Najdorf, Che - from my Journal


    Mieczyslaw Najdorf was born in Warsaw, Poland back in 1910. He was a good chess player who learned to play when he was 12, good enough to be on the Polish team for the 1939 Chess Olympiads. But this Olympiad proved to be a bit unusual. It took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Two weeks into the tournament, Hitler invaded Poland, effectively starting WWII. Nadjorf, a Jew, wisely chose to remain in Argentina.

     Although he himself escaped the Holocaust, his wife, his child, his father, his mother and his  four brothers weren't so fortunate. They all died in concentration camps.

     In 1940, Najdorf gave a simultaneous blindfold  exhibition, playing  45 boards - winning 39, drawing 4 and losing only 2. Later, in a 1972 interview, he explained:

I did this not as a stunt. I hoped that this exhibition would be reported throughout Germany, Poland and Russia and that some of my family might read about it and get in touch with me.

     He changed his first name to Miguel, married another woman, named Rita, and had another child,  a daughter named Mirta. In 1944, he became an Argentinian citizen.

     Besides being one of the best players in the world, he was also a chess writer and a columnist for Clarin, the Buenos Aires newspaper (in which he published a problem sent to him by a fan, Pope John Paul II) and a businessman. He was one of the richest chess players in his day and didn't depend on chess for his support. 

His most famous game is called the  Polish Immortal

[This game is displayed everywhere as having been played in 1935, though it's not so certain.]

According to this site:

He [Najdorf] was a well known personality, playing chess games against Churchill, Kruschev, the Shah of Iran, Juan Peron, Fidel Castro, Ernesto "Che" Guevara and many others. Always courteous, he always offered draws to such personalities, and all accepted, excepting Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Najdorf told "I have no other alternative than to beat him ".

Che facing down Najdorf

Miguel Najdorf died in 1997.


Now, Che is my kind of guy.

       He was born in Rosario, Argentina in 1928. His family was decidedly middle class and sent him to the University of Buenos Aires where he received his medical degree in 1953.
His social philosophy and lust for adventure led to his involvement in Latin American social movements, eventually leading him to Mexico in 1954 where he allied himself with Fidel Castro and his exiled Cuban revolutionaries. After Castro gained power, Che eventually became the Minister of Industry of Cuba. He was very pro-communist and anti-American. But as his communistic leanings became tempered and focused, his disdain for Russia became as great as his disdain for American imperialism.  He left Cuba, probably forced out by Castro for his anti-Soviet stand, in 1965 and re-surfaced in Bolivia the following year involved in a failed Bolivian revolution. One year later, 10-9-67, he was captured and shot to death by the Bolivian Army.

Guevara wrote four books:

Guerrilla Warfare ( 1961 )

Man and Socialism in Cuba ( 1967 )

Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War ( 1968 )

and his autoboiographical Diarios de motocicleta (Motorcycle Diaries)

    Che playing chess

'You know, comrade Pachman, I don't enjoy being a Minister, I would rather play chess like you, or make a revolution in Venezuela.'   - Che Guevara