Kindred’s Special: The 45th Capablanca Memorial Tournament

We amateurs have to look far and wide to discover the workings of international tournaments. Remember Fischer?  He was one to tell it the way it is and how to make it better for the professional chess players. Recently I read the account by the British star Nigel Short who wrote in NIC magazine that he had always wanted to play in the Capablanca Memorial.  He made it to Havana.  For years we were told about the popularity of chess in Cuba as W. Steinitz had reported in his International Chess Magazine.  For a socialist state, Cuba was as good as robber barons of the old west. He reports that financially things have changed somewhat detrimentally from that time when Steinitz referred to Cuba as the ‘El Dorado of Chess’. Fidel Castro’s 20% robber tax imposed on changing US$ and the public internet was available for 6 curos an hour. The general attitude that foreigners are there to be shafted permeates the society, whether it be from taxi-drivers or supermarket checkout staff who electronically process  wares and then ripped you off with manually totalling your bill. One chessplayer had his mobile phone lifted by a pickpocket while dancing. Not to sound too negative, Cuba remains one of the few places in the western world where chess is highly thought of and players are treated with respect and well thought of in general. Oh, oh, oh!

Once again, for the 4th time, Vasily Ivanchuk took top honors in this tournament.  He apparently feels at ease in this Cuban socialist paradise having come out of the USSR. He met Short in the lst round and won a very nice game with the black pieces.

My thinking is rare,  pointed,   and how can I myself express it any better from my perch than to recall the song with the phrase: “Let the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose!”  Amen.

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