JAN VAN REEK
Before he founded a great chess tournament, Ché Guevara came to Cuba as a guerilla, when the island was ruled by Batista and the mob. He was on his way to a big hotel, the Havana Hilton. It was opened in 1958, as another gambling hall. Revolutionaries took over the building within a year. The new government occupied one floor of the enormous hotel and renamed it Habana Libre.
When the political situation had stabilized, Ché warmed up the government for a chess event. The Capablanca Memorial (in Memoriam) became the best paid tournament in the world. Ché Guevara could cover the costs as director of the National Bank and Minister of Industries. Twenty-two players from Europe, Latin America and Cuba conducted the first contest in Habana Libre from April until May 1962.
The fourth event was held from 25 August until 26 September 1965 in Havana. It was the most interesting installment, cause Fischer participated in a strong field. He accepted the invitation for a fee of $3000. A difficulty arose when Bobby got no visa. When he suggested to play by telex, the Cubans reacted eagerly, although the connection would cost them $10,000.
The final standings became: 1. Smyslov (15½/21), 2-4 Ivkov, Geller and Fischer (15), 5. Kholmov (14½), 6. Pachman (13), 7. Robatsch (12½), 8. Donner (12), 9. Bilek (11½), 10. Parma (11). The first prize was $2500 and the numbers 2-4 got $1500 each.
Ché Guevara was liquidated as a guerrilla in Bolivia shortly after the fifth event in 1967. Hereafter, the tournament looked like the Ché Memorial.
An important participant had become Donner, because he wrote great stories about his adventures. The tournament moved to a port during the seventies. Cienfuegos 1973 was the last big tournament. Smyslov won the event for the third time. Ulf Andersson conquered the events of 1974 and 1975 plus the Cuban girl Victoria.
Strong European players began to avoid the Capablanca Memorial and during the second half of the eighties most winners were Latin American grandmasters. The participation by Western European adventurers gave a new impulse to the event. Tony Miles won the tournament four times.
Cuba had two young chess talents in the new millennium: Bruzón Bautista, world champion under twenty in 2000, and Dominguez. Both players won a Capablanca Memorial. Ivanchuk triumphed in the last three years.
Capablanca Memorial - Elite Group - 2005
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 Ivanchuk ** ½½ ½1 ½1 11 1½ 11 9½
2 Bruzón Bautista ½½ ** ½0 ½½ ½1 ½½ 11 7
3 Dominguez ½0 ½1 ** 1½ 00 ½½ ½1 6
4 Delgado ½0 ½½ 0½ ** 1½ 10 ½1 6
5 Jobava 00 ½0 11 0½ ** ½1 10 5½
6 Nogueiras 0½ ½½ ½½ 01 ½0 ** ½½ 5
7 Arencibia 00 00 ½0 ½0 01 ½½ ** 3
Winners of the tournament