David Janowski - Fritz Samisch 

Marienbad, Germany. 1925 

 (1st Brilliancy Prize!) 

(Simply place your mouse pointer over the arrows [below] and [left] click on them, 
or click on the actual moves to play through the variations.)  

  David M. Janowski (2675) - Fritz Samisch (2630)    


Marienbad,  GER   1925 

  [A.J. Goldsby I] 

Chernev writes: "Even in the twilight of his career, Janowsky could make electrifying moves. Herewith a game that was awarded First Brilliancy 
(!) in an International Tournament."  - Irving Chernev
("1000 Best Short Games of Chess." Page # 350, Game # 682.) 

I, for one, saw this game many, many years ago; probably well before I 
was a teen-ager. I can remember the  awe and wonder  White's play 
inspired in me. It is truly a work of chess art and a very strong candidate 
for the list, "The Ten Prettiest Short Games of Chess Ever Played." 
 - LIFE Master A.J. Goldsby I 

In my opinion, this game is also fairly unique in chess literature and praxis. 
White delivers a killing blow without ever castling. The final move is as 
shocking as any of the Great Tal's ...  (Or Fischer's, or Kasparov's) 
"Coup de Grace's."

Another thing is that I spent over three weeks (off and on) analyzing this 
 game. It stands up very, very, very well to intense scrutiny   ......   and  
 computer-aided analysis. (Unlike many of the older games!) 

I arrived at the ratings by using the current rating list and averaging 
each player's five year <best> average - if he were alive today. 

1. d4 Nf62. Nf3 e63. Bg5,  Another example of the "Torre Attack." 
(See the game, Torre - Lasker;  Moscow, 1925.) 

I was taught by a Master (perhaps incorrectly so), that you should never 
make this move until after Black has played both ...e6 AND ...d5. 

[More normal here is: 3.c4 , with a more common QGD-type position. 
For example: 3...d5; 4.Bg5 Nbd7; 5.Nc3 c6;

(See the analysis diagram below.)

 Analysis diagram number One. (# 1.)


is a 'normal' position of the Q.G.D. 
(Queen's Gambit Declined.). ]

;  (Maybe an exclam.) 
A good move, striking at the center.

[The line 3...d54. c4,  will probably transpose back to regular 
continuations of the Queen's Gambit Declined. ]

4. e3 Nc6
; ('!?')  This is OK. It controls key central squares. 
Its a developing move. But maybe it's a little clumsy. 

The main line given by MCO is:  4...Be7!; 5. c3 b6!; 6. Bd3 cxd4!
7. exd4
Ba6!; 8. Bxa6 Nxa6; 9. Nbd2 0-0;  
According to MCO, the position is equal. But the computers give 
a very slight edge to White. ("+/=") 
{The exclams are mine. A.J.G.}  
See MCO-14; pg.'s 499-501, columns 5 & 6, 
(Mainly column # 5, here.) and notes # (q, r, & s.) ] 

MCO also gives the line: 4...Qb6!?;  [Hitting the QNP.]  Very sharp. And 
maybe slightly risky. 5. Nbd2, (!) [Gambit]  (If 5. Qc1!? Nc6; 6. c3 d5; "=")  
; 6. Bd3 Qc3;  (6...Nc6; 7. 0-0 d5; 8. Bxf6 gxf6; 9. c4; and White 
probably has compensation for the material sacrificed.)  7. 0-0 d5; 8. Bxf6, ('!') 
(Not 8. Re1?! cxd4!; "=/+")  8...gxf69. dxc5, ("Comp." for White.) 9...Bg7
10. Rb1
Qxc5; 11. e4 dxe4; 12. Nxe4 Qc7; 13. Bb5+ Kf8; ("Unclear") 
"The position is unclear," - GM N. DeFirmian. 
From the game, J. Benjamin - L. Yudasin;  New York, 1990. 
See MCO-14; pg.'s 499-501, columns 5 & 6, 
(Mainly column # 5, here.) and note # (r.). ]

5. Nbd2 b6
6. c3,  Nice. 
One writer described this as a "Bulwark of pawns." 

The pawns on c3, d4, and e3 form a nearly invincible triangle in the 
center, powerfully controlling the squares in that region. The 
dark-squared Bishop is not inhibited, because it is developed outside 
the pawn chain. The light-squared Bishop may arrive at the d3-square 
with full confidence knowing it will have two wonderful diagonals that 
strike at both sides of the board. (Esp. on the b1-h7 diagonal, as this 
is where the Black Monarch will wind up residing.) 
     - In a way, this is an ideal attacking formation for White. 

[ The move 6. Be2!?, "=" does not yield much of an advantage for White. ] 

;  Black hopes to avoid trouble by fianchettoing his usual 
"problem child." Now after White's next move, the Pawn Structure is 
very similar to a Colle Opening, but with the White Bishop on g5
 - - - instead of g1. (This may have been Torre's original idea, to maximize 
his Pawn Structure so as to give clear lines to his Bishops.) 

7. Bd3,
('!')  The two White Bishops, working in concert, make 
an intimidating pair. 

This move is easily the most natural and the best. 

[One very strong computer program, preferred the move: 7. dxc5!?, "=" 
although it is clearly inferior to 7. Bd3. ]

;  Maybe this was part of Black's later problems. 
White clearly is the one who profits from the open lines - especially the 
way the game was played. 

[Maybe safer was: 7...h6!?8. Bh4 Be7; ("=") etc.]

8. exd4!, "
+/=(e5 = a good outpost) 
This is probably the most accurate. (White wishes to reinforce his 
outpost on e5 by also half-way opening the e-file. This will eventually 
lead to more pressure on the Black King.) 

[A symmetrical pawn-structure could be had by playing  8. cxd4, although 
this will not put any great pressure on the Black position. (8. cxd4, does 
abide by the principle of, "Always capture towards the center."  But none 
of these little 'rules-of-thumb' are correct 100% of the time!)  
Now play can continue: 8...Be79. 0-0 h6; "=" ]

;  Black develops. 

9. Nc4!
,  A very energetic move! It is not without good reason that 
Janowski was known as one of the greatest attackers who ever lived.

[The simple move - 9. 0-0, "+/=" - does not yield White more than a 
miniscule advantage. ]

;  The [seemingly] indicated move. 

10. Qc2!
,  Janowski points a dangerous battery at the Black King. 
"L'Audace, L'Audace,  ... toujours L'Audace!" 
(Probably Napoleon and then later - General George Patton.) 
( A loose [chess] translation might be: "Always take the initiative and 
 ALWAYS be aggressive." ) 

It is obvious the great Janowski understood this 50 years before Tal was ever born! 

[The more routine: 10. 0-0, "+/=" - yields White only a small advantage.] 

After contemplating for quite some time,  Samisch played ...
;  (Maybe - '?!') 
Perhaps Samisch was concerned about the possibility of a Kingside attack,
especially considering who his opponent was!! (Janowski has got to be one 
of the greatest attacking players of all-time ... certainly in the 'Top 25.') 

[ Most {average} players would probably play: 10...h6!?; but perhaps 
Samisch was concerned with the possibility of a King-side attack. (11. h4!?)  
11. h4, (White has both a King-side attack and a dangerous initiative.)

(See the diagram directly below.)

 Analysis diagram number Two. (# 2.)

(See later in the game for a variation that demonstrates what happens 
when Black is foolish enough to capture on g5 and open the h-file 
to his King.) ]

11. h4!?
,  (Probably - '!!' - - - In MY book, anyway.)  
the computer programs of today (2001) bypass this move 
in favor of Bxf6, followed by Bxh7+. 
(At least initially.) 

Several strong computer programs (like ChessMaster) never even [seriously] 
consider 11.h4!?, even after 15 minutes of computing time. 
{Set only to show the three best lines!}.
Janowski has decided he wishes to attack the White King, and nothing ... 
and I do mean NOTHING!!  ...  is going to stand in his way! 

[ Practically ALL the computers play the following line: 
11. Bxf6!?
gxf6!; unbalancing the position. 
(11...Bxf6?!; 12. Bxh7+ Kh8; 13. Bd3, "+/" (Maybe - "+/-") 
gives Black absolutely no compensation for the Pawn.)
12. Bxh7+ Kh8;  Maybe White is a lot better. "+/=" or "+/". ] 

;  Kicking the White Bishop on g5. (He thinks.) 

12. Qd2!!
,  Another exceedingly brilliant move. I have given this position 
to many (!) players over the years. [Including several Masters.] Not one 
- to the best of my knowledge - has ever picked this move. The 
move has many threats, perhaps the simplest one to spot is to sack on 
h6, followed by a mating attack. (Another kinda subtle one - is to play 
0-0-0, Bb1, and Qd3 ... with a strong attack.)  (The computers do not 
strongly consider this move, even after several minutes of analysis.) 

[ The computer program, Junior 6.0 gives the line: 12. Bxf6 Bxf6
13. 0-0
d5; 14. Ne3 Qf4; 15. Bh7+  Kh8; ("=") 
(Maybe White has an almost microscopic advantage. 
 And then again ...  maybe not!)  -0.15/9;  
 Or 12. 0-0-0!? Rfc8!; ("Unclear") But not 12. Bd2?! Ng4!; "=/+"  
 One computer program even chose the move 12. b3!?, here;  
 but it clearly does not yield White much. 12...d5; 13. Bxf6 Bxf6
 14. Ne3
Rfc8; "=/+" ]

;  A very reasonable move. 
Black avoids any problems by protecting the h6-square and by offering 
to exchange dark-squared Bishops. 

[ Two different computer programs, {Fritz and Rebel} offer the continuations 
 of: 12...b5!?; or 12...Nh5!?;  both of which are [incorrectly] considered a 
 little better for Black after nearly 10 minutes of computer time. 

OPEN H-FILE Variation - [Now] Definitely NOT the greedy: 
; ('?')  Not good. 
The basic problem with this move is it opens a file directly to 
 the Black King ... which is not a good thing to do!!  (At least for Black!) 
13. hxg5
Nd5; Seemingly the only good move.  
 OR 13...Ne8?!; ('?') leaves Black too cramped to be really good.  
 Or 13...Ng4?
; 14. Bh7+ Kh815. Bf5+ Kg8;   (15...Nh6?; 16.gxh6!, ---> 
 and the White attack continues unabated.) 
16.Bxg4, "+/-" leaves White 
 with a very large advantage.
14. Bh7+ Kh815. g6! f6[] 
{Not 15...fxg6?  16.Nce5 Rf617.Qg5!, "+/" (Maybe - "+/-")}  16. 0-0-0
 The simplest and most direct.  (16.Ne3!?) 16...Ncb4{16...Nf4!?
 17. Qe1!, "+/-"
(Maybe "+/-")}
  17. Ne3 Nxa2+; 18. Kb1 Naxc3+
 19. bxc3
Nxc3+; 20. Kb2 Nxd1+; 21. Qxd1 Bxf3!?; Not really a good move. 
 But now Black is completely  helpless against the coming combination. 

 Black can also play: 21...Qf4; 22. Rh4! Qxh4; 23. Nxh4, "+/=",


Or: 21...Bd6;

(See the analysis diagram below.)

 Analysis diagram number Three. (# 3.)


 Now comes a 'meteor shower' of sacrifices.  22. Ne5!! Bxe5!?
 (22...fxe5 23. Bg8+!! Kxg8; 24. Rh8+! Kxh8; 25. Qh5+ Kg8; 26. Qh7#
23. Bg8+!! Kxg8; 24. Rh8+! Kxh8; 25. Qh5+ Kg8; 26. Qh7#
 An amazing contrast between spiritual purity (the mate), and greed. 
 (greed = material possessions) 

 Now back to the analysis of the main line: (after 21...Bxf3!?)
22. Bg8+!! Kxg8; 23. Rh8+! Kxh8; 24. Qh1+,  and White will deliver mate 
 shortly. ("+/-") A nice variation with a nice "cascade effect" of sacrifices. ]

13. Bf4!
,  A good general rule-of-thumb is to never exchange pieces 
when you are attacking. Janowski wisely follows this rule. 
 (Even though he seems to have forgotten the one about castling!)  

[ 13. Bxe7!? Nxe7; "=" ]

;  Practically the only [good] move for Black. White now sees 
Black's only really effective defender of the King-side is the Black Knight 
on g4 ... so he swaps it off.

14. Ne3!
,  Clearly the most vigorous, and the best. 

[The new CB program, {Nimzo8}  gives the line: 14. Qe2!? Qd8
 15. Ne3
Nxe3!?; (15...Nf6! ; {A.J.G.}) 16. Qxe3 d5; ('?!/?') 17. Bxh6!, "+/-" ]

;  This seems to help White, so maybe it should be avoided. 

[ Maybe Black could play: 14...h5!? ; (Weakens Black's Kingside.); 
Or Black could try: 14...Nf6!?; This leaves Black rather congested and 
perhaps vulnerable to a g2-g4 thrust and an ensuing King-side attack.) 
But its not clear either of these moves would have definitely {successfully} 
extracted Black from his predicament. ]

15. Qxe3 h5;  ('[]' or 'Box.')
Maybe forced and the only really good move for Black now. 

[ MAIN LINE 'Variante':
Many computers [initially] pick the move: 15...e5?! ; (Maybe - '?') 
But this is terrible as White can now simply carry through with his idea. 
16. Bxh6!
gxh6; 17.Qxh6, (White has good comp and a great attack.)
; Absolutely the only move. 

Other moves lose horribly: 17...f6??; 18.Qh7#
Or 17...Rfe8??
; 18.Qh7+ Kf8 ; 19.Qh8#;  
Or 17...Rfd8??
; 18. Qh7+, and mate next move.
(18...Kh8; 19. Qh8#)
(18. Bh7+ Kh8; 19.Bg6+ Kg8; 20. Qh7+ Kf8; 21.Qxf7#, also works; but is [unnecessarily] one move longer.)

Now back to the analysis of the main line variant:
18. Bc4+! d5; 19. Qg6+! Kh8; 20. Ng5 Bf6
There is no meaningful defense.

 Or Black could try:
20...Bb4!?; ('!')  It's not wise in such situations to block the co-ordination 
of the pieces on the first rank. Its far better to play good defence and 
return some of the material. 
 Of course here there is no defense. 21. Qh6+!

(The move, 21. Bxd5!?, "+/-" also works.) 
21...Kg8; 22. Bxd5+ Rf7; 23.Nxf7!, "+/-" The threat is a mate in one 
with Qh8. If Black takes on f7 with his Queen, White plays Qg6+! 
(Followed by a mate and/or winning the Queen.) 

20...Bd8?!; (Blocking the first rank.) 21. Bxd5, "+/-" 
 Or 20...Bxg5??
; A terrible move, opening the h-file.  21. hxg5+ Qh7[]
 22. Rxh7#

 Again, we return to the analysis of the main line 'variante.'
 21. Bxd5 Rf7; 22. Bxf7 Bxg5; (There is little Black can do, now.) 
 23. hxg5#
, A nice attack for White. ] 


FM Graham Burgess,  in his book; 
"Chess Highlights Of The 20th Century,"   picks up his coverage 
of this game with this position. (Year-1925, pg. # 55.) 
16. Rh3!,  (Maybe- '!!')  White refuses to let his Kingside attack die! 
Few computers - if any - pick this move from the get-go. 

A nice 'Rook Luft.' Although this type of move is common now, it was a very original maneuver at that time, and had been seen in only a handful of games.

"16. Rh3!?" - FM G. Burgess.

[The "Average Guy off the street," might play: 16. 0-0, "+/=" and White has 
a very slight advantage. 
- - - Many boxes [dedicated chess-playing, micro-processors]
also pick this move. )
White could also play: 16. Ng5!?, (With initiative.)  - Chess Machine. 
Or 16. Rd1!?, (Maybe White has a very small advantage.) 
- A 'Novag Diamond' chess computer. ] 


All of the above are reasonable moves. 16. 0-0, is the move you would 
probably expect, but Janowsky is going to use every tempo to ATTACK. 
This means he cannot even spend one unit of time to render his own 
King safe!

; (Box?) {'!'}  This move seems both good AND forced. 
(Its also the first choice of quite a few strong chess-playing programs.) 

"Black hits back in the center, the standard method."
  - FM G. Burgess. 

[Some other choices for Black here might be: 16...g6!?;

(See the analysis diagram below.)

 Analysis diagram number Four. (# 4.)

(Maybe - '?!') Many programs and boxes pick this move, yet its hard to 
have any confidence in it. It invites a sacrifice on g6 and also gravely 
weakens ALL the dark-squares around Black's King. 
Now White should play: 17. Kf1
Rac8; 18. Re1 Bf6; 19. Bh6 Bg7;
  20. Bxg7!, (20. Kg1!?, or 20. Rg3!? both "+/=")  20...Kxg721. Rg3, ("+/=") 
White has a definite initiative and the makings of a good attack on the Black King. (White could also try: 21. d5!? exd5; 22. Qg5, {Unclear?})  
; - An earlier version of Crafty. (Shareware.) 
Now White could play: 17. Bh6!, "+/=" with a strong attack. ] 


17. dxe5, Too natural not to be good. 

[The ultra-tame 17. Bh2?! exd4; 18. cxd4 Rfe8; 19. Kf1[] Bf6; "=/+" 
(Black is just slightly better.) gives away all of White's advantage.] 
I only mention this because it has been a move often picked by my students.

;  Forced.

18. Nxe5!
,  Some might hesitate to grab a Pawn ...  with your King still 
in the center. 

[ Not nearly as good are: 18. 0-0-0?! Nxf3; 19. gxf3 Rfe8; "=" 
Or 18. Bxe5? dxe5; "=/+" ]. 

; (Maybe - '?!/?')  Looks like the only move ... but its not!

  It may also be the losing move!!    
(I am not sure, but I think I might be the first one to point this out.) 

(Almost a year after I first annotated this game, I discovered Burgess 
 had also given this move a question mark. BTW, his book came out 
 well after this game was published on my web site!) 

[  Maybe best is: 18...Bf6!; Black stays, "fully in the game,"  with 
  this move, according to FM G. Burgess. 
19. Rg3!
{ 19.Nxf7? Rae8; 20. Nxd6 Rxe3+; ("-/+") }  
; 20. Bg5 Qe7; 21. 0-0-0, "+/="  when White must be at least a 
little better. (His King is much more secure than his counterpart.) 
 I also want to point out that this game was published on my website 
 almost a full year before Burgess's book was released.  ]  

19. Bxe5!,  Again the best move. 

[White could try: 19. Qxe5, Reasonable looking, and not terrible. 
; 20. Bxe5 Rfd8; 21. Bd4, "+/=" (or "+/") and White has: 
A.) Exchanged Queens; and B.) Kept an extra pawn. ] 


19...Bd6!?;  (Maybe - '?!') 
Some annotators have questioned this move. Yet it is a very natural 
looking move. And White maintains a very distinct advantage, no matter 
what Black plays! 

"This loses on the spot, but there was nothing that was satisfactory."
   -  FM G. Burgess.
(Pardon me, but isn't this nothing more than an oxymoron?) 

[ For example: 19...Qc5; 20. Bd4! Qd6; 21. Rg3 g6
 (21...Bf6; 22. Qh6! Rfe8+; 23. Kf1 Kf8; 24. Rxg7, "+/=" 
22. Qh6, "+/" White is very clearly much better, if not winning outright. ("+/-")
Or 19...Qd7!?; 20. Bxg7!!, "+/"  (Maybe - "+/-") 
About the same (as the above variation ) is: 19...Qd8!?; 20. Bxg7!! ("+/-")
(20.0-0-0!?, "+/") ]

20. Qh6!!
, (Maybe - '!!!')  "Where did that come from?" - Chernev. 

An exceedingly brilliant - and to me, {A.J.G.} quite shocking - move. 
This is absolutely brilliance of the first magnitude.  Maybe one of  
  most shocking moves in all of the annals of chess. 


I remember how blown away I was by this move. 
(I had thought for at least 10 minutes and played 20. BxB/d6  
and 21. 0-0-0, when a friend had first shown me this game.)


I really like 20 Qh6!!!  At first blush, it looks like nothing more than 
a crass blunder.  The  <shock value>  of this move 
... on a scale of 1 to 10 ...  
has got to be an absolute 10!  
Because there is no defense to White's many threats ...   

         Black RESIGNS!!!  1 - 0 

To me, White's 20th move is one of the most shocking, amazing, and 
unexpectedly beautiful strokes in all of chess. {A.J.G.}  
According to the book of the tournament - 
... which I used to have ... 
 a panel of judges took quite some time - and carefully considered 
 many games -  ... before justly awarding this game the ... 


(All I can say is there must have been dozens of beautiful games from 
 this event, if they had to think more than 5 minutes!)


 Copyright () A.J. Goldsby I. 
A.J. Goldsby, 2000 & 2001. 


  [ After: 20. Qh6!, (The ONLY move in this jewel of a game given an 
exclamation point by Chernev. And he only gives it a measly one exclam. 
I am a big, big fan of Chernev, but he miserably fails us here!) 

After this move Chernev writes that Black is quite helpless. 
Indeed he, is ... as the following variations clearly demonstrate.  
;  Nothing works for Black here. 

Black can also play: 20...Bxe5; 21. Qh7#;  
Or 20...f5; 21. Bc4+ Rf7 (21...Qxc4; 22. Qxg7#)   22. Qxg7#; 
Or  20...Rfe821. Qxg7#.
The following variation , for some odd reason, 
is  NOT  given by Chernev.
Or 20...f6; 21. Qh7+ Kf7; 22. Bxd6 Rfe8+!; 23. Kf1 Qxd6; 24. Bg6+ Ke6
Looks [sadly] forced. 
  {Or 24...Kf8; 25. Qh8+ Ke7; 26. Re1+ Kd7; 27. Bxe8+, and White is a  
  Rook ahead, with an easy win. ("+/-") }  

25. Re1+ Kd7; 26. Bxe8+ Rxe8; 27. Qxg7+ Kc6!; 28. Rb1!, "+/-"  
White is winning easily. 

[ Not 28.Rxe8?! Qd1+; Black wins back some material.  29. Re1 Ba6+
Qxe1+ ; 31.Kh2 Qxf2 ; 32.Qg3, "+/-" ... but White still wins. {A.J.G.}

 (Now after 20. Qh6!! gxh6;  White plays... ) 

21. Rg3#,

(See the analysis diagram below.)

 Analysis diagram number Five. (# 5.)

A mate so pretty, it deserves its very own diagram!

Some players do not realize just how strong Janowski really was. He was probably in the World's Top 50 for a period of time that spanned several decades. He was solidly in the World's "Top Ten," for over 15 years. 
(He  loved "The Two Bishops," like few Masters before or since. 
He also hated the ending and was notorious for becoming impatient 
and throwing a game away during that phase of the game.) 

Only a handful of people ever won more brilliancy prizes than Janowski.
This game clearly demonstrates Janowski's incredible genius. 

(An average player might play something like:  20. Bxd6?! Qxd6
 21. 0-0-0
Qf6; 22. f3, "+/" and be happy with a fairly sizeable advantage.) ] 

1 - 0

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   (Page last up-dated: July 26th, 2003.)

Copyright A.J. Goldsby I.  
A.J. Goldsby, 1999 - 2003.   A.J. Goldsby, 2004.