Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The child prodigio of Jose Raul Capablanca


The Cuban J.R.Capablanca is considered one of the best chess players in history
by Pedro Portal

It is a glory of Cuba and the world. By his genius he was called "The Mozart of Chess" and by the aura of invincibility that he had in his stage of splendor "The Machine of Playing Chess". He is considered one of the best players of all time.

José Raúl Capablanca Graupera was born on November 19, 1888, at the Castillo del Príncipe, a military installation of colonial Havana. His father was José María Capablanca Fernández and his mother María Graupera.

Capablanca was, along with Ramón Fonst in fencing, Kid Chocolate in boxing and Adolfo Luque in baseball, ambassador of Cuban sport in the first three decades of the last century.

He learned to move the pieces looking to play his father, whom he defeated in 1892 before learning to read when he was only 4 years old. For his feat, he was cataloged as a child prodigy, although in reality, it was the second since the first had been the American Paul Charles Morphy (1837-1884).

His father began to take him to the Chess Club of Havana where he faced and defeated adult players, among them, recognized figures such as Ramón Iglesias and the Frenchman Jean Taubenhaus.

"His father came from a Spanish military family; it was relocated by the army in Matanzas and sent to Santa Clara, "said Miguel A. Sánchez, journalist, historian and author of the book José Raúl Capablanca: A Chess Biography. (McFarland & Company, Inc. and Amazon, 2015). "On December 31, 1898, the Mambisas troops entered the city, where they were greeted with applause in the Plaza Central, and both the boy José Raúl and one of his sisters, Alicia, rode on rebellious horses during the celebration''.

In 1901, at age 13, Capablanca defeated the owner of the Chess Club of Havana, Maestro Juan Corzo. In 1902 the first Cuban National Championship was held, and José Raúl finished in the fourth position.

With the financial help of Mr. Ramón San Pelayo, he was sent to New York to study English at the Woodcliff School in New Jersey and then to study Chemical Engineering at Columbia University. But his passion for the game-science led him to finish only two years of the race.

He began visiting the Manhattan Chess Club and in 1905 he faced for the first time the then world champion, the German Emanuel Lasker, which he defeated. His life in the United States is spent playing chess.

In 1909, at only 21 years old, he defeated the American Grandmaster Frank J. Marshall. In 1911 participates in the Tournament of New York and reaches the second place. This same year, with the financial help of the politician and intellectual Manuel Márquez Sterling and with the support of Marshall himself, he does it in San Sebastián where he finishes in the first place in front of several world figures.

Starting in 1912, an intense and successful international activity began, including cities such as Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Saint Petersburg, and New York. Conquest in 1919 the Hastings tournament, accumulating 10 wins, without setbacks and a table.

It was held in Havana in 1921. Capablanca's rival was Emanuel Lasker, who arrived in the Cuban capital on March 7 with his wife Marta, staying at the Hotel Trotcha located on Calzada Avenue in Vedado.

The tournament began on March 15 at the Hall of the Union Club of Havana, located in Virtudes and Zulueta. According to the story, as sponsors Rafael de Pozos and Manuel Márquez Sterling acted as judge, Alberto Ponce, and the clock was facilitated by Dr. José A. Gelaber.

The victory of the Cuban was overwhelming: he won four victories, achieved 10 tables and suffered no defeats. Lasker surrendered to "The Mozart of Chess '' when there were still 10 games to finish the tournament agreed to 24 games.

Capablanca was the third world champion in history. The first was Wilhelm Steinitz and the second Lasker. Both Capablanca, Steinitz, and Lasker had something in common: the three died in New York City.

"All the relatives of Capablanca are proud of their illustrious career as a chess player," said Fernando Capablanca, José Raúl's nephew who resides in Miami. "He put on high the name of Cuba in the world."

In 1921 Capablanca married in Havana with Gloria Simoni Betancourt, with whom she has a daughter, Gloria de Los Angeles Capablanca, and a son, José Raúl Capablanca Simoni. Years later he divorces to marry a Russian princess, Olga Eugenyevna Chubarova.

"Capablanca was an almost perfect player," said Cuban Blas Lugo, International Master with a Norma de Gran Maestro. "In my opinion, he has been one of the three best chess players in history along with the Soviet Garry Kasparov and the American Bobby Fischer."

Between 1918 and 1927, Capablanca won almost all of his games participating in the London 1922, New York 1924, Lake Hopatcong 1926 and New York 1927 tournaments, when he defeated Alexander Alekhine before the world championships.

"Although he lost with another big one like Alekhine, Capablanca was the best player of his time. I would place it among the best five of all time, "said Sanchez.

It happened in the month of September and the tournament lasted three months. The headquarters was Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Alekhine and Capablanca had different personalities. The Cuban possessed a unique natural talent. Elegant and fine. Considered almost invincible and confident. He was the owner of fame, glory and also of women.

The Russian challenger was a genius with a will, he studied the game. Capablanca was a greater genius, but with less effort. Both staged one of the great rivalries in the history of chess.

All the experts indicated to Capablanca as a favorite to win, even before this challenge he had never lost in his 12 previous games with Alekhine with a balance of five victories in his favor and seven draws.

Capablanca opened the horizons of contemporary chess. He was a genius who showed the importance of the sense of position

Miguel A. Sánchez, author of

The winner would be the first to add six victories. Alekhine won the first game, three and seven. The Cuban took the 11 and the 12. After successive tables, the Russian ended up winning + 6-3 = 25. They played 34 games, with six wins for Alekhine, three for Capablanca and 25 boards.

Alekhine did not accept to play the rematch with Capablanca. During his reign, he sought not to appear in the same tournaments that the Cuban attended. It is assured that the relationship between the two was deeply unpleasant. In the first game against Alekhine since the 1927 World Cup, the Cuban genius avenged his defeat.

Between 1927 and 1936, Capablanca continued to win tournaments. In the Chess Olympiad of 1939, in Buenos Aires, in the board of Cuba also integrated by Francisco Planas, Rafael Blanco, Alberto López, Miguel Alemán and María Teresa Mora (later the first Cuban international teacher), won the gold medal individual to the best first board, ahead of Alekhine and Paul Keres.

"In my opinion, Capablanca opened the horizons of contemporary chess. He was a genius who showed the importance of the meaning of the position, "Sanchez said.

Throughout his career in official tournaments, the Antillean was also known as "The Invincible Machine" and "The King of Kings '', accumulated 294 victories with 249 tables and 34 losses. He was undefeated for more than eight years, from February 10, 1916, to March 21, 1924.

The game of Capablanca is still valid. In the style of the current world champion, the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, it is observed that he has studied the Cuban technique

Jesús Suárez, international referee and four-time finalist of the National Championship of Cuba

"The game of Capablanca is still valid. In the style of the current world champion, the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, it is observed that he has studied the Cuban technique ", declared Jesús Suárez, international referee and four-time finalist of the National Championship of Cuba. "The champions themselves Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, and Vasily Smyslov based their game on Capablanca's studio."

Another palpable proof of his greatness is found in the opinions of the best world monarchs:

Bobby Fischer: "In my list of the greatest players of all time I place Capablanca in second place. He was a genius who worked in chess, but not excessively. "

Alexander Alekhine: "I do not understand how I beat Capablanca in 1927. I think that in the appreciation of his forces he underestimated my game and I prepared myself in great form. The greatest chess player of all time has died. "

Anatoly Karpov: "The ideal in chess can only be a collective image, but Capablanca was the one who came closest to her. His ideas influenced me. ''

Emanuel Lasker: "I have met many players but among them only one genius, Capablanca! His idea was to win through maneuvers. His genius is revealed in his ability to test the weak points of the opponent. The slightest weakness cannot escape its accurate gaze. ''

Garry Kasparov: "Capablanca studied less than other players, but he won the most important tournaments, staying undefeated for years and being among all the champions that lost the least. This is an indication of unlimited talent and chess genius. "

Mijaíl Botvínnik: "I learned a lot from Capablanca, he was brilliant in his positional game."

As of 1962, the Capablanca in Memoriam International Tournament, one of the most important chess encounters in Latin America, takes place in Cuba, in honor of Capablanca.

José Raúl Capablanca died at age 53, on March 8, 1942, in New York, as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was buried with great honors in the Cemetery of Colón, in Havana.

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