- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2021

For such a sedentary game, chess is played by some pretty peripatetic people.

Recent columns have offered a reminder of what a well-traveled band the world’s top players are — and always have been. We marked the passing of GM Lubomir Kavalek, who won national titles in three different countries — Czechoslovakia, the U.S. and Germany. We covered the decision of world No. 5 GM Levon Aronian to switch from his native Armenia to play for the U.S. And now comes word that Philippine-born GM Wesley So, who relocated to play for the U.S. in 2014, has just officially become an American citizen.

It was ever thus.

Former world champion Wilhelm Steinitz was born in Prague, achieved fame in the 1860s as the “Austrian Morphy” in Vienna, spent some time in England and lived the last 17 years of his life in New York. His successor, Emanuel Lasker, was born in what is now Poland, earned the title as a German, left Nazi Germany for the Soviet Union in the mid-1930s, and wound up, like Steinitz, living out his final years in the Big Apple.

David Janowski, a contemporary of both men, was born in 1868 in what is now Belarus, emigrated to France as a young man, and even spent nearly a decade in the U.S. before returning to Paris. He lost badly to Lasker in his one title match, but was a dangerous opponent in every tournament he played. His win over rival Siegbert Tarrasch at a 1905 event was a convincing crush of an opponent at the height of his considerable powers.

Tarrasch was a champion of classical chess ideas, but here he violates a big one, launching a queenside attack in this Queen’s Pawn Game without battening down the center. White’s 21. e4! comes just in time and when Black unwisely maroons his queen and dark-squared bishop, Janowski pounces.

Thus: 25. bxc3 Qa5? (consistent, but wrong; 25…Qd7 26. Ne3 Bf7 was tougher) 26. Ne3 Bf7 27. Qd2 Ba3? (and this is suicidal, taking another piece away from the defense) 28. Rab1 Nd7 29. Rb7 Nb6 30. Nf5! Qa6 (“trapping” the rook, but White is hunting bigger game) 31. Nxh6+! gxh6 32. Rxf7!, shredding the Black king’s fortress.

The attack can’t be stopped: 32….Kxf7 33. Qxh6 Kg8 (Rh8 34. Bh5+ Kg8 35. Qg6+ Kf8 36. Qf7 mate) 34. Qg6+ Kh8 (Kf8 35. Re6 is crushing) 35. Qxf6+ Kg8 36. Qg6+ Kh8 37. Re5!, finishing with a flourish, as the rook threatens mate on h5 and 37…Nxe5 38. Bxe5 is mate; Tarrasch resigned.


Polish-born GM Miguel Najdorf made an even longer journey. Playing in the Buenos Aires Olympiad when World War II broke out in Europe in 1939, the 30-year-old Najdorf wound up staying in and playing for Argentina until his death 58 years later. All told, the popular Najdorf would play in 15 Olympiads — four for Poland and 11 for Argentina.

Before crossing the Atlantic, Najdorf found time to play what became known as “The Polish Immortal,” a sacrificial fireworks show that recalls the great Romantic Age brilliancies.

White’s play in this Dutch Stonewall is not great — 9. Ng5? Bxh2+ loses an early pawn — but Najdorf’s follow-up is a thing of beauty: 13. Kg2 (see diagram; White dreams of 14. Rh1 dxc4 15. Bxc4 Ndf6 16. Nf3 and he can still make a game of it) Bg1!! 14. Nxg1 (Kxg1 Qh2 mate; 14. Rxg1 Qh2+ 15. Kf3 Qf2 mate) Qh2+ 15. Kf3 e5! (with the cute threat of 16…e4+ 17. Bxe4 fxe4+ 18. Nxe4 Nge5+! 19. dxe5 Nxe5 mate) 16. dxe5 Ndxe5+! 17. fxe5 Nxe5+ 18. Kf4 Ng6+ 19. Kf3 f4! 20. exf4 Bg4+!! 21. Kxg4 Ne5+!!, and if you’re still counting, Najdorf has sacrificed both bishops, both knights and two pawns in the space of nine moves.
All that is left is 22. fxe5 h5, check and mate.

Janowski-Tarrasch, Ostend Tournament, Ostend, Belgium, June 1905

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 c5 3. c3 e6 4. Bf4 Qb6 5. Qb3 Nc6 6. e3 Nf6 7. h3 Be7 8. Nbd2 Bd7 9. Be2 O-O 10. O-O Rfc8 11. Ne5 Be8 12. Bg3 Nd7 13. Ndf3 Nf8 14. Rfd1 Na5 15. Qc2 c4 16. Nd2 f6 17. Nef3 Bg6 18. Qc1 h6 19. Nh2 Qd8 20. Bf3 b5 21. e4 Nc6 22. exd5 exd5 23. Re1 b4 24. Ndf1 bxc3 25. bxc3 Qa5 26. Ne3 Bf7 27. Qd2 Ba3 28. Rab1 Nd7 29. Rb7 Nb6 30. Nf5 Qa6 31. Nxh6+ gxh6 32. Rxf7 Kxf7 33. Qxh6 Kg8 34. Qg6+ Kh8 35. Qxf6+ Kg8 36. Qg6+ Kh8 37. Re5 Black resigns.

Glucksberg-Najdorf, Warsaw, 1929

1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e6 4. Nf3 d5 5. e3 c6 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. Ne2 Nbd7 9. Ng5 Bxh2+ 10. Kh1 Ng4 11. f4 Qe8 12. g3 Qh5 13. Kg2 Bg1 14. Nxg1 Qh2+ 15. Kf3 e5 16. dxe5 Ndxe5+ 17. fxe5 Nxe5+ 18. Kf4 Ng6+ 19. Kf3 f4 20. exf4 Bg4+ 21. Kxg4 Ne5+ 22. fxe5 h5 mate.

• David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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