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José Raúl Capablanca y Graupera (19 November 1888 – 8 March 1942) was a Cuban chess player who was world chess champion from 1921 to 1927. One of the Greatest Players of all time, he was renowned for his exceptional endgame skill and speed of play. Due to his achievements in the chess world, mastery over the board and his relatively simple style of play he was nicknamed the “Human Chess Machine”.
Capablanca became the World Chess Champion in 1921 by beating Emanuel Lasker. He lost the title in 1927 to Alexander Alekhine.
Playing strength and style
Boris Spassky, World Champion from 1969 to 1972, considered Capablanca the best player of all time. Bobby Fischer, who held the title from 1972 to 1975, admired Capablanca’s “light touch” and ability to see the right move very quickly. Fischer reported that in the 1950s, older members of the Manhattan Chess Club spoke of Capablanca’s performances with awe.
Capablanca excelled in simple positions and endgames, and his positional judgment was outstanding, so much so that most attempts to Attack him came to grief without any apparent defensive efforts on his part. However, he could play great tactical chess when necessary – most famously in the 1918 Manhattan Chess Club Championship tournament (in New York) where Marshall sprang a deeply analyzed prepared variation on him, which he refuted while playing under the normal time limit (although ways have since been found to strengthen the Marshall Attack).He was also capable of using aggressive tactical play to drive home a positional advantage, provided he considered it safe and the most efficient way to win, for example against Spielmann in the 1927 New York tournament.