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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 1,154  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 1-0421901Havana casualC40 King's Knight Opening
20. Capablanca vs E Corzo 0-1301901Havana 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 1,154  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Capablanca wins | Capablanca loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 253 OF 257 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-20-17  RookFile: It sounds egotistical but with Capa it just happens to be the truth.
Apr-20-17  Petrosianic: Did Capapapablanca drink Manishevevivitz?
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <RookFile: It sounds egotistical but with Capa it just happens to be the truth.>

If one clicks on the tournaments and matches in my post above, Capablanca was achieving Kasparov-like results. True, it was against generally weaker opposition before 1919, but what's to guarantee that Kasparov himself would not occasionally draw or lose to a much weaker master even in his prime? We do know that many modern top ten masters that play in 'mixed' strength tournaments often get their ratings degraded by drawing or occasionally losing to the 'bunnies'.

Moreover, Capa's games in this period displayed an almost inhuman perfection, probably the closest a human being ever came to play like a computer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Capablanca is truly in the top-50 of all time

Thats an illustrious grouping that leaves him appropriately placed


Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: The vast majority of Capa's so called "achievements" can have an asterik * attached


For example, his so-called record of never losing a game for 10 years, or whatever the claim was; Well, for crying out loud, he only played 12 games per year during that time.

Sorry, that does not qualify as any kind of record. He played too few games


Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <morfishine: The vast majority of Capa's so called "achievements" can have an asterik * attached


For example, his so-called record of never losing a game for 10 years>

Unbeaten streak should not even be a criteria for greatness at all. Below is a previous post of mine.

<At the risk of offending kibitzers, I must say that <Unbeaten Streak in Chess without defeat in classical games === > is a false way to grade the greatness of a chess player. The clearest reason is that there must be scores, if not hundreds, of expert or national master level players with such scores, scattered throughout chess history, since classical time controls were invented in Steinitz's era. Many of them probably have not been documented properly, having been played in the pre-computer pen and paper eras.

Unfortunately, I have been seeing this 'unbeaten streak' criterion being repeated time and time again as though it were gold, thus achieving a kind of fake truth in many peoples' minds.

The better way is to analyze these games and see how many times the players fell into objectively lost positions, say a - 2 by all deep ply computer evaluations.

One can play a hundred games in local club tournaments and fall into lost positions a hundred times, yet avoid defeat in all of them just because one's opponents did not see the winning lines. Such an 'achievement' of a hundred game unbeaten streak does not necessarily indicate that one is a great chess player.>

What actually impresses me about Capablanca during the 1916 to 1924 era was that for 8 years, he arguably never got himself into a definitively lost position. That's altogether a different achievement than getting yourself into several lost positions, but avoiding a loss because your opponents did not see the winning lines.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <morfishine:> Capablanca is truly in the top-50 of all time.

Seriously, just top-50?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: Here's a little something from Capablanca's Chess Fundamentals:

White to play:

click for larger view

The point is that against 1.f6? black doesn't reply 1...gxf6?, which loses, but 1...Kg8!, which draws:

click for larger view

Now, if 2.f7+ Kf8 and white can't make progress. Anything else, 2...gxf6 3.Kxf6 Kf8 draws.

So, the solution is 1.Kd7! Kg8 2.Ke7 Kh8 3.f6 gxf6:

click for larger view

4.Kxf6 Kg8 5.g7 wins, but Capablanca gives the faster (and fancier) 4.Kf7 f5 5.g7+ Kh7 6.g8=Q+ Kh6 7.Qg6 mate, without even bothering to mention 4.Kxf6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Jonathan Sarfati: <morfishine:> Capablanca is truly in the top-50 of all time. Seriously, just top-50?> Capa had immense raw talent that enabled him to overtake the likes of a Lasker

But I think his lack of discipline, from the athlete's perspective, is what kept him from beating Alekhine. It takes more than just talent.

There are notable examples of GM's that reached the GM level through good old fashioned blue collared hard work. Lacking prodigal credentials, their final goal of GM was often achieved at the age of 25+ years. I applaud these players

These players offset a lack of tremendous talent with grit, persistence, patience, disciplined study and stubbornness to achieve their rightly title of GM.


Jul-15-17  WorstPlayerEver: Yeah Capa was something special. Caissa gives and takes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <morfishine:> You might want to check a few of the earlier pages on this thread, where <visayanbraindoctor:> and I discussed the real elephant in the room: Capablanca's extreme hypertension. It was so bad that today Capa would have been confined to hospita,l but in his day it caused problems with his chess, and sent him to an early grave.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Dear Master <Jonathan Sarfati> Thank you for the reference. I have followed this discussion pretty closely, usually not commenting.

Of course, we can try to make diagnosis for the past from today, but that all is mostly conjecture, no matter the credentials of the "expert". Perhaps it is the "elephant in the room", but I was raised to not make excuses; and certainly, Doctors, even then, had a pretty good handle on that condition

I fancy Capa ignored the Doctors and/or the symptoms and carried on as if nothing was amiss, drinking and smoking, only to suffer the ultimate consequence


Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <morfishine: certainly, Doctors, even then, had a pretty good handle on that condition>

I would like to correct this notion, no offense intended. How could doctors have a good handle on hypertension during that era when there were no good anti-hypertensive drugs back then? The management of hypertension back then consisted mainly of diet and change in lifestyle. That's good for many cases, but not in Capablanca's case of familial hypertension, eventually resulting in hypertensive crises and strokes. Say you consulted a doctor for a terrible headache and he found out that your BP was at 200 systolic. He could not have given you any drug for your hypertensive crisis at that era. All he could have done was to advise rest and change your diet.

You could well be right that Capa led a 'lax' life, which you seem to blame for his illness, but you should also consider that his HPN was most probably familial in nature, which means that he was going to get it whatever his lifestyle was sooner or later (although as you imply, it could have helped if he had led a more disciplined life).

In effect, during that era, familial hyertension was a progressive disease over which doctors had little control of, much like many chronic degenerative diseases today.

You don't have to believe my opinion above. You could do your own research on what anti-hypertensive drugs were available back then.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <morfishine:> "Capa … drinking and smoking" Where on earth do you get this idea? Capablanca was well known as a non-smoker and was hardly an excessive drinker. He wrote the following to his very young son to be read when an adult:

"If you can avoid it, never play cards, smoke or drink alcohol of any kind. These are bad habits which greatly shorten life and weaken men physically as well as intellectually and morally."

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  perfidious: In my life, I have managed to avoid two of the three vices named by Capablanca. (laughs)
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  Jonathan Sarfati: On this page is a letter from Capablanca's vascular specialist Dr A. Schwartzer to Capa's widow

All he could do was try to mitigate it with diet; the so-called Grenz rays would have made no difference. The diet brought down Capa's BP, but even that improvement was still hypertensive crisis level (180/130) and would require immediate hospitalization today.

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  visayanbraindoctor: <Page 301 of your book on Capablanca refers to his participation in the 1938 AVRO tournament:

“Olga Capablanca recalls that his high blood pressure nearly cost him his life. ‘A doctor screamed at me, “How could you let him play?”’”>

From the same link above

Capablanca complained of what many Neurologists and Neurosurgeons would write as 'changes in sensorium' in this tournament. IMO he was lucky he did not die of a stroke in AVRO 1938.

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  morfishine: <Jonathan Sarfati> I was actually curious myself and googled "Did Capablanca smoke tobacco" or something like that

and the response was he smoked cigars, probably very casually, with no mention of cigarettes. And I figured if he really did smoke cigars, they were the very best Cubans, and as you said, in moderation. So I have no doubt what you and <VBD> are saying, the point being, that even casual or moderate smoking would've been very detrimental to one afflicted with real hypertension. I agree whole heartedly with this line of thought

Thank you <VBD>


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  Jonathan Sarfati: <morfishine:> As far as I can see, only a novel "Havana Bay" by Martin Cruz Smith has a character claiming that Capablanca smoked Cuban cigars. Biographies, newspaper reports, and his own writings all agree that he was a non-smoker. Here is one chess history page:

"An article by Hans Kmoch and Fred Reinfeld on pages 136-137 of the May 1952 Chess Review blamed, or perhaps praised, tobacco shortages during the Second World War for accelerating the decrease in chessplaying smokers. It stated that at the world championship challengers’ tournament in Budapest in 1950 no smoker was among the participants (Boleslavsky, Bronstein, Flohr, Keres, Kotov, Lilienthal, Najdorf, Smyslov, Ståhlberg and Szabó).

Others mentioned in this category were Botvinnik, Euwe, Fine, Gligorić, Grünfeld, Pachman, Trifunović, Kostić, Mieses, Rubinstein, Tartakower, Capablanca, Maróczy, Nimzowitsch, Réti and Spielmann. Smokers named were Reshevsky, Vidmar, Bogoljubow, Alekhine, Colle, Janowsky, Lasker, Marshall, Pillsbury, Schlechter, Tarrasch and Teichmann."

I also know of no report of Capablanca ever drinking to excess.

Jul-26-17  Joshka: Any photos of Raul in baseball attire from his college days ?
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Here it is from <Chess Notes>.

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  Jonathan Sarfati: This paper backs up <visayanbraindoctor's> point that there were no drugs available to treat Capablanca's crisis-level hypertension—as it remained even after the best treatments available to his vascular specialist:

Mohammad G. Saklayen and Neeraj V. Deshpande, "Timeline of History of Hypertension Treatment", Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, 23 February 2016 | doi: 10.3389/fcvm.2016.00003:

"It is surprising that only about 50 years ago hypertension was considered an essential malady and not a treatable condition. Introduction of thiazide diuretics in late 50s made some headway in successful treatment of hypertension and ambitious multicenter VA co-operative study (phase 1 and 2) started in 1964 for diastolic hypertension ranging between 90 and 129 mmHg and completed by 1971 established for the first time that treating diastolic hypertension reduced CV events such as stroke and heart failure and improved mortality."

Aug-02-17  Joshka: <TheFocus> thanks for posting the pic!
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  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati> Thanks for the link.

From what I can glean, doctors even pre-WW2 already knew that hypertension was a predisposing factor for strokes, although extensive studies that supported this theory were conducted only after WW2.

From the paper in your link <while at Yalta, Winston Churchill’s personal physician noted in his diary that President Roosevelt “appeared to be have had signs of ‘hardening of the arteries disease’ and had a few months to live.” Subsequent events demonstrated the truth of his diagnosis. President Roosevelt ultimately had a fatal hemorrhagic stroke 2 months later>.

But then again, what could the doctors do after diagnosing hypertension, except maybe things like shouting uselessly out of frustration. <Olga Capablanca recalls that his high blood pressure nearly cost him his life. ‘A doctor screamed at me, “How could you let him play>.

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  Jonathan Sarfati: <visayanbraindoctor> This seems like medical incompetence even for the time:

"President Franklin D. Roosevelt was given a clean bill of health by his physician even when his BP was recorded as ~220/120."

Churchill's physician (Charles Wilson, 1st Baron Moran) and Capablanca's vascular specialist (Dr A. Schwartzer) knew the great danger of such high readings. But as you say, what could be done before antihypertensive drugs were available? FDR couldn't even go for gentle walks because he was crippled by polio.

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