"He who hated draws", part 5

Jan 16, 2012, 4:51 AM |

For the next game, let's quote Edward Lasker.

"This game's result had a large impact on destinies of three outstanding chess players. The undeserved loss had become a drama of his life for Janowski. Capablanca, after winning the game, won the whole [San Sebastian] tournament, became the main World Championship candidate and raised his country's prestige so much that the Cuban government enlisted him for a diplomatic service, and this allowed him to make a good living. Finally, Rubinstein, who was considered Lasker's natural successor at the chess throne, who defeated Capablanca in classical style and finished half a point behind (without losing a single game!), despite all subsequent successes, never got a chance for a World Championship match.


Janowski took part in the famous 1914 St.-Petersburg tournament. He didn't perform too well (shared 9th place with the English 72 years old veteran Joseph Blackburne, defeating him and Tarrasch and losing to Capablanca, Lasker, Marshall, Bernstein and Rubinstein), though he found success in another tournament (see "Janowski the Gambler". Nevertheless, he played some remarkable games that he failed to win.
"Janowski's game against Rubinstein was full of curious incidents, reminding us to an extent the Janowski - Capablanca game from the San Sebastian tournament. The French champion got an excellent position in the opening, had a good game, made Rubinstein's position hopeless with a pawn sacrifice and forced him to give away an exchange with a mate threat. But, like in the aforementioned game, luck abandoned him, and he made several weak moves in the endgame. First, he lost a couple of pawns, but still could easily force a draw. But he played for a win, got into a trap and lost heavily." (Shakhmatniy Vestnik)
In New York, Janowski got to play the 10 years old Sammy Reshevsky in a tournament. Obviously underestimating him, Janowski achieved an overwhelming advantage... and then lost.
Edward Lasker recalls, "Sammy was beside himself. In the taxi, he would embrace his father and cry, "I defeated a great master! I defeated a great master!" And the poor Janowski, in anguish and despair, remained at the board and again and again showed the audience the combination that should have crushed Sammy at move 38..."
Janowski's last elite tournament was New York 1924. He was 56 years old at the time, finished last with 11 losses and only 3 wins, but still played some good chess. For instance, Capablanca had to force a perpetual check against Janowski after he played a theoretical novelty in the Queen's gambit that's now named after him.
Again quoting Edward Lasker: "Janowski was already past the age when one can concentrate for four hours without feeling tired. His playing was still very bright and colourful, he won a great game against Bogoljubov and had won positions against Em. Lasker, Maroczy and Yates but lost the games due to mistakes caused by fatigue. He lost drawn games against Alekhine and Bogoljubov for the same reasons, and so scored four points less than he should have."
That's Janowski's penultimate game against Emmanuel Lasker, the one where he "lost a won position". Lasker was 55, just half a year younger than Janowski, but his stamina and general fitness proved to be much better.
"The most original game of the whole tournament!" - Alexander Alekhine. The endgame was really hilarious.
This ends the feature on Janowski's missed wins. In the next installments, there'll be his wins against World Champions and candidates (from Steinitz to Bogoljubov), and his brilliancy prize-earning games (there were quite a few).