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Capablanca Memorial

The Capablanca Memorial is a chess tournament that has been held annually in Cuba since 1962. José Raúl Capablanca y Graupera (1888-1942) was a famous Cuban chess master who was World Champion from 1921 to 1927. The Capablanca Memorial (in Memoriam) became at that time the best paid tournament in the world. Che Guevara could cover the costs as director of the National Bank and Minister of Industries. Since 1974 B and C tournaments have been held.

1962 tournament

The first José Raúl Capablanca Memorial was held 20 April to 20 May 1962 in the Habana Libre hotel in Havana, Cuba. Miguel Najdorf was first in a field of 22 players, followed by Lev Polugaevsky and Boris Spassky, Svetozar Gligorić and Vasily Smyslov, Borislav Ivkov, etc.

1965 tournament

The fourth tournament held in 1965 was marked by an unusual circumstance. U.S. Champion Bobby Fischer had been invited to play and was offered a $3000 appearance fee, but the United States Department of State would not allow him to travel to Cuba due to tension in Cuba-United States relations. American Grandmaster Larry Evans had been permitted to play in the tournament the year before, as he was also acting as a journalist. The U.S. Department of State often allowed newsmen and journalists to travel to off-limits countries, but it would not budge on Fischer even though he had made arrangements to write about the event for the Saturday Review. Fischer instead played his games by telex from the Marshall Chess Club in New York City. Capablanca's son Dr José Raúl Capablanca Jr relayed the moves in Havana. When Fischer's participation seemed assured, Cuban President Fidel Castro called it a "great propaganda victory for Cuba", making headlines. When Fischer heard of this, he cabled Castro threatening to withdraw unless Castro stopped making political statements about Fischer's participation. A cabled reply from Castro eased Fischer's concern and he joined the field of twenty-two players, with thirteen Grandmasters and seven International Masters. Play by teletype added to the strain of the tournament. Although the English magazine CHESS thought that this was an advantage for Fischer who became accustomed to this manner of play (each of his opponents experienced it only once), others considered it a handicap for Fischer who endured the extra labor in every game. Former World Champion Vasily Smyslov (USSR) won the tournament with 15½ points of 21. Borislav Ivkov (Yugoslavia), Efim Geller (USSR), and Fischer shared second through fourth, a half point behind. Although Fischer did not win, his performance was widely considered a success given the playing conditions and the fact that Fischer was playing his first international tournament in three years.


# Year City Winner
1 1962 Havana Miguel Najdorf (Argentina)
2 1963 Havana Viktor Korchnoi (Soviet Union)
3 1964 Havana Vasily Smyslov (Soviet Union)
Wolfgang Uhlmann (East Germany)
4 1965 Havana Vasily Smyslov (Soviet Union)
5 1967 Havana Bent Larsen (Denmark)
6 1968 Havana Ratmir Kholmov (Soviet Union)
7 1969 Havana Alexey Suetin (Soviet Union)
Viktor Korchnoi (Soviet Union)
8 1971 Havana Vlastimil Hort (Czechoslovakia)
9 1972 Cienfuegos Anatoly Lein (Soviet Union)
10 1973 Cienfuegos Vasily Smyslov (Soviet Union)
11 1974 Camaguey Ulf Andersson (Sweden)
12 1975 Cienfuegos Ulf Andersson (Sweden)
13 1976 Cienfuegos Boris Gulko (Soviet Union)
14 1977 Cienfuegos Oleg Romanishin (Soviet Union)
Guillermo Garcia Gonzales (Cuba)
15 1979 Cienfuegos Evgeny Sveshnikov (Soviet Union)
16 1980 Cienfuegos Alonso Zapata (Colombia)
Ľubomír Ftáčnik (Czechoslovakia)
17 1981 Cienfuegos Vitaly Tseshkovsky (Soviet Union)
18 1983 Cienfuegos Lev Psakhis (Soviet Union)
19 1984 Cienfuegos Jesus Nogueiras (Cuba)
20 1985 Havana Borislav Ivkov (Yugoslavia)
21 1986 Havana Carlos Garcia Palermo (Argentina)
Julio Granda Zúñiga (Peru)
22 1987 Camagüey Carlos Garcia Palermo (Argentina)
Denis Verduga (Mexico)
23 1988 Havana Zurab Azmaiparashvili (Soviet Union)
24 1989 Holguín Amador Rodriguez (Cuba)
25 1990 Havana Adelkis Remón (Cuba)
26 1991 Havana Valeriy Neverov (Soviet Union)
27 1992 Matanzas Henry Urday Cáceres (Peru)
28 1993 Matanzas Mark Hebden (England)
29 1994 Matanzas Loek van Wely (Netherlands)
Tony Miles (England)
Alonso Zapata (Colombia)
30 1995 Matanzas Tony Miles (England)
31 1996 Cienfuegos Tony Miles (England)
32 1997 Cienfuegos Peter Leko (Hungary)
33 1998 Havana Robert Hübner (Germany)
Ivan Morovic (Chile)
Yaacov Zilberman (Israel)
34 1999 Havana Tony Miles (England)
35 2000 Varadero Alexander Volzhin (Russia)
36 2001 Havana Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain)
37 2002 Havana Lázaro Bruzón (Cuba)
38 2003 Havana Julio Granda Zúñiga (Peru)
39 2004 Havana Leinier Domínguez (Cuba)
40 2005 Havana Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine)
41 2006 Havana Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine)
42 2007 Havana Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine)
43 2008 Havana Leinier Domínguez (Cuba)
44 2009 Havana Leinier Domínguez (Cuba)
45 2010 Havana Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine)
46 2011 Havana Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine)
47 2012 Havana Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine)
48 2013 Havana Zoltán Almási (Hungary)
49 2014 Havana Wesley So (Philippines)
50 2015 Havana Yu Yangyi (China)