Capablanca-Marshall Match, April 19 - June 23, 1909
New York, NY

            1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3
Capablanca   1   1 1 0 1   1 1 1          1  8 (w/14 draws)
Marshall     0   0 0 1 0   0 0 0          0  1 (w/14 draws)


  • Marshall was White in the odd numbered games. The match was to go to the first to win 8 games.

  • This match was sanctioned at the time by the New York State Chess Association as being for the US Championship. Everyone had assumed that Marshall, with his great successes, was the de facto US Champion after the death of Harry Nelson Pillsbury in 1906. This match was intended as a title defense for Marshall. In fact, even now, some may consider Marshall to be Champion by Acclamation from that time on. But here, it gets stickier.

  • After being slaughtered in the match, Marshall suddenly disputed its legitimacy, claiming that Capablanca of Cuba could not be US Champion, as he was not a US citizen.

  • However, Cuba was at this time an American possession, and Capablanca, who had lived in New York for 3 years with no sign of leaving announced his intention to become a US citizen as soon as he came of legal age, in a few months. Capablanca formally claimed the US title at this time, having won it in a US title match that was undisputed at the time it was played.

  • Due to Marshall's protests, the chess community again turned to lawyer Walter Penn Shipley to settle the dispute. Shipley ruled that neither Marshall nor Capablanca was the US Champion, and that upon Pillsbury's death, the title had reverted to the last living person to hold it, the retired Jackson Whipps Showalter. Shipley further concluded that Capablanca could not become US Champion without becoming a US Citizen. At this time, the New York State Association withdrew their support from Capablanca's claim, effectively stripping him of the title.

  • Marshall scooted down to Kentucky, dragged Showalter out of retirement, and beat him in a match for the US title, later on in 1909. After these events, Capablanca decided he didn't really want to be an American after all, and went on to win the World Championship, but for Cuba, not for the United States.

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