by Capablanca


A passed pawn increase in strength as the number of pieces on the board diminishes.


A good player is always lucky.


You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player.


In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before everything else. For whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and opening must be studied in relation to the end game.


I have not given any drawn or lost games, because I thought them inadequate to the purpose of the book.  -  (in 'My Chess Career', published in 1920)


Endings of one rook and pawns are about the most common sort of endings arising on the chess board. Yet though they do occur so often, few have mastered them thoroughly. They are often of a very difficult nature, and sometimes while apparently very simple they are in reality extremely intricate.


The best way to learn endings, as well as openings, is from the games of the masters.


The winning of a pawn among good players of even strength often means the winning of the game.


The king, which during the opening and middlegame stage is often a burden because it has to be defended, becomes in the endgame a very important and aggressive piece, and the beginner should realize this, and utilize his king as much as possible.


An exception was made with respect to me, because of my victory over Marshall. Some of the masters objected to my entry … one of them was Dr. Bernstein. I had the good fortune to play him in the first round., and beat him in such fashion as to obtain the Rothschild prize for the most brilliant game ... a profound feeling of respect for my ability remained throughout the rest of the contest.


Morphy gained most of his wins by playing directly and simply, and it is simple and logical method that constitutes the true brilliance of his play, if it is considered from the viewpoint of the great masters.


He was a pioneer and one of the most profound researchers into the truth of the game, which was hidden from his contemporaries.  - (on Wilhelm Steinitz)


None of the great players has been so incomprehensible to the majority of amateurs and even masters, as Emanuel Lasker.


When you sit down to play a game you should think only about the position, but not about the opponent. Whether chess is regarded as a science, or an art, or a sport, all the same psychology bears no relation to it and only stands in the way of real chess.


Excellent! I will still be in time for the ballet!  -  (upon defeating Ossip Bernstein in the famous 29 move exhibition game played in Moscow in 1914, and before setting off to the Bolshoi Theatre by horse-drawn carriage)


To improve at chess you should in the first instance study the endgame.


Alekhine evidently possesses the most remarkable chess memory that has ever existed. It is said that he remembers by heart all the games played by the leading masters during the last 15-20 years.


Most players ... do not like losing, and consider defeat as something shameful. This is a wrong attitude. Those who wish to perfect themselves must regard their losses as lessons and learn from them what sorts of things to avoid in the future.


The weaker the player the more terrible the Knight is to him, but as a player increases in strength the value of the Bishop becomes more evident to him, and of course there is, or should be, a corresponding decease in his estimation of the value of the Knight as compared to the bishop.


Chess can never reach its height by following in the path of science ... Let us, therefore, make a new effort and with the help of our imagination turn the struggle of technique into a battle of ideas.


The game might be divided into three parts, the opening, the middle-game and the end-game. There is one thing you must strive for, to be equally efficient in the three parts.


An hour's history of two minds is well told in a game of chess.


Your Soviet players are cheating, losing the games on purpose to my rival, Botvinnik, in order to increase his points on the score.  -  (to Stalin in Moscow 1936, where he finished clear 1st, one point ahead of Botvinnik)


Chess is something more than a game. It is an intellectual diversion which has certain artistic qualities and many scientific elements.


During the course of many years I have observed that a great number of doctors, lawyers, and important businessmen make a habit of visiting a chess club during the late afternoon or evening to relax and find relief from the preoccupations of their work.


Sultan Khan had become champion of India at Indian chess and he learned the rules of our form of chess at a later date. The fact that even under such conditions he succeeded in becoming champion reveals a genius for chess which is nothing short of extraordinary.


Ninety percent of the book variations have no great value, because either they contain mistakes or they are based on fallacious assumptions; just forget about the openings and spend all that time on the endings.


Although the Knight is generally considered to be on a par with the Bishop in strength, the latter piece is somehat stronger in the majority of cases in which they are opposed to each other.


The great World Champions Morphy, Steinitz, and Lasker were past masters in the art of Pawn play; they had no superiors in their handling of endgames. The present World Champion has not the strength of the other three as an endgame player, and is therefore inferior to them.


To my way of thinking, Troitzky has no peer among endgame compsers; no one else has composed so many and such varied endings of the first rank.


No other great master has been so misunderstood by the vast majority of chess amateurs and even by many masters, as has Emanuel Lasker.


That he was a great endgame player is unquestionable. In fact, he was the greatest I have ever known. But he was also the most profound and the most imaginative player I have ever known.  -  (on Emanuel Lasker)


People who want to improve should take their defeats as lessons, and endeavor to learn what to avoid in the future. You must also have the courage of your convictions. If you think your move is good, make it.

on Capablanca


Capablanca did not apply himself to opening theory (in which he never therefore achieved much), but delved deeply into the study of end-games and other simple positions which respond to technique rather than to imagination.  -  Max Euwe


But alas! Like many another consumation devoutly to be wished, the actual performance was a disappointing one.  -  (on the long awaited Lasker-Capablanca match in 1921)  -  Fred Reinfeld


Never before and never since have I seen - and I cannot even imagine, such an amazing rapidity of chess thinking that Capablanca possessed in 1913-14. In blitz games he gave all the St. Petersburg players odds of five minutes to one - and he won.  - Alexander Alekhine


Capablanca was snatched too early from the chess world. With his death we have lost a great chess genius, the like of whom we will never see again.  -  Alexander Alekhine


I did not believe I was superior to him. Perhaps the chief reason for his defeat was the overestimation of his own powers arising out of his overwhelming victory in New York, 1927, and his underestimation of mine.  -  Alexander Alekhine


Capablanca used to talk calmly and moderately about everything. However, when our conversation turned to the problems of the battle for the world championship, in front of me was a quite different person: an enraged lion, although with the fervour typical only of a southerner, with his temperamental patter, which made it hard to follow the torrent of his indignant exclamations and words. -  Alexander Koblenz


I can remember a case where Capablanca worked out an impressive combination, but then chose to make a simple move in answer to which his opponent resigned at once!  -  Alexander Kotov


The ideal in chess can only be a collective image, but in my opinion it is Capablanca who most closely approaches this …  -  Anatoly Karpov


When I used to go to the Manhattan Chess Club back in the fifties, I met a lot of old-timers there who knew Capablanca, because he used to come around to the Manhattan club in the forties – before he died in the early forties. They spoke about Capablanca with awe. I have never seen people speak about any chess player like that, before or since.  -  Bobby Fischer


But the thing that was great about Capablanca was that he really spoke his mind, he said what he believed was true, he said what he felt. He wanted to change the rules [of chess] already, back in the twenties, because he said chess was getting played out. He was right. Now chess is completely dead. It is all just memorisation and prearrangement. It’s a terrible game now. Very uncreative.  -Bobby Fischer


I have known many chess players, but among them there has been only one genius - Capablanca!  -  Emanuel Lasker


One interesting indication of Capablanca's greatness is that to non-chess players his name was better known than the names of all other chess masters together! This was due partly to his engaging personality and distinguished appearance: he was one of those exceptional people who at once stand out in a crowd.  -  Fred Reinfeld


Capablanca possessed an amazing ability to quickly see into a position and intuitively grasp its main features. His style, one of the purest, most crystal-clear in the entire history of chess, astonishes one with his logic.  -  Garry Kasparov


Poor Capablanca! Thou wert a brilliant technician, but no philosopher. Thou wert not capable of believing that in chess, another style could be victorious than the absolutely correct one.  - Max Euwe


The essence of Capablanca's greatness is his rare talent for avoiding all that can complicate or confuse the conflict.  -  Max Euwe


He can be regarded as the great master of simplification. The art of resolving the tension at the critical moment and in the most effacious way so as to clarify the position as desired is Capablanca's own.  -  Max Euwe


The 'chess machine', by which admiring title he had been known, revealed the great drawback of a machine: it had not sufficient flexibility to adapt itself to altered circumstances.  -  Max Euwe


Capablanca plays very superficially sometimes, in a way that can only be ascribed to lack of concentration. This is an integral weakness of his make-up and can only be partially compensated by his employing his time allowance to the full.  -  Max Euwe


(Capablanca's) phenomenal move-searching algorithm in those early years, when he possessed a wonderful ability for calculating variations very rapidly, made him invincible.  -  Mikhail Botvinnik


Capablanca's play produced and still produces an irresistable artistic effect. In his games a tendency towards simplicity predominated, and in this simplicity there was a unique beauty of genuine depth.  - Mikhail Botvinnik


Without technique it is impossible to reach the top in chess, and therefore we all try to borrow from Capablanca his wonderful, subtle technique.  -  Mikhail Tal


Knowing nothing about chess, I was unable to appreciate Capablanca's genius in that field, but working with him gave me an opportunity to appreciate the brilliance of his mind.  -  Olga Capablanca


Chess was Capablanca's mother tongue.  -  Richard Reti


When I was a child I liked the games of Capablanca, and later I was captivated by Alekhine's play.  -  Vladimir Kramnik


Many an expert says that there is a certain affinity between (Capablanca's style) and that of the world master, Lasker. There may be some truth in it. Lasker's style is clear water, but with a drop of poison which is clouding it. Capablanca's style is perhaps still clearer, but it lacks that drop of poison.  -  Jacques Mieses


You will already have noticed how often Capablanca repeated moves, often returning to positions which he had had before. This is not lack of deciciveness or slowness, but the employment of a basic endgame principle which is 'Do not hurry'.  -  Alexander Kotov


In general there is something puzzling about the fact that the most renowned figures in chess - Morphy, Pillsbury, Capablanca and Fischer - were born in America.  -  Garry Kasparov


Capa, a gourmet, was also a chef par excellence. Friends joked that he could make more money as a maestro of the cuisine than in chess. - Olga Capablanca


Capablanca was among the greatest of chess players, but not because of his endgame. His trick was to keep his openings simple, and then play with such brilliance in the middlegame that the game was decided - even though his ooponent didn't always know it - before they arrived at the ending. - Bobby Fischer