Girl Prodigy II


                                                     Maria Teresa Mora 

Unlike Celia Neimark, Maria Theresa Mora, the well-known Cuban prodigy had a long and distingished chess career.

She started like Morphy and Capablanca by beating her own chess-playing father and entered and won her first (youth) tournament when she was 11.  lists the following game of Mora offering Rook odds to Juan Corzo in Havana, 1916. Mora, who was born in 1902 (not 1907 as given by was 14 at time.




In 1919, the American Chess Bulletin wrote:
Miss Mora Winner in Cup Tournament.
   One of the most interesting events of last winter's chess season at Havana was the success of Miss Maria Teresa Mora in a tournament at the Club de Ajedrez de la Habana for the "Bohemia" Cup, a silver trophy placed in competition by the illustrated weekly magazine of that name.
   Four male members of the club also took part, but, after a double round contest, calling for eight games by each' participant, Miss Mora tied for first place with Jose Cruz, both having won six games and lost two. This necessitated an additional series between Miss Mora and Mr. Cruz. It resulted in a splendid triumph for the fair senorita by the score of 3-1, and she thereby became the happy custodian of the cup. The summary follows:
Players.                Won. Lost.    
Maria T. Mora          6       2
Albert Mora             3       5
Jose Cruz                6       2
Baire Benitez          1       7
Raul Adler                4      4
   Miss Mora lost a game each to Messrs. Cruz and Adler, while Cruz lost to Miss Mori and also to Adler.

In 1921, American Chess Bulletin wrote:
   A match that appeared to create well nigh as keen enthusiasm among Cuban lovers of chess as the memorable Capablanca-Lasker contest was one between Miss Maria Teresa Mora, Havana's high school expert, and Jose van der Gutch,
winner of the recent tournament for the "Bohemia" trophy, in which the little senorita had been unable to participate. Handicapped by lack of practice, Miss Mora lost the first two games through eversights, but then she buckled down to the difficult task before her in earnest. In the end she made a score of 3 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws, equivalent to a total of 4—3.
   Shortly after this triumph another match was arranged for Miss Mora, at the Havana Chess Club, with Dr. Guillermo Lopez Rovirosa as opponent. Moreover, she won the first game. In view of all these performances, it is perhaps not too much to say that if Miss Mora were to compete in the ladies' tournament at the international congress in London, next summer, there is every likelihood that the women's chess championship of the world would also find its way to Cuba.


   Dr. Rafael Pazos, past president of the Havana Chess Club and one of the  organizers of the aforementioned Lasker-Capablanca match, and who served as Lasker's second, was Mora's chess teacher. Capablanca himself gave Mora the distinct honor of being the only person to whom he ever gave personal lessons. These included mostly openings and endings. But Moro had another distinction - of beating Capablanca in two games and drawing one game in their 3 encounters OTB during simuls.


Again 1n 1921, the American Chess Bulletin wrote:
   Many, no doubt, will remark upon the unusual time selected for playing the games, but, quite likely, this was done in order to utilize the coolest part of the day. According to the agreement, reached at a meeting of the principals at the Union Club on March 9, it was decided to play on five days of each week, leaving Sunday for rest and one other day for possibly unfinished games. Judge Alberto Ponce was selected as the referee and Dr. Rafael Pazos, former president of the Havana Chess Club, consented to act as second for Dr. Lasker, with Dr. Portela acting in a similar capacity in behalf of Capablanca. The time limit is fifteen moves an hour.
   After the meeting referred to, Dr. Lasker visited the rooms of the Havana Chess Club, which was crowded with members and visitors, who gave him a most cordial reception. At the time of his arrival, Dr. Pazos was engaged in a game with little Maria Teresa Mora, Cuba's girl chess expert, and the famous master sat down for a while, watching her style of play. At one stage, when she made a move of surprising accuracy, Dr. Lasker was moved to exclaim, "Well played!" Later, he graciously complimented Miss Mora upon her ability, which naturally gave her great pleasure.

The article continues with some interesting information not appropo to our presentation, but still worth reading:
"Outside of our muddled political condition," writes our correspondent, "the chess match is the talk of the town." According to a long interview printed in the Havana newspaper, El Mundo, Dr. Lasker, who has not been defeated for the championship since he acquired the title from William Steinitz on May 26, 1894, at Montreal, insists that his cession of the title to Capablanca at The Hague in June of last year, without playing, holds good and that he himself occupies the role of challenger, instead of his youthful rival. It follows that, unless Dr. Lasker should win the match, title to the championship will rest with Capablanca, at least so far as the ex-champion is concerned.
Asked his opinion of the chess masters of highest rank living today, Dr. Lasker naturally gave first place to Capablanca, after whom he placed
Rubinstein, the great Russian exponent of the game, now living in Stockholm, who long ago challenged for the championship without being unsuccessful in arranging a match. His own most "glorious" games, Dr Lasker thought, were those with Steinitz, and the tournament victories that gave him greatest satisfaction were St. Petersburg, 1895, Nuremburg, 1896, London, 1899, Paris, 1900, and St. Petersburg, 1914. The people of Holland he regarded as the most enthusiastic chess devotees.

In 1922, Mora won the Cuban Championship - the only woman to have ever done so.  She entered in and won the Cuban Women's Chess Chamionship in 1938 and held that title until she retired undefeated in 1960.

Maria Teresa Mora also played in 2 Women's World Championships.  The first was during the ill-fate 8th Olympiad in Buenos Aries, 1939. She finished a respectable 7th behind Vera Menchik, Sonja Graf, Berna Carrasco, Elfriede Rinder, Mona May Karff and Milda Lauberte.  In 1950, She played in the Women's World Chess Championship in Moscow. Mora was 48, but still managed to score an even +4-4=7, beating Karff, Gisela Gresser, Clarice Benini and Nina Grushkova-Belska and drew with Jozsa Langos, Fenny Heemskerk, Eileen Tranmer and future Women's World Champion, Elisaveta Bykova in their individual games.

She was the first Latin American woman to be given the Women's International Master title (in 1950), but her final chess distinction was to be one of the participants in the first women's international radio match in 1964. She beat Anita Sanchez of Columbia.

Maria Tersea Mora died in 1980.