Chess endings have an immediacy lacking in chess endgame or chess problems: endings are not theoretical or composed, but actual board positions, the point in every game when the superfluous falls away, leaving only the essential. José Raúl Capablanca (1888–1942) had no need for isolated artistic theory or compositions — he composed and created chess art as he played. All of his genius — intuitive, tactical, strategic, logical — all of his art shines clearest in his endings, as he himself was proud to declare, advising others to study them carefully. "In order to improve your game," he said, "you must study the endgame before anything else; for whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and the opening must be studied in relation to the endgame."
The best way to follow Capablanca's advice is through this — the only book devoted to his great endings, 60 complete games emphasizing the grand finale but annotated throughout.
Irving Chernev communicates in his notes the mystery and wonder as well as the delight in discovering again and again the original, fertile mind of chess's greatest born player. "Virtuoso," "exquisite," "profound," "inspired," "elegant," and "fiendish ingenuity" describe match and tournament games and endings against Alekhine, Steiner, Marshall, Nimzowitsch, Lasker, Réti, and others, the best in the contemporary chess world. Capablanca's eleventh game in the 1901 Cuban championship (which he won, aged 12) "surpasses any accomplishment by such other prodigies as Morphy, Reshevsky, and Fischer." From age 12 through the last game in the book (nearly four decades later against Reshevsky at Nottingham, 1936), Capablanca fashions endgames in tense tournament atmosphere that seem like delicate, precise instruments dreamt at leisure.
Here then is the essence of Capablanca, analyzed for the instruction of players and the pleasure of chess connoisseurs. Included are indexes of openings, themes in the endings, and opponents, as well as a bibliography and record of tournament and match play. Capablanca: for players, the epitome of the endgame; for readers, a classic chess study.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In his playing days(1910-1940), this world champion was called the 'the chess machine'; especially for the massive endgame strategy and technical superiority he had over everyone except his world champion rivals. The endgames of Capa and Rubinstein are where to go to learn this aspect of the modern game. And this is who Botvinnik, Fischer and Karpov studied in their developing years (really studied!). Fortunately Dover reprints old classics in well bound cheap editions ($10) - good binding is important since you need to lay the book down flat and pore slowly over these games. Chernev was an ordinary master, and a great American chess journalist; all his chess improvement books are of good standard (Logical Chess is a great book for beginners and weak intermediate players to improve with). This book is for 1400-2400 class players and is worth multiple readings. He culled through many commentators to prepare deep, thorough and accurate notes to the games. I recomend readers generally skip the first moves and set up and start studying from the endgame diagram. One problem is the book is in descriptive notation, which will put off some readers, but it is learnable.