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 Capablanca
 José Raúl Capablanca
Lasker vs Capablanca 1921
Havana

Jose Raul Capablanca was regarded as a chess prodigy,[1] yet his father wanted him to maintain the "even tenor of the average boy's way in his youth."[2] Capablanca moved to the USA in 1904 to complete his education. However, he left Columbia University in 1910 without a degree and pursued a career in chess.[3] His first international success was his clear win (+8 -1 =14) over the former world championship challenger in Capablanca-Marshall (1909). After that, he was considered a worthy contender for the title of world champion,[1] and reigning champion Emanuel Lasker commented "Capablanca has shown himself to be a great player."[4]

Capablanca's admirers had suggested a title challenge as early as 1908.[5] Even prior to his first European tournament, León Paredes had suggested to Lasker that he play a match with Capablanca,[6] but Lasker declined.[7] Capablanca himself remained cautious.[5] The hype surrounding Capablanca made Lasker admit that the subject got "on his nerves."[8] Capablanca made his international tournament debut at San Sebastian (1911). He unexpectedly won 1st prize, a result even he hadn't anticipated.[9] About seven months after this success, he challenged Lasker to a title match.[10]

Lasker published the proposed conditions,[11] but Capablanca replied in a private letter that they were unacceptable.[12] After Lasker had published a commentary on the conditions in the press,[13] Capablanca issued a statement to him asking "But why should he not play me on the same terms that he has granted to all other aspirants for his title?"[14] Lasker replied to Capablanca's first letter, complaining that the Cuban wanted to impose his own rules on him and called for Walter Penn Shipley to act as arbiter.[15] Both Amos Burn[16] and the British Chess Magazine[17] sided with Capablanca, since the proposed conditions were obviously in favor of Lasker. The world champion accused Capablanca of having "aimed a deliberate blow against my professional honor,"[18] and when Shipley did not side with him, Lasker broke off the negotiations.[19] Most people considered Lasker's treatment of Capablanca to be unjust.[20] The Cuban would later assess Lasker's chances in a title match in 1911 to "have been excellent."[21]

Akiba Rubinstein challenged Lasker for the title in August 1912 and after negotiations, the match was scheduled for the fall of 1914.[22] The outbreak of World War I led to the cancellation of the match. Capablanca suggested a world championship tournament[23] and hoped for a match in 1915.[24] During St. Petersburg (1914), won by Lasker ahead of his former challenger, Capablanca drew up a new set of rules for the world championship.[25]

After the war, Capablanca considered himself, Lasker and Rubinstein to be the strongest players.[25] Capablanca began negotiations with Lasker in January 1920,[26] and published My Chess Career to convince the public of his right to a challenge.[27] Yet Rubinstein still had a contract and felt left out. He proposed an official body to administer the world championship, and suggested a triangular tournament as a compromise to determine the champion. But Rubinstein had lost his basis of financial support in post-war Europe,[28] and Capablanca was left as Lasker's chief rival. Capablanca declared that, should he win the title, he would accept a challenge from Rubinstein.[25]

On January 23, 1920 Lasker and Capablanca agreed to a title match to begin no earlier than 1921.[26] In June, Lasker suddenly resigned, declaring Capablanca the new world champion.[29] The Cuban didn't want to become champion that way,[30] so he managed to convince Lasker to play a match. Lasker agreed, although he insisted on being regarded as the challenger.[31] The match was held in Havana from March 15 to April 27, 1921.[32] The winner would be the first to 8 points, draws not counting. If neither player reached that goal, the one with more points after 24 games would win. There would be five play days a week, with one session of play lasting 4 hours. The time limit was 15 moves per hour, and the referee was Alberto Ponce. Lasker would receive $11,000 and Capablanca $9,000 of the $20,000 purse. An additional $5,000 was donated after five games had been completed, with $3,000 going to the winner and $2,000 to the loser.[33] After his win in game 14, with the score now +4 -0 =10 in the Cuban's favor, Lasker gave up and Capablanca was declared the new world champion.[32]

FOR FURTHER READING:
How Capablanca Became World Champion, Edward Winter (2004)
Lasker on the 1921 World Championship Match, Edward Winter
Capablanca's Reply to Lasker, Edward Winter.

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314
Capablanca½½½½1½½½½11½½1
Lasker½½½½0½½½½00½½0

FINAL SCORE:  Capablanca 9;  Lasker 5
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Lasker-Capablanca 1921]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #10     Lasker vs Capablanca, 1921     0-1
    · Game #11     Capablanca vs Lasker, 1921     1-0
    · Game #5     Capablanca vs Lasker, 1921     1-0

FOOTNOTES

  1. Wiener Schachzeitung August 1909, pp.236-239. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  2. J R Capablanca, Munsey's Magazine October 1916, pp.94-96. In Edward G Winter, "Capablanca: a compendium of games, notes, articles, correspondence, illustrations and other rare materials on the Cuban chess genius José Raúl Capablanca, 1888-1942 (McFarland 1989), p.2
  3. Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), pp.10-12
  4. Emanuel Lasker, The Evening Post. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.17
  5. Edward Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.55
  6. L Paredes (President of the Havana Chess Club) Crónica de Ajedrez May 1911, p.12. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.33
  7. Emanuel Lasker, New York Evening Post 15 March 1911. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.33
  8. American Chess Bulletin April 1910, p.88. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.32
  9. Olga Capablanca, Chessworld May-June 1964, pp.20-37. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.32
  10. Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.56
  11. Emanuel Lasker, The Evening Post 22 November 1911. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), pp.56-57
  12. Winter, Capablanca (McFarland, 1989), pp.57-59
  13. Emanuel Lasker, The Evening Post. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), pp.59-61
  14. American Chess Bulletin February 1912, p.31. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), pp.61-62
  15. Emanuel Lasker, The Evening Post 20 January 1912. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.62
  16. A Burn, Liverpool Courier 19 January 1912, p.3. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.63
  17. British Chess Magazine, February 1912, pp.51-52. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.63
  18. Emanuel Lasker in a letter to Shipley, 20 February 1912. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.64
  19. Emanuel Lasker, The Evening Post 15 May 1912. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), pp.64-65
  20. Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.66
  21. J R Capablanca, The Windsor Magazine December 1922, pp.86-89. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), pp.4-8
  22. John Donaldson and Nikolay Minev, The Life & Games of Akiva Rubinstein - Volume 1: Uncrowned King, 2nd edition (Russell Enterprises 2006), pp.290-295
  23. American Chess Bulletin July 1912, p.147. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), pp.65-66
  24. Glasgow Weekly Herald, 10 October 1914. In Edward Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.83
  25. The Observer, 24 August 1919, p.9. In Winter, Capablanca" (McFarland 1989), pp.97-98
  26. American Chess Bulletin March 1920, pp.45-46. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), pp.108-109
  27. Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.105
  28. Donaldson and Minev, pp.370
  29. American Chess Bulletin July-August 1920, p.126. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.109
  30. British Chess Magazine October 1922, pp.376-380. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), pp.112-115
  31. American Chess Bulletin September-October 1920, p.141. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.110
  32. Edward Winter, How Capablanca Became World Champion 2004
  33. The World's Championship Chess Match Played at Havana between Jose Raul Capablanca and Dr. Emanuel Lasker 1921 (New York 1921), p.39. In Winter, Capablanca (McFarland 1989), p.111

 page 1 of 1; 14 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Capablanca vs Lasker ½-½50 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
2. Lasker vs Capablanca ½-½41 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Capablanca vs Lasker ½-½63 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchC66 Ruy Lopez
4. Lasker vs Capablanca ½-½30 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD61 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
5. Capablanca vs Lasker 1-046 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
6. Lasker vs Capablanca ½-½43 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchC66 Ruy Lopez
7. Capablanca vs Lasker ½-½23 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
8. Lasker vs Capablanca ½-½30 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD12 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
9. Capablanca vs Lasker ½-½21 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD33 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
10. Lasker vs Capablanca 0-168 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD61 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
11. Capablanca vs Lasker 1-048 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
12. Lasker vs Capablanca ½-½31 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchC66 Ruy Lopez
13. Capablanca vs Lasker ½-½23 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
14. Lasker vs Capablanca 0-156 1921 Lasker - Capablanca World Championship MatchC66 Ruy Lopez
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Vladimir Kramnik gave a very insightful interview about his predecessors as World Champion in http://www.kramnik.com/eng/intervie... Among other things he said:

In 1921 Capablanca defeated Lasker. By the way, Lasker was not playing badly in that match; he retained great practical strength. In my opinion, this was the first match for the World Championship title where both opponents were very strong. Capablanca was younger, more active and a bit stronger. In the last game Lasker made a terrible blunder. However, the previous games saw an even and fascinating fight.

In the other matches where Lasker played we see either a good beating or a lot of flaws, as happened in his encounter against Schlechter. As for the Capablanca-Lasker match, there were few mistakes and the games were a real fight.

Jun-21-12  King Death: <Jonathan Sarfati> "Very insightful" understates what Kramnik had to say, anybody could learn from this and other interviews with Kramnik that I've read.
Jun-22-12  Lambda: <I find this very interesting because I am inclined to think that the period 1914 to 1924 (from St. Petersburg 1914 to New York 1924) was Lasker's highest performance plateau (ignoring chessmetrics and its tendency to penalize inactivity), and the period when he played the best chess of his life.

Most people would not consider this period as Lasker's best for one single reason- he lost his title to Capablanca within this period. But what if we imagine Capablanca never existed and Lasker never played the 1921 match?>

Well, if Lasker did start playing better than ever around 1914, the most likely reason would be the arrival of Capablanca, making it necessary for the first time. Sort of like (although not the same as) Karpov performing most strongly after he lost the title to Kasparov.

Jun-22-12  Petrosianic: <The result was +5 =5 -0 IIRC>

No, that's Capablanca and Kostic's lifetime record with each other. The result of the match was +5-0=0, and outside of the match they played +0=0-5.

Jun-22-12  Petrosianic: <In my opinion, this was the first match for the World Championship title where both opponents were very strong.>

I'd give that honor to Lasker-Schlechter. Maybe even Lasker-Tarrasch, despite the lopsided score.

<or a lot of flaws, as happened in his encounter against Schlechter>

I've seen computer analyses of that match that showed it comparing very favorably with modern encounters.

Sep-13-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: ChessMetrics is most interesting, but there are some dubious things there. For instance, it counts a Lasker match with Chigorin in 1903 where Lasker lost 3.5-2.5. But this should not be counted, because Lasker had to play the unsound Rice Gambit with white every time. http://www.geocities.com/SiliconVal...
Sep-13-12  Petrosianic: That's true, "Theme Tournaments" and matches should not be rated because they frequently involve some kind of handicap. Nobody in 1903 had any thought that Tchigorin had proven any kind of real superiority over Lasker, including Tchigorin himself. The point of the match was solely to test the Rice Gambit.
Sep-13-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Lasker also lost a Rice Gambit match against Schlechter.

These two games are from a 3 game match between Lasker and Finn. The third game was a draw.

<Em Lasker - Finn, New York 1907 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 Nbd7 11.d4 Nh5 12.Bb5 Kd8 13.Bxd7 Bxd7 14.Rxe5 Qxh4 15.Rxh5 Qxh5 16.Bxf4 Re8 17.Bg3 Qxd5 18.Qf1 Qe4 19.Na3 Qe3+ 20.Bf2 Qe2 21.Bh4+ Kc8 22.Qxf7 Qxb2 23.Re1 Rxe1+ 24.Bxe1 b6 25.Qe7 Qc1 26.Nc4 Kb7 (26...Qb1) 27.Nd6+ Ka6 28.Qe2+ b5 29.Ne4 Bc6 30.a4 Qb1 31.axb5+ Bxb5 32.Nc5+ Kb6 33.Qe6+ c6 34.Qe7 Rb8 35.Kh2 Qg6 36.Nd7+ (36...Kb7 37.Nf8+) 1-0.

Em Lasker - Finn, New York 1907 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 Nbd7 11.d4 Nh5 12.Bb5 Kd8 13.Bxd7 Bxd7 14.Rxe5 Qxh4 15.Rxh5 Qxh5 16.Bxf4 Re8 17.Bg3 Qxd5 18.Qf1 Qe4 19.Na3 Qe3+ 20.Bf2 Qe2 21.Bh4+ Kc8 22.Qxf7 Qxb2 23.Re1 Rxe1+ 24.Bxe1 b6 25.Qd5 Rb8 26.Nc4 Qe2 27.Bg3 Qe6 0-1.>

Wall didn't mention that Lasker also wrote a book on the Rice Gambit. I own a copy.

Dec-03-12  Conrad93: So Lasker just gave his title away?
Apr-01-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: It has been most recently revealed that Lasker and Capablanca had played a world championship in 1914. Evidence about the forgotten Match can be found here: http://www.chessbase.de/Home/TabId/...

Note: Due to copyright restraints by Lasker (and his heirs) the games couldn't be published until now.

Jul-24-13  Chessman1504: Certainly one of the best matches.
Jul-24-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Unless one were Dr Lasker.
Jul-30-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <whiteshark>

Good Heavens I almost had a heart attack until I noticed the date of your post.

April Fools Day!

Nov-21-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: I'm sure all the spectators were mocking both of them after the first 4 draws.
Nov-22-13  Petrosianic: And I'm sure that you're wrong. If you actually play over those first 4, rather than just looking at the result, you'll see that they were all real games.
Dec-14-13  YvccChamp: World Champion Lasker was a very clever man! However, He avoided The great Rubinstein; who happened to be the be the best player in the world from 1909 through 1914! I think that it was only in 1914 that Capa was in his prime and still in his ascendacy! I think that in fact Capablanca was the best player in the world in spite of not having the "title" throughout the next 22 years from 1914! Capablanca did the honorable thing and defended against the deserving Alekhine in 1927 which was very different from the lack of honesty Lasker displayed in 1909, 1911, and 1914 before World War I broke out. I'm not impressed by the 27 years Lasker held the title, avoiding Rubinstein and Capablanca, for the likes of Frank James Marshall; and neither am I impressed with Alexander Alekhine's record in avoiding Capablanca in 1929 and 1934 for the likes of Efim D Bogolyubov! Finally when Alekhine decided that he would let Capablanca just "age" and played Dr. Euwe, he lost to a better man. When Alekhine died in 1946, Capa had died 4 years earlier, and the new boys- Botvinik, Reshevsky, Keres,Fine,and Euwe- had all been made to wait, in spite of opportunity to have a match prior to the outbreak of World War II. In summary, Lasker and Alekhine treated the title as their own personal property, instead of following the example of Wilhelm Steinitz and Capablanca who took on all worthy opponets!
Dec-14-13  RedShield: <World Champion Lasker was a very clever man! He avoided The great Rubinstein>
Mar-02-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karpova: Dr. Lasker (Berlin, September 14, 1911) reported that Capablanca, after having returned from Buenos Aires, brings the news that the Chess Club there would like to arrange a World Championship match between him and Capablanca in the next year. But Lasker assesses the chances as being low, as there were too many difficulties for such an event. Especially a match in a Spanish-speaking country would mean that the audience would cheer for Capablanca, so the advantage of choosing the playing venue would be on the challenger's, not the title holder's side. This would certainly be strong favouritism for a just 23-year old, young man, of whom the World knows the good sides, but finally does not know him good enough yet.

The original:

<Inzwischen ist Capablanca von Buenos Aires zurückgekehrt und bringt von dort die Nachricht, daß der Klub im nächsten Jahre ein Match um die Weltmeisterschaft arrangieren möchte zwischen dem jungen Kubaner und mir. Vermutlich wird nichts daraus werden, denn der Schwierigkeiten, die sich einem solchen Unternehmen entgegenstellen, sind zu viele. Findet der Kampf in einem Spanisch sprechenden Teile der Erde statt, so würden nationale Sympathien aufs kräftigste für Capablanca sein. Der die Weltmeisterschaft Begehrende hätte also in diesem Falle den Vorteil der Wahl der Umgebung des Kampfes, nicht der den Titel Haltende. Das wäre zweifellos eine starke Begünstigung für einen erst dreiundzwanzigjährigen jungen Mann, den die Welt zwar schon von guten Seiten, aber schließlich doch noch nicht genau genug kennt.>

Source: 'Pester Lloyd', 1911.09.17, page 10

Mar-02-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  devere: <YvccChamp: World Champion Lasker was a very clever man! However, He avoided The great Rubinstein>

The Lasker vs Rubinstein match was scheduled for October 1914, and was cancelled due to the outbreak of World War 1. Lasker was a citizen of Germany, and Rubinstein of Russia, and the two nations were at war. It is really not fair to blame Lasker for this. After the war Rubinstein could no longer raise the money to challenge either Lasker or Capablanca.

Mar-02-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Quote from <Championship Chess>, p 45 by Philip W Sergeant:

<After winning at Breslau (18th DSB Kongress (1912)) Rubinstein went to Berlin in the hope of arranging a match with Lasker, and negotiations only proceeded slowly on account of the necessity of finding sufficient financial backing. Rubinstein was unfortunately not a man with the commanding personality that compels others to support with their money his efforts to secure his due. Nevertheless, it was at last agreed that a match of 20 games should be contested early in 1914, which it was left for various clubs for Germany, Poland, and Russia proper to finance.>

Mar-05-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karpova: This world championship match has a new intro.
Mar-05-14  beatgiant: <YvccChamp>,<devere> <After the war Rubinstein could no longer raise the money to challenge either Lasker or Capablanca.>

Which was the exact same reason Capablanca was not able to challenge Alekhine. So I find it hard to agree that Capablanca was more open to challenges from worthy opponents than Alekhine was.

Mar-05-14  RedShield: <Which was the exact same reason Capablanca was not able to challenge Alekhine>

Which war?

Mar-05-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <RedShield: <Which was the exact same reason Capablanca was not able to challenge Alekhine>

Which war?>

the other one.

Mar-05-14  beatgiant: <RedShield>
OK, it was not the <exact> same reason - in fact Capablanca had it easier than Rubinstein did.
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