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MATCH STANDINGS
Capablanca - Marshall Match

Jose Raul Capablanca15/23(+8 -1 =14)[games]
Frank James Marshall8/23(+1 -8 =14)[games]

Chessgames.com Chess Event Description
Capablanca - Marshall (1909)

Capablanca = 1 = = 1 1 0 1 = = 1 1 1 = = = = = = = = = 1 15 Marshall = 0 = = 0 0 1 0 = = 0 0 0 = = = = = = = = = 0 8

Games 1-5 were played in New York (until Tuesday, April 27th); game 6 in Morristown, NJ; game 7 in Scranton, PA; game 8 in Wilkes-Barre, PA; and games 9-23 in New York resumed on Saturday, May 8. The match started on Monday, April 19th and finished by late June.

"No difficulty was experienced in arranging the match. Marshall was disposed to play in this case where he naturally discounted his victory. How far he was wrong the result proved. I beat him eight to one with fourteen draws thrown in between. I can safely say that no player ever performed such a feat, as it was my first encounter against a master, and such a master, one of the first ten in the whole world. The most surprising feature of all was the fact that I played without ever having opened a book to study the openings; in fact, had Marshall played such things as Danish Gambits, Vienna Openings, or the like, the result might have been different. I certainly should have experienced more difficulty in obtaining such a result. I had only looked an analysis of the Ruy Lopez by Lasker, on the 3...f5 defense, but the analysis was wrong, as it did not give the strongest continuation for Black. This, and whatever I knew from experience or hearsay, was all of my stock of knowledge for the match. My victory put me at once in the foremost rank among the great masters of the game. The play during the match showed that I was weak in the openings and just strong enough in the simple play for position. My great strength lay in the endgame, and I also excelled in combinations of the middlegame. I had a fine judgment as to whether a given position was won or lost, and was able to defend a difficult position as few players could, as I repeatedly demonstrated during the course of the match, in repulsing Marshall's onslaughts. I may add that my style was not as yet either definite or complete, though it had a wide range, that is, I could attack almost as well as I could defend, and could make combinations in the middlegame nearly as well as play the endings where I felt more at home and was decidedly strongest" - Capablanca in My Chess Career.

At the time this match was sanctioned by the New York State Chess Association as being for the U.S. Championship. Since the death of U.S. Champion Harry Nelson Pillsbury in 1906, many had assumed that Marshall, due to his great tournament successes, should be the player to inherit his crown. This match was intended as a title defense for Marshall, but after losing this match, Marshall declared that Capablanca, a citizen of Cuba, could not be U.S. Champion, as he was not a U.S. citizen. Cuba was at this time an American possession.

Due to Marshall's protests, the chess community turned to lawyer Walter Penn Shipley to settle the dispute. Shipley ruled that neither Marshall nor Capablanca was the U.S. Champion, and that upon Pillsbury's death, the title had reverted to the last living person to hold it, the retired Jackson Whipps Showalter.

"If there is any chess champion of the United States, Jackson W. Showalter, of Kentucky, is the holder of the title. Since he won it, he has never declined a challenge, and until he does so, neither Marshall, nor Capablanca, nor any other player has a valid claim to the title. It is self-evident that no one who is neither a native or naturalized citizen of the United States can be considered." - Chess Weekly, 1909. Shipley further concluded that Capablanca could not become U.S. Champion without becoming a U.S. Citizen. At this time, the New York State Chess Association withdrew their support from Capablanca's claim, effectively stripping him of the title.

Prior to leaving for Havana for a six week trip, Capablanca was reported as intending to apply for U.S. citizenship once he became eligible. After his return to the US, Capablanca made a public statement with a somewhat modified position, (quoted here from the American Chess Bulletin:

"Since my return to this country, a few days ago, I have been asked several times concerning my attitude with respect to the United States championship and my citizenship. In reply I wish to make known my attitude in this respect. I am the undisputed champion of Cuba, and last spring I beat Marshall by the score of 8 to 1. Mr. Marshall has the greatest reputation and the best score in tournaments of any living chess player in the U.S.A., and is therefore considered everywhere as the strongest representative of the United States.

By my victory over Marshall, I have taken his position as the strongest representative on this side of the Atlantic. Therefore, I consider myself the 'champion of America,' and stand ready to defend my title within a year against any American of the U.S.A. or anywhere else, for a side bet of at least $1000, United States currency. Under these circumstances the question whether I am a citizen of the U.S.A. or not has nothing to do with the matter under consideration."

American Chess Bulletin's interpretation of this statement was that Capablanca was claiming to be the strongest player in the Western Hemisphere, not the U.S. champion.

Marshall challenged and beat Showalter for the U.S. title, in a match held later in 1909: Marshall - Showalter US Championship (1909).

Marshall showed no animosity against Capablanca over this affair, and even endorsed his entry into the San Sebastian (1911) tournament, even though Capablanca did not meet the qualifications for entry.

Based on an original collection by User: TheFocus.

 page 1 of 1; 23 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Marshall vs Capablanca ½-½301909Capablanca - MarshallD33 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
2. Capablanca vs Marshall 1-0321909Capablanca - MarshallC63 Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense
3. Marshall vs Capablanca ½-½361909Capablanca - MarshallD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
4. Capablanca vs Marshall ½-½191909Capablanca - MarshallC66 Ruy Lopez
5. Marshall vs Capablanca 0-1521909Capablanca - MarshallD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Capablanca vs Marshall 1-0391909Capablanca - MarshallC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
7. Marshall vs Capablanca 1-0251909Capablanca - MarshallD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Capablanca vs Marshall 1-0311909Capablanca - MarshallC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
9. Marshall vs Capablanca ½-½671909Capablanca - MarshallD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Capablanca vs Marshall ½-½491909Capablanca - MarshallC63 Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense
11. Marshall vs Capablanca 0-1431909Capablanca - MarshallD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Capablanca vs Marshall 1-0551909Capablanca - MarshallC63 Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense
13. Marshall vs Capablanca 0-1491909Capablanca - MarshallD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. Capablanca vs Marshall ½-½311909Capablanca - MarshallC74 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense
15. Marshall vs Capablanca ½-½311909Capablanca - MarshallD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
16. Capablanca vs Marshall ½-½561909Capablanca - MarshallC49 Four Knights
17. Marshall vs Capablanca ½-½451909Capablanca - MarshallC49 Four Knights
18. Capablanca vs Marshall ½-½241909Capablanca - MarshallC49 Four Knights
19. Marshall vs Capablanca ½-½151909Capablanca - MarshallD00 Queen's Pawn Game
20. Capablanca vs Marshall ½-½251909Capablanca - MarshallC42 Petrov Defense
21. Marshall vs Capablanca ½-½391909Capablanca - MarshallD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. Capablanca vs Marshall ½-½261909Capablanca - MarshallC42 Petrov Defense
23. Marshall vs Capablanca 0-1491909Capablanca - MarshallD33 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
 page 1 of 1; 23 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-16-13  Caissanist: It has always seemed to me that Marshall and Capablanca had a quid pro quo arrangment of some kind after Capablanca won this match. Perhaps Capablanca agreed not to pursue the US championship title, and in return Marshall committed to helping Capablanca get an invitation to a top European tournament. Marshall's lobbying campaign to get Capablanca invited to the 1911 San Sebastian tournament was rather unusual, and I have to think he had motives other than simple altruism.
Feb-16-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Well, Capa was not interested in the U.S. title, but the world title.
Feb-24-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: Capablanca's response, quoted above from the <American Chess Bulletin> is spot on. Instead of arguing over whether he was or not U.S. champion, he set himself higher as the champion of the Americas (or the Western Hemisphere). Clever resolution to a dispute that would otherwise be a petty one for the future world champion.
Jul-01-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: It makes sense. Marshall knew that if it came to another match against Capa he would almost certainly lose, but this way he could obtain and keep his US championship. Capa wanted to go ahead with his plans towards the ultimate goal of the WChampionship. San Sebastian was a logical and necessary step for him. But what neither one of them dreamed was that Capa would actually win San Sebastian...
Aug-27-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Capablanca comes out of this very well. He was initially led to believe that the match was "for the U.S. Championship". It would not seem to matter that he was a Cuban because "Cuba was at this time an American possession".

When a row starts he states, very diplomatically, that he is instead "Champion of the Americas" in the continental sense, and that seems to calm everyone down.

Within two years he would begin his long search for a match with Dr Lasker!

Mar-02-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: This match was played at 8 venues, as far as I can make out.

The Brooklyn Chess Club hosted only games 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20 and every one of them was drawn.

Game 19 was drawn in 15 moves!

Apr-25-17  sudoplatov: Actually, Cuba was independent since 1902. During the Spanish-American War, the US declared that Cuba would become independent after the war (it took about 4 years; probably to sign all the forms).

I assume that Marshall and Capablanca were friends until death; probably as there were few others in the Western Hemisphere who could talk chess to them.

Jun-16-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: The match moved around perhaps even more than the intro indicates.

The first three games, beginning at 2pm, began in the large banquet room of the Ansonia, 2nd floor Broadway & 73rd.

Then the first two of a series of five at Manhattan Chess Club, etc.

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