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Monday, January 2, 2012

Some chess anecdotes from Cuba!

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hello everyone,

It's always charming to read chess news from Cuba. We found this nice chess article by Daaim Shabazz with some lovely old chess photos.

He writes: "The country has a rich chess culture for more reasons than having produced a World Champion in Jose Raul Capablanca. I visited the island of 11 million to better understand the economics, social dynamics and culture of the country. Cuba is a nation with a rich and storied history. Its chess history is not as eventful, but everpresent on the island. There is a compulsory chess program in the schools. Chess is fully entrenched in the culture as the Capablanca Chess Club on Infanta and Humboldt Street is bustling with activity during the afternoon. Thick smoke billows amidst the clicking sounds of chess clocks."

Polanica-Zdroj, 1967. Seated (L-R): Furman, Flohr, Euwe, Uhlmann, Hort. Standing (L-R): Arlamowski, S. Witkowski, Graetz, Horbacki, Orbaan, J. Schmidt, J. Adamski, R. Ortega, Kalarow, Filipowicz, Suttles, Liebert, Sliwa, Kuszewski, Kozlowski, Kostro, Turski.

"Chess was not only played in the club, but on the streets. Chess imagery was also seen on street murals and sculptures. There were also the famous photos in the Habana Libre Hotel of Bobby Fischer playing Fidel Castro and Che Guevara playing in a simultaneous exhibition. I met a security guard at the Hotel Colina and it turns out he was a chessplayer. He took me to Muraleandro to view the art district there. On the way, we saw street players playing blitz. I played two games and split them. The players were fair players, but apparently unschooled in openings."

"I visited the club several times and on the first day met a player named Vladimir Barreira who told me he was from Santiago and came to Havana to have a better shot at improving his economic lot. Some time later, I mentioned Olympiad medallist WGM Oleiny Linares-Napoles and he stated that she was a friend and also hailed from Santiago. I was told that there was a chess program on television."

"One afternoon, I happened to find a recap of a 1974 Olympiad game done by a female commentators..."

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