On what day did you learn to play chess?
Playing chess is something that several of us have done it many times. There probably isn’t anyone who can answer that question.
Some time ago, there was someone who could answer this: we are talking about the GM Jan Hein Donner (1927-1988), the best Dutch player for many years after Euwe and before the apparition of Jan Timman.
On 23 August 1941, a professor had taught Donner and his classmates the rules of the game and the movement of the pieces. And on the same day, the Nazis arrested his father, a prominent judiciary member, sending him to a concentration camp. For this reason, the date could not be forgotten.
Playing chess: The champion of America…
In 1952 the grandmasters Samuel Reshevsky and Miguel Najdorf were playing chess in a double match for the title of Champion of America (North America, Reshevsky, vs. South America, Najdorf). Mr. Miguel Najdorf recalled this with much grace, in an old interview with Eduardo Scala:
“We had to play chess in three countries: United States, Mexico and El Salvador. When we played in New York, maybe because I enjoyed life in excess, I have lost the first four games. Then a journalist asked me, ‘Master, what do you think about Reshevsky?’ And what could I think, that was losing 4-0… So I simply answered, ‘He is an admirable player.’ Later they asked Reshhevsky, who like most of the chess masters, is very proud, ‘What is happening to Najdorf, why is he losing in such a way?’ His answer was, ‘Nothing is happening to Najdorf. He is playing chess with Reshevsky, that’s all.’
We played the second part of the match in Mexico, and I won him three consecutive games, hence the result was 4-3. Then they asked Reshevsky, ‘What is going on with your game, master’? ‘The height affects me, the food as well, etc.’ Then they asked me, ‘What is happening to the grandmaster Reshevsky, why is he losing in such a way?’ My answer was, ‘Nothing is happening to Reshevsky. He is playing chess with Najdorf. That’s all.’”
The truth was that Reshevsky, a tough player of the match, won that encounter 8-4 with 6 draws.
(Taken from Revista Internacional de Ajedrez, nº 9)
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