A Story From Richard
This was related to me by the famous Cuban Grandmaster Jose Capablanca shortly before his death.
It was the Moscow tournament of 1928. On a dark, bitterly cold evening with snow
swirling around outside their hotel, Capablanca, Lasker and Alekhine sat drinking in
Capablanca's luxurious suite, and talking about such things as chess, chess, chess and the
Canaries Premier league chances for that season ..
A knock at the door and Capablanca's manservant opened the door to allow a bedraggled
old Russian entrance.
"And what can we do for you?" asked the Cuban, offering the freezing Russian a glass of
hot, buttered rum and a fine Havana cigar.
"It's what I can do for you," replied the Russian.
"And what would that be?" scoffed Alekhine.
"I am a rank amateur player and have never taken part in any tournaments, but have made
an in depth study of chess openings for the past thirty two years.
If you would allow me the honour of playing white, I will show you a variation of the
Ruy Lopex opening in which it is impossible for white to lose and not only that, but each
game will last no more than 45 moves."
"Zat ist impossible," answered Lasker. "Zat goes against all the fundamental principles of
the game of this vunderful game of chess!"
"Then shall we say a little wager of one hundred pounds sterling?"
'”Agreed," said Lasker,and the pieces were set up.
44 moves later and Lasker tipped over his king, shaking his head and pulling out a wad of notes from his pocket.
"Vot has happened?" he moaned. "My perfect defence has gone up in
"And you?" the mysterious Russian nodded to Alekhine. "Would you like -
“The stakes?”sneered Alekhine.
"How about your Persian cat, named Chess?"said the Russian, pointing to the cat sitting and purring on Alekhine's lap. The cat who was to achieve immortality by having Blofeld from Goldfinger petting a similar cat many years later was blissfully unaware that he was to be bartered.
"And your illicit and highly controversial collection of Japanese pom or is that pawn?" added the Russian.
Alekhine swore, but shook hands with the Russian and they sat down to play.
44 moves later and Alekhine burst into tears.
"You can always get another cat," Lasker consoled him.
"No, it's the Japanese pom collection …irreplaceable," wept Alekhine.
And now it was Capablanca's turn. "The wager?" smiled the Cuban.
"Your collection of fine wines and cigars and a years free membership
to the Phoenix Chess Club," said the Russian.
"Done," said Capablanca, and they sat down to play on the Cuban's
exquisitely carved antique chess set. 44 moves later and the Cuban's hand
reached out to the Russian. "A draw by perpetual check is the best I can
do," he conceded with grace.
I asked Capablanca what happened to the Russian after defeating the three most famous chess players of their time. The Cuban paused and lit a cigar before blowing a ring of blue smoke into the air.
"We shot him,"he said.