José R. Capablanca of Havana, who a scant few days ago seemed assured of first place in the Second American National Tournament, now faces a genuine challenge to his primacy after yesterday's twelfth and penultimate round. Capablanca was held to a draw by Oscar Chajes of Chicago in a short game of only 22 moves; that result, combined with the swift victory over S. Rubinstein achieved by the Cuban's closest pursuer, Frank Marshall of Brooklyn, the American Champion, has reduced the distance between the first and second place contenders, which stood at two full points two rounds ago, to a mere half-point on the eve of today's final round. Adding measurably to the excitement and anticipation attendant to the tourney's denouement is the happy coincidence that Capablanca, with 10 1/2 points, and Marshall, with 10, have yet to face each other in this tournament are so are scheduled to meet today, with the first-named playing the White pieces. One of these two Masters will win the tourney outright, as the third place contender, Charles Jaffe of New York, has tallied 9 1/2 points, and thus even in the event of victory cannot equal the total of at least 11 points certain to be attained by either Capablanca or Marshall. We present below a selection of games from the 12th round. Yesterday's other news concerned the arrival of a cable from Señor Leon Paredes, President of the Havana Chess Club, announcing the official confirmation of an international tournament to take place in the Cuban capital, and inviting the top six finishers in the present New York tourney to compete in that forthcoming event, at which they will be joined by two further native competitors to form an eight-man field. A double-round tourney is projected, with each player contesting fourteen games in all. The Cuban tournament is set to begin in mid-February, a schedule that will oblige those Masters who elect to play in it to leave New York, whether by steamer or by rail, in but a few days' time. Such impromptu travel, however, is often the case in the peripatetic life of a chess player, and the warm welcome and lavish attention traditionally bestowed on visiting Masters in Havana - the city that old Steinitz once called "the El Dorado of chess" - will certainly serve as a powerful inducement toward acceptance of the invitation by all those to whom it is directed. We would add that the serendipitous opportunity to witness players of the caliber of Capablanca, Marshall, and Janowski in action once again so soon after the present tourney is indeed a most pleasant and delightful surprise, and we shall of course follow the Havana event as it takes place. To return to yesterday's 12th round, Chajes and Capablanca contested a quiet Queen's Pawn Game, signing the treaty of peace on the 22nd move:
Marshall required only 16 moves to defeat Rubinstein, who chose a defense rarely if ever seen in Master chess: 1.d4 b6 2.e4 Bb7 3.Bd3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7. We note that in the final position the move 16...Rfc8 is well answered by 17.Bg5, forcing 17...Qf7, when 18.Nxc7 leaves the second player without hope.
Jaffe outplayed Kupchik in a Four Knights' Game, thereby assuring himself of an undivided third place at worst in the tournament:
In other games, Janowski was held to a draw by Morrison; Liebenstein, scoring his second game in succession, defeated Kline; Stapfer topped Zapoleon; and Whitaker beat Tenenwurzel.
Scores after 12 rounds: Capablanca 10 1/2; Marshall 10; Jaffe 9 1/2; Janowski 8; Chajes 7 1/2; Stapfer 7; Kupchik 6; Whitaker, Tenenwurzel 5 1/2; Kline 4; Rubinstein, Morrison 3 1/2; Liebenstein 2 1/2; Zapoleon 1.
The thirteenth and final round will be played today.