Lasker v Janowsky, Paris, 1909

Edward Winter



janowsky

Dawid Janowsky and Emanuel Lasker (Wiener Schachzeitung, December 1909, page 411)



We summarize the proof that the match in Paris between Lasker and Janowsky in autumn 1909 (won by Lasker +7 –1 =2) was not for the world championship. First, an extract from a letter that we contributed on pages 305-306 of the July 1985 BCM:

‘A check of all major chess periodicals for 1909 at the Royal Library at The Hague reveals that:

a) In many magazines the idea of the match being for the world championship is simply not mentioned (e.g. BCM pages 483 and 543).

b) Others are specific that the title was not at stake (e.g. Deutsches Wochenschach und Berliner Schachzeitung page 382, Tijdschrift van den Nederlandschen Schaakbond page 253). The match was played in Paris, so it is no surprise that French-language magazines are especially precise in refuting any world championship connection (e.g. La Stratégie pages 352 and 407, and Revue d’échecs page 214).

c) Not a single contemporary magazine has been found that suggests the match was for the world crown.’

Further details were given in C.N. 2471 (see page 174 of A Chess Omnibus), as reproduced below.



On 15 September 1909 Lasker and Schlechter issued a joint announcement (from Berlin and Vienna) of their intention to play a world championship match during the coming winter. The text was published in the Wiener Schachzeitung, September 1909 (page 315) and the Deutsche Schachblätter, 3 October 1909 (page 85). Not surprisingly, therefore, contemporary magazines did not suggest that the ten-game Lasker-Janowsky encounter played from 19 October to 9 November 1909 was for the world title, and some (especially the French ones) specifically stipulated that it was not. Page 214 of the 1909 Revue d’échecs said that it was merely ‘un second duel courtois’. Page 352 of the October 1909 La Stratégie observed that because of the Lasker-Schlechter agreement Janowsky would have to wait for a title match until afterwards. In its November 1909 issue (page 407) La Stratégie reported that Janowsky was not discouraged by his heavy loss to Lasker in Paris and added: ‘we understand that fresh discussions are already under way between the same players for another, more important, match, one which will count for the world championship, subject, naturally, to the Champion’s victory in his forthcoming match against Schlechter.’

On pages 60-61 of the February 1910 La Stratégie [reproduced below] it was reiterated that Lasker and Janowsky had not played for the title in Paris, and the magazine published the full text of an agreement signed by the two masters in the French capital on 12 November 1909. This was for a match that would begin in October or November 1910, and clause 15 stated: ‘The match shall be for the championship of the world. If Dr E. Lasker loses his title in his forthcoming match with Schlechter, the entire present arrangement shall, naturally, be void.’

Lasker survived against Schlechter, and in Berlin on 8 November 1910 there duly began the one and only world championship match between Lasker and Janowsky. 

lasker janowsky



As noted on page 174 of A Chess Omnibus, the 1909 match in Paris between Lasker and Janowsky was not for the world championship. The evidence and proof being clearcut, there is a consensus on the matter among chess historians, yet the match has repeatedly found its way into various ‘complete world championship games’ collections, such as the volumes by P. Morán (Barcelona, 1974 and London, 1986), J.H. Gelo (Jefferson, 1988 and 1999), C. Ştefaniu (Bucharest, 1989) and D. Odom (Johanneshov, 1993). To this list must now be added the first volume of a trilogy World Chess Championship Matches edited by I. Berdichevsky (Moscow, 2002).

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From page 267 of Chess Explorations:

‘On page 306 of the July 1985 BCM we listed documentary proof that the 1909 match in Paris between Lasker and Janowsky was not for the world championship. Without any reference to the public record, Mr Raymond Keene has unyieldingly asserted the opposite, and on page 346 of the August 1985 BCM he even claimed that before the longer Lasker v Janowsky matches the latter had “a vaguely level score” with the world champion. C.N. 1029 commented: “The truth is that Lasker was ahead by seven wins, three losses and two draws. This sheds further interesting light on Mr Keene’s attitude to facts: +7 –3 =2 is a vaguely level score but +6 –2 =10 is a Massacre in Merano.”

In 1986 Batsford published an English translation, World Chess Championship, Volume I, by P. Morán. C.N. 1322 reported:

“Both the 1909 and the 1910 Lasker-Janowsky matches have been included and, despite the stubbornness of the company’s chess adviser, we find a Batsford editorial note on page 25:

‘There is substantial evidence that this match was not for the world championship title. However, we have included it for the sake of completeness.’

lasker janowsky

Let us not quibble about the phrase ‘substantial evidence’ or even the meaningless ‘for the sake of completeness’. What really matters is that the note has been attached to the wrong Lasker-Janowsky match, the one that really was for the world championship. Bravo Batsford.”

In C.N. 1386 Pablo Morán agreed with us that “the 1909 Lasker-Janowsky match in Paris was not for the world championship”.’



The following appeared in C.N. 1285, in our review of The Centenary Match Kasparov-Karpov III by R. Keene and D. Goodman (London, 1986):

As reported in C.N. 1029, we showed in the 1985 BCM that the 1909 Paris match between Lasker and Janowsky was not for the world championship. This was corroborated by Kenneth Whyld in the August 1986 BCM, page 373. And on page 331 of that same issue the Editor gives a list of world title matches and adds that ‘many recent sources give here a ten-game match Lasker v Janowski, Paris 1909, but the best authorities do not include it’. Exactly so. On page 6 of their book Keene and Goodman do.



In a list of world championship challengers on page 279 of Keene On Chess (New York, 1999) Raymond Keene recorded only the one challenge by Janowsky, in 1910. That was progress, although he incorrectly listed it before the Lasker v Schlechter match held the same year.




janowsky

The opening words of the Foreword (page 11) to the dire book David Janowski Artist of the Chess Board by Alexander Cherniaev and Alexander Meynell (Aylesbeare, 2005):

‘At the present time the career of David Janowski amounts to a gap in most people’s knowledge of chess history. They know about him because of the two world championship matches (1909 and 1910) which he played against Emanuel Lasker – and lost without a fight.’

See too the item entitled ‘Plugging’ in Cuttings.

As shown in The Consultation Game That Never Was, the following was published on page 878 of the Field, 22 May 1909 (see too C.N. 1369 and page 174 of Chess Explorations):

consultation4



Russell Miller (Vancouver, WA, USA) notes a remark by Mihail Marin on page 82 of the Spring 2017 issue of the American Chess Magazine:

‘For 11 years Lasker avoided any new challenge to his title. He only abandoned his ivory tower in 1907 when he defeated Frank Marshall rather convincingly. He also scored victories by a large margin against Tarrasch (!) in 1908 and 1916 and David Janowsky in 1909 and 1910.’

How can anyone write an eight-page history of the world chess championship without knowing that Lasker’s matches against Janowsky in 1909 and Tarrasch in 1916 were not for the title?

Marin’s article (pages 78-85) is one of the worst of its kind that we have seen, a feebly-written job lot of common knowledge and common misconceptions.

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Latest update: 30 April 2017.

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