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Jose Raul Capablanca
Number of games in database: 1,152
Years covered: 1893 to 1941

Overall record: +375 -46 =265 (74.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 466 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (147) 
    C66 C78 C62 C84 C83
 Orthodox Defense (79) 
    D63 D51 D52 D50 D67
 Queen's Gambit Declined (66) 
    D30 D37 D31 D38 D06
 Queen's Pawn Game (49) 
    D02 D00 D05 D04 A46
 French Defense (46) 
    C12 C01 C11 C14 C10
 Four Knights (35) 
    C49 C48
With the Black pieces:
 Orthodox Defense (53) 
    D63 D67 D53 D51 D64
 Ruy Lopez (52) 
    C72 C66 C77 C68 C71
 Queen's Pawn Game (39) 
    A46 D00 D02 D05 E10
 French Defense (19) 
    C01 C12 C15 C00 C09
 Nimzo Indian (19) 
    E24 E34 E40 E37 E23
 Caro-Kann (19) 
    B13 B18 B15 B12 B10
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
   Capablanca vs M Fonaroff, 1918 1-0
   Lasker vs Capablanca, 1921 0-1
   Capablanca vs K Treybal, 1929 1-0
   Capablanca vs J Corzo, 1901 1-0
   Janowski vs Capablanca, 1916 0-1
   Marshall vs Capablanca, 1909 0-1

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)
   Rice Memorial (1916)
   New York (1918)
   New York Masters (1915)
   Hastings (1919)
   London (1922)
   Budapest (1929)
   New York (1927)
   Havana (1913)
   New York Masters (1911)
   St. Petersburg (1914)
   New York (1924)
   Karlsbad (1929)
   Moscow (1925)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Capablanca! by chocobonbon
   Capa.blanca by fredthebear
   Match Capablanca! by amadeus
   Capablanca plays the world... (II) by MissScarlett
   Capablanca plays the world....(I) by MissScarlett
   Jose Raul Capablanca's Best Games by KingG
   Immortal Games of Capablanca, F. Reinfeld by mjk
   Immortal Games of Capablanca, F. Reinfeld by demirchess
   Delicatessen by Gottschalk
   Veliki majstori saha 12 CAPABLANCA (Petrovic) by Chessdreamer
   capablanca best games by brager
   Capablanca´s Official Games (1901-1939) Part I by capablancakarpov
   World Champion - Capablanca (I.Linder/V.Linder) by Qindarka
   Capablanca plays the world... (III) by MissScarlett

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

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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 47; games 1-25 of 1,152  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. R Iglesias vs Capablanca 0-1381893Odds game000 Chess variants
2. Capablanca vs E Delmonte 1-0181901Match-seriesB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
3. Leon Paredes vs Capablanca 0-1451901Match-seriesC44 King's Pawn Game
4. Capablanca vs E Corzo 1-0351901Match-seriesC67 Ruy Lopez
5. J Corzo vs Capablanca 1-0411901Havana casualB01 Scandinavian
6. Capablanca vs A Fiol  ½-½491901Match-seriesC45 Scotch Game
7. A Gavilan vs Capablanca 0-1391901Match-seriesC45 Scotch Game
8. A Ettlinger vs Capablanca 0-1531901Havana casualC45 Scotch Game
9. Capablanca vs M Marceau 1-0311901Match-seriesC45 Scotch Game
10. M M Sterling vs Capablanca ½-½501901HavanaC77 Ruy Lopez
11. Capablanca vs J A Blanco 1-0491901Match-seriesC45 Scotch Game
12. E Delmonte vs Capablanca 0-1321901Match-seriesD00 Queen's Pawn Game
13. Capablanca vs Leon Paredes 1-0291901Match-seriesC02 French, Advance
14. E Corzo vs Capablanca  1-0321901Match-seriesC11 French
15. Capablanca vs J Corzo 0-1601901Havana casualC45 Scotch Game
16. A Fiol vs Capablanca 0-1361901Habana (Cuba)C55 Two Knights Defense
17. Capablanca vs A Gavilan 1-0771901Match-seriesC01 French, Exchange
18. Capablanca vs M M Sterling 1-0301901HavanaC01 French, Exchange
19. Capablanca vs E Corzo 0-1301901Havana casualC40 King's Knight Opening
20. Capablanca vs E Corzo 1-0421901Havana casualC40 King's Knight Opening
21. J A Blanco vs Capablanca 0-1771901Habana (Cuba)C55 Two Knights Defense
22. Capablanca vs C Echevarria 1-0491901Simul, 8bC44 King's Pawn Game
23. Capablanca vs J Corzo 0-1291901Capablanca - CorzoC45 Scotch Game
24. J Corzo vs Capablanca 1-0271901Capablanca - CorzoC52 Evans Gambit
25. Capablanca vs J Corzo ½-½611901Capablanca - CorzoA80 Dutch
 page 1 of 47; games 1-25 of 1,152  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
  MissScarlett: <To be submitted for the database.>

It's already there:

Shipley / Neill vs Capablanca, 1918

The <BDE> gives <B. M. Neil [sic]> so you might need to check your eyesight.

Note the full 53-move score (the BDE has 'after a few moves White resigned') is given in <The Unknown Capablanca>, with the date, 4th December, 1918. not your 7th.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: 158 losses in over 1000 games. Fabulous!
Mar-02-16  KnightVBishop: Capablanca vs Alekhine, 1927 depsite capablanca winning agianst alekhine in this game..

i dont get why at move 36 he played queen f4, why not knight d6 check and win black's queen?

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <KVB> 36...Rxe4 and Black wins a Queen first.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Rest in peace, Chess Machine!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <So is this December 8th display, which the paper has as +14 -0 =0, the one that Hooper & Brandreth give as +18 -0 =0, or is it new?>

Jose Raul Capablanca

The source for the 18 game version is likely Helms in the <BDE> for 23rd December, 1915, p.17, which reports the same scores for the three Chicago exhibitions as given in <TUC>. The site of said exhibition is the University club, which confirms that its the same display. As the <CT> provides the names of all fourteen opponents, I think it should get the nod.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <visayanbraindoctor>, I found that another Capablanca detractor is GM Daniel Gormally in “Would Carlsen have Beaten Capablanca?”

“But what about Capa? How would he compare strength-wise to the players of today? I think he would come off rather badly. The difference in terms of knowledge and understanding between the players of today and the players of the 1920s and 30s is enormous.

I know people who think Capablanca would struggle to break a 2500 rating if he came back today. I'm not sure if I completely agree with this, because Capablanca's raw chess talent is much higher than a 2500 player, but chess is also a game of information. It's difficult to see how Capablanca would have coped with the greater knowledge and sharp chess theory of today's chess elite.

Sure give him six months, and he might be able to bridge the gap, but it really is a huge leap. It's like trying to compare Jesse Owens to Usain bolt, he'd be left many yards behind.

Going back to Carlsen, I'm probably being somewhat inaccurate when I describe him as "lazy". He says himself that he just doesn't find openings that interesting, because they all start from the same position. What he is really attracted to is the struggle, which was exemplfied well in the following encounter.

[Carlsen vs Topalov, 2012

… “In many ways a very typical Carlsen game, even if allowing for some quite incredible mistakes at various points. He understands top-level chess isn't always about playing flawless chess, it's more about putting your opponent under enough pressure to force errors. What we can see in this game is how chess has evolved. Even though it wasn't a very theoretical game, Carlsen created enough confusion on the board to force mistakes from Topalov, in a manner very reminiscent of Tal.

Tal was the first player to come along and show that you could play these completely wild attacks in the middle-game, and even if they were basically unsound it didn't matter because 99 percent of the time your opponent wouldn't be able to find the refutation over the board. Even in the computer era, such an approach can work because players don't have reference to a computer during the game, and so are still forced to live on their own wits to a large extent.

Capablanca just wouldn't have been able to play like this because we didn't understand that you could play like this until players like Tal and Shirov came along.”

As usual, this ignores the razor-sharp quasi-computer–style calculative ability of Capablanca especially in his younger days. Given the way that Capa beat back ferocious attacks by Marshall, I could quite imagine him seeing the recommended defensive move 23... Re6! or the later 25... Bd3! and working out the key variations.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <TUC> lists a Capa simul (+25 -0 =0) played on July 1st 1913. I couldn't verify this, but from the <BDE> of July 1st:

<Although unsuccessful in his first attempt at the Rice Club, where the first prize in the rapid tournament was taken from him by Albert Marder, Jose R. Capablanca yesterday made full amends at the Manhattan Chess Club by making a brilliant record of 25 straight wins, without so much as a single loss or draw.">

This may mean that Hooper and Brandreth simply slipped up, and the simul took place on June 30 instead, but the context suggests Capablanca's clean-sweep involved rapid/skittles play.

Another possibility, that Capa scored 25-0-0 on consecutive days, in rapid, then the simul, is rendered even more unlikely when it's realised that the Rice CC Masters' tournament started on July 2nd: Game Collection: Rice CC Summer Masters Tourn. (New York 1913)

Therefore, it seems the most plausible explanation is that no such simul occurred, and it should be struck from the record.

But a curious postscript comes in the form of <The (New York) Sun> of July 20th, where a Capablanca simul at the Rice CC scheduled for that afternoon is announced. Playing a simul in the middle of an event is unusual but the 1913 Rice Masters was no ordinary event (see <PB>'s game collection), and Capa's prior and succeeding games took place on the 18th and 23rd, respetively. Assuming this simul went ahead, the score is apparently lost.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Chess Notes isn't much cop these days, but Winter occasionally takes a break from posting photos from his archive, and puts up something new: C.N. 10097 Submitted...
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati: <visayanbraindoctor>, I found that another Capablanca detractor is GM Daniel Gormally..

As usual, this ignores the razor-sharp quasi-computer–style calculative ability of Capablanca especially in his younger days. Given the way that Capa beat back ferocious attacks by Marshall, I could quite imagine him seeing the recommended defensive move 23... Re6! or the later 25... Bd3! and working out the key variations.>

Most unfortunate that these guys make degrading pronouncements without even giving any examples, Another case of narcissistic generation syndrome, of which Larsen and Watson are the two most prominent victims.

I agree with you that Capablanca had a style that is probably the closest a human could achieve to playing like a computer. I've made many comments to his games over the years:

J Corzo vs Capablanca, 1901

Above is the best tactical game I have seen a 12 to 13 year old play in a serious classical game.

Capablanca vs J Corzo, 1901

What really boggled my mind was that this 12 to 13 yo produced this masterpiece super GM game playing less than a minute per move. I wouldn't have believed it if the times were not recorded.

<Note game 11, Capablanca – Corzo (0:42 – 1:35), this game.

This 12 to 13 year old played a kind of game that even a super GM would be proud of; and more than that he sacked his Queen in a complicated middlegame and proceeded to play a freakishly precise 60 move ending, all in a freakishly unbelievable 42 minutes. That's less than a minute per move. How can any one play that well that fast? And this a mere kid?

Capablanca would be an unbeatable beast in the World Cup tiebreak quick games and the World Blitz championships.>

Capablanca vs R T Black, 1916

Above is a little known game. As I've noted in the game page, the young Capablanca was displaying what I would have considered inhuman abilities at computation in ultra sharp bizarre chaotic positions.

Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1927

Another little known game. My notes in the page are self explanatory.

Capablanca vs Dus Chotimirsky, 1913

Dus Chotimirsky vs Capablanca, 1925

Capa's two masterpieces against Dus Chotimirsky. The second is my all time favorite positional sacrifice game.

Capablanca vs Janowski, 1911

After playing inaccurately, Capablanca suddenly begins playing like a computer, and turns a lost game into a win.

Marshall vs Capablanca, 1909

Marshall vs Capablanca, 1909

Capablanca vs Marshall, 1927

Capablanca vs Marshall, 1909

In the above games with Marshall, Capablanca makes befuddling moves that apparently anticipate bushels of positions that would occur at least 5 moves later. It's nearly unbelievable. My first impression was: Did this guy have a computer in his head? See my notes in the games.

Capablanca vs Euwe, 1931

Even in his waning years, Capa on occasions still displayed fantastic calculative abilities in defensive tactically complex positions.

I hope I shall never see what I regard as ignorant comments that propagate the myth that Capablanca was 'weak' or purely a 'positional' specialist. If he had been born in the 1990s, playing him at his prime nowadays would resemble playing against a computer. He would also be the only player in history that I believe would have a more than 50% chance of winning a World Cup format.

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  MissScarlett: <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).>

Relying on Bill Wall can seriously damage your bio.

<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.>

Bill Wall can't take all the blame.

< Capablanca still holds the record for the most games ever completed in simultaneous exhibitions, playing and completing 13545 games between 1901-1940.** >

I don't believe it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jambow: <As usual, this ignores the razor-sharp quasi-computer–style calculative ability of Capablanca especially in his younger days. Given the way that Capa beat back ferocious attacks by Marshall, I could quite imagine him seeing the recommended defensive move 23... Re6! or the later 25... Bd3! and working out the key variations.>


What stands out in Capablanca's play to me is that he almost always kept the game from becoming overly complex, when a player was able mix it up they had some success. Alekhine of course comes to mind, but since he avoided a rematch, we can only speculate.

Capa would reduce pressure by exchanging when ever it would allow a minute positional advantage. Carlsen tends to do this also. Both of them Capablanca and Carlsen are end game maestros. The prime difference between them is that Carlsen tends to muddy the water in the end game where as Capablanca would use clean technique and win that way.

The prime difference is that the end game today is understood by far many players at a deeper level so the former methods would be less effective at the very top I believe. Carlsen deserves credit for treading new ground where even the elite stumble.

That being said Capablanca would likely be a 2800 player, his innate talent along with modern resources could hardly yield another result imho. For Gormally to suggest otherwise appears to me at least to be self serving and slightly delusional.

Talent*effort*resources and the end product is the result. The latter has been the biggest variable, but if a player used the resources they had with great effect then, surely they would do more with more...

Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: I can't find the original source but I found this (maybe it's already mentioned in this thread):

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Therefore, it seems the most plausible explanation is that no such simul occurred, and it should be struck from the record.

But a curious postscript comes in the form of <The (New York) Sun> of July 20th, where a Capablanca simul at the Rice CC scheduled for that afternoon is announced. Playing a simul in the middle of an event is unusual but the 1913 Rice Masters was no ordinary event (see <PB>'s game collection), and Capa's prior and succeeding games took place on the 18th and 23rd, respetively. Assuming this simul went ahead, the score is apparently lost.>

The <New York Tribune> to the rescue...or is it?

New York Tribune, July 2nd, 1913:

<Jose R. Capablanca, of Havana, was in rare form when he made his first appearance since his return to tournament play at the rooms of the Manhattan Chess Club yesterday.

Altogether he played twenty-five games, winning them all. First he engaged in a "Marathon," and won seven straight, F. P. Beynon being placed second with 4 1/2 points. Next he engaged in four games with A. F. Kreymborg, all of which he won. The Cuban then wound up with a series of fourteen games against A. Pulvermacher, and, although he had some narrow escapes, he likewise won every one of them.>

Excellent, except the date is the 2nd of July....

I presume there must be a third source which Hooper & Brandreth relied on that i) left open the impression that a simul was played, and ii) that it occurred on July 1st.

New York Tribune, July 22nd, 1913:

<Chess players had a busy day on Sunday at the Rice Chess Club. [...] the Cuban champion, Capablanca, engaged in a simultaneous exhibition of play against twenty members and their friends [...] Capablanca made a score of eighteen victories and two drawn games [...]>

Notice a familiar problem? <The (New York) Sun> of Saturday, July 20th (see above) states the simul will be played that day, but the <Tribune> shifts it to the Sunday.

Disregarding the unlikely event that simuls were played on consecutive days, the reasonable assumption must be that the simul was held over to the Sunday.

So, to recap: I conclude that Capa's Manhattan CC skittles exhibition (+25) took place on June 30th, and his Rice Club simul exhibition (+18 =2) was on July 21st.

Alles klar?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Four Capablanca games here

I think we only ave the Rather game on CG.

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  MissScarlett: Leave it with me...these and other games are in Caparros, but he has the consultation games played on December 12th, but the <BDE> of December 10th says the date was scheduled for the 13th...

It's all happening!

Sep-29-16  todicav23: Capablanca on the cover of Time Magazine in 1925:

I guess that made him a celebrity at the time.

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  TheFocus: I bet <MissScarlett>'s Capablanca book is better than Winter's!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <It's like trying to compare Jesse Owens to Usain bolt, he'd be left many yards behind.>

Put a modern runner on a cinder track surface, take away the starting blocks and today running shoes, keep things clean of chemistry, and that modern sprinter will be hard pressed to defeat Jesse Owens. (How good was Owens? Some analyses I've seen put Owens and Bolt within a half a step, when corrected for conditions.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Adjusting for only the conditions you mentioned? Bolt would kill Owens. Modern training methods are a big part of it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <OhioChessFan: Adjusting for only the conditions you mentioned? Bolt would kill Owens. Modern training methods are a big part of it.>

Bolt at the top of his form would defeat <anyone> else, current or historic.

Just sayin'

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Agreed. Bolt is the best athlete in the world. Other sprinters with those conditions adjusted, might be interesting, although I doubt it.

As for how a Capa would do these days, I don't think he'd fare as well as Alekhine, whose work ethic would be rewarded by easy access to whatever he chose to work on. The hard part is we can take a stopwatch and compare runners across the ages and know the runners of today are faster. I don't know if that works in the world of the mind, and I don't think we can be dogmatic about it. I think though, the 3 great ones in history, Lasker, Capa, Alekhine, would be WC contenders today.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <OhioChessFan>: both Capa and Alekhine would benefit hugely from computers, but in different ways. Alekhine in the way you said, Capa because they would compensate for his natural laziness. The little work he did on chess would be far more efficient with computers than playing through games on a manual board. In his day, at least in his career after he won the world champs, he would sometimes start slowly with draws in a tourney so he could see what was happening in the latest theory, then have strong finishes (except for the exceptionally exhausting AVRO where players were in a different venue every game). Sometimes those draws would cost him first prize. <Visayanbraindoctor> has written more about greats of the past and computers.
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  visayanbraindoctor: <OhioChessFan: The hard part is we can take a stopwatch and compare runners across the ages and know the runners of today are faster. I don't know if that works in the world of the mind>

Interesting question. I believe that we can if we use computer analysis. We can 'ask' the computers how accurately the players are playing. They take the place of the stopwatch. As far as I know, nearly every computer study using various programs has always placed Capablanca at number one or two in terms of accuracy. Computers 'love' Capablanca's play. That's why I've said that if computers were self-aware, they would probably vote Capablanca as the best chess player humanity has ever produced.

Regarding the other topic on Physical compared to Mind prowess.

IMO improvement in 'physical' prowess, is mainly based on muscles and sports equipment and apparel.

So the same methods can't be done for the 'mind'.

Most people miss this out, but there is a big difference between improving muscles and the brain.

Muscles can hypertrophy. One can input in better ways to hypertrophy them, such as specialized gym equipment and exercises, and steroids.

On the other hand neurons do not hypertrophy.

Furthermore the 'hardwiring' of our nervous system mostly occurs when we were kids. Although we keep on learning throughout our lives, the last major upgrade was when the myelinization of our nerve fibers was completed when we were about 4 years old.

The above is the reason why I believe that if we are to produce an upgrade of the Capablanca type of chess genius (extremely rapid and accurate way of playing), we would have to start with kids 4 years old and below.

I've posted my speculations on this topic many scrolls above, years ago, if you would care to review them. (Mind you, they are merely speculations. I have trouble even defining what the mind and consciousness are.)

Oct-03-16  Everett: IMO, guys like Capablanca, Spassky and Karpov likely would not thrive with harder work. They had a different skill-set, and the demands of that skill-set to flourish was likely not the same as Kasparov, Botvinnik's and Fischer's.

There has been some intriguing research out there regarding the "minimum effective dose." It seems to me that the skill of determining what works best for the individual is the most important skill. The best of each era seemed to use the tools and resources around them more effectively that their contemporaries.

I agree with those who think Jose, Alex and Em would find good and proper use of the modern tools.

I also would agree with those who think a significant percentage of modern GMs would not be able to handle playing among the stresses and tragedies of two brutal world wars.

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