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Jose Raul Capablanca
Number of games in database: 1,194
Years covered: 1893 to 1941

Overall record: +377 -47 =268 (73.8%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 502 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (155) 
    C66 C78 C62 C84 C83
 Orthodox Defense (80) 
    D63 D51 D52 D50 D67
 Queen's Gambit Declined (67) 
    D30 D37 D31 D38 D06
 Queen's Pawn Game (53) 
    D02 D00 D05 A46 D04
 French Defense (51) 
    C12 C01 C11 C14 C10
 Four Knights (37) 
    C49 C48
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (54) 
    C72 C66 C68 C77 C71
 Orthodox Defense (53) 
    D63 D67 D53 D51 D64
 Queen's Pawn Game (41) 
    A46 D00 D02 A45 D05
 Nimzo Indian (20) 
    E24 E34 E23 E37 E40
 Caro-Kann (19) 
    B13 B18 B15 B12 B10
 French Defense (19) 
    C01 C12 C15 C05 C09
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
   Lasker vs Capablanca, 1921 0-1
   Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1927 0-1
   Capablanca vs K Treybal, 1929 1-0
   Capablanca vs M Fonaroff, 1918 1-0
   Marshall vs Capablanca, 1909 0-1
   Janowski vs Capablanca, 1916 0-1
   Capablanca vs J Corzo, 1901 1-0

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

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

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Capa.blanca by fredthebear
   Capablanca! by wvb933
   Capablanca! by chocobonbon
   Capablanca! by Sven W
   Match Capablanca! by amadeus
   Capablanca plays the world....(I) by MissScarlett
   Jose Raul Capablanca's Best Games by KingG
   Jose Raul Capablanca's Best Games by alip
   Capablanca plays the world... (II) by MissScarlett
   Jose Raul Capablanca's Best Games by bjamin74
   Jose Raul Capablanca's Best Games by dcruggeroli
   Immortal Games of Capablanca, F. Reinfeld by mjk
   Immortal Games of Capablanca, F. Reinfeld by fphaase
   Immortal Games of Capablanca, F. Reinfeld by Sergio0106

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

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

[what is this?]

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

World Championship

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

Simultaneous exhibitions

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

Legacy, testimonials and life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

* Ruy Lopez, Marshall (C89) **

Wikipedia article: José Raúl Capablanca

 page 1 of 48; games 1-25 of 1,194  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 0-1361901HavanaC55 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 0-1771901HavanaC55 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 48; games 1-25 of 1,194  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Capablanca wins | Capablanca loses  

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Jul-31-09  drnooo: It would be nice if someone, anyone would cut through some of the hogwash about Capa's great skill in the endgame and explain why this skill vanished with Alekhine in 1927. Here are the facts: Alex could not beat him in rapid: so Capa had the better quick grasp of the board, Alex had never beaten him before the match in long chess, yet he did there playing almost all endgames. Endgames, okay. Endgames, not middlegames. The question is not rhetorical, even Kasparov said the mystery? There is no mystery. Got news for you,Gary, there still is. I know some say what killed Capa was already creeping through the underbrush. Is that it? Was he starting to fall apart? Well, if so then a rematch would have done him no good. The only thing I have been able to come up with other than horrendous health is this: and its fairly close to the braindoctors wish for Capa to have simply broadened his openings. Somewhere around the midpoint of the match, he had enough natural skill and familiarity and sucess with the queens indian to have shifted to that. Play the hell out of that one instead of the q g d. He certainly was not getting anywhere with the qgd. That's the real mystery, why he could not admit that Alekhine had found his range with the q g d. Had he shifted to something just as solid and sound as the indian, maybe even his lurking problems with stress might have been overcome and he could have returned to the easy confident Capa that could have beaten Morphy Alekhine and Tal combined. All we know for sure is that Alekhine just didn't beat him but by a 3 game margin. And I still dont really know why. Nobody has come up with a good one sentence explanation. He was just outplayed. Fine. But why was he outplayed. That is if Capa was the greatest player of all time. And this was not just some 12 game non match. It went 33 games. More than enough to demonstrate convincing superiotity.
Jul-31-09  drnooo: Probably all I am saying is that if Capa really was fairly sick and didn't know it, then his hunt for a rematch would have done him no good. He would have collapsed the same way he did in the first one.

If he was not ill, then why suppose his great skill in the endgame would have done him any better good in a rematch, since Alekhine was showing he could keep up with Capa in the endgame.

Or if that is not right, then why was he not beating Alekhine in so many many many endgames. Where did that skill go? Had Alekhine really caught up with him. If so, then Alekhine has to be put at the top of the same list.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Alekhine wanted it more, and was willing to about kill himself locating small weaknesses in Capa's game.
Jul-31-09  Notagm: drnooo: the anwer to your question is simple: Capablanca's form dipped during his 1927 World Championship match with Alekhine. Every athlete/team/sportsperson/chess player suffers dips in form from time to time, and Capa was no exception.
Jul-31-09  veigaman: Alekhine was better prepared than Capablanca and in conjuction with his enourmous talent beat capablanca fairly although Capablanca was stronger than Alekhine in my opinion. Alekhine showed the importance of the hard work, opening preparation and willing. However, I have always thought that Capablanca was unable to hand the pressure accurately through the match in part because he was surprided by alekhine preparation.

The key was the pressure!

Jul-31-09  parisattack: I think a similar situation in Kasparov-Kramnik 2000. Kramnik was extraordinarily well prepared; Kasparov thought he had a (relatively) easy match. By the time Kasparov figured out what was happening - it was too late.
Jul-31-09  SatelliteDan: <veigaman: Alekhine was better prepared than Capablanca and in conjuction with his enourmous talent beat capablanca fairly although Capablanca was stronger than Alekhine in my opinion. Alekhine showed the importance of the hard work, opening preparation and willing. However, I have always thought that Capablanca was unable to hand the pressure accurately through the match in part because he was surprided by alekhine preparation. The key was the pressure!>
Not to mention being favored (and suppose to win to the general public) always adds more pressure. A classic battle in one's mind. On one side you have the confidence in the begining of the match, on the other, the thought of things not going the way they were expected to.
Aug-01-09  veigaman: <SatelliteDan> agree.

Capablanca was overwheelmed by the pressure through that match advanced, realising how good alekhine was prepared. It seems to me that Capablanca lost through the match one thing that made him unique: his mind flexibility to evaluate position to make plans.

Pressure-> lost flexibility->doubts!!!

The truth is that all was Alekhine merit.

Aug-05-09  drnooo: One nagging possibility about Capa from 1928 on. Maybe he snapped. He could not beat Nimzovich after that whom he used to handle like a baby. He played very few notables after that. Why not organize a series of matches against anyone but Alekhine. Didnt. That was a long match with A, he took a drubbing. Maybe the magic was simply gone. Koufax wore out his arm, even Fischer might have been in the same soup after Spassky, a subtle lack of desire, enough that he could not have beaten Karpov. Now it could be that I am reading too much into the Nimzo stonewall but it is strange that Capa could not beat him once if four games after the Alekhine match, yes in 38 he did pull out a win against Alekhine but by then Alekhine was no longer Alekhine either. Anyway I find it strange tht he could not muster a win against Nimzo after the A match, seems quite significant to me in light of how few other world class players he met after that.
Aug-05-09  drnooo: Also it seems to me there are still way too many vague generalities here about why he lost to Alekhine: pressure, not handling it, ill prepared, ok, take pressure. He lost the first game outright through a blunder. No pressure. He had beaten Alekhine always till then. If anything he was overconfident. Ill prepared? that French was no surprise, its a one move blunder. Ill prepared? Come on, all they played were queen g declined. No innovations there. By previous games, Capa should have been three up on A by the 12th. Small weaknesses? what small ones, where are the specifics. They played endgames mostly. Capa supposedly had no weaknesses in the endgame. If so where and what were they. Look, all I am asking for here is something other than these kind of generalities. I will grant you that the longer the match went on, finally Capa started to not handle the pressure, but maybe he was ill. That I can buy. Or as I say, maybe he was already started to lose his fabulous skills that never returned. A simple lack of ability to calculate quite as easily as before, period. Also as I have stated, why in the world did he not play the queens indian after running into a's qgd stonewall. The one comment here that does strike home for me is Alekhine wanted it more. And very likely put in years, not days or weeks playing endgames until he got nearly as good as Capa and then just wore him out. Point here is that by the match Alekhine was one of the great endgame players of all time, yet who ever mentions him along with Rubenstein and Capa. One sidenote it would be interesting to see a few here list the greatest endgame specialist, top ten say. Apparently that one guy playing today, forget his name is such an example. Same thing nearly flawless in games past 45 moves. Lost one, or something like that.
Aug-05-09  theagenbiteofinwit: <drnooo> I've been studying their 1913 St. Petersburg match this week and I've noticed that Alekhine's losses usually come from a couple of sub-optimal moves in the opening and at the beginning of the middlegame. Capablanca of course made sub-optimal moves as well, but Alekhine didn't seem to build an executable plan around them like J.R.C.

I think Alekhine analyzed his earlier games against Capa and corrected the mistakes he made. I also think that he learned how to execute a plan around a sup-optimal Capa move, which you could usually be able to count on.

Aug-05-09  veigaman: <drnooo> Alekhine was a fair winner.

I find this match very similar to the film Gattaca: Alekhine´s talent in conjuction with his willing, determination and hard working got the title.

<theagenbiteofinwit> also alekhine studying capablanca decided to play active chess in his own words. What a players!

Aug-05-09  Kaspablanca: Why the Alekhine- Capablanca match was played with closed doors?
Aug-06-09  visayanbraindoctor: <theagenbiteofinwit: <drnooo> I've been studying their 1913 St. Petersburg match this week and I've noticed that Alekhine's losses usually come from a couple of sub-optimal moves in the opening and at the beginning of the middlegame. Capablanca of course made sub-optimal moves as well, but Alekhine didn't seem to build an executable plan around them like J.R.C.

I think Alekhine analyzed his earlier games against Capa and corrected the mistakes he made. I also think that he learned how to execute a plan around a sup-optimal Capa move, which you could usually be able to count on.>

This is a concrete and interesting hypothesis!

It's clear to every one that AAA not only prepped his openings, he prepped his style. He changed his usual attack-at-all-costs style against Capa in 1927. Quite unique..

<veigaman: I find this match very similar to the film Gattaca: Alekhine´s talent in conjuction with his willing, determination and hard working got the title.>

I just watched Gattaca on cable TV a month ago for the first time in my life. You are most probably correct. Capablanca I believe is the most talented chess player that humanity has ever produced since Western chess was invented in Queen Isabella's Spain half a millennium ago. The 1927 Alekhine could have been the most determined.

Aug-06-09  LIFE Master AJ: <dr nooo> You raise some very interesting points about Capa.

He did seem to decline after 1927, I have graphed his CM rating and it definitely shows that.

The question is: "Why did Capa go downhill after losing to Alekhine?"

Some possible answers are:
1.) Bad health. (Some doctors have said he definitely suffered from high blood pressure, back then - there were few medications for this type of problem.)

2.) A loss of form.

3.) A psychological problem ... like losing his confidence. (I remember reading somewhere that Capa - in his prime - was never behind on the clock. But after losing to Alekhine, he battled the clock for the rest of his career.)

4.) Some players are more significantly impacted by age than others. (Did Capa suffer from some disease like Alzheimers?)

5.) Was time and progress simply catching up to Capa? (When he began, chess was greatly undeveloped. Before he died, he saw some openings heavily analyzed.)

6.) Was there some other factor that has not yet been identified?

Aug-06-09  LIFE Master AJ: A fan e-mailed me tonight and asked me to post a link to my page on Capa.

I used to have a whole website on Capa. But that was part of the <EXCITE> network that folded in 1999.

Sorrowfully, I have not made another page on Capa, although I have annotated a few of Capa's games.

Maybe the link below will help you find a few. (

Aug-06-09  visayanbraindoctor: <LIFE Master AJ> In previous posts, I have hypothesized that Capa beginning in the mid 1920s started suffering from familial Hypertension, given his family history and the fact that he eventually died of hypertensive cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 53. Such Hypertension may commence when a patient is in his 20s or 30s. Some kibitzers have pointed out that by the late 1920s, Capa was beginning to seek medical consult. At that time, as you say, HPN was not well understood and there was no real effective management for it. Capa was already 39 when he lost his Title to AAA in 1927. Given health problems, any prolonged match would have been a disadvantage to him. It is significant that if this match were as short as his 1931 match with Euwe (10 games), Capa would have won the match, even after losing the first game through a gross blunder.

Beginning around 1924, Capa's performance started to become erratic, brilliant performances interspersed with sub-par showings (for him). Before that, Capa seemed thoroughly invincible, playing game after game with almost machine-like accuracy (which everybody noticed of course), and so quickly that it did not seem an exceptional if he ended up an hour ahead of his opponents.

Aside from that, Capa was probably suffering from <Champion's disease> or a general lack of motivation. The 1927 Alekhine, a bankrupt exile from war-troubled Russia and who had to completely rely on chess for a living, as I posted above could have been the most determined chess player ever.

Aug-06-09  visayanbraindoctor: It was a personal tragedy for Capa to lose the 1927 WC match, even if AAA beat him fair and square. I posted this previously, an almost unbelievable match record by Capa, so far unsurpassed in the history of chess.

Here's a summary of Capablanca's classical match record against Grandmaster caliber opposition, based on data and <amadeus>'s excellent collection. Since a lot of kibitzers apparently are unfamiliar with pre-WW2 chess masters, and many are so obsessed with ratings, I will cite their highest chessmetrics ratings (by Jeff Sonas), in order to give an idea of the approximate strength of these players. (A few of the caveats on ratings are in my profile.)

Exactly One Match Lost (Match more than 24 games):

+3 -6 =25 vs. Alekhine (2860), 1927

Exactly One Match Tied (A Mini-match):

+1 -1 =0 vs. Znosko Borovsky (2613), 1913

Mini-Matches Won:

+2 -0 =1 vs. Jaffe (2616), 1910
+2 -0 =0 vs. Villegas (2520), 1911
+2 -0 =0 vs. Alekhine (2860), 1913
+2 -0 =0 vs. Mieses (2660), 1913
+2 -0 =0 vs. Teichmann (2744), 1913
+2 -0 =0 vs. Duz Khotimirsky (2638), 1913
+2 -0 =0 vs. Aurbach (2543), 1914
+1 -0 =1 vs. Tartakower (2719), 1914
+1 -0 =1 vs. Bernstein (2688), 1914

Against GM level opposition, out of 10 mini-matches Capablanca won 9 matches, tied one, lost none. He lost exactly one game, won 17, drew 3.

Total points: 18.5 out of 21.

Medium-length to Long Matches of Less than 24 Games:

+8 -1 =14 vs. Marshall (2762), 1909
+5 -0 =0 vs. Kostic (2706), 1919
+4 -0 =10 vs. Lasker (2878), 1921
+2 -0 =8 vs. Euwe (2769), 1931

Capablanca won all 4 of his medium-length to long matches with less than 24 games. Marshall just managed to win one game out of 23. Kostic, Lasker, and Euwe never managed to win even a single game out of a combined total of 29 games. That's 1 loss in 52 match games against such strong players as Marshall, Kostic, Lasker, and Euwe, while racking up 19 wins.

Total points: 35 out of 52.

Aug-06-09  slomarko: First of all those "mini-matches", as you call them, are worthless, playing 2 games is not a match by any standard. Of the real matches he played Marshall sucked as a match player and Kostic was never a top player. So we are left with the wins against Lasker and Euwe. Lasker was old and a bit ill during the match but even so it was a good achievement to beat him. Euwe on the other hand was still a bit green. All things considered there no strong evidence that Capablanca was an exceptional match player. Btw instead of citing the highest ratings of his opponents you should do your homework properly and cite the rating at the moment the match was played.
Aug-06-09  LIFE Master AJ: <visa> Interesting stuff! :)
Aug-06-09  visayanbraindoctor: <LIFE Master AJ> One could always claim that it so happened that Capablanca and every one of those he played matches with played like patzers. That does not pan out either if one has replayed the games from his matches. Most of those matches were played before 1927 when Capa was in his prime and a perusal of those games shows that in general Capablanca played accurate almost machine-like chess. It wasn't only the results that showed how good Capa was; it was also the games he played.
Aug-06-09  visayanbraindoctor: <LIFE Master AJ> In addition, it seems that with Capablanca and only with Capablanca do we get a curious phenomenon. The stronger a player gets, the more he appreciates Capa. Who are the strongest players in history? The World Champions and Almost World Champions of course. Capablanca is probably the only player of whom they almost all have a unanimous opinion (and mind you, World Champions were never the type to become fanboys, yet what they say of Capablanca looks straight out of a fanboy magazine):

(From Game Collection: Jose Raul Capablanca's Best Games by User: KingG)

Young man, you play remarkable chess! You never make a mistake! – Emanuel Lasker (after losing most of the games in a 10 game rapid transit match against a very young Capablanca)

Learn carefully to work out strategic plans like Capablanca, and you will laugh at the plans told to you in ridiculous stories. – Emanuel Lasker

I have known many chess players, but only one chess genius, Capablanca. – Emanuel Lasker

I did not believe I was superior to him. Perhaps the chief reason for his defeat was the overestimation of his own powers arising out of his overwhelming victory in New York, 1927, and his underestimation of mine. – Alexander Alekhine

With his death, we have lost a very great chess genius whose like we shall never see again. – Alexander Alekhine

It is astonishing how carefully Capablanca's combinations are calculated. Turn and twist as you will, search the variations in every way possible, you come to the inevitable conclusion that the moves all fit in with the utmost precision. – Max Euwe

I honestly feel very humble when I study Capablanca's games. – Max Euwe

Whether this advantage is theoretically sufficient to win or not does not worry Capablanca. He simply wins the ending. That is why he is Capablanca! – Max Euwe (on a Capablanca game)

Poor Capablanca! Thou wert a brilliant technician, but no philosopher. Thou wert not capable of believing that in chess, another style could be victorious than the absolutely correct one. – Max Euwe

What others could not see in a month's study, he saw at a glance. – Reuben Fine

It was impossible to win against Capablanca; against Alekhine it was impossible to play. – Paul Keres

Capablanca didn’t make separate moves - he was creating a chess picture. Nobody could compare with him in this. – Mikhail Botvinnik

Capablanca's play produced and still produces an irresistible artistic effect. In his games a tendency towards simplicity predominated, and in this simplicity there was a unique beauty of genuine depth. - Mikhail Botvinnik

You cannot play chess unless you have studied his games. – Mikhail Botvinnik

I think Capablanca had the greatest natural talent. – Mikhail Botvinnik

Without technique it is impossible to reach the top in chess, and therefore we all try to borrow from Capablanca his wonderful, subtle technique. - Mikhail Tal

I was brought up on the games of Capablanca and Nimzowitsch, and they became part of my chess flesh and blood. - Tigran Petrosian

Capablanca was possibly the greatest player in the entire history of chess. – Bobby Fischer.

Capablanca was among the greatest of chess players, but not because of his endgame. His trick was to keep his openings simple, and then play with such brilliance in the middlegame that the game was decided - even though his opponent didn't always know it - before they arrived at the ending. - Robert Fischer

Capablanca never really devoted himself to chess, seldom made match preperations. His simplicity is a myth. His almost complete lack of book knowledge forced him to push harder to squeeze the utmost out of every position. Every move he made had to be super-sharp so as to make something out of nothing. His player was forced. He had to try harder than anybody else because he had so little to begin with. - Robert Fischer

The ideal in chess can only be a collective image, but in my opinion it is Capablanca who most closely approaches this... His book was the first chess book that I studied from cover to cover. Of course, his ideas influenced me. - Anatoly Karpov

Capablanca invariably chose the right option, no matter how intricate the position. – Garry Kasparov.

Capablanca possessed an amazing ability to quickly see into a position and intuitively grasp its main features. His style, one of the purest, most crystal-clear in the entire history of chess, astonishes one with it's logic. - Garry Kasparov

Capablanca was a genius. He was an exception that did not obey any rule. - Vladimir Kramnik

We can compare Capablanca with Mozart, whose charming music appeared to have been a smooth flow. I get the impression that Capablanca did not even know why he preferred this or that move, he just moved the pieces with his hand. If he had worked a lot on chess, he might have played worse because he would have started to try to comprehend things. But Capablanca did not have to comprehend anything, he just had to move the pieces! - Vladimir Kramnik

Aug-06-09  LIFE Master AJ: <Visay> I appreciate <greatly!> all the great postings that you have done, however, you don't have to work to impress me.

I have always said that Capa was one of the best "natural" players of all time. (Only Morphy might have been better.)

I liked Kramnik's comparison to Mozart the best. BTW, I have annotated many of Capa's games on the Internet. Have you ever gone over any of them? If so, what did you think?

Aug-06-09  LIFE Master AJ: Of course there are dozens of authors - like Fred Reinfeld (and many others) - whom I respect enormously.

And a fair number of these distinguished writers, many of them who have annotated dozens (if not hundreds) of Capablanca's best games, have felt that Capa was the greatest player of all time.

Aug-06-09  visayanbraindoctor: <LIFE Master AJ> I found a link in your profile. <Have you ever gone over any of them? If so, what did you think?> I will do so when I have the time. (",)
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