6+ gxh6 18 Nxe4 Rxe4 19 Qxe4 Qe6 20 Qd3 f5 21 c4 Bg7 22 Bxg7 Kxg7 23 Rfe1 Qf6 24 g3 h5 25 Re3 Rd7 26 Rde1 d5 27 Re6 Qf7 28 Qd4+ Kh6 29 c5 Qg7 30 Qxg7+ Rxg7 31 Rd6 Rf7 32 Kf2 Kg7 33 Ree6 h4 34 Ke3 hxg3 35 hxg3 a6 36 Kd4 Nf8 37 Re8 Ng6 38 Red8 Nf8 39 Rb8 Re7 40 Kd3 Nd7 41 Rd8 Nxc5+ 42 Kd4 Ne6+ 43 Rxe6 Rxe6 44 Rd7+ Kg6 45 Rxb7 h6 46 b4 Kh5 47 Rg7 Rg6 48 Rxg6 Kxg6 49 Ke5 h5 50 a3 Kf7 51 Kxf5 Ke7 52 Ke5 Kf7 53 a4 Ke7 54 a5 Kf7 55 f5 Ke7 56 Kf4 Kf6 57 g4
57...hxg4 58 Kxg4 d4 59 Kf4 d3 60 Ke3 d2 61 Kxd2 Kxf5 62 Kd3 Ke5 63 Kc4 Kd6 64 Kd4 Kd7 65 Kc5 Kc7 66 Kd4 Kd6 67 Kc4 Kd7 Drawn.
Concerning the position in the second diagram, in a letter to us dated 3 June 1991 G.H. Diggle (then aged 88) diffidently suggested that Tinsley had missed a win by not playing 57...h4. That is confirmed by a computer check, which also indicates that Capablanca erred with 56 Kf4 (instead of 56 f5+, which draws).
On Tuesday, 21 February 1922 Capablanca sent Walter Penn Shipley this letter, of which we have a copy:
Capablanca’s visit to Philadelphia was discussed on pages 403-404 of Walter Penn Shipley Philadelphia’s Friend of Chess by John S. Hilbert (Jefferson, 2003), and Dr Hilbert has forwarded Shipley’s column in the Philadelphia Inquirer of 12 March 1922, page 6:
The consultation game is familiar from its appearance on page 82 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975).
Richard Forster (Winterthur, Switzerland) asks whether the exact history of Capablanca’s ‘lectures’ book, published in English in the 1960s, can be pieced together.
From our 1989 monograph on Capablanca, a photograph taken during his last stay in Cuba, 1941:
The present general article on Capablanca complements the following more specific feature articles, and very little material from them has been duplicated here:
Capablanca: How I Learned to Play Chess
Capablanca’s Education in the United States
The Capablanca-Pokorny Fiasco
The Capablanca v Price/Baca-Arús Mystery
Capablanca on San Sebastián, 1912
Capablanca in London, 1913
Capablanca v Kalantarov
An Alleged Alekhine v Capablanca Position
Capablanca v Thomas, Hastings, 1919
Capablanca in the English Review
Capablanca on his Predecessors
Steinitz Stuck and Capa Caught
Capablanca v Fonaroff
How Capablanca Became World Champion
Lasker on the 1921 World Championship Match
Capablanca’s Reply to Lasker
A Pawn Ending Mystery
Capablanca on London, 1922
Morrison v Capablanca, London, 1922
The London Rules
A Chess-Billiards Concoction
Reminiscences by Capablanca
Capablanca in New York World (1925)
Capablanca on Moscow, 1925
Capablanca v Alekhine, 1927
A Fake Chess Photograph
Kevitz v Capablanca, New York, 1931
A Lecture by Capablanca (1932)
Capablanca v Steiner (Living Chess)
Photographs of Capablanca
Capablanca v Fine: A Missed Win
Capablanca Interviewed in 1939
Capablanca on Maróczy
The Genius and the Princess
Гений и княгиня
Capablanca’s Simultaneous Displays
Harry Golombek’s Book on Capablanca
Books about Capablanca and Alekhine
Capablanca Goes Algebraic
Capablanca Book Destroyed
See too the list in Articles about José Raúl Capablanca.
Most photographs of Capablanca giving exhibitions are not in the present article but in Capablanca’s Simultaneous Displays.
Other relevant feature articles:
Immortal but Unknown
The Mysterious Frederick D. Rosebault
Chess and Time
The Marshall Gambit
Chess Variants and Rule Changes
Ortueta v Sanz
Memory Feats of Chess Masters
Chess as Front-Page News
Retirement from Chess
A Chess-Billiards Concoction
Graves of Chess Masters
Chess Cartoons by Tom Webster
Chess:the Need for Sources
Muddled Chess Epigrams
Lord Dunsany and Chess
Chess and Poetry
CHESS, June 1942, page 131
To the Chess Notes main page.
To the Archives for other feature articles.
Copyright: Edward Winter. All rights reserved.