Monday, May 17, 2010

David Janowsky

David Janowsky was a leading Polish chess master who was one of the strong players in the world during early 20th century. He was born on 25th May 1868 to a Jewish family in Belarus that was part of the Russian empire.
He settled in Paris around 1890 where he began his professional chess career. It took about 6 to 8 years by the time he won his first major tournament in Monte Carlo in 1901. He followed by winning the Hanover 1902, tied for first at Vienna 1902, Barmen 1905 and during this time was in the world's top five players.

He had a plus score against Steinitz, Chigorin and Blackburne who were from the older generation. But he could not dominate newer masters like Tarrasch, Marshall, Rubinstein, Maroczy and Schlechter. And Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine who were also contemporaries were in a higher class. Still Janowski managed to create an impression for being a sharp tactician who was devastating, especially with the Bishop pair.

He played a World championship match against Emanuel Lasker in 1909 but lost with a score of =3-8. After the war, his notable successes were sharing first place in the New York 1916 tournament (ahead of Capa), winning the American Chess Congress at Atlantic City in 1921 and Third place at the Ninth ACC at Lake Hopatcong in 1923.

He was ranked world #1 during 1904 and his highest rating was computed at 2776 in the July 1904 list. The best individual performance is considered to be at 2811 in London 1899 tournament where he scored 15.5/22 (70%) against strong opposition.

In 1914 while playing the International chess tournament at Mannheim, the First World War broke out and he along with Alekhine was interned. After a few days he was released to Switzerland, from where he moved to the United States.

He was renowned for his original talent and extraordinary intuition. Many of his opponents feared his energetic attacking chess. Only about 20% of his tournament games were drawn, which speak of the fighting nature of his games.
Janowski's greatest weakness was in the Endgame. Also sometimes the lack of flexibility in his methods led to unfortunate results. Many a time he squandered his chess winnings at the roulette wheel while gambling. Also, he was fond of giving alibis when he lost, because of which he was not very popular with his colleagues. With his high hat and gold rimmed spectacles, his arrogance and stubbornness were few negative traits he could have done without.

His favourite openings with white were the Queen pawn game and Ruy Lopez. With Black he usually chose orthodox defenses and Ruy Lopez closed. The Janowski Indian opening is named after him (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Bf5). He was also famous for first using the positional exchange sacrifice in his games.

He died, penniless, in France on 15 January 1927 of Tuberculosis. Below i give one of his games where he used the positional exchange sacrifice to defeat his great opponent.

White: David Janowsky
Black: Alexander Alekhine
Mannheim 1914
Result: 1-0
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bg5 h6 4. Bh4 b6 5. e3 Bb7 6. Bd3 c5 7. O-O Be7 8. Nbd2 d6 9. Qe2 Nbd7 10. Rad1 O-O 11. c3 Qc7 12. Rfe1 Rfe8 13. h3 e5 14. dxe5 dxe5 15. Bg3 Bf8 16. Bh2 a6 17. Nh4 b5 18. c4 b4 19. Nf1 Rad8 20. e4 Nb8 21. f3 Nh5 22. Ne3 Nf4 23. Qc2 Nc6 24. Nd5 Qa5 25. Nf5 Nxd3 26. Qxd3 Nd4 27. Nxd4 cxd4 28. Ra1 Rc8 29. b3 f5 30. Re2 Qd8 31. Rae1 f4 32. g3 fxg3 33. Bxg3 Bd6 34. Rg2 Rf8 35. Kh2 Qg5 36. Bf4 Qh5 37. Reg1 Bxd5 38. Rxg7+ Kh8 39. exd5 e4 40. Rg8+ Rxg8 41. Qxd4+ Kh7 42. Qxe4+ Rg6 43. Bxd6 Re8 44. Be7 Kg7 45. Rxg6+ Qxg6 46. Qxg6+ Kxg6 47. d6 1-0

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