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Chajes - Janowski Match

Oscar Chajes12/22(+7 -5 =10)[games]
David Janowski10/22(+5 -7 =10)[games] Chess Event Description
Chajes - Janowski (1918)

This match was one of several David Janowski played against the top East-coast American players in 1916-1918. At that time, the leading players in New York area were: Frank James Marshall, Oscar Chajes, Charles Jaffe and Abraham Kupchik. After the death of Harry Nelson Pillsbury (1906), Marshall was the sole American grandmaster.


Although Janowski's best years were in the first decade of the 20th century, and he had resoundingly lost the Lasker - Janowski World Championship Match (1910) (+0 -8 =3), he was still seen as a leading master. The newspapers habitually described the "Parisian" master as the "French Chess Champion". This appears to have meant that he was the predominant French player as there would be no official French championship until 1923.

Deprived by the First World War of regular international tournament chess income, Janowski had to fund himself largely through exhibitions and matches. He managed to get to the United States from war-torn Europe disembarking at New York on Tuesday, January 11th, 1916. He saw no possibility of making a living in Europe, and considered that "international chess in Europe was dead for at least twenty years to come". 1

He joined Jose Raul Capablanca and Borislav Kostic as one of the three leading foreign players resident in the United States.

On the 25th February 1916, Janowski began a match with Jaffe at Marshall's Chess Divan (Jaffe - Janowski (1916)), but this appears to have been an intermediary step in a greater plan to quickly establish himself in the USA. That very day, he wrote to Capablanca:

"My dear Mr. Capablanca - I have the honor to challenge you to a set match at chess of ten games up, drawn games not counting ... with regard to the purse and stakes, time and place, and other details, I shall be glad to receive word from you at an early date." 2

Nothing came of the challenge, perhaps because of his uninspiring performance against Jaffe. Janowski appears to have badly underestimated "the Crown Prince of East Side Chess" and had to struggle to win a very close match winning 7 to 6.

In June 1916, Janowski lost a match to Marshall at the Manhattan Chess Club (Janowski - Marshall, Match 5 (1916)).

In December 1916, Janowski defeated Jackson Whipps Showalter, the former American Champion (Janowski - Showalter Match 4 (1916)). Once again, he challenged Marshall: "Immediately after the conclusion of the game Janowski drew up a challenge, addressed to F. J. Marshall, the United States champion, for a match of twenty games, draws not counting, for a purse of not less than $500." 3 The match did not come to fruition. Instead, Janowski again challenged Jaffe, and in December 1917 the Parisian master was much more successful, winning by 11 to 5. The last four games were won by Janowski which gave the impression of an absolute crushing victory.


Chajes was probably best known for his defeat of Capablanca in O Chajes vs Capablanca, 1916 and for having won the 1917 New York State championship in Rochester. Chajes challenged Janowski. It was the best available way to achieve international recognition as a master.

Chajes had aborted a match with Capablanca in 1912 after losing the first game: "Both Jaffe and Chajes, two of the leading players of USA, felt aggrieved that they had not been selected to play in the Havana (1913) tournament. To settle the question Capablanca offered to play a match of three games against each of them ... Jaffe finished his match, but Chajes chickened out after one game." 4

A second match was unlikely to be of any interest to Capablanca. Challenging Marshall, the US Champion, was needed as an intermediary step. Chajes and Jaffe (who had a parallel career) had trailed Marshall and Oldrich Duras in the Quadrangular Masters (1913). Chajes had a dismal record against Marshall (he had never won a game against him). The match against Janowski was a first step.

Chajes was taking a significant risk. He was 44 years old whilst Janowski was 49 years old. Janowski was vastly more experienced; Chajes only twice played outside of the United States. He shared last place at Karlsbad (1911), and came fourth of eight at Havana (1913).

Janowski and Chajes had played a short three game match at the Progressive Chess Club, New York, in April 1913. "After the recent tourney at New York a small exhibition match of three games was arranged between Janowski and Chajes. The former won two games, and the other was drawn." 5 Since then, to his credit, Chajes had scored well and came in a mere half a point behind Janowski in the Rice Memorial (1916).

The match conditions

The winner would be the first to win seven games. Draws were not counted. 6

"Oscar Chajes, champion of New York State Chess Association, has challenged David Janowski of Paris who recently defeated C. Jaffe by 10 to 4 to a match of seven games up, and the articles will probably be signed tomorrow. Most of the games will be played at the Manhattan Chess Club, and one each at the New York Press Club and the Hotel Ansonia (2109, Broadway, New York- ed)." 7

According to the New York Times of January 20, 1918 the articles were signed on the 20th January. The purse was $500 8 (about $8,500 in 2015 value - e.d.).

"Following closely upon the heels of the State Masters tournament, the honors of which were divided between Oscar Chajes and A. Kupchik, with Alfred Schroeder and Roy Turnbull Black fourth, comes the match of seven games up between Chajes and David Janowski of Paris, which should produce many a hard-fought contest for the delectation of those who delight in the perusal and study of masters' games. Play in the first game will begin at the Manhattan Chess Club, Hotel Sherman Square, Manhattan, on Saturday afternoon, and a large gallery may be expected. Naturally, Janowski, after his decisive defeat of Jaffe rules a strong favorite, but Chajes is at the top of his form and will assuredly give a good account of himself.

The second game has been scheduled at the Hotel Ansonia and will be under the patronage of Mrs. Isaac L. Rice, widow of the late president of the New York State Chess Association. The third game will go to the I. L. Rice Progressive Chess Club, at its new rooms, 201 Second Avenue Manhattan. Most of the remaining Chajes games will be played at the Manhattan Chess Club." 9

Women were now able to watch this match in the rooms of the Manhattan Chess Club. It had just been decided by the club's committee to allow in women chess players. 10 This was in response to woman in New York State gaining voting rights on 6th November 1917.

The games

Played in New York from Saturday, 16th March to Tuesday 7th May, 1918, this was a match of 22 games.

1st game - Saturday, 16th March
2nd game - Wednesday, 20th March
3rd game - Thursday, 21st March
4th game - Saturday, 23rd March
5th game - Monday, 25th March
6th game - Tuesday, 26th March
7th game - Saturday, 30th March
8th game - Sunday, 31st March
9th game - Wednesday, 3rd April
10th game - Thursday, 4th April (est.), ended 6th April. This game took "three sittings and two adjournments." 11
11th game - Tuesday, 9th April
12th game - Thursday, 11th April
13th game - Saturday, 13th April
14th game - Tuesday, 16th April
15th game - Thursday, 18th April
16th game - Saturday, 20th April
17th game - Tuesday, 23rd April
18th game - Thursday, 25th April (est.)
19th game - Wednesday, 1st May
20th game - Friday, 3rd May
21st game - Saturday, 4th May
22nd Game - Tuesday, 7th May

The dates of the individual games are from contemporary newspaper reports. Some games have not yet been corroborated by finding relevant articles in the press. These are shown as (est.) based on the pattern of the match and public holidays.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Chajes ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 12 Janowski ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 10

Janowski had White in the odd-numbered games. "After twenty-two game of the Janowski - Chajes match, Chajes was declared winner by 7 to 5, with 10 drawn." 12

Progress of the match

It was a hard fought match with the games averaging 54 moves, and over half of the games being decisive.

“It required 22 games to determine the question of supremacy between Oscar Chajes, New York State champion, and David Janowski, of Paris, in their match of seven games up at the Manhattan Chess Club, and then, when the final count was taken, the verdict favored not the international master of world renown, who has long been known as the chess-champion of France, but the genial secretary of the Isaac L. Rice Progressive Chess Club of New York, who made his reputation first as champion of Chicago and the Western Chess Association and later as participant in several national tournaments, the Carlsbad congress of 1911, and the Havana tournament of 1913. With few exceptions the games lasted two days. The tenth game, which went to 80 moves, needed three sittings of five hours each. Result: Chajes, 7; Janowski, 5; drawn, 10.” 13

Janowski made a slow start as he had done in his first match with Jaffe. It seems that he may have underestimated his opponent. He was also talking about a 10 game match at odds with Kupchik at the time. 14

Janowski was never to be ahead in the match. Overall, he was behind for 18 of the 22 rounds, and two games behind on eight occasions up to losing the last game. Janowski was a fighter and he rallied with wins in Games 11 and 12 to even the score but he could not establish a winning momentum. By losing Games 14 and 15 in succession, it would have then been an exceptional feat to go on to win the match.

Janowski was saved several losses by his opponent's lack of endgame technique. In Games: 1, 2 and 13, he escaped defeat in positions where his rivals Marshall or Duras (not to mention Capablanca) would have surely taken the point from him.

The openings

This match pitted the <1.e4> of Chajes against the <1.d4> of Janowski. Two openings dominated the match - nine Queens Pawn games (Queen's Pawn Game (A46)) and seven Four Knight's (Four Knights (C48)). Chajes was White in all of the Four Knight's games and he achieved a remarkable +3 =4 -0 (71.4%) with this opening.

Chajes +7 =10 -5 54.5% Janowski +5 =10 -7 45.5% Chajes as White +4 =6 -1 63.6% Chajes as Black +3 =4 -4 45.5% Janowski as White +4 =4 -3 54.5% Janowski as Black +1 =6 -4 36.4%

Janowski, despite his greater experience and talent, too often was slapdash in the opening. Chajes won four games with Black, but Janowski could only win one game as Black (Game 12) and that was one in which Chajes had missed a winning opportunity.

The endgames

These were not the highlights of the match. Both players' endgames in this match were often marred by inaccuracies. Although in Game 16 Janowski, as Black, should have won the ending, overall he benefited from such blunders. He could have been two down after the first two games had not Chajes misplayed each ending.


“Oscar Chajes, the State Champion, has not measured up to his opportunities in the first two games of his match with D. Janowski of Paris, both of which, with correct play at the critical junctures, he should have won. Instead, both games were drawn. In the first encounter Janowski played far beneath his form in the opening, and deservedly got the worst of it. Chajes finishing the first session with a clear "exchange" ahead. Little by little, however, this advantage was permitted to slip through his fingers and in the end, Janowski with a knight against two widely separated pawns, barely managed to force a draw." 15

Game 1. Janowski as White loosened his position in the opening, and fell into a poor middlegame. He underestimated a defence which Chajes seems to have prepared (playing it in Games 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9), and had no convincing line of play against his Chigorin-like <d6 + Nf6 + Nbd7>. Ironically, Chajes had faced this system in O Chajes vs Janowski, 1916 at the Rice Memorial (1916), and had then used it to defeat Kostic (B Kostic vs O Chajes, 1916). Chajes was able to win the exchange and should have won the ending:

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63...b4 wins.

Game 2 was drawn after a problem with the clocks being incorrectly set up at the resumption. Chajes had a winning position. "In the second game Chajes again obtained the upper hand by means of a strong attack in the Ruy Lopez. His sealed move was <32. Nxg6>, when he might have won with <hxg6>. After that, Janowski again outplayed him and had a win in hand when he consented to have the game declared drawn because of an error in setting the clocks after resumption of play. This caused Chajes to get into time difficulties, and naturally he aired his grievance when the time was ripe. For match chess of this importance, the incident was quite without precedent ... Janowski consented to call the game drawn (in a winning position for him - e.d.), because Chajes at this point was under time limit pressure and upon compliant of the latter, it developed that, in starting the clocks for the second sitting, he had been deprived of ten minutes through erroneous adjustment of the time on his clock." 16

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32. hxg6 fxg6 (or 32... b5 33. R6f5 Qxe7 34. Nh5+ Kg8 35. Nf6+ Kg7 36. Rxe5 dxe5 37. Qxe5 fxg6 38. Nd5+ and wins) 33. Rxg6+ Qxg6 34. Nxg6 Rxf1+ 35. Nxf1 Kxg6 36. Nh2 Kf6 37. Nf3 and wins.

Game 3 was won by Chajes. Again poor opening play against the <d6 + Nf6 + Nbd7> defence by Janowski left him with a difficult position. Once again, he lost the exchange.

Game 4. Chajes had persistent pressure against his opponent's backward <d> pawn. A methodical game then descended into chaos as both players traded a succession of blunders towards the end of the session. In the end, Chajes made the fatal last blunder and lost.

Game 5. Janowski opposed his opponent's <d6 + Nf6 + Nbd7> defence with an early <c4> instead of trying his earlier London system approach. He achieved a solid position from the opening, but overestimated his chances on the Q-side. This allowed Chajes to build up a winning K-side attack. Janowski had now lost with White twice in succession.

Game 7. Chajes had a spatial plus for most of the game but could not break through. Wearied, he gave Jansowski an opportunity to win but his opponent also missed the simple tactic:

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Game 8. Janowski had to endure another loss. Worse still, Chajes incorrectly announced a forced mate and this was then headlined in The New York Times of the 2nd April 1918: "Chajes checkmates rival - Announces victory over Janowski four moves ahead." The article was hyperbolic: "By far the most brilliant chess yet exhibited in the match between D. Janowski of Paris and Oscar Chajes, the New York State Champion was witnessed in the eight of the series ...":

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31. Nxg5 fxg5 32. Qxg5 Ne5 33. Rf1 Rad8 34. Nf6+ Kf7 35. Qg6+ Nxg6 36. fxg6+ Ke7 37. Re3#

Game 10. Janowski used the Sicilian defence, and Chajes kept an edge. Eventually, Janowski held a draw with a Queen against two Rooks in a long endgame. Once again, Chajes did not have the exact technique to make more of an advantage accrued in the middle game.

Game 11. Chajes made a simple error in the late middlegame which resulted in his Queen being trapped.

Game 12. Once again this was a hard fought game with the final stage being marred by mutual blunders. Chajes held the advantage of most of the game, but missed his opportunity to win the game and then played poorly and then lost on short order.

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37. Ra5! would have won, 37...Qe6 38. Qxe6 Nxe6 39. Ne5 Bc8 40. b5

Game 14. After having persistent positional plus in Game 13 but only securing a draw, Chajes mounted a K-side attack and overwhelmed Janowski whose defence was less than accurate.

Game 15. Janowski completely miscalculated a combination in the late middlegame and his position collapsed.

Game 16. Janowski, as Black, misplayed an advantageous ending. Having just lost two games in succession, he could not afford to squander such opportunities.

Game 17. Chajes lost a piece in an unusual fashion:

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38. e7!

Game 20. This was a disastrous loss for Janowski who resigned after only 25 moves. Game 19 had been the steadiest of the match, and although 5-4 down his position in the match was not hopeless. Unfortunately, Janowski appears at this point to have completely lost his head; playing wildly as Black he loosened the position around his King and Chajes pieces flooded in with fatal effect.

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Janowski was in Edward Lasker 's opinion temperamentally unsuited to match play. Janowski's reckless play here goes some way to support this assertion. 17 Chajes now only needed one more win to take the match whilst Janowski needed three.

Game 21. With only one game required to win the match, it was Chajes who now let his nerves affect his play. He achieved a good position with the Black pieces, but then made a succession of errors in trying to force the win.

Game 22. Janowski played solidly, and a draw seemed a likely result. This would have given him White in the next game. Instead, Janowski tried to make something out of nothing and only succeeded in damaging his own position. Chajes was able to break up Janowski's king-side, and then wrap the match up with a flourish:

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60. Rh4+! (60...Nxh4+ 61. Qxh4+ Kg7 62. Qe7+ Kh6 63. Rf6+ Kg5 64. Qg7+ Kh5 65. Rh6+ Rxh6 66. Qg4#) 60...Kg7 61. d6 Ra7 62. a5 Rxd6 63. b6 and wins.

Contemporary reaction

This match was to be Chajes' best competitive performance. 18 "By losing but one of the first ten games of his match with Janowski at the Manhattan Chess Club Oscar Chajes has covered himself with distinction and, although he has a long road to travel before he can obtain the necessary seven wins to be declared winner of the match, he has enhanced his reputation appreciably and this holds good even though he should lose out in the long run." 19

"The victory of Chajes was unexpected, but the French champion was rarely at his best, and on several occasions played far below his real form." 20

"Full credit is due to the State Champion for his really brilliant performance, but Janowski, besides underrating his opponent, was far from being in his best form." 21

Outcome of the match

Janowski had lost the match and had made heavy weather of many of the games. The games were long and there was little sense of ease in the play of the ex-World Championship contender. There was poor opening play and too many blunders, especially in the endgame, for a top-rank player. The match was a symptom of his decline from the top rank of chess. In his fifties he could no longer present a threat to the top players although he still showed brilliant sparks of attacking verve (e. g. J Davidson vs Janowski, 1926). In his final international tournaments his results were poor. He was last at New York (1924) (+3 -13 =4); 14th out of 16 at Marienbad (1925) (+3 -7 =5); 7th out of 10 at Hastings (1925/26) (+1 -4 =1) and 10th out of 18 at Semmering (1926) (+7 -7 =3).

In 1913, Emanuel Lasker had given an astringent sketch of Janowski to a newspaper: "Janowski's courage remains unbroken despite his misfortune in tournaments and matches; and it must be conceded that his style is far better than its low level of success may suggest. The French warhorse sniffs out subtleties, with which he knows how to masterfully achieve small advantages. He only seems to be lacking in resolution. Maybe he dislikes tactics. At least, he anxiously avoids leaving himself wide open. This, however, naturally depletes his attack of vitality. Every now and then, however, his strategy leads to victory creating a powerful aesthetic impression." 22

Those comments may have reflected Janowski's play against the elite. In this match, however, he too often had left himself vulnerable. The overall impression is that he had too little regard for his opponent and then kept gambling he could win by overwhelming him.

Chajes felt emboldened by the unexpected victory and challenged Marshall to a match. But this initiative floundered as they could not agree terms.

"We understand that Mr F. J. Marshall, the American champion, has been challenged to a match by Mr Oscar Chajes who recently beat Mons. D. Janowski the French master. Mr Marshall has accepted on condition that, his championship title is challenged in such a match, the stake shall be 2,000 dollars, with not less than six hours’ play each sitting, unless, of course, the game is finished within that time. This means that the games are evidently at a rate of something rather less than 20 moves per hour; and that Marshall desires to eliminate “adjournments’’ — in which he is quite right." 23 The American Chess Bulletin stated that Marshall wanted the winner to be the first to win 8 games, draws not counting, and that the purse should not be less than $2,000 (about $34,000 in 2015 value – e.d.). The time limit would be 30 moves in the first 2 hours, then 15 moves per hour after that. 24

Chajes was not able to break into international chess after the First World War. There was relatively little opportunity for international master chess in America, and his invitation to Karlsbad (1923) only saw him outclassed. He was able to win brilliancies and defeat the top players occasionally but his overall technique and game fell short of grandmaster level. He died in 1928, aged 55, just over a year after Janowski.


1 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 12th January 1916, p. 20.
2 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 25th February 1916, p. 24.
3 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 22nd March 1916, p. 8.
4 The Unknown Capablanca, Hooper, D. & Brandeth, D., Dover, 1993, p. 55, and Jose Raul Capablanca, Games 1901-1926, p. 91.
5 Sunday Times (Sydney, Australia), 29th June 1913.
6 Referee (Sydney, Australia), Wednesday 24th July 1918, p. 11.
7 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 13th January 1918, p. 36.
8 Leader (Melbourne, Australia), 25th May 1918, p. 54.
9 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 4th March 1918, p. 6.
10 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York, April 7th 1918, p. 3.
11 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 7th April 1918, p. 3.
12 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 19th May 1918, p. 36.
13 American Chess Bulletin, quoted in the Leader (Melbourne, Australia), 27th July 1918, p. 54.
14 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 23rd September 1917, p. 34.
15 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 21st March 1918, p. 26.
16 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 21st March 1918, p. 26.
17 Chess Secrets I Learned from the Masters, Edward Lasker, McKay, 1951, p. 115.
19 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 11th April 1918, p. 2.
20 Weekly Times (Victoria, Australia), 3rd August 1918.
21 Hermann Helms in The Evening Post, New York, 11th May 1918, p. 13.
22 Dr. Emanuel Lasker, January 9th 1913 quoted in Pester Lloyd, Berlin, January 12th 1913 p. 8.
23 Falkirk Herald (Falkirk, Scotland), 7th August 1918, p. 4.
24 American Chess Bulletin, 1918, vol. 15., p. 138.

The source for Games 21 and 22 was The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 23rd May 1918, p. 2.

Original text and compilation by User: Chessical. Thanks to User: Tabanus for researching newspaper reports to provide the missing match dates. User: Karpova unearthed the Pester Lloyd quote, see David Janowski (kibitz #76) (the translation is slightly altered).

 page 1 of 1; 22 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Janowski vs O Chajes ½-½751918Chajes - JanowskiA46 Queen's Pawn Game
2. O Chajes vs Janowski ½-½461918Chajes - JanowskiC48 Four Knights
3. Janowski vs O Chajes  0-1531918Chajes - JanowskiA46 Queen's Pawn Game
4. O Chajes vs Janowski ½-½511918Chajes - JanowskiC48 Four Knights
5. Janowski vs O Chajes 0-1531918Chajes - JanowskiA46 Queen's Pawn Game
6. O Chajes vs Janowski ½-½781918Chajes - JanowskiC49 Four Knights
7. Janowski vs O Chajes  1-0421918Chajes - JanowskiA46 Queen's Pawn Game
8. O Chajes vs Janowski 1-0371918Chajes - JanowskiC48 Four Knights
9. Janowski vs O Chajes  ½-½481918Chajes - JanowskiA46 Queen's Pawn Game
10. O Chajes vs Janowski  ½-½801918Chajes - JanowskiB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
11. Janowski vs O Chajes 1-0461918Chajes - JanowskiA46 Queen's Pawn Game
12. O Chajes vs Janowski  0-1451918Chajes - JanowskiB23 Sicilian, Closed
13. Janowski vs O Chajes  ½-½401918Chajes - JanowskiD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. O Chajes vs Janowski  1-0451918Chajes - JanowskiC49 Four Knights
15. Janowski vs O Chajes 0-1631918Chajes - JanowskiA46 Queen's Pawn Game
16. O Chajes vs Janowski ½-½551918Chajes - JanowskiC48 Four Knights
17. Janowski vs O Chajes  1-0381918Chajes - JanowskiA46 Queen's Pawn Game
18. O Chajes vs Janowski  ½-½701918Chajes - JanowskiC48 Four Knights
19. Janowski vs O Chajes  ½-½671918Chajes - JanowskiD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
20. O Chajes vs Janowski  1-0251918Chajes - JanowskiC48 Four Knights
21. Janowski vs O Chajes  1-0561918Chajes - JanowskiD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. O Chajes vs Janowski 1-0731918Chajes - JanowskiC48 Four Knights
 page 1 of 1; 22 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-13-16  offramp: A truly outstanding match introduction by User: Chessical. Really superb. It reminds me of one of those well-researched, self-published but badly-printed booklets of the 1970s and 1980s where a man with a vision and a typewriter bought out a book on a chess subject that intrigued him. Those books are hard-to-find now.

Here <chessical> has done us here at a tremendous service. Thanks!

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