Chess Fundamentals on Forward Chess


José Raúl Capablanca was the World Chess Champion from 1921 to 1927. In 1921, his book Chess Fundamentals was published. It is now in the public domain, so you have many choices for where to read it. Your best reading experience is likely with Forward Chess.

Forward Chess

Forward Chess is available for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac. I use Forward Chess on my Dell laptop. A general introduction to Forward Chess is at this link. An interactive, free version of Chess Fundamentals can be downloaded at this link.

Chess Fundamentals by Jose Raul Capablanca

Some advantages of reading Capablanca’s book with Forward Chess are: 1) You can change the font size. No need to squint at small print! 2) If you close Forward Chess while reading a page, the next time you open it you are brought back to that same page. No worries about losing your place! 3) For each game and position Capablanca presented, his recommended moves and variations are displayed on interactive chess diagrams. 4) You can use Stockfish 12 (built into Forward Chess) to check Capablanca’s analysis or create your own analysis and variations. Click on moves or maneuver the chessmen on the diagrams.

Defensive technique

Players today are better than those of Capablanca’s era. And the best players today are not humans but are computer chess engines. Capablanca recommended a bishop sacrifice on h7 on move 12 of his game, as White, against Lizardo Molina Carranza. The names of the players are not given in Chess Fundamentals, but I found this exhibition game through searching for its characteristics on Stockfish 12 comes up with defensive moves, post-sacrifice, that Capablanca did not consider.

General rules

Capablanca’s general rules are helpful. Two of his rules for pawn endings are to “act immediately on the side where you have superior force” and “advance the Pawn that is free from opposition.” With those rules in mind, what would you (as White) play in the diagrammed position?

chess diagram

If you answered 1. g4, you agree with Capablanca. Stockfish 12 states that 1. h4 and 1. Kf4 are equally good. However, learning general rules is important, especially if one cannot calculate all the way to the end of the game. Now that Capablanca has given me these two rules, I have filed them in my memory near my favorite general rule of pawn endings, “passed pawns must be pushed.”

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

About the players