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Monday, March 19, 2018

Janowsky at Marienbad 1925

     The Czech Republic's proudest natural resource is its healing water and Marienbad (Marianske Lazne) is home to hundreds of cold, curative springs. In 1907 English King Edward VII said of it, “I have traveled through the whole of India, Ceylon, all the spa places in Europe, but nowhere was I so spellbound by the poetry of beautiful nature as here in Marianske Lezne.” 
     Many spa towns have hosted chess tournaments and Marienbad has a great history. Beginning in 1925 the town hosted a strong international tournament organized by Isidor Gunsberg, who was also the tournament director. Tournaments held there were: 

1925: Marienbad was the host of an international tournament from May 20th to June 8th in 1925 and it featured Sixteen chess masters in a round robin event. Among them were former and current World Champion challengers Frank Marshall, Akiba Rubinstein, David Janowski and Aron Nimzovich. Rubinstein jumped off to an early lead but eventually he was neck and neck with Nimzovich, with whom he eventually shared first place. While the quality of games was poor, it was an important victory for both Nimzovich and Rubinstein as they were later regarded as top players of the 1920s. 
1948: A tournament of West Bohemia Spa Towns was organized, the first half was held in Carlsbad and the second in Marienbad. It included the likes of Lajos Steiner, Vidmar, Barcza, Janowsky, Pirc, Stoltz, Foltys, Opocensky, Tartakover who was 61-years old at the time. A strong finish of 5.5 point out of 6 games allowed Jan Foltys to capture first ahead of Barcza, Steiner, Pirc and Stoltz. 
1951: The FIDE Zonal Tournament was held there with the exception of the two last rounds, which were played in Prague. The tournament was won by Ludek Pachman, who was undefeated, scoring 13-3. Other top finishers were Szabo, Barcza, Stoltz, Foltys and Benko.
1954: This was the second Zonal Tournament was played in Marienbad. Sadly, this time it was the Jan Foltys Memorial. Foltys had died of leukemia in March, 1952 at the age of 43. Marienbad hosted rounds 7-14; the rest of the tournament was played in Prague. The winner was Pachman who finished a half point ahead of Szabo who beat Pachman in their individual game. They were followed by Sliwa, Filip, Stahlberg and Olafsson. 
1956: This tournament was partly organized by Prague and was the Steinitz Memorial. It was won by Miroslav Filip who was followed by Ragozin, Flohr, Pachman and Stahlberg.
1959: Polugaievsky won ahead of Szabo followed by Kozma and Ujtelky. 1961: Was another zonal tournament which was to rake place in Berg en Dal in the Netherlands, but political pressure of the cold war resulted in a visa refusal to Wolfgang Uhlmann, who was sent from the Amsterdam airport back to Germany. In protest, the Bulgarian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Yugoslav players refused to take part at the tournament. As a result Olafsson finished first with 7.5-1.5. But with so few players, the results were annulled and a new tournament was played in Marienbad. Undaunted, Olafsson won this tournament, too. He was followed by Filip, Uhlmann, Johannssen, Ghitescu, Ciric and Bobotssov. 
1962: Not all the participants of in the Student Team Championship which was to held in Great Britain could obtain visas so instead the tournament was moved to Marienbad. The organizers managed to prepare the tournament in less than two months.The head of the committee of organizers was Jaroslav Sajtar, the main referee of the tournament was Karel Opocensky and one of the other referees was Igor Bondarevsky. Eighteen teams played in the tournament and the winner was the Soviet Union. The team consisted of Boris Spassky, Eduard Gufeld, Vladimir Bagirov and Vladimir Savon. There was also an international tournament. Mark Taimanov won ahead of Tringov, Djurasevic, Ciric, Sliwa, Hort and Ghitescu. 
1965: Ths event was won by Keres who was followed by Hort, Shamkovich, Uhlmann,Filip, Pachman and Stahlberg.  
1978: Marienbad hosted the Czech Championship which was won by Eduard Prandstetter who edged out Jan Smejkal by a half point. 
2008: A two-round Scheveningen match was held with veteran GMs facing team of young femae GMs. The veterans Karpov, Hort, Olafsson and Uhlmann outscored Viktorija Cmilyte, Anna Ushenina, Katerina Nemcova and Jana Jackova. 
2009: There was another double-round Scheveningen match in Marianske Lazne this year. The team of Korchnoi, Timman, Hort and Huebner lost by one point to lady players Humpy Koneru, Anna Muzychuk, Katarina Lahno and Jana Jackova. 
2010: In this year's tournament the top finishers were Hort, Portisch, Velimirovic and Uhlmann 

     Most players do not realize just how strong Janowsky (June 1868-January 1927) really was, but he was probably in the world's top 50 for several decades. His problem was he hated endings and was notorious for becoming impatient and throwing games when the ending was reached. Chessmetrics ranks him at number 1 in the world in 1904 with a rating of 2776. By the time of this tournament the 56-year old Janowsky's rating had sunk to 2501 placing him number 47 in the world. By that time the best players in the world were Emanuel Lasker, Jose Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Aron Nimzovich and Efim Bogoljubow. 
     In the 1928 Marienbad event he scored but three wins: Saemisch, Michell and Haida and lost all the rest. Final results were:

1-2) Nimzovich and Rubinstein 11.0 
3-4) Marshall and Torre 10.0 
5-6) Tartakower and Reti 9.5 
7) Spielmann 8.5 
8) Gruenfeld 8.0 
9) Yates 7.0 
10) Opocensky 6.5 
11-12) Przepiorka and Thomas 6.0 
13-14) Saemisch and Janowsky 5.5 
15) Michell 3.5 
16) Haida 2.5 

     Few players won more brilliancy prizes than Janowsky and the following game demonstrates his genius. As Irving Chernev wrote in 1000 Best Short Games of Chess, "Even in the twilight of his career, Janowsky could make electrifying moves." 
     Friedrich (Fritz) Saemisch (September 20, 1896 – August 16, 1975) was a German GM whose most famous game is his loss to Nimzovich at Copenhagen 1923 in the Immortal Zugzwang Game. He is also famous for playing in tournament in Linkoping, Sweden in 1959 and losing all 13 games on time. He followed that up at the age of 73 losing all 15 games on time. Saemisch is also remembered for his game against Capablanca at Carlsbad 1929, when the former World Champion lost a piece in the opening but refused to resign. 
     During World War II Saemisch was appointed as Betreuer (Supervisor) for the troops and his job was to give chess demonstrations and play simultaneous exhibitions for German soldiers all over Europe. 
     In 1944 when he arrived in Spain he made a proposal to the British ambassador that he would play a simul for the British troops in Gibraltar, but his offer was refused. Then Saemisch criticized Hitler at the closing banquet of the Madrid tournament in summer 1944. Upon returning to the German border, he was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. This was not his first transgression, since he had previously said loudly in the Luxor coffee house in Prague, “Isn't Hitler a fool? He thinks he can win the war with Russians!” According to Ludek Pachman Prague was full of Gestapo, and Saemisch had to be overheard at least at the next few tables. Pachman asked him to speak quietly, but Saemisch replied, “You don't agree that Hitler is a fool?” 
     It may sound like Saemisch wasn't a great player, but Alekhine had this to say of him: “Of all the modern masters that I have had occasion to observe playing blindfold chess, it is Saemisch who interests me the most; his great technique, his speed and precision have always made a profound impression on me.” Coming from one of the most greatest exponents of blindfold play, that is quite a compliment! And in 1929 Chessmetrics puts him in the top 10 in the world with a rating of 2665 and he had performance ratings of over 2700 at Baden-Baden 1925 and Dortmand in 1928. 
     In the following game just when it looks like Janowsky's attack has fizzled out he comes up with a brilliant Q offer. 

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