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Jose Raul Capablanca
Capablanca 
 
Number of games in database: 1,119
Years covered: 1893 to 1941

Overall record: +376 -46 =264 (74.1%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 433 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

MOST PLAYED OPENINGS
With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (142) 
    C66 C78 C62 C88 C83
 Orthodox Defense (76) 
    D63 D51 D52 D50 D64
 Queen's Gambit Declined (65) 
    D30 D31 D37 D38 D06
 French Defense (46) 
    C12 C01 C11 C14 C10
 Queen's Pawn Game (45) 
    D02 D00 D05 D04 A50
 Four Knights (35) 
    C49 C48 C47
With the Black pieces:
 Orthodox Defense (54) 
    D67 D53 D64 D63 D51
 Ruy Lopez (51) 
    C66 C77 C72 C68 C71
 Queen's Pawn Game (39) 
    A46 D00 D02 D05 E10
 Nimzo Indian (19) 
    E24 E34 E40 E37 E23
 French Defense (18) 
    C01 C12 C15 C05 C10
 Queen's Indian (18) 
    E16 E12 E18 E15
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
   Capablanca vs K Treybal, 1929 1-0
   Lasker vs Capablanca, 1921 0-1
   Capablanca vs J Corzo, 1901 1-0
   Capablanca vs NN, 1918 1-0
   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)
   New York Masters (1915)
   New York (1918)
   Rice Memorial (1916)
   Hastings (1919)
   London (1922)
   Budapest (1929)
   New York (1927)
   Moscow (1936)
   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
   Jose Raul Capablanca's Best Games by KingG
   Capablanca plays the world... (II) by MissScarlett
   Capablanca plays the world....(I) by MissScarlett
   Immortal Games of Capablanca, F. Reinfeld by mjk
   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
   Carl Schlechter and Akiba Rubinstein Games by fredthebear

GAMES ANNOTATED BY CAPABLANCA: [what is this?]
   Lasker vs Capablanca, 1921
   Capablanca vs Lasker, 1921
   Lasker vs Schlechter, 1910
   Capablanca vs Lasker, 1921
   Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1913
   >> 27 GAMES ANNOTATED BY CAPABLANCA


Search Sacrifice Explorer for Jose Raul Capablanca
Search Google for Jose Raul Capablanca


JOSE RAUL CAPABLANCA
(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".

Background

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).

Tournaments

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.

Matches

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 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0015673/, a short film shot by V. Pudovkin at the 1925 Moscow tournament. The film can be seen at http://video.google.com/videoplay?d....

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.>

Notes

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

Sources:

Bill Wall's Chess Master Profiles - http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/a...; Edward Winter's article A Question of Credibiity: http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...; Chess Corner's article on Capablanca: http://www.chesscorner.com/worldcha... and <kingcrusher>'s online article at http://www.gtryfon.demon.co.uk/bcc/.... A list of books about Capablanca can be found at http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/....

* Ruy Lopez, Marshall (C89) ** http://www.fide.com/component/conte...

Wikipedia article: José Raúl Capablanca


 page 1 of 45; games 1-25 of 1,119  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. Capablanca vs A Fiol  ½-½491901Match-seriesC45 Scotch Game
6. J Corzo vs Capablanca 1-0411901Havana casualB01 Scandinavian
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 - CorzoC47 Four Knights
24. J Corzo vs Capablanca 1-0271901Capablanca - CorzoC52 Evans Gambit
25. Capablanca vs J Corzo ½-½611901Capablanca - CorzoA80 Dutch
 page 1 of 45; games 1-25 of 1,119  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 255 OF 255 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-10-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Capablanca is a prime candidate for the most overrated chess player ever. His so-called "streak", when he didn't lose a game from 2/10/1916 - 3/21/1924, deserves to have a huge, elongated asterisk attached to it. Capa played a paltry 63 games over these 8 years, a pathetic 2 games every 3 months! lol

*****

Sep-10-17  ughaibu: Compare this with Lasker's nine year unbeaten run from Lasker vs Levenfish, 1925 to Stahlberg vs Lasker, 1934.

Or if you want to be serious about questioning the "invincible Cuban" myth, compare the number of losses of Capablanca and Lasker in tournaments they both played in.

Sep-10-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: And behold again; as if José wasn't completely exhausted already, despite his narcissistic personality disorder, dementia et al.. well.. let's say things were about to get even worse... when morfishine questioned the status of poor José's chesse abilities in 2017!

What's next???

Sep-11-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Come off it, people. It wasn't just that Capa didn't lose lots of games, but that in his best period he hardly ever played a move that gave him a lost position. And he played some very complex tactical battles in his younger days.
Sep-11-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi ughaibu,

"Compare this with Lasker's nine year unbeaten run "

I've used that one myself in the past. The total of course is no games played.

Don't know why friend Morf has suddenly launched into this one. Maybe a Cuban has run off with his girlfriend.

Most overrated player?
Hate to say it. But given all the claims about what he could do today etc by 100's of people, I'd have to say Morphy.

Great player, without him chess would would be poorer and anyone who does not go though his games is missing out and will leave gaps in their play, but some of the hype about him is way over the top.

Sorry cannot think of anyone else.

Sep-11-17  ughaibu: Okay: to save others the time and effort:

St.P. 1914: Lasker +10 -1 =7, Capablanca +10 -2 =6

NY 1924: Lasker +13 -1 =6 Capablanca +10 -1 =9

Running totals: L. +23 -2 =13 C. +20 -3 =15

M.1925: L. +10 -2 =8 C. +9 -2 =9

RT: L. +33 -4 =21 C. +29 -5 =24

M. 1935: L. +6 -0 =13 C. +7 -2 =10

RT: L. +39 -4 =34 C. +36 -7 =34

M. 1936: L. +3 -5 =10 C. +8 -0 =10

RT: L. +42 -9 =44 C. +44 -7 =44

So, Lasker had fewer losses (and more wins) in tournaments that they both played in, until 1936. But nobody thinks of Lasker as invincible, so why on Earth should anyone think that Capablanca was?

Sep-11-17  ughaibu: Sally Simpson: Lasker seems to have won ten games during his nine year unbeaten run.
Sep-11-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi ughaibu,

I used after Moscow 1925 and before Zurich 1934. In which case we only have simuls or exhibition games. Lasker lost no tournament games.

I played this card years ago when I jumped in to trump Capa's unbeaten run in a 'who was better Capa or Lasker' debate and jumped back out again.

Sep-11-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <ughaibu> First, let me say that praise for Capablanca does not mean affront to Lasker. Personally I've been praising both of them for a long time in CG, and studying their marvelous games too.

Now back to your rhetorical question.

Lasker was indisputably a more successful round robin tournament player than Capablanca. Yet <Lasker had fewer losses (and more wins) in tournaments that they both played in, until 1936. But nobody thinks of Lasker as invincible, so why on Earth should anyone think that Capablanca was?>

Even at that time when Lasker was winning tournament after tournament, active players and chess fans always have ascribed the aspect of invincibility to Capablanca (calling him a chess machine, or fatalistically accepting the large possibility of defeat when facing him but never a win), but not Lasker. Your question, asked nearly hundred years later, is one begging to be asked.

This is just my opinion- it has to do with the way Capablanca avoided losing mistakes. Even today's computers claim he did not commit many of those. That gave him the aura of 'invincibility'. On the other hand, players' impression of Lasker at that time is that he would often get himself into bad or outright lost positions, and then somehow magic his way out of them into draws or wins. To their eyes, Lasker then was not invincible. His puzzled opponents seemed to have attributed his success to an inordinate amount of luck; but it was probably more due to his fighting counter-punching style. Such a style allows more possibility of losing but at the same time a greater possibility of winning individual games.

A rough more recent analogy is the Petrosian vs Larsen topic of the 1960s. Petrosian played more solid correct chess; but Larsen won more games and hence more tournaments with his more unbalanced style. Petrosian came across the board as someone nearly unbeatable; something that Larsen was definitely regarded as not. Yet Larsen won more games and tournaments.

I hope you do not see my post as an affront to Lasker. I have developed a guts to bone respect for him as chess player, after my study of his games with Schlecter in their 1910 WC match. I actually think that if Lasker were born in the 1990s, he would have a greater than 50% chance of being the World Champion now.

Sep-11-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <morfishine> I'm not sure if you've read my answer to the <unbeaten streak as a gauge of chess greatness>. Just in case you haven't, I will repost it once again.

<Unbeaten streak should not even be a criteria for greatness at all.

<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.>

Sep-11-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <A rough more recent analogy is the Petrosian vs Larsen topic of the 1960s. Petrosian played more solid correct chess; but Larsen won more games and hence more tournaments with his more unbalanced style.>

One reason for that is that tournaments were mixed in those days, with lesser GM's and IM's participating. He didn't do nearly as well against the elites as he did against a mixed field.

Against Petrosian, he was +4-9=9.
Against Spassky, he was +6-19=17
Against Fischer he was +2-9=1
Against Karpov he was +2-7=9
Against Tal he was +7-12=18
Against Portisch he was +14-26=15

There were a couple of top players he didn't do too badly against. +2 against Geller, -1 against Smyslov, = against Polugaevsky. +2-1=0 against Stein. Still, I have doubts as to whether Larsen's style would have made him a world Class player in an age of all Super-GM tournaments.

Petrosian came across the board as someone nearly unbeatable; something that Larsen was definitely regarded as not. Yet Larsen won more games and tournaments.

Sep-11-17  ZonszeinP: True.
And yet he could create master pieces like those against Petrosian in Santa Monica 66
Sep-11-17  ughaibu: Petrosian vs. Larsen. Figures as for Lasker and Capablanca plus final position in brackets.

P. 1958: P. +6 -1 =13 (3) L. +5 -8 =7 (16)

H. 1960: P. +4 -0 =5 (=1) L. +6 -2 =1 (=1)

RT: P. +10 -1 =18 L. +11 -10 =8

C. 1960: P. +10 -0 =3 (?) L. +8 -3 =2 (?)

RT: P. +20 -1 =21 L. +19 -13 =10

Z. 1965: P. +7 -1 =11 (?) L. +8 -6 =5 (?)

RT: P. +27 -2 =32 L. +27 -19 =15

LA. 1966: P. +3 -3 =12 (=6) L. +7 -5 =6 (3)

RT: P. +30 -5 =44 L. +34 -24 =21

PdM. 1968: P. +7 -1 =9 (4) L. +11 -2 =4 (=2)

RT: P. +37 -6 =53 L. +45 -26 =25

SA. 1972: P. +6 -0 =9 (=1) L. +7 -5 =3 (=8)

RT: P. +43 -6 =62 L. +52 -31 =28

I don't think there's anything comparable to the Lasker vs. Capablanca situation. It's not just that Petrosian lost far fewer games, he finished ahead of Larsen four times, behind him twice and equal once.

Sep-17-17  Arconax: <morfishine: Capablanca is a prime candidate for the most overrated chess player ever.>

I sincerely doubt you will find anyone agreeing with you..

Sep-17-17  ughaibu: I agree with him. As a matter of interest, who are your candidates?
Sep-17-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ughaibu>

My list (for this site, not the entire chess world). Capa didn't make it, since he really was extraordinarily strong, and Capadolatry, though it exists, does not seem that widespread to me.

If I did the list again today, I'd probably replace Schlechter with Ivanchuk. Or Wesley So, but he may yet match the hype.

<The most overrated players on this site, in rough chron order, are Chigorin, Tarrasch, Pillsbury, Schlechter, Keres, Bronstein, and Tal. Not coincidentally, all are rivals of either Lasker and Botvinnik, who are underrated. All the overrateds have attractive playing styles, and all gained some measure of fame apart from sheer OTB strength, whether as creators of brilliances (Pillsbury, Keres, Bronstein, Tal), authors (Tarrasch, Bronstein), patients (Pillsbury, Schlechter, Tal), nice guys (Schlechter, Keres, Tal) tragic figures (Pillsbury, Keres, Schlechter, Bronstein, Tal), iconoclasts (Chigorin, Bronstein, Tal), or dramatic foils (Chigorin for Steinitz, and Keres, Bronstein, and Tal for Botvinnik).

I should stress that I'm talking purely about their OTB playing strength. Tarrasch is probably the most important chess author of all, Tal and Bronstein were incredible creators, etc.

For more casual fans, I suppose Nimzowitsch is somewhat overrated -- <My System> makes people think he was stronger than he really was (though he was quite strong). But overrating Chigorin or Schlechter is the mark of a connoisseur.

Most underrated? Maybe Bogoljubov. Won some extremely strong tournaments (ahead of the likes of Capablanca and Lasker), lost creditably to Alekhine, etc., but seems to be widely regarded as a buffoon.

On the other hand, <My System> gave pleasure and instruction to generations of chessplayers, including me. Maybe its author <deserves> to be overrated compared to Bogoljubov.>

Mikhail Botvinnik

Sep-17-17  ughaibu: Interesting and unexpected selection, my only immediate complaint is that Chigorin can't really be classed as a rival of Lasker.
Sep-17-17  ughaibu: Looking at that discussion on the Botvinnik page, I'm a little surprised that Stein wasn't mooted as the player of the year 1967. Come to think of it, on this site Stein might be a contender either way, most overrated or underrated.
Sep-17-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ughaibu> Of course the people I really wanted to list were Morphy and Fischer. You have a point about Chigorin.
Sep-17-17  ughaibu: <You have a point about Chigorin.>

On the other hand. . . . Capablanca was a rival of Lasker!

Anyway, taking your line of thought and reversing it, we might find the most underrated players to be the rivals of the most overrated. Spassky and Karpov for Fischer, Anderssen and Steinitz for Morphy, etc.

Sep-17-17  Arconax: <ughaibu> & <keypusher> Interesting discussion, guys. And I think I mostly agree with <keypusher's list>. For some reason, Fischer held Chigorin in high regard while he was quite dismissive of Lasker, for instance. Perhaps because Lasker was Jewish, perhaps? Who knows.

Some other overrated players in addition to your comprehensive list: Shirov & Morozevich. Their attractive style has won them many fans (and rightly so), but that has led them to be slightly overrated compared to some other players of that same generation (take Peter Leko, for example).

When it comes to underrated players there's actually a world champion among them: Max Euwe. I strongly feels that he has not got the recognition he deserves. He is largely ignored on all the best ever lists, and that "urban legend" about him winning in '35 because of Alekhine's drinking problems, doesn't seem to hold up to scrutiny.

Sep-17-17  ughaibu: <When it comes to underrated players there's actually a world champion among them: Max Euwe>

I'd say there are at least eight: Steinitz, Lasker, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Petrosian, Spassky and Karpov.

<Morozevich>

He's an interesting case. Fan fervour seems to have abated, but it's easy to see how it was a hangover from his having been so conspicuously promising a prodigy.

Sep-17-17  Howard: To throw in my two cents worth...

Regarding Larsen, keep in mind that he had the best tournament record of any player in the world from 1967-69, as noted by New in Chess back around 2010, shortly before he passed away. Personally, I think that fact attests that he was definitely of world championship caliber.

As far as Fischer's being dismissive of Lasker, one would suspect it was because Fischer probably didn't care much for Lasker's style--it was very different that Fischer's. No question about that !

As for Euwe's "greateness", that's a debatable question even though I do agree that the "alcohol" excuse for Alekhine's 1935 loss, was probably exaggerated.

But I'll say this much: Euwe was certainly the most "overlooked" WC of all time, and not just by Eric Schiller.

Regarding that last remark, how many of you know that in Schiller's pitiful book about Fischer's games (came out in 2007), he referred to Euwe as someone who was probably of world championship caliber?

Euwe was obviously more than just caliber---he WAS world champion.

Geez! Did that "book" get proofread before it went to press?!

Sep-18-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Lambda: Euwe in a way is a victim of the success of the world championship in vigorously finding the best players. Almost every world champion has a period when they were the leading candidate for best player in the world, even if the margins were small, it was only for a couple of years, and naming other players wouldn't be silly. Whereas Euwe became champion at a time when I really think there was nothing to choose at all between several top players (including him, for sure), and that was his peak. There have been many such players through history, he was the only one to make it. In most other sports, there would be loads of champions like that.

(Kramnik is actually also someone whom I'm not sure you can say was ever the leading candidate for best player in the world, but he's got too many big pluses to be ignored; a convincing and crushing win against the best player of modern times and maybe all history, defending the honour of the sport against Topalov in adverse conditions, and being definitely in the top three or so for a very long time against some incredibly strong competition.)

Sep-18-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < in a way is a victim of the success of the world championship in vigorously finding the best players.>

Interesting point, and I'm sure you're right. There's sort of a parallel, in American football, with a quarterback named Trent Dilfer. His team, the Baltimore Ravens, won the Super Bowl with an overpowering defense and Dilfer at quarterback. If you asked fans who was the worst quarterback to ever win the Super Bowl, I'd bet Diler would get the most votes.

Because of this, a lot of people have gotten the idea that Dilfer was a terrible quarterback, which is nonsense. He played for 13 years, half of it as a starter, and made the Pro Bowl (the NFL All-Star game) one year.

(To avoid misunderstanding, Trent Dilfer was nowhere near as good at quarterbacking as Euwe was at playing chess. Euwe had a decent argument for being as good as anyone active from the early 1930s until the 1948 WC. Dilfer couldn't dream of that level of excellence.)

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