Sunday, August 14, 2011

Encounters with the Great & Near Great??

This last Monday my Mom died. No, I'm not trying to get more sympathy, but that's the reason no one has seen me this week. I've been in central NY.

Yesterday (Saturday), the family went to Syracuse for an outing after we'd done everything else during the week. At one point we ended up at the "Destiny USA" mall. Downstairs in that mall is a game store, a local gamestore as far as I can tell.

It's huge!! We're talking 7-9 times bigger than Pandemonium Games in Cambridge, MA. It was the largest game store I had ever seen. In Syracuse!

* * *

So they had a couple of chess sets out, actually for demo purposes. As I entered the store I re-set them up (they'd been set up incorrectly) and put out the first 5 moves of the Ruy Lopez.

About a half hour later when my 12 year old nephew, Ethan, came in to see the place along with his friend Devan these older kids start playing on the board I'd set up. They were about 19 or so. We wander over.

They sucked. No, I mean it, they really sucked. And that's an important element of this story.

The game started out:

1. Na3 g6
2. b3 d6

At this point the Black kid (piece color. Both of these kids where White) switches his King and Queen. I said, "No, no. It was right before. Remember 'Queen always on her color.'" The kid accepts my correction and the game continues.

The White kid says, "Yea, I suck at this. It's in my blood, but I suck at it."

"It's in your blood?" I ask.

"Yea," says the kid. "My Great Uncle was one of the greatest chess players who ever lived."

"Who?" I asked, thinking I'm not sure Fisher's sister had any kids, buddy.

Without missing a beat the kid says, "Capablanca"

"Wait," I said. "Your Great Uncle was José Capablanca?"

"Yea." He looks up at his friend playing Black. "No one sees me as Cuban," he said.

"You are Cuban," his friend replied.

"Yea, I know that!"

I turned to Ethan, my nephew who was watching this and said, "This kid's Great Uncle was World Chess Champion in the 1920s!"

A few moves later Capablanca's Great Nephew was checkmated by his friend in a badly played Scholar's Mate.

* * *

So, was the kid joshing me? Well, my issue with that is that he played so badly that I just can't believe he'd know any details of Capablanca and his history if he wasn't related to him. He certainly wasn't any sort of a chess player. Is it possible? I know Capablanca had at least two children by his first wife, but I don't know what siblings, if any, he had.

Just interesting to think about.

-Doc Kinne
BCC Member. USCF #12186200


Ken Ho said...

Sorry about your mom, Doc.

Mike (Griffin), you never told us about your great nephew.... The Tale

es_trick said...

Growing up, I knew (not well) the son of Robert Byrne, who was a year or two younger than me. He said he knew how to play, but was never interested in playing, even though our HS had one of the premier chess teams in the state of Indiana (admittedly not a power house state).

I've heard it's very rare for great chess players to produce children who come close to being even 'garden variety masters' at the game.

BaconLOG said...

I am sorry for your loss, Doc.

Rihel said...

It makes sense. After a certain age, it is very difficult for a kids to take a lesson directly from their Dad. My own dad is a 4 instrument musician, but I never really wanted to learn when I was a kid at all.

Doc_Kinne said...

Nice to know that Jose is still so active! :-)

Anonymous said...

sorry for your loss.

i'm in the syracuse area and know the mall very well. if you were at the mall monday night, you would have run into some tough chess players. they meet every monday night there.