Jose R. Capablanca, 1888-1942
World Chess Champion, 1921-1927
Jose Raul Capablanca y Graupera was born on November 19, 1888 in the Castillo del Principe in Havana, Cuba. His father, Jose Maria Capablanca (Jan 25, 1863-1923), born in Bayamos, Cuba, was an army officer in the Cuban (Spanish) Army. He was a lieutenant (later major) in the cavalry division stationed in Morro Castle, Havana. His mother was Matilde Maria Graupera y Marina (-1926), a housewife. Jose M. Capablanca and Matilda was married in 1884 and they had 11 children. The oldest son was Salvador Tadeo (1885-1940). Jose Raul was their second son. Alicia (born in 1890) was their first daughter. Other brothers included Ramiro (who died in 1944), Aquiles, and Carlos. Other sisters included Graciela, Aida, Zenaida, Clemencia, and Hilda.
Jose Raul Capablanca's grandfather, Tadeo, was also an Army officer who had been arrested many times for desertion in Cuba. In 1884, he killed his wife and then committed suicide at the age of 47.
According to Capablanca, Capablanca's early ancestors were Italians. The name was originally Capa (Cappa) Bianca (White Cloak). They settled in Spain during the reign of Charles (Carlos) IV of Spain (1748-1819), and the name became Capablanca.
Both his father and grandfather, played chess, but poorly.
According to Jose Capablanca, he learned the rules of chess in early 1893 at the age of four by watching his father play other opponents at the La Cabana fortress or at Morro Castle. After observing the game for three days, he was able to point out an illegal move that his Lieutenant father played against the commander of the fortress (General Emiliano Lono) during one of their games. His father had moved a knight from one white square to another white square and his opponent did not notice the illegal move. In another game, Jose pointed out to his father that a mate in five had been overlooked against his opponent. (source: Capablanca, "How I Knew to Play Chess," Munsey's Magazine, June 1916 and My Chess Career by Capablanca, 1920) In 1893, at the age of 4, Jose defeated his father, a weak player, the first time they played.
According to Capablanca, his father's friends persuaded him to take Jose to a brain specialist in Havana after witnessing Capablanca's mental powers in chess. The doctor examined Jose and said that he possessed mental powers unusual for a boy of his age, and that Jose should be prohibited from playing chess. Jose was keenly disappointed, as chess soon became a passion for him.
Capablanca explained later that he had an abnormally developed memory. He said he could read seven pages of history and recite them verbatim. He also mentioned that in chess, memory may be an aid, but it is not indispensable. One had to understand the basic principles. Young Capablanca was also very good at doing mental math calculations quickly.
Jose Raul Capablanca became the subject of much talk among the army troops and his own relatives. People were suddenly calling him a child prodigy. This prompted his parents in taking him to Alfredo Pereira Taveira's studios to take several photographs of Jose Raul. One photograph shows 4 year old Jose Raul playing chess with his father, Jose Maria Capablanca.
Jose Raul visited the Havana Chess Club as a 4-year old, and played a few games there. Since the chess table were too high for him, he would kneel on a chair and lean on the board with his arms crossed.
In September, 1893, Capablanca's first surviving game was played at the Havana Chess Club at age 4 years and 10 months. He played it against Ramon Iglesias, who played without a Queen. Capablanca won in 38 moves. It may be the youngest player published game in chess.
Capablanca's father did not take Jose Raul back to the Havana Chess Club until he was 8 years old. His father thought that excessive chess practice at such an early age would affect his son's health. Jose Raul began to play chess with his neighbors, and later, his school friends.
In October 1893, a photograph appeared in Havana's El Figaro of 4-year old Capablanca beside a chessboard. It was part of an article called "A Mexican Marvel and a Spanish Wonder," written by Andres Vazquez. He published the Iglesias — Capablanca game along with the article.
The first game that Capablanca played with an opponent of world-wide reputation was the Polish born-French chess master, Jean Taubenhaus (1850-1919), who was visiting Havana in 1894. Tabenhaus spotted the 5-year old Capablanca a queen when playing two games against him. Capablanca was said to have won both games.
From 1894 to 1897, the Capablanca family were constantly moving due to military orders. Captain Jose Maria Capablanca opposed the Spanish rule in Cuba and was known as a sympathizer or even a spy by rebel troops. Jose Maria's younger brother, Antonio, was arrested and condemned to prison in Spain.
There is no evidence that Capablanca played chess at all between 1897 and 1899.
Between 1898 and 1904, Capablanca went to school at the Matanzas Institute of Secondary Education (Instituto de Matanzas), 60 miles east of Havana. He took classes in mathematics, algebra, Latin, Spanish, and history.
In March 1900, Harry Nelson Pillsbury (1872-1906), visited the Havana Chess Club and gave a 16-board blindfold exhibition. There is no indication that Pillsbury and Capablanca met, but Pillsbury's play inspired Capablanca to play more chess. Capablanca wrote, "Pillsbury's displays... electrified me, and with the consent of my parents I began to visit the Havana Chess Club again. By leaps and bounds I reached the top class in three months."
In 1900, after the Pillsbury visit, his father took him to the Havana Chess Club to meet stronger players. Jose Raul Capablanca was, by far, the youngest member of the Havana Chess Club at age 12. Capablanca did not take any chess lessons. Don Celso Golmayo (1879-1924), the strongest player at the club, gave Capablanca rook odds, but soon was unable to do that.
From September 19, 1901 to October 21, 1901, Capablanca played a series of games against some of the leading players of the Havana Chess Club. He played Cuban champion Juan Corzo (losing 2), J. Antonio Blanco (winning 2), Marquez Sterling (one draw and one loss), Enrique Corzo (one win and one loss), and Dr. Mateo Fiol (one win and one draw). Capablanca won 13, lost 3, and drew 2.
On October 26, 1901, Capablanca gave his first simultaneous exhibition, winning seven games and losing one (to Augusto Valle) in Havana. Twenty opponents were invited, but only eight showed up.
In November 1901, Capablanca was given several chess books for the first time. One of the books was on chess endings, which Capablanca liked and studied.
In the November 1901 issue of the British Chess Magazine, Capablanca's name was mentioned as a child prodigy in an article about the Havana Chess Club.
Between November 17, 1901 and December 17, 1901, Jose played an informal match (the match was not intended as a contest for any title) with Cuban national champion Juan Corzo y Principe (1873-1941) and won, scoring 4 wins, 6 draws, and 3 losses. The victor was to be the player who first scored 4 wins. At the time, Corzo was the Havana Chess Club champion. Corzo won the Cuban Chess Championship five times (1898, 1902, 1907, 1912, and 1918). Some sources say this match was for the chess championship of Cuba. In My Chess Career, Capablanca wrote. "The victory made me, morally at least, the champion of Cuba." He had just turned 13 years old and one month. Capablanca returned to Aguacate, a town 45 miles east of Havana, where his family had just purchased a farm. When he got off the train, people carried him on their shoulders in triumph.
In April 1902, Jose, age 13, played in the "Cuban national championship" (won by Juan Corzo) and took 4th place out of six, losing 5 games. He lost both his games against J. Corzo. He also lost a game to E. Corzo, G. Fernandez, and A. Fiol. The tournament was played at the Havana Chess Club.
On September 30, 1902, Capablanca returned to school at the Matanzas Institute.
On April 25-26, 1903, a telegraph cable match was played between the Manhattan Chess Club and the Havana Chess Club. The Manhattan team won. Capablanca participated on the Havana team. The April 26, 1903 issue of the New York Times, mentioned Capablanca as one of the team members of the Havana Chess Club. This is the first time that Capablanca's name appeared in the American press.
In 1903, Capablanca devoted his time to high school courses. He was a mediocre student and barely passed his classes.
Capablanca finished high school on June 24, 1904. He wrote a graduation thesis called "Explanation and Exposition of Deductive Reasoning."
On July 30, 1904, Capablanca boarded the steamboat Morra Castle and left Cuba for the first time, on his way to New York and New Jersey. He arrived in New York on August 2, 1904. His education would be paid for, but Capablanca has to promise just one thing: not to play chess.
In August 1904, Jose went to a private school (Woodycliff Preparatory School) in South Orange, New Jersey to learn English and to prepare himself to enter Columbia University. The tuition was paid by Ramon San Pelayo de la Torriente, a Cuban businessman in the sugar trade. (source: New York Tribune, Jan 8, 1905, p. 12) Capablanca's interests included mathematics, history, philosophy, and medicine. He was also good at sports (baseball and tennis especially) and aspired to learn to play the violin.
In October 1904, Capablanca was introduced to Professor Isaac Rice (1850-1915), who invited him to be part of a committee dedicated in the study and analysis of the Rice Gambit. The secretary of the Rice Gambit committee was world champion Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941).
In late 1904, Capablanca was an occasional visitor of the Manhattan Chess Club.
In January, 1905, Capablanca was formerly introduced to the Manhattan Chess Club, located in the upper floor of the Carnegie Hall Building, corner of 7th Avenue and 57th Street. He was introduced to the club by Cuban tobacconist Alfred Ettlinger, who played Capablanca in Havana in 1901. The president of the club was Aristides Martinez. One of his first games at the Manhattan Chess Club was with Joseph Redding, a lawyer. Capablanca won in 29 moves on January 5, 1905.
In January 1905, Capablanca was experimenting with the Rice Gambit and played several off-hand games with Professor Isaac Rice (1850-1915) and Dr. Hermann Keidanz (1865-1938).
In September 1905, Capablanca attended Graff College at 228 West 72nd Street in Manhattan, New York. It was here that Capablanca prepared for the Columbia University entrance exams.
In December 1905, Capablanca was asked to be an assistant and arbiter to Hermann Helms (1870-1963) and A. W. Fox, tournament directors for the 4th Inter University Championship.
On January 11, 1906, Capablanca gave a 19-board simultaneous exhibition at the Manhattan Chess Club, winning 16, losing 2, and drawing 1. It took him 2 hours and 45 minutes for his first simul in the USA. World champion Emanuel Lasker, who was a spectator, said it was the quickest-ever display he had ever seen.
On February 24, 1906, Capablanca attended Isaac Rice's 56th birthday party at Rice's home.
In March 1906, Capablanca was asked to be an arbiter in the annual chess match between Yale and Princeton.
On April 6, 1906, Capablanca attended the opening of the Rice Chess Club where he met world champion Emanuel Lasker.
In 1906, Capablanca passed with ease the entrance examinations (he was especially good at algebra) and entered Columbia University to study mechanical and chemical engineering. At the time, Columbia University tuition was $600 ($16,000 in today's currency).
In September 1906, Jose entered Columbia University (Class of 1910) to study mechanical and chemical engineering (and perhaps plays professional baseball). Capablanca was soon selected as shortstop for the Columbia University freshman team, and later played second base, where he was varsity team captain. He was a student at the School of Mines and Engineering. He resided in the Hartley Building, one of the dormitories on campus. Capablanca only registered for the mechanical engineering program and did not stay long enough at Columbia to register for the chemical engineering program. Capablanca was proficient in math but was still struggling with the English language.
In November 1906, Capablanca joined the Manhattan Chess Club. His first game was with Albert Fox (1881-1964), the current champion of the Manhattan Chess Club. Capablanca defeated him easily. Capablanca was soon regarded as the club's strongest player. In quick and lightning chess, he was easily the best player at the club.
In November 1906, Capablanca had just joined the Columbia University chess club. In December, Capablanca played board 1 and defeated other top boards at other chess clubs around New York, including the Brooklyn Chess Club, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Columbia won the US Intercollegiate Championship, scoring 11.5 out of 12. Capablanca was Captain of the Columbia University Chess Team.
In December 1906, Capablanca came ahead of world champion Emanuel Lasker in a rapid-transit (20 seconds a move) knock-out tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York with 32 players. Capablanca and Lasker met in the final round in which Capablanca won. He had just turned 18. Hermann Helms said that Capablanca was the best impromptu player of the day bar none. (source: Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan 20, 1907, p. 4)
From 1907 until the mid-1930s, Capablanca was considered the fastest chess player in the world.
In March 1907, Capablanca played on the American team in the 7th annual Anglo-American universities (Columbia, Yale and Harvard) cable match against Oxford and Cambridge for the I.L. Rice international trophy. Capablanca drew his game with H. J. Rose of Oxford at Board No. 1.
Capablanca spent much of his time at the Manhattan Chess Club and played many games with the current world champion, Emanuel Lasker. Capablanca won a rapids chess tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club, ahead of Lasker.
In 1907, Capablanca gave a 22-board simultaneous exhibition at the Manhattan Chess Club and won all his games in two hours.
During the first year at Columbia, Capablanca failed in industrial technical drawing, English, and history of the United States. He never started his second year at Columbia.
In February 1908, Capablanca was supposed to play a chess match with Julius Finn, but it was cancelled.
In May and August, 1908, Capablanca had to repeat some examinations at Columbia due to poor grades.
In the summer of 1908, Capablanca tried to play baseball for one of the semi-professional summer leagues in New York. He later suffered a shoulder injury.
The September 1908 issue of Lasker's Chess Magazine published the only chess problem Capablanca composed. It was a study where White wins with rook and knight vs. rook and 7 pawns. The comment by the composition editors Sam Loyd and Herman Keidanz was "Capablanca's ending is an original contribution and a very interesting stratagem." It was later shown that the study was flawed and that Black could draw.
In 1908 Capablanca's patron, Ramon San Pelayo, withdrew his financial support because Capablanca was giving too much time to chess and not enough time to studies to become a chemical engineer. Capablanca then attempted to live by means of chess. Capablanca writes that after two years at Columbia University, of which he did a great deal of physical sport (baseball), he left the University to dedicate most of his time to chess.
Capablanca played second base and short stop on the Columbia University baseball team. In one of the games, Capablanca suffered a back injury which caused him pain for the rest of his life.
Years later, Capablanca was interviewed by a newspaper in Madrid, Spain, in which Capablanca said, "And because of a quarrel I had with my family, I devoted myself to chess in the year 1908."
According to Columbia University, Capablanca enrolled at Columbia's School of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry to study chemical engineering. Later, his financial support was withdrawn because he preferred playing chess to studying engineering.
One of Capablanca's chess-playing classmates at Columbia, Louis Jacob Wolff (1886-1985), remarked that Capablanca never "learnt to learn." Even at chess, Capablanca wanted only to play, and never studied books on the game. (source: Hooper and Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess, p. 67)
In November 1908, Capablanca dropped out of Columbia University and decided to tour the country and give simultaneous chess exhibitions. He said it was due to a desire to see more of the United States and Canada. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov 15, 1908, p. 16) Capablanca also coached the Columbia chess team.
The December 1908 American Chess Bulletin (ACB) announced that it was organizing a simultaneous exhibition chess tour for Capablanca. The American Chess Bulletin (Hartwig Cassel and Hermann Helms) arranged for Capablanca's first chess tour. Capablanca was hailed as a second Paul Morphy. Later on, Capablanca did not get along with Cassel and Helms, accusing them of mismanagement and publishing the Marshall-Capablanca's games. Capablanca maintained that he and Marshall retained rights to the games. Capablanca's tours only brought in four new ACB subscribers.
By the end of 1908, Capablanca had played in nine of the Manhattan Chess Club's knockout tournaments with a time limit of 20 seconds a move, and won six of them.
On January 5, 1909, Capablanca gave a 25-board simul at the Rice Chess Club.
From January 12, 1909 through March, 1909, Capablanca made a tour of the United States and played in 27 cities. In 10 exhibitions he won 168 games in a row before losing a game in Minneapolis. He gave exhibitions in New York City (20 wins, 1 loss, 4 draws) and Washington DC (18 wins, 4 losses, 1 draw). He then started on his tour and went to Troy (25-0), Schenectady (30-0), Utica (11-0), Rochester (13-0), Buffalo (20-0 and 10-0), Toronto (23-0), Cleveland (20 wins and 1 draw — to H. Lane), Detroit (15-0), Milwaukee (15 wins, 1 draw), Minneapolis (19 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss), St. Paul (6-0), Forest City (25-0), Sioux City (16-0), Lincoln (won 13, lost 4, then 25-0, the 15 wins and 1 draw), Des Moines (25-0), Newton (17-0), Kansas City, (15 wins, 4 losses), Humboldt (28-0), St. Louis (16 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss, then 17 wins, 1 draw), Memphis (13 wins, 4 draws), New Orleans (16 wins and 1 draw), Indianola (10 wins and 1 loss) Indianapolis (12-0), Cincinnati (14 wins and 1 draw), Lexington (23-0), Gambier (23-0) and Pittsburgh (41 wins, 2 losses and 5 draws). On his tour, Capablanca played 602 games. He won 571 games, lost 13, and drew 18 (source: Brandreth & Hooper, The Unknown Capablanca, p. 181). Another source says that Capablanca played 657 games, winning 621, losing 14, and drawing 19. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mar 8, 1909, p. 12). Another source says that Capablanca played 720 games, winning 686, losing 14, and drawing 20 (source: Sanchez, Jose Raul Capablanca, A Chess Biography, p. 112). This performance gained him sponsorship for an exhibition match that year with Frank Marshall.
Before Capablanca lost his first game in Minneapolis during his simul tour, he had won 234 games and drew 4 games. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan 31, 1909, p 14)
Capablanca charged $25 for a maximum of 25 boards in his exhibitions, plus railroad fare.
In 1909, Capablanca writes that he played 28 games in Hoboken in 1 hour and 40 minutes, losing only one after having refused a draw.
In March 1909, Capablanca entered the Manhattan Chess Club handicap tournament, and won with 11 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss.
On March 9, 1909, U.S. Champion Frank Marshall (and one of the top 10 players in the world) agreed to an unofficial match with Capablanca and signed a contract. The match would be played in April-May. The winner would be the one who first scored 8 wins, draws not counting. The prize was a $600 to the winner. Marshall was so sure that he would win the match that he didn't even read the contract.
On March 31, 1909, Capablanca defeated Jacob C. Rosenthal (1881-1954) in a rapid-transit tournament held at the Rice Chess Club, scoring 5 wins and 4 losses. They played again on April 5, 1909 and Capablanca won 5-0, with 2 draws.
On April 1, 1909, Capablanca gave a simul in New York, winning 25 and drawing 4. The next day, he went to Philadelphia, where he won 16, lost 2, and drew 4.
On April 7, 1909, Capablanca won a marathon rapid transit handicap tournament at the Rice Chess Club in Manhattan. He won 18 and lost 1.
In April, 1909, Capablanca won the annual handicap tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club with a score of 12 out of 14.
From April 19, 1909 to June 23, 1909, U.S. Champion Frank Marshall (1877-1944) played his match with Capablanca for $600 a side. The match was held at the Hotel Ansonia in New York.
Capablanca won the match with 8 wins, 14 draws, and 1 loss. After the match, Capablanca said that he had never opened a book on chess openings. In print, Capablanca was called the Cuban champion and the Pan-American chess champion and the "Cuban Morphy." Capablanca demonstrated complete superiority over Frank Marshall, who was one of the top 10 players in the world.
After the Marshall match, Akiba (Akiva) Rubinstein (1880-1961), champion of Russia, challenged Capablanca. Capablanca was also challenged by Rudolf Pokorny (1880- ?), who claimed he was champion of Mexico.
After the Marshall match, Capablanca went to Montreal on June 29-30, 1909, where he won 12 and drew 3 in his first simul. The next day, he won 15, lost 1, and drew 2. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 4, 1909, p. 46)
In July 1909, the New York State Chess Association eliminated the match for the U.S. chess championship after a protest from Capablanca. Capablanca wanted to return to his home in Havana, Cuba for 6 weeks. He took the stand that in view of his decisive defeat of U.S. chess champion Frank Marshall, Capablanca must be considered in any contest involving the title of the champion of the United States. (source: New York Times, July 11, 1909, p. 30)
On July 19, 1909, Capablanca returned to Havana after an absence of nearly five years. He wrote that he nearly forgotten Spanish — his mother tongue. He gave exhibition matches during his stay in Cuba. He also defeated Juan Corzo in 3 games. Capablanca also tried to play some blindfold chess, but wasn't very good at it.
Capablanca returned to New York on September 22, 1909, and said the following, "By my victory over Marshall, I have taken the position as the strongest representative on this side of the Atlantic. Therefore, I consider myself the ‘champion of America,' and stand ready to defend my title within a year against any American of the USA or anywhere else, for a side bet of at least $1,000." (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sep 26, 1909, p. 35)
In September 1909, Capablanca had accepted a challenge to play the Mexican champion, Rudolf Pokorny, in a match of 15 games at $500 a side. The planned match was later cancelled when officials of the Club Internacional de Ajedrez Mexico denied that Pokorny was the Mexican champion. It was all a hoax.
On October 12, 1909, Capablanca gave a simul in Hackensack, New Jersey, and won 25 and drew 5. He then gave a simul in Washington, DC, winning 13, drawing 1, and losing 1. He also gave simuls at the Manhattan Chess Club, Hoboken, New Jersey, the Rice Chess Club, and at Hartford, Connecticut. He played 138 games, winning 117, losing 8, and drawing 13. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov 13, 1909, p. 8)
From November 1909 to January 1910, Capablanca went on another USA simultaneous tour and won 469, lost 17, and drew 23 in 25 exhibitions around the country. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec 27, 1909, p. 24) The American Chess Bulletin, which sponsored Capablanca, reported that Capablanca won 542 games, drew 22, and lost 17.
In January 1910, Capablanca was editor-in-chief of The Chess Weekly. The magazine, owned by W. Napier and Magnus Smith, disappeared with its March 12, 1910 issue. In 11 weeks, Capablanca provided notes to all the games of the world chess championship match between Lasker and Schlechter, wrote about the theory of openings, and analyzed an ending.
In 1910, Capablanca played at least four occasions on board 1 for the Manhattan Chess Club against other chess clubs.
In February-March 1910, Capablanca won the 32nd New York State Association Championship, held at the Rice Chess Club in the Cafe Boulevard in New York, with 6 wins and 1 draw (to Charles Jaffe). In round 2, he defeated U.S. chess champion Frank Marshall again. Capablanca beat Jaffe in the play-offs. Marshall had to miss a game because of jury duty. This tournament was the first official chess tournament that Capablanca played in.
On March 26, 1910, Capablanca gave a 30-board simul at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. He won 27, lost 2, and drew 1.
In April 1910, Capablanca beat George Beihoff in a match where Capablanca gave pawn and move odds. Capablanca won 5, drew 1 and lost 1. Beihoff took 3rd place in the Manhattan Chess Club championship, behind Marshall and Johner, and, later, won the New York State championship. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Apr 3, 1910, p. 19)
In 1910, Capablanca was captain of the Collegiate Baseball Team and their home games were played at Park Ridge, New Jersey.
In the summer of 1910, Capablanca was invited to take part in the International Tournament at Hamburg on recommendation from world champion Emanuel Lasker. He accepted the invitation, and was ready to start when health problems prevented him from making the trip. Carl Schlechter won at Hamburg, followed by Duras, Nimzowitsch, Spielmann, Teichmann, Marshall, Duz-Khotimirsky, Alekhine (his first international tournament), Tarrasch, Forgacs, Leonhardt, Tartakower, Salwe, Kohnlein, Speijer, John, Yates, and Jacob. Alexander Alekhine was invited only after Capablanca was unable to attend.
In 1910, Frank Marshall was invited to play in a chess tournament at San Sebastian, Spain. Marshall insisted that Capablanca also be allowed to play. It was to be one of the strongest tournaments ever held, with all the world's leading chess players competing except for world champion Lasker. Casablanca's entry was originally reserved for Emanuel Lasker. If Lasker had shown up, Capablanca would not be invited to play. San Sebastian would be the strongest chess tournament since Nuremberg in 1896.
In November 1910 through January 1911, Capablanca made another tour of the US. He then rode on a train for 23 hours straight to get back to New York to play in the New York State championship. In his 3rd tour, he gave 15 exhibitions. He won 234, lost 8, and drew 12. He gave simuls in Schenectady, Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis.
In January-February 1911, Capablanca took 2nd place (behind Frank Marshall who scored 10-2) in the National Masters' tournament in New York, with 8 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss (to Roy T. Black, Brooklyn chess champion). His second place earnings was $125 ($1,800 in today's currency).
After the New York Masters' tournament in February 1911, Capablanca sailed for Europe, via England, for the first time on the steamship Lusitania. He was traveling to participate in the San Sebastian International Tournament in Spain. The event was played in the Grand Casino of San Sebastian.
In March 1911, Capablanca won at San Sebastian (which began on Feb 20), an international masters' tournament in Spain, on his first attempt (the last person to do that was Pillsbury when he won Hastings 1895). He won 6, drew 7, and lost 1 (to Rubinstein) ahead of Rubinstein and Vidmar.
One anecdote, with no proof, was that before the tournament, both Aron Nimzowitsch and Dr. Ossip Bernstein protested that such an unknown player should not play in this event. According to Capablanca, the entry condition was that each player has to have won at least 3rd place in two master tournaments. An exception was made for Capablanca because of his victory over Marshall. Capablanca then proceeded to beat Bernstein in the first round (winning the Albert Salomon von Rothschild (1884-1911) prize for the most brilliant game of the tournament and 500 extra francs) and Nimzowitsch in a later round. First place was 5,000 francs (over $25,000 in today's currency).
Following Capablanca were Rubinstein, Vidmar, Marshall, Tarrasch, Schlechter, Nimzowitsch, Bernstein, Spielmann, Teichmann, Maroczy, Janowski, Burn, Duras, and Leonhardt. The event was organized by Jacques Mieses.
During his games, Capablanca would make a move and then leave the table for a stroll while his opponent was thinking. Capablanca believed that since his opponent had so many moves to choose from, it was not possible to foresee the next move of his opponent, therefore getting up from the board saved mental energy.
At age 22, Capablanca was now considered the 2nd strongest player in the world, after Emanuel Lasker.
During the course of the tournament, Nimzowitsch was playing blitz chess and told Capablanca not to interfere, as he was not a reputed master yet. Capablanca then challenged Nimzowitsch and anyone else in blitz chess for a side bet. Capablanca won all his games with ease. All the masters finally agreed that Capablanca had no equal in quick chess.
In print, Capablanca was being called "a second Morphy." However, a New York Times article disagreed. The author wrote, "Capablanca shows no such superiority to his rivals as did Morphy, and he has been content to contend with them for the gaining and holding of small advantages — the savings-bank game, as it has been derisively called by those who resent the recent criticism of Morphy. And chess, after all, is only a game — a magnificent game, to be sure, but mastery of it is not a particularly enviable achievement, since it leads to nothing in itself beyond a scanty and not very dignified livelihood, and from it only few and dubious inferences can be drawn as to the mental equipment of its possessors. Strangely few of the best players have been able to do anything else notably well, and the common belief that chess supplies mental training applicable in other directions is not borne out by the history of the game." (source: New York Times, March 21, 1911, p. 10).
After Capablanca's success at San Sebastian, President Gomez of Cuba headed a subscription to buy Capablanca a house and lot in Cuba. (source: New York Tribune, Sep 10, 1911, p. 9)
In March and April, 1911 Capablanca made his first European tour. He gave exhibitions in France, the Netherlands, and Germany. The Dutch gathered their strongest players to play against Capablanca in the simultaneous exhibitions, but in 6 exhibitions, Capablanca won 134 games, drew 10, and lost 6. Overall, in his European tour, he gave 10 exhibitions, winning 234, losing 19, and drawing 33 (Sanchez gives 237 wins, 19 losses, and 30 draws).
From May through August 1911, Capablanca gave simuls in Argentina and Uruguay. The total results of his simuls in Argentina were 112 wins, 3 losses, and 9 draws.
In 1911, after San Sebastian, Capablanca went into business with Frederick D. Rosebault (1888-1945), who was involved with trying to secure a world championship match with Lasker. Rosebault had a mail order firm in Westfield, New Jersey, that dealt in chess goods, periodicals, books, and stationary. Rosebault also used the pseudonym Dana Welles. Rosebault became Capablanca's manager.
Capablanca started his 2nd European tour in September 1911, which continued through November, 1911. He won 532 games, lost 54, and drew 66 games. He gave simuls in The Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. He also gave simuls in Prague, Budapest, and Vienna.
In September 1911, Eugene Znosko-Borovsky (1884-1954) lectured on Capablanca's play at the Moscow Chess Group. This lecture was published by the St. Petersburg Chess Assembly. Znosko-Borovsky's J.R. Capablanca: An Attempt at a Characterization, was the first chess book written about Capablanca.
In October 1911, Capablanca challenged Emanuel Lasker for the world championship. Lasker made 17 demands. Among them, Lasker wanted the match limited to 30 games; first person winning 6 games would be world champion, draws not counting. The challenger also had to win by 2 games to claim the world championship title. Lasker also wanted Capablanca to put of $2,000 in forfeit money (over $194,000 in today's currency). In former matches, the amount was $500 in forfeit money. Lasker also wanted the time control to be 12 moves an hour and an adjournment after 5 hours of play. Lasker also stipulated that all the games would be the property of Lasker. (source: New York Tribune, Nov 23, 1911, p. 8) Capablanca objected to the time limit of 12 moves and hour (too slow) and other conditions. Lasker resented the tone of Capablanca's letter about the conditions, so Lasker broke off the negotiations. Lasker wote to Mr. Shipley, "By his [Capablanca] letter to me, Capablanca has aimed a deliberate blow against my professional honor. I therefore broke off all direct negotiations with him." (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mar 12, 1912, p. 20) The two were not on speaking terms for two years, and it would be 10 more years before the two of them agreed to the conditions of a match and play for the world championship in 1921. Lasker then accepted a challenge from Akiba Rubinstein, but Rubinstein was unable to raise enough money to meet Lasker's financial demands.
In November 1911, Capablanca gave his first simultaneous exhibition in England when he took on the City of London Chess Club, considered the strongest chess club in the world at the time. The London club won 9 games from Capablanca, drawing 3, and losing 16. It was the most Capablanca ever lost in simultaneous exhibitions. His overall results in England was 65 wins, 11 losses, and 6 draws.
From December 20, 1911 to April 12, 1912, Capablanca was in Cuba and gave many simultaneous exhibitions.
On December 24, 1911, the first living game played in Cuba was carried out by Jose Capablanca and Juan Corzo.
On March 31, 1912, Capablanca began a Sunday chess column in the Cuban newspaper Diario de la Marina. It lasted until June 30, 1913.
In April 1912, Capablanca published a Spanish language chess magazine, Capablanca Magazine, in Havana. It lasted until 1914. Juan Corzo was the editor and administrator.
In April 1912, Capablanca began his 4th annual chess tour of the United States. He started in New Orleans where he won 21, lost 1, and drew 1 in his first exhibition, then won 17-0 in the next exhibition at the New Orleans Chess, Checkers and Whist Club. He went on to give a simul in Winnipeg, Canada, his first trip to Canada. During his 6-week tour, he won 316 games, lost 10, and drew 3.
In August 1912, the newspapers announced that Capablanca married a member of a prominent Western family and that the wedding took place at Summit, New Jersey. Capablanca did not marry anyone, but he was having a love affair. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug 29, 1912, p. 21) The lady was Miss Eleanora Young, who lived with Capablanca for 6 years. He later married Gloria Simoni Betancourt in 1921.
In September 1912, Capablanca announced that he was going to be editor-in-chief of a new chess magazine in English, called The Chess Forum. The magazine never appeared.
In September 1912, Capablanca resigned from the Manhattan Chess Club over an argument of a readmission of a certain former member. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sep 6, 1912).
In December 1912, Capablanca had a falling out of his former business partner, F. D. Rosebault. Capablanca had to go to court to answer a summons that Rosebault accused Capablanca of taking personal effects from the office which they formerly occupied in Westfield, New Jersey. Capablanca took some of Rosebault's papers, letters, cigars, and liquor bottles from the office and said he would return them in after Rosebault returned Capablanca's gold medals given to him by the city of Havana. (source: Virginia Gazetter, Jan 2, 1913, p. 7)
In January-February 1913, Capablanca returned to New York and won the second American National Chess Masters' Tournament with 11/13 (losing to Charles Jaffe), half a point ahead of Marshall. He called Marshall the Champion of the United States and himself the Champion of all the Americas. When the tournament was finished, all the participants were invited to Havana, where another chess tournament would be played.
In February 1913, Capablanca almost missed the ship to take him to Havana for another chess tournament. Just as the ship was about to leave New York, Capablanca dashed down the pier in a taxicab just in time to be taken aboard. As he reached the gangplank, he said, "I have never lost a game on time limit yet." (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb 9, 1913, p. 15). On the return voyage from Havana to New York, he did miss the boat.
In February-March 1913, Capablanca took second (after Frank Marshall) in a Havana tournament. Capablanca lost one game to Marshal and one game to Dawid Janowski. This was the first international chess tournament in the Americas outside the United States. There were about 1,200 spectators that attended the first round of the event (and the last round), which was held on the 5th floor of the Plaza Hotel. Because of the crowd, the tournament was later moved to the social and cultural institution Ateneo de La Habana.
According to Reuben Fine, Capablanca had the mayor of Havana clear the tournament room of all spectators so that Capablanca could resign his game to Frank Marshall without anyone seeing him admit defeat. Newspaper accounts do not support this. The newspaper covering the event said there were over 600 people present, and when Capablanca resigned, the crowd gave Marshall a thunderous applause. The final round had attracted about 1,200 people, creating a lot of noise during the chess tournament.
Reuben Fine also wrote that Marshall was frightened by a possible revolt by Capablanca fans if Marshall had defeated Capablanca. However, Marshall wrote, "When the result was announced (Marshall beating Capablanca), the crowd let out a terrific roar. At first I thought they were after my blood for defeating their idol and asked an escort to my hotel. It turned out, however, that the good Cubans were just showing their sportsmanship and were cheering me." (source: Marshall, My Fifty Years of Chess, p. 20)
In June 1913, Capablanca wrote a book on the Havana 1913 tournament, called Torneo Internacional de Ajedrez, La Habana 1913. It was the only tournament book he wrote. Edward Winter wrote an English translation, Havana 1913, in 1976.
In July 1913, Capablanca returned to New York and went 13-0 in a New York tournament held at the Rice Chess Club's masters' tournament. It was called the Rice Chess Club Summer Tournament. Oldrich Duras took 2nd with 8.5 points.
In July, 1913 Capablanca officially obtained a post in the Cuban Foreign Office. He was expected to be an ambassador-at-large for Cuba. His official title was "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary General from the Government of Cuba to the World at Large." His first instructions were to go the Saint Petersburg and participate in a major chess tournament. A Cuban consulate was established in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Capablanca was appointed vice-consul at the new consulate. (source: New York Tribune, Jul 4, 1913, p. 3)
In September 1913, Capablanca was back in Cuba. At the time, the Havana Chess Club was in financial trouble. The club had not paid their monthly rent to the Hotel Plaza for five months. Also, the club's treasurer, Andres Pous, took all the club's treasury money and left town. The police were informed about the embezzlement and Pous was found and arrested. Capablanca gave several simultaneous exhibitions on Havana to raise money for the club. Players paid money to play Capablanca and the public has to pay admittance to the exhibitions. Capablanca raised enough money to keep the club going for another two years.
In October 1913 to March 1914 Capablanca traveled to Europe on his way to the Consulate at St Petersburg to play matches or exhibition games against their leading masters. In serious games, he scored 19 wins, 4 draws, and 1 loss during that period. He gave simultaneous exhibitions in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Warsaw, Riga, St. Petersburg, Kiev, and Moscow. He defeated Richard Teichmann and Jacques Mieses in matches, winning all his games. Capablanca took on all masters 1 minute to 5 minutes in blitz chess and won every game.
In December 1913, after arriving in Saint Petersburg, Capablanca defeated Alexander Alekhine, Eugene Znosko-Borovsky, and Fyodor Duz-Chotimirsky in matches. He only lost one game against these Russians (a loss to Znosko-Borovsky).
On February 7, 1914, Capablanca won a consultation game against Alexei Alekhine (brother of Alexander Alekhine) and L.I. Estrin.
In April 1914, Capablanca won the preliminary section of the St. Petersburg tournament, scoring 8 out of 10. He was followed by Tarrasch and Emanuel Lasker.
In April-May 1914, Capablanca, age 25, took 2nd in the St Petersburg tournament (10 wins, 2 losses, 6 draws), 1/2 point behind Lasker, age 45. Czar Nicholas II conferred the title "Grandmaster of Chess" on Capablanca and four others (Lasker, Alekhine, Tarrasch, and Marshall) for the top five finishers. The Czar also contributed 1,000 rubles.
In June 1914, Capablanca was transferred from the Cuban Embassy at St. Petersburg to the one in Berlin (he had asked for Buenos Aires). Capablanca then resigned from his post of general consul. From Berlin he traveled to Paris.
In July 1914, Capablanca left Europe on a German steamer for a second trip to South America. World War I broke out (July 28, 1914) while Capablanca was in mid-ocean from Cherbourg to Buenos Aires, but he reached his destination safely in August after his German ship pulled into the nearest port and Capablanca continued to Buenos Aires on a British ship. Capablanca visited Argentina twice, where in each occasion he fulfilled a six-week engagement at the Club Argentino de Ajedrez. On each visit, he won every game. On his second visit, Capablanca played and won ten exhibition games and six consultation games.
Capablanca was unable to return to the USA after his South American engagement as German raiders were doing heavy damage on ships. Finally, through the courtesy of the Argentine Ministers for Foreign Affairs, he was allowed to board an Argentine naval ship going to Philadelphia. He arrived in Philadelphia on January 16, 1915.
On February 12, 1915, Capablanca played 65 boards and 84 opponents (150 if you add the kibitzers and consultants) in Brooklyn. He won 48, lost 5, and drew 12 in 6 3/4 hours. There were approximately 500 spectators at the event. At the time, it was a record for the most simultaneous games played, breaking Marshall's record of 57 games (46 wins and 11 draws) in April, 1913. Before the exhibition started, 12 chess sets were missing to make up the 65 boards. A messenger went to the Brooklyn Chess Club and borrowed 12 chess sets. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb 13, 1915)
In March-April 1915, Capablanca went on his 5th US tour, giving 16 exhibitions. Of 404 games, he won 388 games, lost 2, and drew 14, a record for consistent winning. (source Pittsburgh Post, Jun 6, 1915, p. 44)
In April-May 1915, Capablanca won the National Masters's tournament in New York with 12 wins and 2 draws (both draws to Frank Marshall).
During the tournament, on April 17, 1915, the participants were invited to the Pathe News film studio, where they were filmed as if they were playing in the tournament. The film was then exhibited in numerous movie theaters in the United States. This may have been the first time that chess masters appeared on the big screen in movie theaters. An article on the chess movie appeared in the American Chess Bulletin, May-June 1915, p. 91.
In June 1915, Capablanca returned to Cuba. He had been gone from Cuba for over 20 months. He returned to New York in November.
On November 19, 1915 (Capablanca's 27th birthday), Capablanca participated in a Good Companion problem-solving tournament at the Franklin Chess Club in Philadelphia. He solved ten two-movers in 21 minutes. He then gave a simultaneous exhibition, winning 15, drawing 1, and losing 1. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov 20, 1915).
Late in 1915, Capablanca made his 6th US tour, winning 209, losing 8, and drawing 5.
During World War I Capablanca stayed in New York, winning events there in 1914, 1915, 1916, and 1918. He only lost one game during these years.
In January 1916, Capablanca gave a 33-board simul at the Manhattan Chess Club. He won 30 games, drew 2, and lost only one — to a woman. Lupe Requena, daughter of a well known Mexican amateur chess player, beat Capablanca in 37 moves as Black. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan 12, 1916, p. 21)
[Event "Simul, 33b"]
[Site "Manhattan CC, New York, NY USA"]
[White "Jose Raul Capablanca"]
[Black "Lupe Requena"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d4 Nxe4 6. O-O b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. c3 Be7 10. Nbd2 Nc5 11. Bc2 d4 12. Ne4 dxc3 13. Nxc5 Bxc5 14. Be4 Qd7 15. Qc2 Bd5 16. Bxd5 Qxd5 17. Qxc3 Nd4 18. Nxd4 Bxd4 19. Qxc7 O-O 20. Qd6 Qxe5 21. Qxe5 Bxe5 22. a4 b4 23. a5 Rfc8 24. Ra4 Rab8 25. Re1 f6 26. b3 Rc3 27. Bb2 Rxb3 28. Bxe5 fxe5 29. Kf1 Rc3 30. Rb1 b3 31. Ra3 Kf7 32. Ke2 Ke6 33. Rb2 Kd5 34. Kd2 Kc4 35. Ra1 Rd8+ 36. Ke1 Rc2 37. Rbb1 b2 0-1
In January-February 1916, Capablanca won the Rice Memorial Masters Tournament, held in honor of Professor Isaac Rice, who had died in November, 1915. Dawid Janowski took 2nd place.
On February 10, 1916, in the New York 1916 event, Capablanca lost his only game, to Oscar Chajes. He would not lose another tournament chess game for 8 years.
In late February 1916, Frank Marshall challenged Capablanca to a match to decide the title "Pan-American Champion." No match was ever played.
The October 1916 issue of Munsey's Magazine carried an article by Capablanca entitled, "How I Learned to Play Chess." He was playing his father at age 4.
Practically all of 1917 was spent by Capablanca in Cuba. He said he used that time to study the chess openings for the first time. He also served as president of the Havana Chess Club.
In 1918, Capablanca gave chess lessons to Maria Teresa Mora (1902-1980), his only known student of chess. Mora was the first woman to win the Cuban Chess Championship (in 1922).
Capablanca returned to New York in May 1918.
On September 12, 1918, Capablanca had to register in the military service of the United States, despite being a Cuban diplomat.
In October 1918, the Manhattan Chess Club sponsored a master's tournament. The event saw the introduction of the famous Marshall Attack of the Ruy Lopez that Frank Marshall prepared against Capablanca. Capablanca won that game in round 1 (October 23, 1918) and won the tournament with 10.5 out of 12. Boris Kostic took 2nd place.
In March-April 1919, Capablanca beat the Serbian master Boris Kostic of Hungary 5-0 in a match held in Havana. The match was to be one of 8 games, draws not counting. The match was financially supported by the president of Cuba.
In August 1919, Capablanca won at Hastings with 10 wins and 1 draw (to Kostic). The Victory Tournament at Hastings was the first international competition on Allied soil since 1914. It was also the first attempt in England to hold an international tournament in 20 years. After Capablanca's victory at Hastings, many local newspapers identified him as "The World Champion."
In October 1919, Capablanca toured England, Ireland, and Scotland, and gave large simultaneous exhibitions in 28 cities. In that month, he played 656 games. Overall, he played 1,374 games, winning 1,273, losing 31, and drawing 71.
In November 1919, Capablanca received a letter from the Dutch Chess Federation, asking him whether he would be willing to play a match with Dr. Lasker and under what conditions. Capablanca replied by return mail that he was willing to play, but did not list any conditions until he had a chance to meet with Lasker to discuss it.
On December 2, 1919, Capablanca played a team of 38 members of the British House of Commons. He won 36 and drew 2. Capablanca is the only chess master to have given a chess exhibition in the Palace of Westminster.
On January 23, 1920, Capablanca and Lasker met at The Hague and signed an agreement to play a World Championship match in 1921. Capablanca's record before the world championship match was nine 1st places and three 2nd places in 12 tournaments.
In 1920 Capablanca wrote My Chess Career. In it, he described a hopeful world championship match with Lasker. He wrote, "I hope the match will come. The sooner the better, as I don't want to play an old man, but a master in the plenitude of his powers."
In March 1920, Capablanca returned to New York, then traveled to Havana.
On June 26, 1920, Lasker wrote a letter to Capablanca resigning his title to Capablanca. Lasker wrote, "From all points of view, I think that the chess world is not willing to agree to the conditions of our agreement. I cannot play a match knowing that its rules are completely unpopular. Thus, I renounce the title of world's champion in your favor. You have earned the title not by the formality of a formal challenge, but by your brilliant mastery. In your further career I wish you much success." (source: American Chess Bulletin, July-August 1920)
After Lasker renounced his title, Capablanca was calling himself and putting it writing that he was the Chess Champion of the World.
But the public (and Capablanca) wanted a match and Cuban enthusiasts raised $20,000 (later risen to $25,000) to fund the match provided it was played in Havana. The record prize fund was $25,000 (about $321,000 in today's currency). Even if he lost, Lasker would get $13,000 (about $140,000 in today's currency) of the prize fund. When Capablanca was asked what he would do if Lasker refused to play, Capablanca replied that he would then be justified in claiming the title and that he would be willing to accept a challenge from Akiba Rubinstein.
In August 1920, Capablanca visited Lasker again at The Hague and Lasker agreed to play the match in Havana, but demanded an advance payment of his share of the purse before leaving Europe, and another payment before starting play. Lasker had lost all his savings during World War I (investing in German war bonds), and agreed to the match primarily to recoup his losses.
In 1920, Capablanca completed his longest-ever tour, giving 45 displays in England, France, and Spain. He played 1,645 games during these exhibitions and was paid $50 (later he increased it to $100) for each display, plus expenses.
On February 1, 1921, the American consulate in Berlin refused to give a visa to Lasker and his wife to travel to the United States. Technically, Germany and the Unites States were still at war. Lasker planned on going to Cuba via New York, but the State Department refused to give Lasker a visa for any American port city. Lasker then made arrangements to travel via Amsterdam direct to Havana.
The world championship match began on March 15, 1921, in the large hall of the Union Club in Havana for the first game only. Judge Alberto Ponce was the referee. The game was played on the same table that was used by Steinitz and Chigorin in their world championship match in Havana.
During the first game, Lasker complained that his clock went faster than Capablanca's clock. The tournament director had to come in and show Lasker a certificate that the chess clock was working perfectly, signed by a German clockmaker. What had happened was that during one of the opening moves, Lasker forgot to press his button to stop his clock.
After game one, the remaining match was played at the Casino de la Playo in Havana.
During the match, groups of young ladies showed up at the event, so that they could be seen by the eligible Cuban bachelors. One lady, Gloria Simoni Betancourt, traveled 350 miles to see the match. Capablanca met her after the match and later married her.
Capablanca won the match against Lasker with 4 wins and 10 draws. The match was scheduled for 24 games. On April 27, 1921, Lasker officially resigned the match on the grounds of ill-health. Capablanca became the official 3rd world champion (1921-1927) in the history of chess. Lasker had been world champion since 1894, when he defeated William Steinitz.
After the 1921 world championship match, Capablanca was given the nickname "human chess machine."
After the world championship match, a bill was introduced in the Cuban House of Representatives to provide Capablanca a pension of $5,000 (about $60,000 in today's currency) per year for his accomplishment in the winning of the world's championship. However, the new Cuban president vetoed the bill.
In 1921 Capablanca wrote The World's Championship Chess Match between Jose Raul Capablanca and Dr. Emanuel Lasker.
In December 1921, Chess Fundamentals by Capablanca was published.
On December 29, 1921, Capablanca, age 33, got married to Gloria Simoni Betancourt, age 22, a member of one of the oldest Cuban families, with an estate at Camaguey. They had a son, Jose Raul Capablanca, Jr. in 1923, and a daughter, Gloria, in 1925.
On February 4, 1922, Capablanca played 103 opponents in Cleveland, winning 102 games and drawing 1 (to Erik Anderson) game in seven hours. This was the largest chess simultaneous exhibition in history up to that time. It set the record for the best winning percentage ever in a large simultaneous exhibition. Prior to this event, Capablanca had not played chess of any kind for 14 months.
On February 25, 1922, Capablanca visited the Franklin Chess Club in Philadelphia and gave a 53-board simultaneous exhibition at the Musical Art Club. He also gave an interview to Walter Penn Shipley, which appeared in the April, 1922 issue of "Our Folder," published by The Good Companion Chess Problem Club.
For Capablanca's 1922 winter tour, he played 283 games, winning 264, drawing 17, and only losing 2 games.
In 1922, new world chess champion Capablanca was invited to play in the London International. It would be the strongest British chess tournament since Hastings, 1895. Neither Lasker nor any German player was invited.
In August 1922, Capablanca took at 1st place in the British Chess Federation (BCF) championship in London with 11 wins and 4 draws, 1 1/2 points ahead of Alekhine.
During this event, Capablanca proposed the "London Rules" to regulate future World Championship negotiations. In accordance with the new rules drawn up by most of the masters (Capablanca, Alekhine, Bogoljubow, Maroczy, Reti, Rubinstein, Tartakower, and Vidmar) at the London tournament, the challenger had to post $500 as a guarantee of good faith, and another $500 three months before the beginning of the match.
On January 2, 1923, Jose Raul Capablanca, Junior was born. His father called him "Tuto." He later became a lawyer. He died in Havana on January 31, 1984.
In 1923, Capablanca built a house near Havana for his family. The ceiling of the dining room showed a mosaic made of ceramic tiles of the final position of the last game between Capablanca and Lasker in the 1921 world championship match.
On July 28, 1923, Jose Capablanca's father died in Havana, aged 60. He had fallen from his horse, which caused an infection that led to gangrene.
In March-April 1924, the 9th International Chess Master Tournament was held in New York (1st prize was $1,500 — worth about $21,000 in today's currency). World champion Capablanca, who had not chess played in 15 months, took second (won by Emanuel Lasker with 16 points) with 14.5 points (10 wins, 9 draws, and 1 loss). The loss was to Richard Reti in round 5 on March 21. It was his first serious loss of a game in 8 years (last losing to Oscar Chajes in New York on January 21, 1916). From 1916 to 1924, Capablanca had played 63 serious tournament games, winning 40 games and drawing 23 before losing his next game.
An unfounded anecdote for Capablanca's loss was that his mistress walked into the tournament hall while Capablanca's wife (and press) was also there. (Lakdawala, Capablanca: Move by Move)
After the New York 1924 tournament, Capablanca wrote that it was extremely doubtful that he would participate in any more international tournaments, and that he was retiring from hard chess competition. He would play only occasionally in public exhibitions.
In 1924, the USSR published Russian translations of two Capablanca books, My Chess Career and Chess Fundamentals. These editions helped the popularity of chess in the Soviet Union.
On June 23, 1925, Capablanca's daughter, Gloria de los Angeles Capablanca Simoni Betancourt was born in Havana. Capablanca nicknamed her "Tita." She died in Miami on October 9, 2007.
On November 20, 1925, Capablanca left Moscow and traveled to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) on a free day from the Moscow tournament. He gave a 30-board simultaneous exhibition at the Leningrad Conservatorium. The play lasted for 7 hours without a break. He won 18 games, drew 8, and lost 4 games. One of his losses was to 14-year old Mikhail Botvinnik.
In Moscow 1925, Capablanca took 3rd place (13.5) behind Bogoljubov (15.5) and Lasker (14.5), with 9 wins, 9 draws, and 2 losses (losing to Ilyin-Genevsky and Verlinksy). During the tournament, the playing hall was completely packed with spectators, with hundreds more standing outside the tournament hall.
While in Moscow, Capablanca took part in a movie film called Chess Fever, by Vsevolod Illarionovich Pudovkin.
One unconfirmed report is that Capablanca entered the Kremlin in 1925 while he was in Moscow and played against Soviet leaders.
In 1925, 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. Lsker called it a "cheap" change and not necessary.
Capablanca arrived back in New York on December 21, 1925. When he arrive in New York, he lost his wallet with his ID, and a substantial amount of money. It was later found by a police officer in Capablanca's traveling trunks. (source: New York Times, Dec 22, 1925, p. 17) He then returned to Cuba.
In July 1926, Capablanca won Lake Hopatcong, New York with 4 wins, 4 draws. The event was called "Pan American Chess Tournament of the Alamac-in-the-Mountains Hotel." Abraham Kupchik took 2nd place.
In September 1926, a group of Argentinean businessmen, backed by a guarantee from the president of Argentina, promised the funds for a World Championship to be held in Buenos Aires. Nimzowitsch first challenged Capablanca and Capablanca gave Nimzowitsch until January 1, 1927 to deposit a forfeit in order to arrange a match. When this did not materialize, a Capablanca-Alekhine match was agreed, to begin in September 1927, after Alekhine deposited the forfeit money of $1,000.
On December 6, 1926, Jose Capablanca's mother, Matilde Maria, died in Havana.
In February-March 1927, Capablanca won the New York International (14 points), 2 1/2 points ahead of Alekhine (11.5 points). Up to this time, Capablanca had only lost 4 games of the 158 match and tournament games he had played since 1914. First place prize money was $2,000 (about $27,000 in today's currency).
At the end of March 1927, Capablanca returned home to Cuba. A brewery hired Capablanca to advertise its products of beer and nonalcoholic malt. This was one of the first times that a chess player was used to promote a commercial product.
In 1927, following Capablanca's victory in New York, he was reinstated to the Cuban diplomatic service and was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary at Large of the Cuban Republic. His official title was Head of Information and Propaganda of the Government of Cuba Abroad. His salary was 4,800 pesos (about $64,000 in today's currency).
Before the 1927 world championship match, not a single commentator considered the possibility that Capablanca could lose the match. Most speculated that Alekhine would win a game or two, but that would be it.
On September 16, 1927 Capablanca faced Alexander Alekhine in game one for the world championship match in Buenos Aires. Capablanca had never lost a game against Alekhine before this match (Capablanca scoring three wins and seven draws in tournaments, and two wins in exhibitions). The stake money was $10,000 ($130,000 in today's currency) in gold. Capablanca, as White in game one, lost in 43 moves. When it was over in November, Capablanca lost, winning 3 games, drawing 25 games, and losing 6 games. The entire match took place behind closed doors and lasted 73 days. There were no spectators or photographs. The opening of 32 of the 34 games were Queen's Gambit Declined.
During the match, Alekhine was bothered by a toothache and eventually had 6 teeth extracted. The last game of the match was played in November 26, 1927. The game was adjourned two times. On November 29, 1927, Capablanca resigned the adjourned position. The sealed move was 82. Re7 with Alekhine having a rook and two pawns vs. Capablanca's rook and no pawns. Capablanca did not show up for the second adjournment. He sent a letter to Alekhine that read, "Dear Dr. Alekhine: I resign the game. You, therefore, are the world champion and I congratulate you on your success. My compliments to madame Alekhine." Capablanca refused to participate in a public closing ceremony. In January 1928, Capablanca left Buenos Aires and traveled to New York before returning to Cuba.
In 1928, Capablanca wrote Games Played in the World's Championship match between Jose Raul Capablanca and Alexander Alekhin.
In 1928, Capablanca settled in Paris after the match, trying to get a return match. Capablanca took 2nd at Bad Kissingen 1928 (behind Efim Bogoljubov), 1st at Budapest 1928, and 1st at Berlin.
In November 1928, Capablanca returned to New York. In December 1928, he was back in Havana.
In 1929, Capablanca was appointed attache to the Cuban Embassy in London.
In 1929, he took 1st at Ramsgate, 2nd at Carlsbad (behind Nimzowitsch), 1st at Budapest, 1st at Barcelona, and 1st at Hastings.
In July 1930, the Cuban government terminated Capablanca's services as Head of Information and Propaganda of the Government of Cuba Abroad.
From 1928 through 1931, Capablanca took 1st prize in six tournaments, finished 2nd in two tournaments, and one joint second. However, Capablanca and Alekhine never played in the same tournament during this period.
Alekhine avoided Capablanca's challenge of a re-match and played the much weaker Efim Bogoljubov in 1929. Alekhine further avoided Capablanca by insisting that Capablanca had to put up $10,000 in gold. After the stock market crash, there were no backers for Capablanca.
In 1930-31 Capablanca took 2nd at Hastings (behind Max Euwe). His only loss was in round three to an illiterate player named Sultan Khan.
On February 12, 1931, Capablanca gave a simul at the 7th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. He played 50 boards with 4 players each (200 players) and won 28 games, drew 16, and lost 6 in 8 1/2 hours, having walked seven miles around the tables.
In March 1931, Capablanca returned to Cuba. His son, Tuto, after his stay in France, had forgotten Spanish and only spoke French.
In April-May 1931, Capablanca won the New York 1931 tournament with 10 points (9 wins and 2 draws). Second place went to Isaac Kashdan with 8.5 points.
In July 1931, Capablanca played Max Euwe in a match and won with 2 wins and 8 draws.
In September 1931, Capablanca was back in Havana. He returned to New York in October, 1931 and tried to negotiate a rematch with Alekhine. He returned to Havana in December, 1931.
In May 1932, Capablanca gave a simul in Havana against 330 opponents who played in consultation on 66 chessboards. He won against 46 teams, lost against 4, and drew 16.
In June 1932, Capablanca's brother, a law professor at the University of Havana, was arrested and accused of terrorism. Several of Capablanca's friends and early supporters were being killed during this period of Cuban unrest.
In July 1932, Capablanca was invited to play in the Pasadena International. However, world champion Alekhine was also invited to play and Alekhine said that he would not play if Capablanca showed up.
In March-April 1933, Capablanca visited Panama, Los Angeles, Hollywood, and El Paso. He engaged in a display of living chess and gave a few exhibitions.
In April-May 1933, Capablanca gave 21 simultaneous exhibitions in 12 cities in Mexico. He played 464 games, winning 435, losing 10, and drawing 19.
In May-August 1933, Capablanca was under contract with the Hollywood Chess and Bridge Club, where he conducted class lectures.
In December 1933, Capablanca won all 9 of his games in a Marshall Chess Club weekly rapid chess tournament, finishing two points ahead of Reshevsky and Fine.
In July 1934, Capablanca met his future second wife, Olga Chagodaef (nee Choubaroff), a Russian princess, at a party in New York.
In October 1934, Capablanca gave several simuls in Puerto Rico.
In February 1935, Capablanca published his 6th chess book, A Primer of Chess.
Capablanca took 4th place at Hastings 1934-5 (losing to Thomas and Lilienthal), and 4th place at Moscow 1935 (won by Flohr and Botvinnik). In the first round at Moscow, he lost a game on time for the first time in his life.
In April-May 1935, he took 2nd at Margate (behind Samuel Reshevsky).
After Margate, Capablanca took up residence in Brussels, Belgium. His title was Commercial Attache for Europe.
In April 1936, he took 2nd at Margate (1/2 point behind Salo Flohr).
In May-June 1936, Capablanca won at Moscow 1936 with 8 wins and 10 draws, one point ahead of Botvinnik. The international tournament was sponsored by the Russian Chess Federation and held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
After Moscow, Capablanca visited 7 different USSR cities and gave 13 exhibitions. He faced 390 opponents, winning 269, losing 42, and drawing 79. In one exhibition, he had to fly to one of the cities. It was the first time Capablanca flew in a plane.
In August, 1936, he tied for first place at Nottingham with Botvinnik. It was the strongest chess tournament ever played up to that time. This was also the only meeting with Alekhine since their world championship match in 1927. Capablanca won in 38 moves. The game was adjourned, but Alekhine later resigned a few days later without the game being resumed. Capablanca's only loss was to Salo Flohr.
In 1936, Capablanca began to suffer symptoms of high blood pressure. His doctor put him on a diet of milk, fruit, and vegetables.
In April 1937, Capablanca gave an exhibition in Havana, playing 350 opponents, divided into teams of 5, for a total of 70 boards. He won 50, lost 6, and drew 14.
In September 1937, Capablanca tied for 3rd-4th at Semmering (won by Paul Keres). His only loss was to Erich Eliskases.
In January 1938, he won at Paris, scoring 8 out of 10.
In March 1938m Capablanca gave several simuls in New York.
In July 1938, he obtained a divorce from his first wife, whose family succeeded in having Capablanca demoted to the post of commercial attache.
In October 1938, Capablanca had his portrait done by the artist Esteban Valdenama.
On October 20, 1938, Capablanca married Olga Chagodaef, a Russian princess, in Elkton, Maryland, known then as "the Wedding Capital of the United States." He was 49 and she was 37.
Instead of a diamond brooch as a wedding gift, both agreed to by a Packard automobile. Capablanca liked to drive and he was going to use the car to drive all across Europe. Two years later, the car was taken away from him during the German occupation of France.
In November 1938, Capablanca took 7th out of 8 places at AVRO in the Netherlands (10 different Dutch cities). He won 2 games (against Euwe and Florh), drew 8, and lost 4. He had suffered a slight stroke halfway through the event and was suffering from extremely high blood pressure (210/180). He also did not give himself time enough to acclimatize to Europe. AVRO was the only tournament of his life where he lost 4 games. It was his only tournament that he did came in below fourth place. He had just turned 50 years old.
In April 1939, Capablanca tied for 2nd-3rd (with Flohr) at Margate. Paul Keres won the event.
In 1939, Capablanca was selected as the Captain of the Cuban team and would play board 1 at the Buenos Aires Chess Olympiad (Tournament of Nations).
His last serious games were at the Buenos Aires Chess Olympiad in September 1939, where he played first board for the Cuban team. He had the best score for board one, with 7 wins and 9 draws (6 wins and 5 draws in the finals). He won the gold medal for the best performance on the top board, scoring 77%. When Cuba played France, Capablanca decided not to play, so missed a chance at playing against Alekhine. Cuba took 11th place out of 15 in the finals.
In April 1940, Capablanca gave several exhibitions in Cuba to raise funds for the Cuban Chess Federation.
In August 1940, he moved to New York with his wife, Olga and lived in an apartment on 57th Street in Manhattan. His son, Tuto, age 17, was studying at the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx. Capablanca came to the USA to interest the U.S. Chess Federation in sponsoring a world championship title match between him and Alekhine to be played in America. An attempt was then made to bring Alekhine to New York, but he was unable to obtain passports.
On March 19, 1941, Capablanca inaugurated the "Club de Ajedrez Capablanca" at Pinar del Rio, Cuba.
On November 6, 1941, Capablanca gave his last simultaneous exhibition at the Marshall Chess Club in New York. He played 22 opponents (he was to play 30 opponents). He won 19, lost 2 (one loss to Mona Kay Karff, the other to Joseph Lewis), and drew 1 (Theodore Angel).
In January 1942, Capablanca gave a series of chess lectures in Spanish and broadcasted to Latin American listeners. Before the lectures, he had to go out and buy a chess set. He had no chess set in his house. He had to buy the chess set to prepare his lectures for the radio, which he had written in Spanish.
In Capablanca's Last Chess Lectures, he wrote, "I received a great number of chess sets as gifts. I especially remember a very handsome and rare set which I tried to hold on to, but which has gone with the others. The result is that today (1942) I do not possess a single set. My travels, my changes of residence, and my children did away with every single one."
At 10:30 pm on Sunday evening, March 7, 1942, Jose Capablanca suffered a stroke at the Manhattan Chess Club (130 Central Park South) while watching a skittles game. His last words were, "Help me with my coat," in Spanish. He fell to the floor and lapsed into a coma before the arrival of medical help. He died at 6 a.m. on March 8, 1942 at Mount Sinai hospital, the same hospital that Emanuel Lasker died a year earlier. The cause of death was given as "a cerebral hemorrhage provoked by hypertension."
He was the shortest lived world champion, dying at age 53 years, 109 days.
At the time of his death, Capablanca was still the commercial attache of the Cuban Embassy.
At the time of his death, he left a widow, Olga, a son and a daughter, Jose R. Jr. and Gloria Capablanca de los Angeles, and three brothers. Olga died in New York on April 24, 1994, at the age of 95.
He was buried with full honors in Havana. General Batista, President of Cuba, took personal charge of the funeral arrangements. On March 15, 1942, Capablanca's body was given a public funeral in Havana's Colon Cemetery.
Capablanca won 7, drew 35, and lost 6 world championship games, for a total score of 24 1/2 points out of 48 games played. He was world champion for 6 years and was never given a chance for a re-match. His historical Elo rating has been calculated to be 2725.
His record against Frank Marshall was 20 wins, 2 losses, and 28 draws. His record against Lasker was 6 wins, 2 losses, and 16 draws. His record against Alekhine was 9 wins, 7 losses, and 33 draws.
Capablanca played 485 tournament games in 37 tournaments, winning 271, losing 26, and drawing 188 games.
He played 16 matches, winning 42 games, losing 11 games, and drawing 66 games.
Capablanca played a total of 604 official match and tournament games. He won 313, drew 254, and only lost 37 serious games in his entire life.
He played 41 exhibition games, winning 37 and drawing 4.
He played 30 consultation games, winning 21 and drawing 9.
He gave 25 simultaneous displays with clocks, winning 80 games, losing 13 games, and drawing 22 games.
Capablanca played over 1,200 games that have been recorded. His ratio of losses, 5.7%, is the best achievement by any master in the history of chess.
He took 1st place in 20 times and 2nd place in 10 times.
In 491 known simultaneous exhibitions, Capablanca played 13,545 games, winning 11,912 games, drawing 1,063 games, and losing 570 games, for a winning percentage of 92%.
Capablanca played 30 consultation games, scoring 21 wins and 9 draws.
Capablanca did not like blindfold chess, saying, "why should I kill myself." He was known to have played a one or two blindfold games, but never game large multi-board blindfold exhibitions. In an interview, he said that he did not care much for blindfolded chess, that it was too much like charlatanism.
Capablanca was considered the greatest simultaneous player of his time.
There are no surviving games of correspondence chess with Capablanca, although he advertised that he was willing to play correspondence games for $5 a game.
On November 1, 1951, Cuba issued a series of chess stamps honoring Capablanca. The one cent regular postage and the 25 cents air-mail stamp had a portrait of Capablanca on it. It was the first stamp issued which portrayed a chess master. Another stamp showed Capablanca's winning position against Lasker in 1921. These stamps, in seven denominations and four designs, commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Capablanca-Lasker match.
In 1962, the first Capablanca Memorial was held in Cuba.
On January 31, 1984, Jose Raul Capablanca, Junior died of heart disease in Havana. He was 61.
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.
"I don't care much for blindfolded chess, and other stunts like that...I've played that way, but it seems to me too much like charlatanism." — Montreal, 1909
When asked why he avoided blindfold play, Capablanca sais, "I don't want to kill myself."
On his match with Frank Marshall in 1909, Capablanca wrote, "I beat him eight to one with 14 draws thrown in between. I can safely say that no player ever performed such a feat, as it was my first encounter against a master, and such a master — one of the first 10 in the whole world. The most surprising feature of all was the fact that I played without having ever opened a book to study the openings."
"I used to play chess before I learnt to write, but I have not studied it. I only study it when I am playing. — London 1911
"Players' weaknesses, like their strengths, are relative within the circle in which they belong, for the weakness of one player compared with other entrants in the tournament would no longer be a weakness in the context of players slightly less strong. In chess, as in life, everything is relative." — Capablanca-Magazine, 1912
"I can say that I am considered the fastest player in the world amongst the masters." — Capablanca-Magazine, 1913
"The style of Morphy, they say, and if it is true that the goddess of fortune has endowed me with his talent, the result will not be in doubt. The magnificent American master had the most extraordinary brain that anybody has ever had for chess. Technique, strategy, tactics, knowledge which is inconceivable for us; all that was possessed by Morphy." — St Petersburg, 1914
"Where openings are concerned, chess masters are like a flock of sheep; everyone follows the first master's example. Of course it is true that, as in everything, there are exceptions. It must always be remembered that White can hope only to obtain a positional advantage and not a game that is relatively easy to win." — Capablanca-Magazine, 1914
"I believe that my early and very strong attraction to the game of chess was due to the peculiar set of mind that I had developed as a result of my military environment, and also to a peculiar intuition." — Munsey's Magazine, 1916
"In chess, memory may be an aid, but it is not indispensable. At the present time my memory is far from what it was in my early youth, yet my play is undoubtedly much stronger than it was then. Mastery of chess and brilliance of play do not depend so much upon the memory as upon the peculiar functioning of the powers of the brain." — Munsey's Magazine, 1916
"I know more about chess than any living person. I could play 30 of the best players of the United States at one time and not lose a game." — Pittsburgh, 1916
"Chess is often played on the battlefield. In trenches taken by the French, a chessboard with the pieces set up were found; apparently the officers who were playing were taken by surprise by an attack and did not have time to put the set away. From magazines we also know that large quantities of boards and sets have been sent to different fronts and hospitals, which may very well mean a considerable increase in the number of chess fans, with the result that the war will tend to develop our Art, which had been relatively little practiced." — Bohemia magazine, 1918
"There is only one game [chess] for the man who thinks." - London, 1919
"It is quite possible to make all the best moves in a game of chess; and I think I have done so myself on several occasions." - London, 1919
Capablanca was once asked if he was a pussyfooter. He replied, "I am not — nor am I a Mormon." - England, 1919
Capablanca was asked if he ever got weary of chess. He replied, "No, because, except in matches and exhibitions, I rarely play. For recreation, I play anything, indoors or outdoors. I can play all games. One had to keep fit, or one cannot play chess. That is why I do not smoke, and drink very little wine." — Yorkshire, 1919
"[Chess] is the finest of mental exercises. It develops concentration and logical reasoning; and it is one of few games in which you cannot rectify a mistake. If you make a mistake, you lose, unless your opponent makes a worse mistake." - England, 1919
"Most of the chess masters of the first rank are men of culture, men of good social as well as intellectual training, as such qualities become more and more necessary every day." — Manchester, 1919
"We Cubans are the most civilized of the Latin Americans." — Sheffield, 1919
"Chess is a very logical game and it is the man who can reason most logically and profoundly in it that ought to win. — England, 1919
"Exhibitions of simultaneous games are merely to give practice and encouragement to your chess players." - Cardiff, 1919
"Every boy of intelligence ought to take up the game [of chess]. In later life, he will never need to feel bored if he can play chess. Whether working out games or problems alone or engaged in a contest with a fellow player, a chess player can always deeply interest himself." — Wales, 1919
"Up to a point, chess can be learnt like any other art — for I think of chess more as an art than a science — but after that superior natural grasp and ingenuity necessarily count." — Norwich, 1919
"Chess players should acquire knowledge of the three phases [opening, middlegame, endgame] of the game equably, and not pay excessive study to any one. In the opening, development must be sought, and the pieces placed in a natural position where they will maintain the maximum of usefulness. In the middle game, the pieces should not be transferred to places from which they cannot easily return to another part of the field. In the end game, time-saving is the essence of the play." - Swiss Cottage, 1919
"Do not mind losing, for it is only by learning that you will improve, and by losing, if you use the knowledge you gained, you will improve rapidly. If you play with a much better player, so much more likely that you will learn. Any ordinary man can learn a great deal of chess just as of music, art or science, if he cares to devote his time and attention to study of the game." — Dudley, 1919
"One has to keep fit or one cannot play chess. That is why I do not smoke and drink very little wine." — Yorkshire Evening Post 1919
In responding to a hopeful world championship match with Lasker, Capablanca wrote, "I hope the match will come. The sooner the better, as I don't want to play an old man, but a master in the plenitude of his powers." - 1920
"As the champion of the world, I shall insist in introducing modifications in the playing rules of matches and tournaments that will tend to make them more attractive to its supporters...guided be three things, viz: 1, the interests of the chess masters; 2, the interest of the chess public, and 3, last but not least, the interest of chess, which to me, far more than a game, is an art." — American Chess Bulletin, 1920
"There have been times in my life when I came very near thinking that I could not lose even a single game. Then I would be beaten, and the lost game would bring me back from dreamland to earth. Nothing is so healthy as a thrashing at the proper time, and from few won games have I learned as much as I have from most of my defeats." — My Chess Career, 1920
"A passed pawn is either very weak or very strong, and that its weakness or strength, whichever happens to be in the case to be considered, increases as it advances, and is at the same time in direct relation to the number of pieces on the board. A passed pawn increases in strength as the number of pieces on the board diminishes." — Chess Fundamentals, 1921
"I have always had a very vivid imagination, which I have, after a long struggle, partly succeeded in controlling in order to use it to better purpose, according to the requirements of the occasion." Windsor Magazine, 1922
When asked what makes a great chess player, Capablanca responded, "Some minds work one way, some another. Some rely on sheer memory, some picture the board. But there must be one thing — the power to concentrate strongly and completely." — Paris, 1922
Capablanca wrote about his match with Lasker. "He [Lasker] talks of food and loss of weight and claims I am tireless. I lost 10 pounds and ate very little, not because the food was bad, but because of the natural nervous strain attached to such a hard contest." — British Chess Magazine, 1922
"Present players are better than the old players. They know more. They have studied more. The science of the game has advanced enormously in the last 50 years. The matches of the past cannot be judged by today's standard. Most of them [past masters] would fail in comparison." — London Times, July 19, 1922
"I am always being asked, What kind of a brain must a chess champion possess? To begin with, I can only say that I have today a rather poor memory, though as a child I could remember anything with ease. As I have grown older, I have always tried to forget everything which I have not considered essential to remember, and I have succeeded so well in my training that I now have difficulty in remembering things in general. I can hardly remember a single chess game I have played. A game played today I may hazily keep in my head for a few weeks, but after that it is gone forever." — The English Review, November 1922.
"Chess is not merely a game nor a mental training, but a social attainment. I have always regarded the playing of chess and the accomplishment of a good game as an art, and something to be admired no less than an artist's canvas, or the product of a sculptor's chisel. Chess is a mental diversion rather than a game. It is both artistic and scientific." — New York World, 1925
"In the company of beautiful women, I too hate chess." — Moscow 1925
"It may be that we have not yet reached the point of being able to make draws at will, but if we have not arrived, we are not far away. I must ingenuously confess that under the proper conditions of training and health, for example, at the end of the Moscow 1925 tournament, it was impossible for me to understand how I could be beaten in a game as long as I was confining myself by scoring a draw. I am not saying this out of vanity since, in chess at least, I have never been vain. I say it out of conviction, admitting, of course, the possibility that I may be wrong." - Revista Bimestre Cubana, 1926
Capablanca on veteran chess players, "Today we have plenty of confidence, the confidence which only years of continuous success can give, but most of the ambition is gone and the fickle lady has not been kind of late. Today, we know our opponents thoroughly, but alas! Our capacity for work is not the same. Today we are cool and collected and nothing short of an earthquake will ruffle us. We have now more experience, but less power." — New York Times, 1926
"There is no doubt that the science of chess has greatly developed in the past 60 years. Players offer more resistance every day and the requirements and conditions necessary to overcome other masters are greater than before. In short, the ideal way of playing a game would be rapid development of the pieces of strategic use for attack or defense, taking into account the fact that the two elements are Time and Position. Calm in defense and decisiveness in attack." — Mundial (Uruguayan magazine), 1927
When asked what was the best way to improve in chess, Capablanca said, "There is only one recipe. First of all there must be the willingness to study. Secondly, practice diligently and make it a point to meet stronger opponents. If that does not work, give it up. Be content to be a wood shifter. That, too, has its joys and compensations." — Interview with Hermann Helms, New York 1927
"In order to make progress in chess, it is necessary to pay special attention to all the general principles, spending a little less time on the openings. Play the openings on the basis of your general knowledge of how to mobilize pieces and do not become involved in technicalities about whether the books recommend this or that move; to learn the openings by heart it is necessary to study a great number of books which, moreover, are sometimes wrong. However, if you study from the point of view of the general principles you are taking a more certain path for although a player's intellect can fail at a given moment, principles well used never fail." — Cuba lecture, 1932
"A good player is always lucky." (Perhaps never said by Capablanca, but attributed to him. He said that luck favored him during the prize awards at Nottingham in 1936)
"My individual style of play does not in any way reflect my Southern origin. Inclined to simplicity, I always play carefully and try to avoid unnecessary risks. I consider my method to be right as any superfluous "daring" runs counter to the essential character of chess, which is not a gamble but a purely intellectual combat conducted in accordance with the exact rules of logic." — Sachovy Tyden, 1938
"Intuition is a wonderful means to an end; but intuition should not be made the end of all the means that intelligence places at our command. I relied too much on intuition and didn't prepare properly for my World Championship match with Alekhine in 1927. I paid the penalty." — Conversation with Dr. Savielly Tartakower, 1938
"It is difficult to judge oneself. In chess one can lose with age the strength and fullness of one's vision, sureness in the order of one's moves, resistance to fatigue, etc., but one never loses one's judgment, and I imagine I sill possess it. Precise positional judgment, the overall vision of every maneuver in the interdependence of its cogwheels, is what characterizes a great master. It is not a question of a great master seeing any number of isolated moves or of his knowing who to construct a mate; all that is to be taken granted. What counts is that he should have ideas, and that these ideas should be accurate." — Buenos Aires, 1939
"You can say that of all the masters I've known in the world, Lasker was the best." — Havana, 1941
"I received a great number of chess sets as gifts. I especially remember a very handsome and rare set which I tried to hold on, but which has gone with the others. The result is that today  I do not possess a single set. My travels, my changes of residence, and my children did away with every single one." — Last Chess Lectures, 1942
"Help me — help me remove my coat." — Capablanca's last words before he fell to the floor and lapsed in a coma at the Manhattan Chess Club, New York, March 7, 1942
"You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player."
"In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before everything else. For whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and end game must be studied in relation to the end game."
"The best way to learn endings, as well as openings, is from the games of the masters."
"The winning of a pawn among players of even strength often means the winning of the game."
"None of the great players has been so incomprehensible to the majority of amateurs and even masters, as Emanuel Lasker."
"When you sit down to play a game, you should think only about the position, but not about the opponent. Whether chess is regarded as a science, or an art, or a sport, all the same psychology bears no relation to it and only stands in the way of real chess."
"Chess can never reach its height by following in the path of science...Let us, therefore, make a new effort and with the help of our imagination turn the struggle of technique into a battle of ideas."
"An hour's history of two minds is well told in a game of chess."
"Chess is something more than a game. It is an intellectual diversion which has certain artistic qualities and many scientific elements."
"Ninety percent of the book variations have no great value, because either they contain mistakes or they are based on fallacious assumptions; just forget about the openings and spend all that time on the endings."
"...a game of chess may be compared to a military battle — something that involves an attack on the part of one player, and a defense on the part of another."
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Brandreth & Hooper, The Unknown Capablanca, 1975
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Capablanca, My Chess Career, 1920
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Khalifman, Jose Raul Capablanca Games, 1927-1942, 1997
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