In 1942, Capablanca aired a series of chess talks — today we’d call them podcasts — that his widow Olga later published as Last Lectures: The Chess Legacy of José Raúl Capablanca. It actually became one of the most popular books under his byline because there was so much talk and so little chess (whereas his Chess Fundamentals explicitly asked students to do a great deal of work).
Maybe these are my last lectures. It’s September in 2020, a year that many of us will remember for the last of many things.
I’m Frisco Del Rosario, a writer and chess teacher. I’m a graduate student at the PurdyFine Chess School, where the main texts are by the unparalleled chess teacher Cecil Purdy, and the American grandmaster Reuben Fine. I used games by the American champion Morphy to illustrate their teachings in my book A First Book of Morphy.
Purdy told us to do two things — use inactive force and examine all the moves that threaten. If you do those two things while judging well whether to simplify toward an endgame or to complicate to stay in the middlegame, you’ll win very many games.
You can play with opening books open at the board, as if chess were an open book test, and that will get you nowhere but the middlegame. Purdy said: “Many players think they could play a good game ‘if only they knew the openings’. This idea is really crazy.” If you can’t buy into this notion, the Internet is a very big place; opening theory and advice all around!
My second book, Capablanca: A Primer of Checkmate, was a supplement to two classics: The Art of the Checkmate by Renaud and Kahn, which categorized checkmating themes; and Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings by Chernev, which showed how Capablanca went about promoting pawns. My book showed how Capablanca played the other kind of endgame: checkmate. I write often about Capablanca, or recognizable patterns often. (Internet. Big place. Ctrl-N for new window.)
I was the national chess journalist of the year in 2005 and a San Jose Mercury News Teacher of the Week in 2007. I also write automated software tests, and women’s college basketball. I maintain a Twitter account for Purdy advice illustrated by cat pictures. Not as frivolous as it might sound, it shares Purdy’s outstanding, pithy advice, with a cat picture that maybe relates (given some imagination), plus a reply from my personal account to elaborate.