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José Raúl Capablanca


Born: November 19, 1888 in Havana, Cuba

Died: March 8, 1942 in New York City, United States

Playing Style and Legacy:

Capablanca can be found near the top of most lists of the greatest chess players of all time. His legendary undefeated streak – spanning 63 games from 1916 to 1924 – made him seem invincible, at least for a time. He was especially renowned for his endgame play, as well as for his ability to quickly and accurately judge a position.

Capablanca made very few blunders, even when compared to other top players. His positional style was clear and direct; after gaining an advantage, he would attempt to avoid complications and simplify to a winning position.

World Championship Matches:

1921: Defeated Emanuel Lasker 11-7 (+4 =14) to become World Chess Champion

1927: Lost to Alexander Alekhine 18.5-15.5 (+3 -6 =25); Alekhine becomes World Chess Champion

Notable Accomplishments:

  • Defeated Cuban Champion Juan Corzo 7-5 in 1901, at the age of 13
  • Won 1910 New York State Championship with perfect 20/20 score
  • Won San Sebastian 1911 tournament (9.5/14)
  • Won London 1922 tournament (13/15)
  • Won New York 1927 tournament (14/20)
  • Won Moscow 1936 tournament (13/18)
  • Shared first at Nottingham 1936 with Mikhail Botvinnik (10/14)
  • Won medal for best first board at the 1939 Chess Olympiad, at age 50
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