So you think Capa has rarely got in zeitnot? Actually, he was in constant time trouble: as a bonvivan he seemed to be dating a lot. Here’s a story Andre Lilienthal told in his 1969 book, published in Russia (the translation is mine):

Capablanca, chess genius, with his last love Olga, a Russian princess

The Genius and the Princess. Capa met Olga, a Russian princess in 1934

“I couldn’t find a tayloring job and soon, looking for one, was forced to leave Hungary. I found myself in Austria. One day, wandering through the streets of Vienna, I saw a colorful poster announcing the simultaneous exhibition on forty boards to be given by Jose Raul Capablanca. Admission: 5 shillings for spectators, 10 shillings for players.”

“Of course, just to be there and watch wasn’t enough. I wanted to play even though 10 shillings was a huge amount for me. But it was so tempting. I couldn’t help myself and collected my last pennies to take part in the event.”

“Too absorbed with the game, I didn’t realize that I was the last one, still playing the elegant, a little bit condescending master. I was too excited. Although I had a piece for two pawns, Capablanca’s authority was stifling, so I offered draw with much trepidation. Peace was agreed. I was feeling high as a kite.”

Chess and art. Painting by Olga Suvorova

Chess competition, chess art by Olga Suvorova

“I wanted a validation of my successful debut and stretched out my scoresheet over to my idol for an autograph, but obviously it was too late as Capablanca was already gone. Later I learned the Cuban was in his usual time trouble – he rushed off to a date.”

“No matter how complex chess is, the life is even more so – on the board Capablanca almost never got into time trouble.”


Andor Lilienthal, Life for Chess, Fiskultura and Sport, Moscow, 1969

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