There is a quote attributed to Cuban world chess champion José Raúl Capablanca after he gave a simultaneous display in the UK House of Commons in 1919 which is repeated on many Russian-speaking websites (Russian blog, Belarusian online newspaper, Ukrainian chess community):

Глубоких стратегических замыслов я у них не обнаружил, но в плане тактическом они проявили известную выдумку. Одни пытались сделать лишний ход, другие возвращали на доску уже снятую фигуру в надежде на то, что я этого не замечу, третьи производили за моей спиной некоторые перестановки в своей позиции... В общем, на месте избирателей, направивших этих джентльменов в парламент, я бы держал их под постоянным присмотром…

My translation to English:

I did not find deep strategic designs in their play, but in terms of tactics they showed a certain ingenuity. Some tried to make an extra move, others returned to the board a piece that was already taken in the hope that I would not notice that, yet others made permutations in their position behind my back... In general, at the place of voters who sent these gentlemen to the parliament, I would keep them under constant supervision

I couldn't find a corresponding English quote though. How trustworthy is it?


1 Answer 1


The closest information I could find on the matter is from the book The Unknown Capablanca by David Brandreth and Dale Hooper, which contains the following passage amidst the transcripts of some of the games played at the House of Commons (p. 158):

During the display one player tried to put in an extra move, as is the way with politicians; but the Cuban, who had spend six years in his country's diplomatic service, was not outwitted. No international incident followed his tactful correction.

So it appears to be an isolated incident, and there is no evidence that Capablanca said anything about it except for reverting the move. On the contrary, "tactful correction" suggests he didn't try to draw unnecessary attention to the matter.

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    The book by Brandreth and Hooper seems to be from 1975, about 56 years after the simultaneous game. Do Brandreth and Hooper reveal the source for their remark? Sep 7, 2021 at 13:59
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    This passage is fancifully worded enough to suggest that it wasn't necessarily even an attempt at cheating; if not simply a tall tale, perhaps it was an amicably corrected mistake made into a joke?
    – Feryll
    Sep 7, 2021 at 22:25
  • @EpicBroccoli This is really a chess book dedicated to games analysis, so the authors didn't provide sources for this remark, which I assume was of secondary importance to them. Sep 8, 2021 at 10:10

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