Shankland Wins Capablanca Memorial
Sam Shankland won the Capablanca memorial with 7.5/10.

Shankland Wins Capablanca Memorial

| 69 | Chess Event Coverage

Two weeks after his success at the U.S. championship, Sam Shankland won another tournament: the Capablanca Memorial in Havana, Cuba. With a score of 7.5/10 and a 2829 performance rating, the American grandmaster entered the world's top 30.

The first edition of the Capablanca Memorial took place in 1962. One of the founders was Che Guevara, the director of the National Bank and Minister of Industries, and a big chess fan.

The fourth edition, in 1965, is famous for the participation of Bobby Fischer, who played his games by telex from the Marshall Chess Club in New York after the U.S. State Department didn't grant him a visa for Cuba. In this 21-round event (those were the days!) Fischer tied for second place with Ivkov and Geller, behind the winner, Smyslov.

Later it became easier for Americans to travel to Cuba but, as it turned out, the tournament was never won by a player from the U.S.—Until this week.

With his victory in Havana, Shankland won his very next tournament right after scoring his career-best achievement—following the example of his compatriot Fabiano Caruana who did exactly the same earlier this year. 


The participants of the Elite Group this year. | Image: tournament bulletin.

The "Elite Group" of the 53rd edition was a six-player, double round-robin meaning that there were 10 rounds. Shankland was the top seed, but scored better than expected: he won five games, drew five and didn't lose.

After this excellent result (or, in his own words, his "second completely ridiculous result in a row") Shankland is now number 30 in the live ratings.

After a draw with Rakhmanov, Shankland won his first black game against second-seeded Lazaro Bruzon, who wasn't in top shape and eventually finished on 3.5/10. A strong novelty in the French Tarrasch worked out well for Black:

Shankland's tournament can be summarized by noting that he was the better calculator in all his wins. He ruthlessly refuted mistakes from his opponents by looking just a little bit deeper into the position.

At halftime, Shankland commented on Facebook: "I hope I get invited back next year, but beating the 2 Cubans and drawing the other 3 foreigners might not have so far been the best strategy for this goal!"

His second game against Aleksandr Rakhmanov was a textbook example of the power of the passed pawn in the middlegame. We all get positions like this sometimes, and you know it should be a technical win, but how often does it get spoiled?

Shankland doesn't let his opponent escape.

After nine rounds, Shankland was a point ahead of Alexey Dreev, who had been quite friendly to him in their mutual games. Shankland won with a 1.5-point margin because he finished with a win while the other two games were drawn. That last round started after a moment of silence because of the plane crash close to Havana airport earlier that day.

In Shankland's final game, again we see an interesting novelty, and better calculation:

2018 Capablanca Memorial, Elite Group | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts
1 Shankland, Samuel 2671 2831 ½½ ½½ ½1 11 11 7.5/10
2 Dreev, Aleksey 2653 2714 ½½ ½½ ½½ 6.0/10
3 Anton Guijarro, David 2646 2679 ½½ 01 ½1 ½1 5.5/10
4 Rakhmanov, Aleksandr 2635 2573 ½0 10 ½½ ½½ 4.0/10
5 Bruzon Batista, Lazaro 2664 2529 00 ½½ ½0 ½½ ½½ 3.5/10
6 Bacallao Alonso, Yusnel 2594 2543 00 ½½ ½0 ½½ ½½ 3.5/10

Games via TWIC.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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