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Ernesto Guevara
E Guevara 
Number of games in database: 1
Years covered: 1962

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(born Jun-14-1928, died Oct-09-1967, 39 years old) Argentina (federation/nationality Cuba)

[what is this?]
Born in Rosario, Argentina, Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna, had 4 siblings and grew up in a house full of books and intellectual stimulation including chess He learned chess from his father when he was a child and reportedly participated in local tournaments from the age of 12 onwards through his teens until he entered the University of Buenos Aires to study medicine in 1948.

His revolutionary activities in Cuba interrupted his interest in chess until he was in power after the revolution, when in 1962 as director of the National Bank and Minister of Industries, he underwrote the revival of the Capablanca Memorial that had been interrupted by Batiste’s coup in 1952. The Havana Hilton was opened in 1958, as another gambling hall. Revolutionaries took over the building within a year. The new government occupied one floor of the enormous hotel and renamed it Habana Libre. When the political situation had stabilized, Ché warmed up the government for a chess event. The Capablanca Memorial (in Memoriam) became the best paid tournament in the world. Ché Guevara could cover the costs as director of the National Bank and Minister of Industries. He also helped organise the Havana Olympiad in 1966, the Piatogorsky Cup in which Fischer famously played via telex, and other chess events.

Guevara participated in simultaneous games notably against Miguel Najdorf in 1962 and also against Korchnoi in 1963. Najdorf played games against Churchill, Kruschev, the Shah of Iran, Juan Peron, Fidel Castro, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and many others. Always courteous he offered draws to such personalities, and all accepted, except Guevara. Najdorf reportedly said afterwards that “I have no other alternative than to beat him.” (2) In his preface to Korchnoi's book (My Best Games, Vol. 1), Sosonko wrote that:

“In 1963… Some participants, including Tal and Korchnoi, give simuls. Among Korchnoi's opponents there is Che Guevara. An official approaches Korchnoi, telling him: "Che Guevara loves chess passionately, but he is a rather weak player. He would be extremely happy to draw his game against you." Korchnoi nods understandingly. Later in the hotel, Tal asks him how it went. "I won them all." - "Against Che Guevara, too?" - "Yes, he doesn't have the faintest idea what to do against the Catalan."” (1)

Che Guevara also engaged in popularizing chess in Cuba. (1) “Nogueiras said that if chess is one of the most widely played sports in the country today, it is because of the support Fidel Castro and Che gave it from the onset of the revolution…on April 29, 2004, one of the largest simultaneous games in history was played with 13,000 boards set up in front of the Ernesto Che Guevara Plaza, which included the participation of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro. (3)

One of his most famous quotes was to Pachman: "Sabe, companero Pachman. I do not care for my cabinet post. Either I would love to play chess as you do, or make revolution in Venezuela." “Even in Europe he would have been a first-rank chessplayer.” – Pachman in “Checkmate in Prague”

Chess constitutes an effective means in order to education and training of the intellect of man. – Che Guevara

Guevara had one child with his first wife, Hilda Gadea, a daughter who was born in Mexico City on February 15, 1956, and he had four children with his second wife, the revolutionary Aleida March. (4)

Wikipedia article: Che Guevara in popular culture






Photo of Guevara watching Svetozar Gligoric play:

Wikipedia article: Che Guevara

 page 1 of 1; one game  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Najdorf vs E Guevara ½-½161962HavanaC93 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Smyslov Defense

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: Nice post <twinlark>, just one thing: How is inventing dynamite a "bad" thing?
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: It explodes.
Jun-20-13  twinlark: <Absentee> <This statement already implies a judgement of value.>

Indeed. Pretty much my whole point.

Jun-20-13  Absentee: <twinlark: <Absentee> <This statement already implies a judgement of value.>

Indeed. Pretty much my whole point.>

Which makes the rest of your post moot.

Jun-20-13  Eyal: <Mother Theresa aided thousands of the poorest of the poor yet...

she was a hard nosed tyrant, intolerant of any way but hers>

I think it's quite usual that saintly figures, which do "good deeds" on a grand scale, are actually not very "nice" people on a personal level. A relevant quote from Proust's "In Search of Lost Time":

When, in the course of my life, I have had occasion to meet with, in convents for instance, literally saintly examples of practical charity, they have generally had the brisk, decided, undisturbed, and slightly brutal air of a busy surgeon, the face in which one can discern no commiseration, no tenderness at the sight of suffering humanity […] the face devoid of gentleness or sympathy, the sublime face of true goodness.

Jun-20-13  twinlark: <Absentee> <Which makes the rest of your post moot.>

A few examples to support and illustrate my opening generalisation, which draws on popular opinion/received wisdom, surely add to the strength and depth to my proposition. Also the conclusion of my post is not easily derived from the first paragraph, so that is also clearly not moot.

Functionally, the body of my post also provides a few points of observation and even discussion, as are illustrated in the responses.

So I would conclude that your assertion is probably not correct, except, perhaps, for yourself.

In any event, I'm puzzled by your comment: why make such a point?

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Eyal>: The quote from Proust calls to mind a column I read in the Boston Herald many years ago from Don Feder, the premise of which was that numerous figures who championed liberal causes, the 'brotherhood of man', etc, could be very difficult to deal with, as one person to another. The only person whose name he mentioned that I can think of at the moment was Lillian Hellman.
Jun-20-13  Jim Bartle: Many criminals with power and a need for good PR do good works in their cities or countries.

Maybe the thing that made Pablo Escobar most popular in Medellin is that he bought the local football team and paid to get the best players. I think the Ochoa family owned America de Cali as well.

Colombia and its league teams were very successful in the 80s and 90s, and Escobar got a lot of credit. Many of the best players had at least some connection to him. (Sort of like Yankee players and Steinbrenner?)

National team goaltender Rene Higuita even went to jail for arranging the ransom payment in a kidnapping.

May-03-14  Rookiepawn: If we are considering violence as an absoulte sin, then all human history should go to trash.

On the other hand, a person might not personally kill a fly, but it can be certainly violent. "Mother" Theresa was a good example: a religious marketing operation featuring someone who kept poor and sick people in horrible conditions, praising suffering as "beautiful", while she herself went to a top hospital.

To measure someone's added value for humankind I guess we need first to define what is good for humankind, a pretty complicated task.

I think Guevara was no saint (no human is) but a positive force for humankind. Of course he killed people, but so did George Washington, who pursued also revolutionnary aims.

I guess it is necessary to determine which violence acts as oppression, and which one acts as resistance against oppression. Not an easy task, but not impossible either imho.

May-03-14  Al2009: <Rookiepawn>

Che Guevara died after vainly trying to "export" Cuban revolution and persuade Bolivian peasants to follow him. No Bolivian pesant was paying attention to Guevara's fanatical marxist rethoric, and he was very upset and angry when he realized that he was despised by poor people that he wanted to make "free", and they did not see him as a "liberator". Moreover, even the Bolivian communist party (totally sovietic orthodox) betrayed Guevara, and reported him to the military authorities. So, Ernesto Che Guevara died as a FAILURE, in the same way as Cuban revolution was a total failure, just good to keep for more than 50 years new tyrants (Castro Brothers) after Batista.

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <TheFocus: Has anyone seen the picture of John Lennon and Che jamming on the guitars?

I don't know the back-story.>

Che was learning how to play,
"Give Peace a Chance."

...and "All You Need Is Love."

May-13-14  Rookiepawn: <Al2009>

The Bolivian Communist Party betrayed Guevara, true.

The Bolivian Communist Party was sovietic orthodox, true. However, it is necessary to point out that "sovietic orthodox" means "no Communist at all". Che Guevara wasn't "reasonable", so he didn't sell himself neither to USA nor to USSR.

The rest of your rant is an old boring copy-paste with no sustain and easy phallacies (e.g.: failure if you win in Cuba, failure if you lose in Bolivia). You don't even know what you mean by "failure", but I'll do for you what your brain can't:

Guevara was not after power and money, which for a mind like yours is "fanatical" and "failure". Fighting against the powerful is never a good business, eventually you are doomed; but Guevara knew it too well in advance.

Human history is full of those "fanatical" crazy dudes who did the right thing instead of the convenient. There you have Spartacus, Zumbi dos Palmares and many other "failures".

Don't thank me, I do this with pleasure :)

May-26-14  Al2009: <Rookiepawn>

You did not understand - being a communist - what I wrote above regarding the meaning of the word FAILURE: "Cuban revolution was a total failure, just good to keep for more than 50 years new tyrants (Castro Brothers) after Batista."

So, your tyrant Fidel Castro and his brother have kept for 50 years and more Cuban citizens as SLAVE with no freedom, and poorer than when there was Batista, whereas they live as billioners! Cuba was such a "paradise" that thousand of Cubans died trying to fly with balsa boats, to reach Florida.

So, this is the "paradise" you communist like: prisons and poverty for everybody, apart from those tyrants like Castro brothers. I know why you don't know the meaning of the word FAILURE. You are a bankrupt, rookiepawn, it's normal that a bankrup and communist doesn't know how much his life is a failure.

May-26-14  Rookiepawn: <AI> Making statements about the life of people you hardly know is a typical symptom of people with no life of his own.

I don't like the Cuban government because of many reasons, one being the lack of political freedom for the working class, among others. Even Guevara had differences with it.

I only aknowledge the Cuban govt is not the caricature you portray. Compared with many, if not all Latin American countries Cuba has importamt achievements in education, health and human development. It ranks among countries with High Human Development. Says not me but the UN:

If not conclusive, one sure thing is the UN is not precisely biased in Cuba's favor, but rather against. And Cuba has gotten this against a commercial blockade by the most powerful country in the world.

So your claim that Cuba was better with Batista is just jingo rubbish.

Again, I criticize Cuban regime for its real shortcomings. USA doesn't hate Cuba for being a dictatorship (which it is), if that were true, USA would impose a blockade on countries like Saudi Arabia. Cuba is hated because of the few though important things it achieved. Education and healthcare for all are more important than smartphones, at least in my value scale.

So the "paradise" tale I don't buy. I don't buy either countries like El Salvador, Honduras or other capitalist countries are role models. You may feel more comfy debating with such Communists like those you mention, in that sterile pro or against, heaven or hell fashion. Not my style.

Truth is complex, not for jingos, be them from the left or the right.

May-26-14  SugarDom: <Rookiepawn: <AI> Making statements about the life of people you hardly know is a typical symptom of people with no life of his own.>

What an arrogant prick.

I find AI more sensible.

Jun-03-14  epistle: <1967 : On the Nancahuazu River Banks

Seventeen Men March to Annihilation

Cardinal Maurer arrives in Bolivia. From Rome he brings the Pope's blessings and word that God unequivocally backs General Barrientos against the guerillas.

Meanwhile, hungry and disoriented, he guerillas twist and turn through the Nancahuazu River scrub. There are few campesinos in these immense solitudes; and not one, not a single one, has joined the little troop of Che Guevara. His forces dwindle from ambush to ambush. Che does not weaken, won't left himself weaken, although he feels that his body is stone among stones, a heavy stone he drags along at the head of the others; nor does he let himself be tempted by the idea of saving the group by abandoning the wounded. By Che's order they all move at the pace of those least able to move: Together they will all be saved or lost.

Lost. Eighteen hundred soldiers, led by U.S. Rangers, are treading on their shadow. A ring is drawing tighter and tighter. Finally, a couple of campesino informers and the radar of the U.S. National Security Agency reveal their exact location.

1967: Yuro Ravine

The Fall of Che

Machinegun bullets break his legs. Sitting, he fights until the rifle is blown from his hands.

The conquering soldiers fall to blows over his watch, his canteen, his belt, his pipe. Several officers interrogate him, one after another. Che keeps quiet as his blood flows. Vice Admiral Ugarteche, daring land-wolf, head of the navy in a country without an ocean, insults and threatens him. Che spits in his face.

From La Paz comes the order to finish off the prisoner. A burst of gunfire. Che dies from a treacherous bullet shortly before his fortieth birthday, the age at which Zapata and Sandino died, also from treacherous bullets.

In the little town of Higueras, General Barrientos exhibits his trophy to journalists. Che lies on a laundry sink. They shoot him a final time, with flashbulbs. This last face has accusing eyes and a melancholy smile.>

Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire

Jun-03-14  epistle: <1967: Higueras

Bells Toll for Him

Did he die in 1967 in Bolivia because he guessed wrong about the when and the where and the how? Or did he not die at all, not anywhere, because he wasn't wrong about what really matters despite all the whens and wheres and hows?

He believed that one must defend oneself from the traps of greed without ever letting down one's guard. When he was president of the National Bank of Cuba, he signed the banknotes 'Che,' in mockery of money. For love of people, he scorned things. Sick is the world, he thought, in which to have and to be mean the same thing. He never kept anything for himself, nor ever asked for anything.

Living is giving oneself, he thought; and he gave himself.>

Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire

Jun-04-14  epistle: <1967: La Paz

Portrait of a Supermacho

On the shoulders of Nene, his giant bodyguard, General Barrientos crosses the city of La Paz. From Nene's shoulders he greets those who applaud him. He enters the government palace. Seated at his desk, with Nene behind him, he signs decrees that sell at bargain prices the sky, the soil, and the subsoil of Bolivia.

Ten years ago, Barrientos was putting in time in a Washington DC psychiatric clinic when the idea of being president of Bolivia entered his head. He'd already made a career for himself as an athlete. Disguising himself as a North American aviator, he laid siege to power; and now he exercises it, machinegunning workers and pulling down libraries and wages.

The killer of Che is a cock with a loud crow, a man with three balls, a hundred women, and a thousand children. No Bolivian has flown so high, made so many speeches, or stolen so much.

In Miami, the Cuban exiles elect him Man of the Year.>

Roberto Galeano, Memory of Fire

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Jim Bartle: Many criminals with power and a need for good PR do good works in their cities or countries.>

...very "shovel ready!"

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <twinlark....Solzhenitsyn got it right with his famous aphorism that evil could so easily be excised if it stopped at a country's borders, but the reality is that the line between good and evil runs through the heart of every person.>

So it does, and that delineation is by no means always sparkling clear.

<Rookiepawn....Truth is complex, not for jingos, be them from the left or the right.>

Just so, despite the interminable attempts by radicals of any stripe to force their own versions of truth down the throats of the people.

Oct-20-20  Mithridates: The above says: “Even in Europe he would have been a first-rank chessplayer.” – Pachman in “Checkmate in Prague”. That may be a mistranslation. It's been more than 20 years since I read Pachman's memoirs in German (that's the original, right?), but, if I remember correctly, what he said was that Che Guevara would have been a strong first *category* player (i.e. a strong class A). That soudns much more likely. Can someone check the original?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: Godless communist. Terrible!
Oct-20-20  login:

'.. Er hätte auch in Europa als vorzüglicher Schachspieler gegolten. Er spielte leidenschaftlich Schach. ..'

aus 'Jetzt kann ich sprechen', Pachman, Walter Rau Verlag, 1973, Seite 84

Der Autor benutzt das Wort 'vorzüglich' im Buch an anderer Stelle ferner zur Beschreibung von Schauspielern eines Laientheaters und als Lob von politischem Widerstand.

Spekulation: Pachman drückt damit wohl generell sein eher rein 'objektives' Gefallen (fast Schmeichelei), als in dem speziellen Fall eine 'messbare' Schachstärke aus. Es klingt fast, als würde er Che unterstellen wöchentlich in dezidierten Schachgazetten brilliante Partien veröffentlichen zu können.

Book translation is ok (meaning exellent, splendit and with great passion).

Oct-21-20  Mithridates: Thanks. Another data point, this time from : "Laut seinem argentinischen Landsmann ˋDon Miguelˋ Najdorf war Che ein Spieler der ersten Kategorie mit gutem Potential für mehr. " ("According to his Argentinian compatriot 'Don Miguel' Najdorf, Che was a first-category player with good potential for more.")
Oct-22-20  login:

To fill the picture further

'.. “Chess is part of the national identity,” says Danilo Buela Valdesfino, director of the Latin American Institute for Chess (ISLA), which teaches children how to play. Christopher Columbus brought chess to the island in the 15th century. But Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the man most famous for declaring Cuban independence in 1868 — which started a war — is considered to be the father of the country in chess circles because he translated the rules and regulations of chess, .. ..'


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