<%-- Page Title--%> Time Out <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 154 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

May 14, 2004

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The gentleman from Havana


JR Capablanca, the Cuban world champion (1921-27), had a style which in modern chess parlance is known as technique. He made chess look so simple!

Capablanca was only 12 when he won the Cuban championship in 1900. The wonder boy, however, never played chess professionally. He had that rare ability to play without making any extra efforts. Richard Reti, the Czech hyper modern, once said, " Chess is his (Capa's) mother tongue." Well said!

Such was the extent of his success that he even lost interest in the game after winning the world title. He suggested introduction of some new pieces on the board to make it more complicated ! But the suggestion did not elicit any response from chess theorists.

The world championship match that he won against Emanuel Lasker, the German mathematician, was not a tough contest, though most of the games were drawn. That further boosted Capablanca'' confidence. He began to believe that there was no need for him to take anybody seriously. But the title match against Alexander Alekhine in Buenos Aires in 1927 turned out to be a different proposition. Alekhine was very well prepared for it, while Capablanca was still under the impression that nobody could beat him. He paid the price for not being serious enough and lost the title to the Franco-Russian grandmaster.

Capablanca woke up from his self-induced slumber, and was desperately looking for a return match in the early thirties. But the FIDE rules were not that well defined in those days and the title holders often took advantage of the situation. Alekhine avoided the return match and Capablanca never got the chance to regain the title. Alekhine finally agreed to play that match in 1939, when the Cuban was sick and well past his prime! In 1939, there were at least four more worthy candidates for the title than Capablanca. So the idea of an Alekhine-Capablanca return match did not appeal to anybody at that time, and it was never played.

Watch how Capablanca destroys the coordination among the enemy pieces in the following game.

White- Jose Raul Capablanca
Black- Efim Bogoljubow [D24]
Moscow 1925
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 4.e4 c5?! 5.Bxc4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Nf6 7.Nc3 Bc5 8.Be3 Nbd7!? 9.Bxe6!? fxe6 10.Nxe6 Qa5? 11.00 Bxe3 12.fxe3 Kf7 13.Qb3 Kg6 14.Rf5 Qb6 15.Nf4+ Kh6 16.g4? g5! 17.Qxb6 axb6 18.Rd1!.Rg8? 19.Nfd5 Nxg4? 20.Ne7! Rg7 21.Rd6+ Kh5 22.Rf3! Ngf6 23.Rh3+ Kg4 24.Rg3+ Kh5 25.Nf5 Rg6 26.Ne7? g4? 27.Nxg6 Kxg6 28.Rxg4+ Kf7 29.Rf4 Kg7 30.e5 Ne8 31.Re6 Nc7 32.Re7+ 1-0



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