Chess in Cuba
The Havana Chess Club, formed in 1885, (José Raúl Capablanca was born in 1888) hosted 3 world championships:
Havana linked up by telex to the Marshall Chess Club in New York (where, incidentally, Capablanca suffered his fatal heart attack on Mar. 7, 1942 - he died the next day at Mount Sinai Hospital where, also incidentally, Lasker had died the year previous) allowing Fischer to play in the 1965 Capablanca Memorial tournament. Dr. Jose Raul Capablanca, Capa's son, transmitted the moves from Havana. Even though Fischer had been offered a $3000 appearance fee, he was prohibited from visiting Cuba due to political tensions. Smyslov won the tournament. Fischer shared 2nd-4th places with Efim Geller of the Soviet Union and Borislav Ivkov of Yugoslavia.
Actually, the first Cuban tournament to honor Capablanca was held in 1951, but it was a one-time event. That year, Cuba issued the first postage stamp ever to feature a chessplayer - Capablanca, of course.
"On November 1, 1951 seven stamps were issued in Cuba
Then in 1952, during an international tournamnet in Havana, there was a coup d'etat and the president, Carlos Prío Socorras, who sponsored the tournament was disposed by Fulgencio Batista. The players from Mexico were pulled out by their government and Juan Quesada, then the Cuban Champion, died from a heart attack. All the chess masters present participated in his funeral.
The Capablanca Memorial has become a huge event.
Probably the greatest tournament ever held in Havana was the 17th Chess Olympiad of 1966.
Premier Castro took a personal interest in this tournament. He was on the Organizing Committee and showed up, along with his friend and ally, Che Guevara, for a lot of the games, kibitzing and mingling with the grandmasters. He played games against several grandmasters including Fischer and Petrosian. In one game Petrosian offered Castro a draw (more out of diplomacy than necessity) but Castro refused, preferring the real outcome to an artificial one.
In December, 2002, after declining to participate in the Central-American Games in San Salvador because of concerns about the security of their athletes, Cuba decided to hold their own Olympiads and as part of it, hosted a massive chess tournament at the Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana.
Castro participated, playing against Cuban GM Silvino Garcia.