Friday, March 31, 2017

Learning Chess at Age Four

Jose Raul Capablanca. Credit:

The story of Capablanca learning to play chess at age four by watching his father play is well known and well documented. The story is related in Capablanca's own words (originally from an interview in 1916) in Edward Winter's book on the master (p. 1ff). 

By sheer chance, I have met today in a conference, a young woman who told me her father, Avraham Bar-El, who later was a young talent in Israeli chess (playing in the IDF championship for example), learned chess in exactly the same way and age. 

This may well be true, but surely the similarity between the two makes one ask whether Bar-El's case is genuine, or one of conflating his own history with the Cuban's. We asked his daughter for more details, hopefully TBA soon.