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Jose Raul Capablanca
Number of games in database: 1,061
Years covered: 1893 to 1941
Overall record: +367 -45 =263 (73.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      386 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (135) 
    C66 C78 C62 C64 C88
 Orthodox Defense (76) 
    D63 D51 D52 D50 D64
 Queen's Gambit Declined (59) 
    D30 D31 D37 D38
 Queen's Pawn Game (44) 
    D02 D00 D05 D04 A50
 French Defense (41) 
    C12 C01 C11 C14 C10
 Four Knights (33) 
    C49 C48 C47
With the Black pieces:
 Orthodox Defense (54) 
    D67 D53 D64 D63 D51
 Ruy Lopez (47) 
    C66 C77 C72 C68 C73
 Queen's Pawn Game (38) 
    A46 D02 D00 D05 E10
 Nimzo Indian (19) 
    E24 E34 E23 E40 E37
 Queen's Indian (18) 
    E16 E12 E15 E18
 French Defense (17) 
    C01 C12 C15 C05 C00
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Capablanca vs Tartakower, 1924 1-0
   Capablanca vs Marshall, 1918 1-0
   O Bernstein vs Capablanca, 1914 0-1
   Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1927 0-1
   Lasker vs Capablanca, 1921 0-1
   Capablanca vs K Treybal, 1929 1-0
   Capablanca vs M Fonaroff, 1918 1-0
   Capablanca vs J Corzo, 1901 1-0
   Capablanca vs NN, 1918 1-0
   Capablanca vs Spielmann, 1927 1-0

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   Lasker - Capablanca World Championship Match (1921)
   Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship Match (1927)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Capablanca - Marshall (1909)
   American National (1913)
   New York (1918)
   Rice Memorial (1916)
   New York Masters (1915)
   Hastings (1919)
   London (1922)
   New York (1927)
   Moscow (1936)
   Havana (1913)
   New York Masters (1911)
   St Petersburg (1914)
   New York (1924)
   Karlsbad (1929)
   Moscow (1925)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Capablanca! by chocobonbon
   Match Capablanca! by amadeus
   Jose Raul Capablanca's Best Games by KingG
   Capablanca plays the world... (II) by MissScarlett
   Capablanca plays the world.... by MissScarlett
   Delicatessen by Gottschalk
   World Champion Nr. 03: Capablanca by Olanovich
   "The Immortal Games of Capablanca" by Reinfeld by mjk
   capablanca best games by brager
   Capablanca´s Official Games (1901-1939) Part I by capablancakarpov
   Capa, Rubinstein & Schlecter Games by fredthebear
   Capablanca plays the world... (III) by MissScarlett
   Capablanca's Best Chess Endings by refutor
   Capablanca's Best Chess Endings (Irving Chernev) by nightgaunts

   Lasker vs Capablanca, 1921
   Capablanca vs Lasker, 1921
   Lasker vs Schlechter, 1910
   Capablanca vs Lasker, 1921
   Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1913

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Jose Raul Capablanca
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(born Nov-19-1888, died Mar-08-1942, 53 years old) Cuba

[what is this?]
José Raúl Capablanca y Graupera was the third World Champion, reigning from 1921 until 1927. Renowned for the simplicity of his play, his legendary endgame prowess, accuracy, and the speed of his play, he earned the nickname of the "Human Chess Machine".


Capablanca, the second son of a Spanish Army officer, was born in Havana. He learned to play at an early age by watching his father and defeated Cuban Champion Juan Corzo in an informal match in 1901 by 6.5-5.5 (+4 −3 =5), turning 13 years of age during the match. Despite this and despite taking 4th place in the first Cuban Championship in 1902, he did not focus on chess until 1908 when he left Columbia University where he had enrolled to study chemical engineering and play baseball. He did, however, join the Manhattan Chess Club in 1905, soon establishing his dominance in rapid chess. He won a rapid chess tournament in 1906 ahead of the World Champion Emanuel Lasker, and played many informal games against him. Within a year or two of dropping out of university and after playing simultaneous exhibitions in dozens of US cities, winning over 95% of his games, Capablanca had established himself as one of the top players in the world, especially after the Capablanca - Marshall (1909) New York match exhibition win 15-8 (+8 -1 =14).


Capablanca won the 1910 New York State Championship by defeating co-leader Charles Jaffe in a tiebreaker match. In 1911, he placed second in the National Tournament in New York, with 9½ out of 12, half a point behind Marshall, and half a point ahead of Jaffe and Oscar Chajes. There followed Capablanca’s ground breaking win at San Sebastian (1911) with 9.5/14 (+6 -1 =7), ahead of Akiba Rubinstein and Milan Vidmar on 9, Marshall on 8.5, and other luminaries such as Carl Schlechter , Siegbert Tarrasch and Ossip Bernstein. Before the tournament, Aron Nimzowitsch protested the unknown Capablanca’s involvement in the event, but the latter demonstrated his credentials by defeating Nimzowitsch in in their game. Winning at San Sebastian was only the second time a player had won a major tournament at his first attempt since Harry Nelson Pillsbury ’s triumph at Hastings in 1895, and it provided a powerful boost to his credibility to challenge for the world title. He did so, but the match did not take place for another 10 years.

In early 1913, Capablanca won a tournament in New York with 11/13 (+10 -1 =2), half a point ahead of Marshall. Capablanca then finished second with 10/14 (+8 -2 =4), a half point behind Marshall in Havana, losing one of their individual games, rumour having it that he asked the mayor to clear the room so that no-one would see him resign. Returning to New York, Capablanca won all thirteen games at the New York tournament of 1913, played at the Rice Chess Club. 1914 saw the <"tournament of champions"> played at St. Petersburg. Capablanca, with 13/18 (+10 -2 =6), came second behind Lasker and well ahead of Alexander Alekhine on 10, Tarrasch on 8.5 and Marshall on 8.

After the outbreak of World War I, Capablanca stayed in New York and won tournaments held there in 1915 (13/14 (+12 -0 =2)), 1916 (14/17 (+12 -1 =4)) and 1918 (10.5/12 (+9 =3)). During the New York 1918 tournament, Marshall played his prepared Marshall Attack of the Ruy Lopez* against Capablanca, but Capablanca worked his way through the complications and won. Soon after the war, Capablanca crossed the Atlantic to decisively win the Hastings Victory tournament 1919 with 10.5/11, a point ahead of Borislav Kostic.

Capablanca did not play another tournament until 1922, the year after he won the title from Lasker. During his reign, he won London 1922 with 13/15 (no losses), 1.5 points ahead of Alekhine; placed second behind Lasker at New York 1924 (suffering his first loss in eight years – to Richard Reti – since his 1916 lost to Oscar Chajes); placed 3rd at Moscow in 1925 behind Efim Bogoljubov and Lasker respectively with +9 =9 -2; won at Lake Hopatcong (New York) 1926 with 6/8 (+4 =4), a point ahead of Abraham Kupchik; and won at New York in 1927 with 14/20 (+10 -1 =9), 2.5 points clear of Alekhine, his last tournament before his title match with Alekhine. During the latter tournament, Capablanca, Alekhine, Rudolf Spielmann, Milan Vidmar, Nimzowitsch and Marshall played a quadruple round robin, wherein Capablanca finished undefeated, winning the mini-matches with each of his rivals, 2½ points ahead of second-placed Alekhine, and won the "best game" prize for a win over Spielmann. This result, plus the fact that Alekhine had never defeated him in a game, made him a strong favourite to retain his title in the upcoming match against Alekhine. However, Alekhine's superior preparation prevailed against Capablanca's native talent.

After losing the title, Capablanca settled in Paris and engaged in a flurry of tournament competition aimed at improving his chances for a rematch with Alekhine. However the latter dodged him, refusing to finalise negotiations for a rematch, boycotting events that included Capablanca, and insisting that Capablanca not be invited to tournaments in which he participated. In 1928, Capablanca won at Budapest with 7/9 (+5 =4), a point ahead of Marshall, and at Berlin with 8.5/12 (+5 =7), 1.5 points ahead of Nimzowitsch; he also came second at Bad Kissingen with 7/11 (+4 -1 =6), after Bogoljubov. In 1929, Capablanca won at Ramsgate with 5.5/7 (+4 =3) ahead of Vera Menchik and Rubinstein, at Budapest with 10.5/13 (+8 =5), and at Barcelona with 13.5/14, two points clear of Savielly Tartakower; he also came equal second with Spielmann and behind Nimzowitsch at Carlsbad with 14.5/21 (+10 -2 =9). He won at the 1929-30 Hastings tournament and came second at Hastings in 1930-31, behind Max Euwe, his only loss being to Mir Sultan Khan. Several months later he won New York for the last time, this time with a score of 10/11 (+9 =2) ahead of Isaac Kashdan.

Perhaps discouraged by his inability to secure a rematch with Alekhine, there followed a hiatus for over three years before he reentered the fray with a fourth placing at Hastings in 1934-35 with 5.5/9 (+4 -2 =3), behind Sir George Alan Thomas, Euwe and Salomon Flohr but ahead of Mikhail Botvinnik and Andre Lilienthal. In 1935, he secured 4th place in Moscow with 12/19 (+7 -2 =10), a point behind Botvinnik and Flohr, and a half point behind the evergreen Lasker. Also in 1935, he came second at Margate with 7/9 (+6 -1 =2), half a point behind Samuel Reshevsky. 1936 was a very successful year, coming 2nd at Margate with 7/9 (+5 =4), a half point behind Flohr, but then he moved up a gear to take Moscow with 13/18 (+8 =10), a point ahead of Botvinnik who in turn was 2.5 points ahead of Flohr, and then came =1st with Botvinnik at the famous Nottingham tournament, with 10/14 (+7 -1 =6) ahead of Euwe, Reuben Fine and Reshevsky on 9.5, and Flohr and Lasker on 8.5. These latter two results were the only tournaments in which he finished ahead of Lasker, which enhanced his chances of challenging for the title, but a challenge to World Champion Euwe was out of the question until after the Euwe - Alekhine World Championship Rematch (1937) , which was won by Alekhine. In 1937, Capablanca came =3rd with Reshevsky at Semmering with 7.5/14 (+2 -1 =11) behind Paul Keres and Fine and in 1938 he won the Paris tournament with 8/10 (+6 =4) ahead of Nicolas Rossolimo. The worst result of his career occurred at the AVRO tournament which was played in several cities in the Netherlands in 1938, placing 7th out of 8 players with 6/14 (+2 -4 =8), the only time he ever had a negative score in a tournament. His health in this tournament was fragile as he had suffered severe hypertension, which affected his concentration towards the end of his games; he may have also suffered a slight stroke halfway through the tournament. Traveling between the numerous cities in which the tournament was played was also hard on the ageing master. In 1939 he played his last tournament at Margate, placing =2nd with Flohr on 6.5/9 (+4 =5) a point behind Keres. Shortly afterwards, he finished his playing career – albeit unknowingly - in a blaze of glory by winning gold with +7 =9 on board one for Cuba at the 8th Olympiad in Buenos Aires.


In addition to the informal match against Corzo in 1901 and the exhibition match against Marshall in 1909 (see above), Capablanca played a three game match against Charles Jaffe in New York in 1912, winning two and drawing one, and won the first game of a match against Chajes before the latter withdrew from the match. In 1914, he defeated Ossip Bernstein 1.5-0.5, Tartakower by 1.5-0.5 and Andre Aurbach by 2-0. On his way to the 1914 tournament in St Petersburg, he played two-game matches against Richard Teichmann and Jacques Mieses in Berlin, winning all his games. Once he reached Saint Petersburg, he played similar matches against Alexander Alekhine, Eugene Aleksandrovich Znosko-Borovsky and Fyodor Ivanovich Dus Chotimirsky, losing one game to Znosko-Borovsky and winning the rest. In 1919, Capablanca accepted a challenge to a match from Borislav Kostić who had come second at New York in 1918 without dropping a game. The match was to go to the first player to win eight games, but Kostić resigned the match, played in Havana, after losing five straight games. In late 1931, just before his temporary retirement from top level chess, Capablanca also won a match (+2 −0 =8) against Euwe.

World Championship

Capablanca’s win at San Sebastian in 1911 provided the results and the impetus for Capablanca to negotiate with Lasker for a title match, but some of Lasker’s conditions were unacceptable to Capablanca, especially one requiring the challenger to win by two points to take the title, while the advent of World War I delayed the match. In 1920, Lasker and Capablanca agreed to play the title match in 1921, but a few months later, former was ready to surrender the title without a contest, saying, "You have earned the title not by the formality of a challenge, but by your brilliant mastery." A significant stake ($25,000, $13,000 guaranteed to Lasker) was raised that induced Lasker to play in Havana where Capablanca won the Lasker - Capablanca World Championship Match (1921) - without losing a game - after Lasker resigned from the match when trailing by 4 games, the first time a World Champion had lost his title without winning a game until the victory by Vladimir Kramnik in the Kasparov - Kramnik World Championship Match (2000). From 1921 to 1923, Alekhine, Rubinstein and Nimzowitsch all challenged Capablanca, but only Alekhine could raise the money stipulated in the so-called “London Rules”, which these players had signed in 1921. A group of Argentinean businessmen, backed by a guarantee from the president of Argentina, promised the funds for a World Championship match between Capablanca and Alekhine, and once the deadline for Nimzowitsch to lodge a deposit for a title match had passed, the title match was agreed to, beginning in September 1927. Capablanca lost the Capablanca - Alekhine World Championship Match (1927) at Buenos Aires in 1927 by +3 -6 =25 in the longest title match ever, until it was surpassed by the legendary Karpov - Kasparov World Championship Match (1984). The match lasted over ten weeks, taking place behind closed doors, thus precluding spectators and photographers. All but two of the 34 games opened with the Queen's Gambit Declined. Before Capablanca and Alekhine left Buenos Aires after the match, they agreed in principle to stage a rematch, with Alekhine essentially sticking with the conditions initially imposed by Capablanca. Despite on-again off-again negotiations over the next 13 years, the rematch never materialised, with Alekhine playing two title matches each against Bogolyubov and Euwe in the subsequent decade. While Capablanca and Alekhine were both representing their countries at the Buenos Aires Olympiad in 1939, an attempt was made by Augusto de Muro, the President of the Argentine Chess Federation, to arrange a World Championship match between the two. Alekhine declined, saying he was obliged to be available to defend his adopted homeland, France, as World War II had just broken out. A couple of days prior to this, Capablanca had declined to play when his Cuban team played France, headed by Alekhine, in the Olympiad.

Simultaneous exhibitions

Capablanca’s legendary speed of play lent itself to the rigours of simultaneous play, and he achieved great success in his exhibitions. From December 1908 through February 1909, Capablanca toured the USA and in 10 exhibitions he won 168 games in a row before losing a game in Minneapolis; his final tally for that tour was 734 games, winning 96.7% (+703 =19 -12). In March and April 1911, Capablanca toured Europe for the first time, giving exhibitions in France and Germany scoring +234=33-19. Once completed, he proceeded to San Sebastian and his historic victory before again touring Europe via its cities of Rotterdam, Leiden, Middelburg, The Hague, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Berlin, Breslau, Allenstein, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Stuttgart, Mannheim, Frankfurt, Paris, London and Birmingham at the end of which his tally was +532=66-54. After he received his job as a roving ambassador-at-large from the Cuban Foreign Office, Capablanca played a series of simuls in London, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Riga, Moscow, Kiev, and Vienna on his way to St Petersburg in 1914, tallying +769=91-86. In 1922, Capablanca gave a simultaneous exhibition in Cleveland against 103 opponents, the largest in history up to that time, winning 102 and drawing one – setting a record for the best winning percentage ever – 99.5% - in a large simultaneous exhibition. In 1925 Capablanca gave a simultaneous exhibition in Leningrad and won every game but one, a loss against 12 year old Mikhail Botvinnik, whom he predicted would one day be champion. Capablanca still holds the record for the most games ever completed in simultaneous exhibitions, playing and completing 13545 games between 1901-1940.**

Legacy, testimonials and life

Soon after gaining the title, Capablanca married Gloria Simoni Betancourt in Havana. They had a son, José Raúl Jr., in 1923 and a daughter, Gloria, in 1925. His father died in 1923 and mother in 1926. In 1937 he divorced Gloria and in 1938 married Olga Chagodayev, a Russian princess.

Capablanca's famous “invincible” streak extended from February 10, 1916, when he lost to Oscar Chajes in the New York 1916 tournament, to March 21, 1924, when he lost to Richard Réti in the New York International tournament. During this time he played 63 games, winning 40 and drawing 23, including his successful title match against Lasker. Between 1914 and his World Championship match against Alekhine, Capablanca had only lost four games of the 158 match and tournament games he had played. In match, team match, and tournament play from 1909 to 1939 he scored +318=249-34. Only Spielmann held his own (+2 −2 =8) against Capablanca, apart from Keres who had a narrow plus score against him (+1 −0 =5) due to his win at the AVRO 1938 tournament, during which the ailing Capablanca turned 50, while Keres was 22.

Capablanca played himself in Chess Fever, a short film shot by V. Pudovkin at the 1925 Moscow tournament. The film can be seen at

On 7 March 1942, Capablanca collapsed at the Manhattan Chess Club and he was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he died the next morning from "a cerebral haemorrhage provoked by hypertension". Emanuel Lasker had died in the same hospital the year before. Capablanca's body was given a public funeral in Havana's Colón Cemetery a week later, with President Batista taking personal charge of the funeral arrangements.

Capablanca proposed a new chess variant, played on a 10x10 board or a 10x8 board. He introduced two new pieces. The chancellor had the combined moves of a rook and knight (the piece could move like a rook or a knight). The other piece was the archbishop that had the combined moves of a bishop and knight.

Capablanca‘s style also heavily influenced the styles of later World Champions Botvinnik, Robert James Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. Botvinnik observed that Alekhine had received much schooling from Capablanca in positional play, before their fight for the world title made them bitter enemies. While not a theoretician as such, he wrote several books including A Primer of Chess, Chess Fundamentals and My Chess Career.

Alekhine: <…Capablanca was snatched from the chess world much too soon. With his death, we have lost a very great chess genius whose like we shall never see again.>

Lasker: <I have known many chess players, but only one chess genius: Capablanca.>


Capablanca occasionally played consultation on the team consisting of Reti / Capablanca.


Bill Wall's Chess Master Profiles -; Edward Winter's article A Question of Credibiity:; Chess Corner's article on Capablanca: and <kingcrusher>'s online article at A list of books about Capablanca can be found at

* Ruy Lopez, Marshall (C89) **

Wikipedia article: José Raúl Capablanca

 page 1 of 43; games 1-25 of 1,061  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. R Iglesias vs Capablanca 0-138 1893 Odds game000 Chess variants
2. J Corzo vs Capablanca 1-041 1901 Havana casualB01 Scandinavian
3. J Corzo vs Capablanca 1-027 1901 Capablanca - CorzoC52 Evans Gambit
4. J Corzo vs Capablanca 0-168 1901 Capablanca - CorzoC49 Four Knights
5. Capablanca vs J Corzo ½-½28 1901 Capablanca - CorzoA83 Dutch, Staunton Gambit
6. A Ettlinger vs Capablanca 0-153 1901 Havana casualC45 Scotch Game
7. J Corzo vs Capablanca ½-½41 1901 Capablanca - CorzoC42 Petrov Defense
8. Capablanca vs J Corzo 0-146 1901 Capablanca - CorzoA80 Dutch
9. Capablanca vs J Corzo 1-060 1901 Capablanca - CorzoD02 Queen's Pawn Game
10. J Corzo vs Capablanca 0-126 1901 Capablanca - CorzoC25 Vienna
11. Capablanca vs J Corzo 0-129 1901 Capablanca - CorzoC47 Four Knights
12. Capablanca vs M Sterling 1-030 1901 HavanaC01 French, Exchange
13. J Corzo vs Capablanca ½-½40 1901 Capablanca - CorzoC67 Ruy Lopez
14. Capablanca vs J Corzo 0-160 1901 Havana casualC45 Scotch Game
15. Capablanca vs E Corzo 0-130 1901 Havana casualC40 King's Knight Opening
16. J A Blanco vs Capablanca 0-177 1901 Habana (Cuba)C55 Two Knights Defense
17. J Corzo vs Capablanca ½-½20 1901 Capablanca - CorzoC25 Vienna
18. Capablanca vs J Corzo ½-½61 1901 Capablanca - CorzoA80 Dutch
19. M Sterling vs Capablanca ½-½50 1901 HavanaC77 Ruy Lopez
20. A Fiol vs Capablanca 0-136 1901 Habana (Cuba)C55 Two Knights Defense
21. Capablanca vs E Corzo 1-042 1901 Havana casualC40 King's Knight Opening
22. Capablanca vs J Corzo ½-½49 1901 Capablanca - CorzoD00 Queen's Pawn Game
23. Capablanca vs J Corzo 1-059 1901 Capablanca - CorzoA83 Dutch, Staunton Gambit
24. E Corzo vs Capablanca 0-137 1902 Havana,C39 King's Gambit Accepted
25. Capablanca vs E Corzo 1-033 1902 Cuba-chC60 Ruy Lopez
 page 1 of 43; games 1-25 of 1,061  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Capablanca wins | Capablanca loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: <No one player is greater than all the rest: All GM's reside at the highest level of human comprehension>

Thought the sixties were gone.But no.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <MissScarlett> <Caparros has two games that Capa played at a Memphis simul in 1915 (no date given, but such a simul occurred on March 29th). His opponents were <Elihue Hill> and <Eddy Levy>. Does Caparros disclose his source?>

Those games are not in my 1991edition of Caparros.

He lists his sources in general terms, such as "Memphis local newspapers" or "Philadelphia newspapers".

Winter would not approve!

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Those games are not in my 1991edition of Caparros.>

Does anyone have the 1994 edition?

<Winter would not approve!>

Winter's <107 Great Chess Battles, 1939-1945> doesn't include any sources. When did Edward find religion?

I found this blog feature on Capa in Memphis that gives five games, all of which are given by Caparros. I suppose it's too much to hope that someone has a copy of <A History of Tennessee Chess>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <MissScarlett> <Winter's <107 Great Chess Battles, 1939-1945> doesn't include any sources. When did Edward find religion?>

I always found it interesting that in Winter's book <World Chess Champions>, one of the chapters is by Raymond Keene.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: I was going to mention that very book. What are its sources like?

I believe Keene has said he had only minimal contact with Winter in that respect, none of it personal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <visayan....This <opening theory generational leveling phenomenon> would have allowed Capablanca, AAA, and any other pre WW2 master to quickly learn whatever new variations were in vogue. I find the speculation that they would no be able to comprehend the newer openings utterly ridiculous.>

Given Larsen's views on the matter, as expressed in an interview with Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander, wonder what he would make of this if he were still with us, or whether his opinions changed after 1972.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Fishy>, most would not agree with that. His calculative skill helped him a lot in this department.

This was one of his best Lasker vs Capablanca, 1921 Kramnik had a high opinions of the games in that match

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Capa's widow Olga wrote "The doctors said a last-hope operation was to be performed on him," and that she should wait outside. Perhaps <visayanbraindoctor> has an idea what might have been tried here? From
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Jonathan: <Fishy>, most would not agree with that. His calculative skill helped him a lot in this department.>

I, for one, certainly do not.

An undoubtedly contributing factor to Marshall's skill in the ending, as you have discussed elsewhere--which runs counter to the stereotype of many that he was no more than a cavalier, sans peur et sans reproche--Capa was quite strong in calculation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati: Capa's widow Olga wrote "The doctors said a last-hope operation was to be performed on him," and that she should wait outside.>

If they told her to wait outside, they must have been planning a quick operation, probably a tube ventriculostomy, in order to evacuate the CSF and intraventricular hemorrhage. You can see my typical operating time for this procedure in my forum; it's usually less than half an hour skin to skin, and the relatives can actually wait outside the OR without getting bored. (See the December 19 entry for example.)

The doctors must have determined that Capablanca had intraventriculat hemorrhage when they did a lumbar tap, and it turned up bloody CSF. So they thought of evacuating it.

With the amount of blood and the damage described in the autopsy report, it would not have helped.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Fishy: well it is hard to tell for Capa cause he seemed to be winning going into every ending that I ever played over :)>

I have read Fischer saying exactly what you have said.

Perhaps Capa's secret was his unsurpassed mastery of the middlegame to endgame transition. He could judge a potential endgame if it were to his advantage and steer a middlegame into it, without his opponent becoming aware of it. By the time they did, Capa had gotten them into a lost endgame.

The most stunning example of this skill IMO is demonstrated in

Capablanca vs Tartakower, 1924

See my notes dated Jan-11-12. I believe that Capablanca had already judged the resulting endgame as favorable for him way back in the middlegame when he moved 23. h4, allowing Tartakover to liquidate into an endgame which Tartakover must have thought to be good for him.

In Capablanca vs B Kostic, 1919, it's possible that Capa had already foreseen he had good winning chances in the ensuing BP + RP endgame, one of the most difficult theoretically drawn endgames to play. At any rate, he got into this endgame by going for a position where he had very good winning chances, and then played it nearly perfectly. This at a time when theory for this endgame was still not developed. Yet (as in the openings above) Capa seemed to know exactly what to do. If that's not innate endgame skill, I don't know what is.

In Duras vs Capablanca, 1913, Capa knew that the key to holding the theoretical draw was to place a pawn on your KR4 square. Since at this point in time, theory for this was not well developed, Duras did not know this. Yet Capa amazingly enough knew, as his moves 38.. h5 and 39.. h4, clearly indicate. Humanly speaking, there does not seem to be a way to improve on his play.

For the difficult Queen endgames, you could take a look at J Bernstein vs Capablanca, 1915 and Lisitsin vs Capablanca, 1935, and my notes in Karjakin vs Anand, 2010. Capablanca knew the essence of Queen endgames is to create a passed pawn, play actively, and avoid perpetuals, and demonstrated these rules perfectly.

There are many other examples of Capa playing amazing endgames, and there have been books written on them.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <visayan> Another I saw in my early playing days was featured in the outstanding book by Keres and Kotov, <The Art of the Middle Game> and is a fine example of Capablanca's skill in defence of a difficult position:

Rubinstein vs Capablanca, 1914

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <perfidious> I will take a closer look at that game. Thanks.

<Given Larsen's views on the matter, as expressed in an interview with Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander, wonder what he would make of this if he were still with us, or whether his opinions changed after 1972.>

Larsen IMO was a victim of the 'narcissistic generation syndrome'. Same as Watson, and his followers here in CG. People who have been infected by this attitude see everything in the here and now as better than in the past just because it's in the here and now. That's not necessarily true.

I have commented before that Larsen of all people should have thought twice before saying such a thing, given his own personal record against two of the greats who honed their skills pre WW2 and during WW2.

First agasint Botvinnik:

After a decade and a half of trying to beat a Botvinnik on the decline, Larsen finally won two games in 1970, the year Botvinnik retired.

Against the archaic Keres, Larsen never won a game.

Note that most of the games he played against these old masters were played when they were way past their peaks, and Larsen was on his own peak in the 1960s and early 70s. Yet they were still good enough to beat him. I think at their peaks (1938 to 1943 for Keres and 1941 to 1948 for Botvinnik IMO), they would have beaten Larsen even more resoundingly.

The interviewer should have asked Larsen 'What would Botvinnik and Keres have to say about your opinion, given that they are essentially 1930s masters whose careers crossed into the 1970s, and you could hardly beat them in their old age?" And then before Larsen can answer, reveal that Botvinnik and Keres were in the next room listening to him say that they are obsolete, and then invite them in to hear Larsen's reply. He would have to answer then in front of two of the greatest of the 1930s generation. I would have loved to see what reply Larsen would have to stutter out.

The only reason IMO why Larsen would say such an illogical thing to say about Botvinnik's and Keres' generation is because he was so infected with the 'narcissistic generation syndrome', that he could not even recall his own games against them or that they are in fact 1930s masters who happened to continue playing post WW2.

Jan-05-16  capanegra: The legendary 8th Chess Olympiad held in Buenos Aires was Capa's swan song. Although the Cuban team didn't go well in the finals (#11 in 15), he obtained gold medal for best individual performance in first board (8.5/11: 77.3%). His individual scores were:

Vladas Jonovich Mikenas (Lithuania): 1

Karel Opocensky (Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia): 1

Theo Daniel van Scheltinga (Netherlands): 1

Octavio Figueira Trompowsky de Almeida (Brazil): 1

Moshe Czerniak (Palestine): 1

Jens Enevoldsen (Denmark): 1

Vladimir Petrov (Latvia): 0.5

Paul Keres (Estonia): 0.5

Rodrigo Flores Alvarez (Chile): 0.5

Savielly Tartakower (Poland): 0.5

Gideon Stahlberg (Sweden): 0.5

He didn't play against Germany, Argentina and France (in the last case I believe due to his refusal to confront Alekhine).

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <capanegra> <he obtained gold medal for best individual performance in first board (8.5/11: 77.3%)>

Although Alekhine did better overall, they only counted the final and not the preliminaries. Alekhine should have been awarded the Gold Medal. The only time in the Olympic's history the individual prizes were awarded ignoring preliminary record.

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  Jonathan Sarfati: Thanks <visayanbraindoctor>. Could there have been any chance of survival if they had not done that contraindicated lumbar tap?
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati: Could there have been any chance of survival if they had not done that contraindicated lumbar tap?>

Unfortunately no. From the autopsy report, I can deduce that Capablanca incurred a thalamic hemorrhage of approximately 60cc, which AFAIK is invariably fatal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati> If anything had to be done, it should have been done before he got to that point. In that era without effective anti hypertensive drugs, there ws essentially nothing that could be done when Capa got into a hypertensive crisis.

Nowadays, if a patient comes to the hospital with a BP of more than 180, most internists would probably give IV anti hypertensives in order to quickly lower to BP, such as Nicardipine IV drip or a hydralazine IV dose. (In the public hospital where I frequently manage patients without an internist, I sometimes do so post-op. I tend to avoid this pre-op because rapidly lowering the BP in a patient with a space occupying lesion might cause an infarct.) The patient is then placed on oral hypertensives, and these are maintained after discharge as take home meds. He would then be advised to follow up in the OPD where his BP would be checked regularly, and his drug dosage increased or decreased accordingly, or even shifted to another drug. He would be advised a strict diet.

During Capablanca's time, a diet could be recommended and from historical accounts apparently were. However, a diet would not bring down a BP of more than 180 in just a few days. You need drugs for that. These drugs did not exist during Capablanca's time. Really tough luck for Capa, and for the chess world bereft of many more games that he could have played if he never had to suffer from familial hypertension.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <maxi: I would like to thank <visayanbraindoctor> and <Jonathan Sarfati> for their fascinating contributions to Capablanca's page.>

Thank you also; you have great posts too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati: Players with long careers can help us make comparisons across generations. Lasker, Botvinnik, Keres, and Korchnoi qualify. E.g. Botvinnik was already a top player when he was out-analysed, by his own admission, by the past-his-best hypertensive Capablanca, yet Botvinnik beat Spassky when Botvinnik was in his 50s and Spassky was first challenging for the world title. Later, Spassky still managed a level score with Kasparov. I think if Botvinnik were alive today, he would laugh uproariously at Watson's claim in "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy" that the best players of old were weaker and more dogmatic than the best players today.>

Regarding this post, Alekhine also qualifies. He seems to have played the most varied of opponents. I will post in his page.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <visayanbraindoctor>, thanks, I went to the Alekhine page to check it out. I continue to wonder if Watson and his followers have even played through many of the classics by the older greats.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: "A rapid transit tourney at the Manhattan Chess Club, late in December, attracted thirty-two competitors, including Dr. Lasker and Jose R. Capablanca. In the semi-finals Lasker and Capablanca won from their respective opponents, H. Davidson and E. Delmar. In the last game, watched by a large crowd of members and visitors, Capablanca, who is noted for his quick insight into a position, succeeded in worsting the champion in brilliant style. The time limit was twenty seconds to a move," - <American Chess Bulletin>, February 1907, pg. 35.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: "At the Manhattan Chess Club, on November 11, Capablanca took a hand in a rapid transit tournament in which Janowski, Kupchik and other strong players participated, winning first prize with a score of 6.5 out of a possible 7. The drawn game was with Kupchik, and his last encounter was with Janowski, who played a Queen Pawn's game and lost in sixty moves. Janowski, with 5 to 2, won the second prize; Kupchik, 4.5 to 2.5; and L.B. Meyer, 3.5 to 3.5, the fourth," - <American Chess Bulletin>, January 1917, pg. 6.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: After a long absence from the U.S.:

"Capablanca took part in his first rapid transit tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club on May 11, when he made a clean score against Janowski, Chajes, Kupchik, Meyer and Raubitschek. Kupchik, who lost only to the Cuban and drew with Janowski, won the second prize. Janowski, Meyer and Raubitschek came next with two points each, and Chajes, with a draw against Janowski, brought up the rear" - <American Chess Bulletin>, May-June 1918, pg. 108.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: "Six experts engaged in a rapid transit tournament, in which Janowski, after defeating Black, Kostich and Chajes and drawing with Raubitschek, worsted Capablanca in the final round and carried off first prize with a total of 4.5. Capablanca won in successon from Raubitschek, Black, Kostich and Chajes and obtained second prize. Kostich, with 2.5 points, won the third prize," - <American Chess Bulletin>, December 1918, pg. 254.
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