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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

David Janowsky

David Janowsky (25 May 1868,– 15 January 1927) was a leading Polish master and subsequent French citizen.

Born into a Polish family in Wolkowysk, Russian Empire (now Belarus), he settled in Paris around 1890 and began his professional chess career in 1894. He won tournaments in Monte Carlo 1901, Hanover 1902 and tied for first at Vienna 1902 and Barmen 1905. In 1915 he left Europe for the United States and spent the next nine years there before returning to Paris.

Janowski was devastating against the older masters such as Wilhelm Steinitz (+5−2), Mikhail Chigorin (+17−4=4) and Joseph Blackburne (+6−2=2). However, he had minus scores against newer players such as Siegbert Tarrasch (+5−9=3), Frank Marshall (+28−34=18), Akiba Rubinstein (+3−5), Geza Maroczy (+5−10=5) and Carl Schlechter (+13−20=13). He was outclassed by Emanuel Lasker (+4−25=7) and José Raúl Capablanca (+1−9=1), but scored respectably against Alexander Alekhine (+2−4=2).

Janowski played very quickly and was known as a sharp tactician who was devastating with the bishop pair. Capablanca annotated some Janowski games with great admiration, and said, "when in form [he] is one of the most feared opponents who can exist". Capablanca noted that Janowski's greatest weakness as a player was in the endgame, and Janowski reportedly told him, "I detest the endgame." American champion Frank Marshall remembered Janowski's talent and his stubbornness. In "Marshall's Best Games of Chess" he wrote that Janowski "could follow the wrong path with greater determination than any man I ever met!" Reuben Fine remembered Janowski as a player of considerable talent, but a "master of the alibi" with respect to his defeats. Fine said that his losses invariably occurred because it was too hot, or too cold, or the windows were open too far, or not far enough. He also noted that Janowski was sometimes unpopular with his colleagues because of his predilection for doggedly playing on even in an obviously lost position, hoping his opponent might blunder. Edward Lasker in his book Chess Secrets I Learned from the Masters recalled that Janowski was an inveterate but undisciplined gambler who would often lose all of his chess winnings at the roulette wheel.

Janowski played three matches against Emanuel Lasker: two friendly matches in 1909 (+2 -2 and +1 =2 -7) and one match for the world chess championship in 1910 (=3 -8). The longer 1909 match has sometimes been called a world championship match, but research by Edward Winter indicates that the title was not at stake.[2]

In July–August 1914, he was playing an international chess tournament, in Mannheim, Germany, with four wins, four draws and three losses (seventh place), when World War I broke out. Players at Mannheim representing countries now at war with Germany were interned. He, as well as Alekhine, was interned but released to Switzerland after a short internment. Then he moved to the United States, where he shared first place with Oscar Chajes, ahead of Capablanca, at New York 1916, won at Atlantic City 1921 (the eighth American Chess Congress) and took third place at Lake Hopatcong 1923 (the ninth ACC)

He died alone and penniless in France on 15 January 1927 of tuberculosis.

Most people are aware of Janowsky’s attacking reputation, but few can recall ever having seen a game he won.  However, it should be obvious from his biography that in his heyday he knew how to win tournaments.  The game featured in this post is another game he lost, but what a game it was!

This is the game that practically guaranteed Marshall a clear first place in the tournament at Cambridge Springs (Pennsylvania) in 1904. Won by Marshall ahead of Janowsky.  Janowsky finished ahead of Lasker, Marco, Showalter, Schlechter, Chigorin, among others.

In this game Marshall would have probably been content with just a draw, but Janowski had to have a win in order to have even a shot at first place.  What makes this game so exciting it that you see both players playing subtle positional moves in the opening and, also, playing a very difficult ending, proving that both of them knew more about chess than just attacking.  This game would repay careful study.

"A truly masterly game, abounding in exceedingly fine and instructive play -
which does credit to both players." - Siegbert Tarrasch

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