Capablanca playing blitz in 1914?

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  • Capablanca playing blitz in 1914?

    In another thread, Brian Hartman wrote:

    "For example, who since has come anywhere close to Capablanca's feat of defeating all the other participants at the 1914 St. Petersburg Event at 5-1 odds in speed chess?"

    This is the first I've ever heard of this. Source?

    Edward Winter wrote a long, excellent article on "Fast Chess", which attempts to show the history of chess played at a more rapid rate than the usual 40 moves in 2 or 2.5 hours used at top-level play in the days of analog clocks. https://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/fast.html

    "Fast Chess" prior to the 1950's, would invariable be "Rapid Transit" or "Lightning" chess which was played with a gong or buzzer sounding every ten seconds - obligating the player to move immediately. Sometimes five seconds; sometimes twenty seconds - but ten was the norm. The lack of clocks made this variant popular, but it was a problem to officiate - players would constantly move after the signal. Another popular variant was "30/30" in which you had to make 30 moves in 30 minutes.

    From the Winter article regarding Capablanca in 1914:

    "A remark supposedly made by Lasker to Capablanca:
    ‘A week or so earlier [compared to 26 July 1914] these two masters had met in Berlin, where they played a rapid-transit match of ten games. Capablanca won 6˝:3˝, and afterwards Lasker is alleged to have said, “It is remarkable: you make no mistakes”.’

    Source: The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975), page 168."

    "What exactly is known about the rapid transit event held on the occasion of the St Petersburg, 1914 tournament?

    From page 158 of the July 1914 American Chess Bulletin:
    ‘Although the chief prize at St Petersburg eluded him by the narrowest of margins, José R. Capablanca, besides taking the second prize, did not come away empty-handed with regard to minor honors, which included the first Rothschild prize for brilliancy, first prize in a rapid transit tourney, in which Dr Lasker was also a participant, as well as a fine record in simultaneous exhibitions, of which he gave three. ...

    In the rapid transit tourney Capablanca had the satisfaction of making a score of 5˝ out of a possible 6 points, with Dr Lasker, Dr Tarrasch and Alekhine among the competitors. It is not the first time, however, that he has worsted the world’s champion in this style of chess.’"

    Would you want players using your 1914-vintage clock to play 5-1 blitz? One broken clock in those days could affect a whole masters event.

    A typical 1914 chess clock: http://dorland-chess.com/388-dutch-clock-1914.html

    Even today - it's doubtful that a strong GM could give another strong GM 5-1 successfully. In the mid-70's, I remember GM Miguel Quinteros trying to give Kevin Spraggett 5-1 (I don't remember what happened), although Quinteros was successful against a couple of other local masters. Around that time I had a master (who outrated me by 300 or 400 points) attempt to give me 5-1. After about 90 minutes of play, his wallet was somewhat lighter. :-)

  • #2
    My greatest claim to fame is that I once beat Bryon Nickoloff in a blitz game. I recall being down an exchange and a pawn with little to no compensation, but being the perfectionist that he was Nick flagged while looking for the most efficient kill.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Hugh Brodie View Post
      In another thread, Brian Hartman wrote:

      "For example, who since has come anywhere close to Capablanca's feat of defeating all the other participants at the 1914 St. Petersburg Event at 5-1 odds in speed chess?"

      This is the first I've ever heard of this. Source?
      I really don't know the actual source, but remember my couch saying the similar thing a 5-1 clock setting and winning by Capablanca. The coach gave the same odd to us at the beginning too :)

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      • #4
        Under the heading "five-minute chess" in The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd edition): "[In the early years of the 20th century.] Then a student, Capablanca played many games against Lasker at the Manhattan Chess Club. Capablanca won most of the lightning games but Lasker won the majority of the five-minute games, perhaps because there is time for deeper plans to be laid."

        From the recent Exzelsior Verlag volumes on Lasker: the Berlin rapid-transit match was played at five seconds a move, the St Peterburg rapid-transit tournament and an earlier event at the Manhattan Chess Club in 1906 were at the rate of twenty seconds a move.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stephen Wright View Post
          Under the heading "five-minute chess" in The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd edition): "[In the early years of the 20th century.] Then a student, Capablanca played many games against Lasker at the Manhattan Chess Club. Capablanca won most of the lightning games but Lasker won the majority of the five-minute games, perhaps because there is time for deeper plans to be laid."

          From the recent Exzelsior Verlag volumes on Lasker: the Berlin rapid-transit match was played at five seconds a move, the St Peterburg rapid-transit tournament and an earlier event at the Manhattan Chess Club in 1906 were at the rate of twenty seconds a move.
          I wonder if any chess club would be interested in playing a historic "rapid transit" tournament. Or as a day event at a Canadian Open. Something different.

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          • #6
            Hi, Capablanca's feat of being the best blitz player in the world (1913-1914) and giving all the St. Petersburg players 5-1 odds and winning was recounted by Alekhine. See, for example, page 239 (top right) of Kasparov's excellent book "My Great Predecessors Volume 1". Lasker, among others, also made similar comments about Capablanca's rapidity of chess analysis and blitz skill.

            Fischer is perhaps the only other player in history to come close to this feat, but not quite.

            Brian

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Brian Hartman View Post
              Hi, Capablanca's feat of being the best blitz player in the world (1913-1914) and giving all the St. Petersburg players 5-1 odds and winning was recounted by Alekhine. See, for example, page 239 (top right) of Kasparov's excellent book "My Great Predecessors Volume 1"n
              Other my books mentioned that Alekhine wrote this after the Capablanca's death (though it does not mean in an obituary though it might be )

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Egidijus Zeromskis View Post

                Other my books mentioned that Alekhine wrote this after the Capablanca's death (though it does not mean in an obituary though it might be )
                Yoda speak!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Brian Hartman View Post
                  Hi, Capablanca's feat of being the best blitz player in the world (1913-1914) and giving all the St. Petersburg players 5-1 odds and winning was recounted by Alekhine. See, for example, page 239 (top right) of Kasparov's excellent book "My Great Predecessors Volume 1". Lasker, among others, also made similar comments about Capablanca's rapidity of chess analysis and blitz skill.

                  Fischer is perhaps the only other player in history to come close to this feat, but not quite.

                  Brian
                  Hey Brian,

                  I do not recall if you were you present at the blitz session that took place in one of the hotel rooms back in 1994 at the Closed that you organized in Hamilton when Max Dlugy wiped out Nick, Alex, Lawrence and Robert Hamilton by a score of 7-1 with Alex taking the only Canadian point. Dlugy mopped the board with our boys and it was an astonishing sight to behold. He even offered full post mortems, though only Nick as I recall chose to take advantage of them. I have so many fond memories of that incredible event and those good old days.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Brad Thomson View Post

                    Hey Brian,

                    I do not recall if you were you present at the blitz session that took place in one of the hotel rooms back in 1994 at the Closed that you organized in Hamilton when Max Dlugy wiped out Nick, Alex, Lawrence and Robert Hamilton by a score of 7-1 with Alex taking the only Canadian point. Dlugy mopped the board with our boys and it was an astonishing sight to behold. He even offered full post mortems, though only Nick as I recall chose to take advantage of them. I have so many fond memories of that incredible event and those good old days.
                    I was there for that one. At the time, didn't GM Dlugy have a solid claim to being world blitz champ? I forget why though (good old brain!). Do you recall what the stakes were? I think they were significant. IIRC, GM Dlugy won several hundred dollars for about an hour's work. Also, I don't think the boys had to beat Dlugy to win the bet; i.e. they only had to score 2 or 3 out of 8 to win.
                    "We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." - Aesop
                    "Only the dead have seen the end of war." - Plato
                    "If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination." - Thomas De Quincey

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                    • #11
                      I believe that Dlugy was at the time considered to be one of the elite blitz players on the planet. As far as the money goes, I do recall that Robert Hamilton had arranged, and perhaps even financed himself, some kind of wager, though I do not recall the amount nor whether Canada needed less than 4.5 to win.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hugh Brodie View Post
                        Would you want players using your 1914-vintage clock to play 5-1 blitz? One broken clock in those days could affect a whole masters event.

                        A typical 1914 chess clock: http://dorland-chess.com/388-dutch-clock-1914.html
                        The famous picture. Maybe that was the clock used for 5-1 matches too :)

                        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...khine_1914.jpg

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                        • #13
                          There were clocks at the 1908 British Championship: https://www.saund.co.uk/britbase/pgn...cf-viewer.html

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                          • #14
                            Clocks were used in the Lasker-Steinitz match in 1894 (and in a few tournaments prior to then). The first clock with flags was used in 1899, but it was another 20 years before flags became standard. Can we assume that Capablanca's 1914 blitz games were played with flag-equipped clocks - or not? There would be a lot of arguments with a non-flag clock. I can't find any close-up views of the clocks used in St. Petersburg (1914) to determine if they had flags or not.

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