The Capablanca Project

José Raúl Capablanca (1888-1942), the world chess champion of the 1920s, took part in 36 individual tournaments and 16 matches between 1901 and 1939. He finished first in 21 tournaments, second in eight, and finished third or tied for second/third on three occasions. Only four times did he finish outside the prize-winning top three. Out of 16 matches, he won 15 and lost one. He was exceptionally difficult to beat: overall, he won 313 games (51.82%), drew 254 (42.05%), and lost only 37 (6.13%). Between the tournaments known as New York 1916 and New York 1924, Capablanca played 108 official games (89 tournament games and 19 match games) losing on two occasions. From February 12, 1916, to March 21, 1924, a period of eight years, one month and nine days, he did not lose a single game.

After watching him play in top events or facing him in exhibitions, some of his contemporaries referred to Capablanca as the second Paul Morphy, Napoleon, Saladin of Saracens, Bagheera, Mussolini, Shakespeare, Superman, Odysseus, a “boy terror,” the speed demon of Hesperides, a “Mephisto in tuxedo,” a wizard, and an infallible “machine.” In an April 2021 video appearance, Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world champion, described him as “the most genius” of all world champions.

Based on access to valuable archival material from Cuba, Russia, South and North America, and various European countries, Olimpiu Di Luppi’s multi-media project on Capablanca includes a pictorial biography, a graphic novel and a documentary. In addition to a comprehensive chronicle, the aim is to salvage, restore and preserve material related to the Cuban marvel.