How the Russian princess conquered the world famous chess king, or the most brilliant game of Jose Capablanca
When they met in 1934 at a reception at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, Princess Chegodaeva was probably the only one to whom the name of Jose Raul Capablanca did not say anything. She was not interested in chess and did not know that he was a world-famous grandmaster. He was called a chess genius and they said: “Mozart is in music, Capablanca is in chess.” At the time of their meeting, Capablanca was 46 years old, Chegodaeva was 35. Both had families. But from that day on, they never parted.
Jose Capablanca used to win since childhood. At 4 years old, he first won a chess tournament with his father. Everyone was surprised at his abilities and called him a child prodigy, because the boy was self-taught, did not read books on chess theory and did not analyze tournaments. At the age of 13 he already became the champion of Cuba, easily having finished with the multiple Cuban chess king, and at the age of 15 he entered the University of New York. Jose earned his living by playing for money at the famous chess club in Manhattan, where he managed to beat the most experienced chess players.
At age 20, he became the idol of the United States, defeating the country’s champion F. Marshall. For six years, Capablanca held the title of world chess champion, beating Lasker himself, who said about his opponent: “I knew many chess players and only one genius – Capablanca!” Since 1913, Capablanca was not only a chess player, but also a diplomat, and the consulate in St. Petersburg became his first place of service.
With the same ease, Capablanca triumphed over women. He was beautiful and elegant, rich and famous, and the first beauties of America themselves sought his attention. When he arrived at the tournaments, the women were waiting for him at the entrance. He was very amorous, and the famous chess player and diplomat was in no hurry to tie the knot. During his visit to Petersburg, he had several novels with the dancers of the Bolshoi Theater. But Jose still married the Cuban, Gloria Betancourt, and, as he dreamed, his two children were born in Cuba. True, this marriage did not last long – until the moment when he met the Russian Princess Olga Chegodaeva.
Olga was the daughter of the Tsar’s army colonel, Yevgeny Chubarov, who served in Tiflis. In 1921 her family emigrated to Constantinople, where Olga married Prince Chegodaev. They later moved to America, where she met with Jose Capablanca. The wife of Gloria refused to accompany the grandmaster at tournaments, and he traveled around Europe alone. Their relationship began to deteriorate, they gradually moved away from each other. When they met with Princess Chegodaeva, his family had actually split up.
Capablanca did not call his most brilliant game the one that was played at the chessboard – that is how he spoke of marriage to Olga. She later wrote about their acquaintance in her memoirs: “Everyone started dancing, except for one man. I noticed that he was trying to get close to me. Quietly but distinctly he said: “Someday we will get married.” When I was getting home, he came up and said: “Please give me your phone number and let me call you.” My name is Capablanca. ” The next morning, a phone rang. It was Capablanca. It was love at first sight. ”
Olga accompanied the chess player on all his trips. At a reception in Belgium, where she and Olga first attended together, the chess king was to be presented to the king of Belgium. But he, having heard the name of Capablanca, violated the protocol and himself rushed towards the grandmaster with the words: “I know your parties and now – what an honor! “I see you personally!” Olga stood nearby and was proud of her husband.
His wife stayed close when failure began to haunt him. In the late 1920s Capablanca lost the chess crown to the Russian grandmaster Alexander Alekhine, and he never managed to persuade his opponent to hold a rematch. Health problems also made themselves felt – hereditary hypertension, to which he never treated with due attention, was increasingly worried. Jose did not spare himself, and at one of the tournaments he felt so bad that he almost lost consciousness. As it turned out, it was a microstroke, but even after that the chess player continued to work in the same rhythm.
Their happiness did not last long – at 53, the great chess player died from a brain hemorrhage. This happened in March 1942, during a game at the Manhattan Club. Capablanca was losing the game and was very nervous about it. As a result, a stroke occurred, and the grandmaster died on the spot. After the death of Capablanca, Olga married twice more – the Olympic champion in rowing and the hero of America, Admiral Clark. She lived to a very old age and passed away at the age of 95. Olga wrote memoirs about her second husband, the legendary chess player Capablanca, and transferred the proceeds from them to his ex-wife and children, with whom she managed to maintain good relations.