December 30, 2010
David Janowski was born in Walkowisk, near Grodno in Poland.
At an early age he went to Paris and represented France for over thirty years in international chess tournaments.
Janowski’s public career began in Leipzig 1894, where he tied with Georg Marco for sixth and seventh places. Richard Teichmann and Carl Schlechter also made their debuts in Leipzig; Teichmann came third, one point behind the leader and Schlechter was not placed.
In Paris in 1895, Janowski drew a match with Jacques Mieses +6-6=2, the same year in Hastings 1895 he was not placed but won against Mikhail Chigorin on a blunder, which knocked him out of first prize and he also beat Wilhelm Steinitz in a very fine game. Even at this early stage of his career, Janowski showed the same tenacity of purpose and wonderful fighting spirit that clung with him to the end.
His predilection for Bishops and disdain of the draw were the only two weaknesses he ever had in chess and they cost him dearly later. These weaknesses were revealed as early as Leipzig but the other Masters did not discover them until the following year, at Nuremberg and Budapest, where his successes were so great that his games began to be studied.
In 1896, Janowski played two matches in Vienna. He drew one with Carl Schlechter +2-2=3 and he won against Szymon Winawer 5:2.
In Nuremberg in 1896, Janowski began to make his presence felt among the Masters by coming fifth with 11½ points, beating Emanuel Lasker, drawing with Harry Pillsbury but losing to Geza Maroczy and Siegbert Tarrasch. In the early stages of the tournament he met Emmanuel Lasker, then the World Champion, sacrificed the “exchange” in the opening and won a magnificent game. He also beat Steinitz, who was placed immediately below him. A few weeks later in Budapest 1896, Janowski came fourth, drawing with Carl Walbrodt and Joseph Blackburne but lost to Rudolf Charousek. In the same year he won a match against Walbrodt in Berlin with a score of four to two and two draws.
In the thirty-eight round tournament in Vienna 1898, Janowski came third, two points behind Siegbert Tarrasch and Pillsbury and two points ahead of Steinitz, who he beat twice in their individual encounters. He also divided honours with Tarrasch and Pillsbury. Among the seven leaders he had a score of nine to three, which was one point more than Tarrasch had, who won the tournament.
Janowski was now one of the most feared of all the Masters. Though overshadowed by Pillsbury for some years, he developed into a great master of attack, sacrificing Pawns or pieces when necessary to attain his ends. With both the white and the black pieces he selected those variations that led to complicated positions where anything might happen. His judgment of position was uncanny and his ability to bring about so-called “won games” has never been equalled, even by Chigorin or Lasker. This is his great claim to fame.
In Cologne 1898, Janowski was not placed as he scored only seven and one-half points out of fifteen. His record against the leaders was two and one-half to five and one-half and Steinitz won the first encounter with him. Coming so soon after Vienna, the strain was too great for Janowski.
Next year in London 1899, he tied with Geza Maroczy and Harry Nelson Pillsbury for second, third and fourth places, four and one-half points behind Lasker. He lost the second prize by trying to win a drawn game from Steinitz, whom he had been remarkably successful against until then. He drew and lost to Lasker in this double round tournament and won and lost from Pillsbury and Maroczy.
Janowski came to New York after this tournament, won a match from Jackson Whipps Showalter by seven to two and four drawn and another against Marshall, who had just won his master ship at London, by three to one.
Around this time Janowski challenged Lasker to a match for the championship of the World, but negotiations were soon abandoned as there was no interest in such a contest.
In Paris 1900 and Munich 1900 he was not placed, however when this poor score was mentioned to him one time at the Manhattan Chess Club, Janowski shrugged his shoulders and said, “I was always erratic”.
The next year he won his first tournament in Monte-Carlo, coming in ahead of Schlechter, Theodor von Scheve and Chigorin. In Monte Carlo 1902, he came third behind Maroczy and one-half point behind Pillsbury. He then lost to Pillsbury, but he drew two games with Maroczy. In Hanover 1902, Janowski won the first prize, one and one and a half points ahead of Pillsbury and his arch-rival, James Mason, was the only person to win from him.
In Carlsbad 1902, Janowski lost a match to Schlechter by one to six and three drawn. The following year, in Paris, he won a match from Jean Taubenhaus by five to one and four drawn. At the American tournament in Cambridge Springs 1904, he tied with Lasker for second and third prizes, two points behind Marshall. His game with Marshall was a royal battle, with each one trying to win a drawn game and Janowski finally losing. In the last round he met Lasker, whom he led by one point. Throwing caution to the wind he sacrificed pieces right and left but missed the winning combination, enabling Lasker to tie his score. It has always been the writer’s opinion that at this period Janowski was the strongest player in the world. He was an artist with his fingers and always played for a win. However, his optimism often cost him because he lost many a game that should have been drawn. His ability for always achieving wonderful positions was something that he retained until the end.
Even in New York 1924, the Masters agreed that for the first four hours of play Janowski was equal to any player in the world. His score in New York could easily have been four and one-half points higher, but twenty years is a long stretch of time. In Cambridge Springs it was his hard luck and lack of caution and self-restraint that made him lose to Lasker. His whole career is a great lesson to the modern masters who draw games without effort and play to the score. Patrons of the game do not put up their money for such performances but no one ever accused Janowski of not doing his best.
In Paris 1905, he lost a match to Marshall, five to eight and four drawn. In Barmen 1905, he tied with Maroczy for first prize, one-half point ahead of Marshall. In Ostend 1905, he was tied with Tarrasch for second and third prizes, one and one-half points behind Maroczy. He won a match from Taubenhaus in Paris 1905, by three to one and three drawn. In 1904 he played a theoretical match with Marco on the King’s Gambit declined, winning by four to two. In Nuremberg 1906, he finished last with David Przepiorka. In Ostend 1906, he was placed eighth in a field of thirty-six but against the leaders he only scored three and one-half points out of fourteen.
At the Ostend chess tournament of 1907 he tied with Marshall for third and fourth prizes, one point behind Schlechter. In this four-round tournament he drew two and lost two against Tarrasch and Schlechter and won two and lost two against Marshall.
In Paris 1908, Janowski beat Frank Marshall in a match by five to two and three drawn. He also competed with Lasker three times in 1909 and the first match ended with a draw, he was beaten by Lasker in the second match with a score 2:8 and the third title-match in 1910 he also lost =3-8. Those matches were sponsored by his patron Pierre Leo Nardus, a Dutch painter who supported him in chess for many years. One day Nardus suggested an alternate move during a post-mortem of one of Janowski’s games. Janowski called Nardus an idiot in front of a crowd of people and Nardus never gave Janowski any financial support after that. In Biarritz 1912, he lost a match to Marshall by two to six and two drawn. In 1913 Janowski was placed third in Havana and second in Scheveningen. In St. Petersburg 1914, he was not placed but came seventh in Mannheim, which was interrupted by the war.
In 1916 Janowski came to New York and made the Manhattan Chess Club his headquarters, where he was retained as the club professional. He came in second in New York 1916 and fifth in New York 1918.
In 1916 he played three matches, losing to Marshall, two to six and two drawn; winning from Jaffe by five to four and four drawn and from Jacob Schowalter by seven to two and two drawn. In 1918 he lost a match to Chajes by five to seven and ten drawn. In no other match or tournament did Janowski draw so many games.
In 1921 he came first in Atlantic City and a little later he tied with Roy Black for the championship of the Manhattan Chess Club and then won the play-off. He also won the short match with Mario Schroeder, a strong amateur, giving the latter Pawn and move. In Lake Hopatcong 1923, he came third after losing to Abraham Kupchik and Marshall. His games with the leaders were long and drawn out and he fought to finish with Marshall, going over 100 moves. In December 1924, he sailed for Europe after a stay in the U.S. of over eight years.
He took part in several tournaments in 1925 and 1926, but was not placed. Finally invited to play in a little local tournament, he died on January 15th 1927 in Hyeres, France.
Janowski’s tournament and match record is not complete, as several minor local tournaments and matches with amateurs are omitted. He never won a first-class tournament but a glance at his record from 1896 to 1905, will show that with the exception of Cologne, 1899, Paris, 1900, and Munich, 1900, he was always near the top. Janowski shared, with Carl Schlechter, the distinction of a tie match with the World Champion Lasker and he was also one of those rare chess players who managed to defeat World Champions Lasker, Steinitz, Alekhine and Capablanca. He was an excellent tactician and a chess player of attacking style, especially at playing middle games. He contributed a lot to the chess theory of the Queen’s Gambit and he really thought that the result of the game could be seen in the middle game thus he did not like to play endings.
Best tournament record: 1901 Monte Carlo, 1902 Hanover, 1905 Barmen (shared), 1921 Atlantic City, second at Scheveningen and 1916 New York.