A Century of Chess: Marshall-Janowski 1905
Marshall and Janowski 1908 match. From Leopold Hoffer's book of the match.

A Century of Chess: Marshall-Janowski 1905

| 14

Trivia question: which two chessplayers have played each other the most (in 'official' games, at classical time controls)? 

The answer, not surprisingly, is Kasparov and Karpov. Actually, it's not even close. They played 170 official games against each other, which must have been excruciating given how much they loathed one another. Second place, as best as I can tell, is Botvinnik and Smyslov at 105 games, followed by Kramnik and Anand at 96. 

Well, given the article's subject, I was obviously hoping that Frank Marshall and David Janowski would be in the top three, but they did play each other a lot - 80 games over three decades. They played a series of games in 1899, which Janowski, ever-insulting, denied was a match, since Marshall wasn't "in his class." 1905 was the most significant encounter between them, 17 games, with Marshall winning by three points, and with some notion of the event as a kind of Candidates Match. "The opinion - not perhaps widely expressed but certainly widely held - [was] that the winner would have a clear claim to challenging Dr. Lasker for the championship itself," was how the book of the match coyly put it. The 1908 match served as Janowski's revenge, the 1912 match felt like a bad sequel in some kind of overly-long franchise, with Marshall winning again, the 1916 match was more of a charity case, a way of throwing some money Janowski's way when he unexpectedly turned up in New York in the middle of World War I.

Marshall. 1905.

This match doubled as Marshall's honeymoon, which caused some amusement in the press at that time. Andy Soltis dug up a piece from The New York American spoofing Marshall's whirlwind courtship: 

Actually, that's pretty much exactly what happened. Marshall had met Caroline Krauss in August, announced that he wanted to marry her. Nobody took him seriously, but he showed up again at the end of the year, proposed marriage to her during a walk on January 6th, immediately got ahold of a minister, then made the announcement to her family, then kept his booking on a steamship for the next morning, with Caroline added on. Serendipitously for the honeymoon, Marshall's match with Janowski was already scheduled for Paris. 

Carrie Krauss. 1904.

Honeymoons and chess don't always co-exist well - Duchamp's wife ended up gluing his chess pieces to the board when, on their honeymoon, he paid more attention to them than to her. But Marshall seemed to be in good spirits, as was Maróczy when he won the 1902 Monte Carlo tournament while on his honeymoon.

In Marshall's autobiography, he succinctly summarized his strategy for playing against Janowski. "You had to 'get' him before he 'got' you!" Both of them were true chess junkies, attacking players who thrived on combinations and imbalanced positions. In an age when many of the top players were still shy about being thought of as 'professional,' both Marshall and Janowski were pretty up-front about not having much else going on in their lives. I get a little dizzy playing over their games - it's the punch-drunk feeling like when you've spent too long playing blitz at the club or in the park and the board just turns into a sea of incoherent tactics.

Marshall and Janowski. 1907.

The playing style exhibited in the match seemed to make contemporaries uncomfortable. Both Marshall and Janowski were outside the prescriptions of classical chess and the feeling was that their chess must be of a lower quality. Tarrasch called the match 'a bore.' Lasker was in the minority among analysts in seeing the games as of a high standard and illustrating the players' fighting abilities.

Always hilarious is Janowski's utter lack of sportsmanship. He made a very good impression at the board - with cane, pince-nez, 'dazzling shirt,' while Marshall slumped terribly and got cigar ash all over himself and his surroundings. However, once Janowski lost, the white-kid gloves came off. He hurled invective at poor Carl Schlechter after each of Schlechter's victories in their 1902 match. After the match loss to Marshall, Janowski, with 'his usual good grace,' as puts it, wrote the following: "I consider the result of the match far from proving our respective abilities" - and challenged Marshall to a return match of first-to-ten-wins with Janowski spotting Marshall four games. This was of course insane and created 'an unpleasant impression' in the chess world, as The American Chess Bulletin put it, while The British Chess Magazine described it as a "curious, rather querulous, and very bumptious letter," but, ironically enough, Janowski was only overstating things slightly: he won their next match by a full three points, just a shade off his proffered handicap. 

There are several excellent sources on the match: 

-Frank Marshall's My Best Games of Chess (sometimes called My Fifty Years of Chess)

-Taylor Kingston's Emanuel Lasker: A Reader

-Andy Soltis' Frank Marshall, United States Chess Champion

-Marshall v. Janowski: The Games of the Paris Match with contemporary notes by Marshall

-Edward Winter's 'Janowsky Jottings'

American Chess Bulletin 1905

-British Chess Magazine 1905

Most interesting is to read through Lasker's notes on the match, as included in the Taylor Kingston book. This was at the peak of Lasker's Chess Magazine and Lasker was studying both players carefully as potential challengers. The notes are a real window into his perspective on chess.