Der Kleine Capablanca

Der Kleine Capablanca‎

GM Julio_Becerra
31 | Chess Players

Isaac Kashdan born 19 November (like Capablanca!) of 1905 in New York was a phenomenally gifted American chess grandmaster and chess writer, who was spoken of as a possible contender against Alekhine during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Alekhine named Kashdan one of the most likely players to succeed him as World Champion. But he retired from competition in favor of careers as a chess journalist and insurance agent. Above all, he could not engage seriously in a chess career for financial reasons since his peak chess years coincided with the “Great Depression.” At his best, he was called “Der Kleine Capablanca” (The Little Capablanca) because of his skill in the ending.
But where he was a real machine was playing for the U.S team in Chess Olympiads. His record, playing top board in all but one, was 79.5 percent! Let us see: in 1928, on first board in the 2nd Chess Olympiad in The Hague (+12 –1 =2); in 1930, on first board in the 3rd Chess Olympiad in Hamburg (+12 –1 =4); in 1931, on first board in the 4th Chess Olympiad in Prague (+8 –1 =8); in 1933, on first board in the 5th Chess Olympiad in Folkestone (+7 –1 =6); and in 1937, on third board in the 7th Chess Olympiad in Stockholm (+13 –1 =2). His all-time Olympic record was +52 -5 =22, the best all-time among American players! Kashdan won four team medals: three gold (1931, 1933, 1937) and one silver (1928); and five individual medals: two gold (1928, 1937), one silver (1933), and two bronze (1930, 1931). Later he was US team captain at the 1960 and 1964 Chess Olympiads. An absolutely miraculous record!
He also had a career record in US Championships of 71 percent bettered only by Fischer and Fine!
Kashdan was a multi-faceted man! As an arbiter he directed the two Piatigorsky Cup tournaments of 1963 and 1966, and the Fischer-Reshevsky match. As a writer, he co-founded Chess Review (together with Al Horowitz), arguably the most important American chess magazine of all time. He directed and organized the famous Lone Pine tournaments from their inception in 1971 to the last one in 1981. And he served as US FIDE Delegate in 1964 and occupied several governance positions in the USCF.
With Kashdan, we finish a big chapter in United States chess history, a trilogy of non-professional chess players who were true gladiators of chess and, without any support, were considered in potential challengers to the Chess World Championship.












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