david Markelowicz Janowski

By Bill Wall


david (David) Markelowicz Janowski (pronounced yanofsky) was born in Wolkowysk, Russian Empire (now Belarus) on June 7, 1868.  He learned to play chess as a child but did not make a serious study of the game until about 1886.


He moved to Paris in 1890 and began to play in chess matches and tournaments.


In 1891, Janowski defeated Stanislaus Sittenfeld in a match held in Paris, winning 3, drawing 1, and losing 1.


In 1892, he took 2nd place, behind Alphonse Goetz, at the Café de la Regance championship in Paris.


In 1894 at age 26, he became a professional chess player. 


In November 1894, he played in the 9th German Chess Federation in Leipzig and took 6th-7th place.  The event was won by Siegbert Tarrasch.


In 1902, he succeeded S. Rosenthal as chess editor of “Le Monde Illustre.”


Janowski was playing in Mannheim in 1914 when World War I broke out.  After a short internment he was allowed to travel to Geneva, Switzerland.  The Russian consul issued him a passport, and in December 1915 he went to the USA.  He stayed in New York for nine years before returning to Paris.


In 1921, he won the Atlantic City Masters Tournament.


In December 1926 he travelled to Hyeres, France to play in a chess tournament, but died of tuberculosis on January 15, 1927, a night before he was to start play in the tournament.  He was 59.


A fund was raised to meet his funeral expenses.  He died in poverty.


Janowski may have peaked to an ELO rating of 2600 in 1905 and has an ELO historical rating of 2570.


Janowski was an addicted gambler.  At a tournament in Monte Carlo, he gave all his money to a friend and made him promise not to return the money until after the chess tournament.  However, the lure of gambling was too much and he asked his friend to return  his money to go gambling.  His friend refused.  Janowski later sued his friend over the incident.


Janowski had a chess patron, the Dutch painter Leo Nardus, who supported him in chess for many years.  One day Nardus suggested an alternate move during a postmortem of one of Janowski's games.  Janowski called Nardus an idiot in front of a crowd of people.  Nardus never gave Janowski any financial support after that.


tournaments:           Place  wins draws losses

Vienna 1898             3rd    22    07    07

London 1899             2nd    15    04    07

Monte Carlo 1901        1st    10    03    02

Vienna 1902             1st   

Monte Carlo 1902        3rd    14    04    04

Hanover 1902            1st    11    05    01 (German champion)

Cambridge Springs 1904  2nd    10    02    03

Ostend 1905             2nd    15    06    05

Barmen 1905             1st    09    03    03

Mannheim 1914



Em Lasker May 1909     drew    02    00    02

Em Lasker Oct 1909     lost    01    02    07

Em Lasker 1910         lost    00    03    08 (World Ch Match, Berlin)


Janowski once said, “I detest the endgame.  A well-played game should be practically decided in the middlegame.”


Janowski was famous for his complaints which served as alibis when he lost.  At one tournament every one of his requests was granted and for the first he had nothing to complain about.  When he lost the tournament he said, "You have deprived me of any alibi.  How did you expect me to play good chess?"



Ettlinger - Janowski, New York 1898

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nxe5 dxe4 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.Nxf7 Qe7 8.Nxh8 Nd4 9.Qd1 Nf3+ 10.Ke2 Bg4 11.h3 Nd4+ 12.Ke1 Bxd1  0-1