The Day Capabanca Died (March 7, 1942) [Updated with rare video]

"Capablanca Chess Fever SU 1926". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“Capablanca Chess Fever SU 1926”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Jude Acers’ 1977 bus station interview with Arnold S. Denker:

Jude, I was there. I was at the chess club the day the great Cuban passed. It was to my left. There was a great commotion. I heard, “Help me … help me with my coat.”  Jose was surrounded by a host of Wall Street admirers as always … with flowers in their buttonholes … THE RIGHT PEOPLE A CHESS GRANDMASTER SHOULD KNOW, ABSOLUTELY MUST KNOW… He was not disdaining of the little fellow, the businessman or the amateur chess player who happened to be quite wealthy to boot … over their heads I had seen him touch the chess pieces moments ago … Seized now with a fatal coronary attack, lapsed into a coma and lowered onto a table … then gently to the floor for the just arriving emergency people … I had just heard him say his eternal admonition, “Always play the natural move,” as he liked at the critical moment of the game … in both Spanish and English rapid fire with ha’! ha! ha! … added in staccato fashion … Just one more thing … His hand would do a quick wave movement with a finger extended for emphasis with, “ALWAYS MAKE THE NATURAL MOVE,” … Jude, as you get older your mind plays tricks on you–sometimes delightfully so. I often flash upon the last strange memory of Capablanca’s still hand as he died … remembering him waving it with a smile in life … Do you know that the widow returned, for many years, exact calendar date and time and place where he died? To the minute, sitting quietly for a few hours, dressed in black.

And here’s some rare video of Capabanca (h/t Michael Ciamarra):

Leave a Reply