The Immortal Games of Capablanca by Fred Reinfeld has just been given a new lease of life, in a ‘21st century edition’ which ‘has been revised and reformatted to meet the expectations of the modern chess player.’

The update includes over 200 new diagrams, a number of photographs and a conversion from English descriptive notation to figurine algebraic.

The icy fingers of Stockfish 14 have been allowed to wander over the moves and analysis, but these are prefaced by ‘S14’ instead of merely serving to tear up Reinfeld’s original notes.

The book contains biographical material and 113 annotated games.

Bearing in mind that the book was written 80 years ago, Reinfeld’s notes hold up very well as do, of course, the games of the Third World Champion.

Capablanca’s chess career was remarkable and his tournament record shows he very rarely failed to finish either first or second, despite being hampered by high blood pressure and a predilection to be distracted from studying chess by certain other pleasures.

Reinfeld presents games from Capablanca’s earliest years all the way up to his splendid performance on board one of the famous Buenos Aires Olympiad of 1939, at which he outscored all of the other top players.

Of course, we are used to seeing Capablanca win games with his extraordinary endgame skill, but he was more than capable of smashing through a king’s defense in the good old style. Here is a case in point, with a couple of notes by Reinfeld.

Here is another example, from one of Capablanca’s best tournaments, in which he shared first place with Mikhal Botvinnik, ahead of a galaxy of other chess stars.

This time, Capablanca is able to utilize checkmate themes deep into the endgame, on his way to creating a decisive passed-pawn elsewhere.

As Reinfeld puts it, ‘Capablanca at all times remained a master of the first rank, and that he produced many fine games which will continue to delight chess players for generations to come.’

Yes, we can still learn an awful lot from Capablanca’s games and this book will definitely repay careful study.

Sean Marsh

Sean Marsh

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