Capablanca, José Raúl (1888–1942)

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Capablanca, José Raúl (1888–1942)

José Raúl Capablanca (b. 19 November 1888; d. 8 March 1942), Cuba's foremost chess player and world champion. Ever since 1894, when a world chess championship began to be recognized by most nations, only three non-Europeans have held the title—two Americans, Paul Morphy and Bobby Fischer, and the Cuban Capablanca. Having learned to play when he was not quite five years old, he soon amazed his father and the members of the prestigious Chess Club in Havana. In 1906 he made a name for himself when he participated in a lightning (speed chess) tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York. Three years later he defeated the United States champion, Frank J. Marshall, and from then onward he achieved a series of brilliant successes that culminated when he ended Emanuel Lasker's long reign over the world of chess in March 1921. Capablanca held most of the world's chess records during his lifetime, and has been regarded by some experts as the greatest chess player of all time. He lost his crown in 1927 to the Russian Alexander Ale-khine, who later always found pretexts to avoid Capablanca's repeated challenges for a rematch.

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See William Winter, Kings of Chess: Chess Champions of the Twentieth Century (1966); David Hooper and Dale Brandeth, The Unknown Capablanca (1975); Irving Chernev, The Golden Dozen: The Twelve Greatest Chess Players of All Times (1976). A short biography of Capablanca may be found in José I. Lasaga, Cuban Lives: Pages of Cuban History, vol. 2, translated by Nelson Durán (1988), pp. 373-383.

Additional Bibliography

Bjelica, Dimitrije. José Raúl Capablanca. Madrid: Zugarto Ediciones, 1993.

                                         JosÉ M. HernÁndez