A pic is worth a 1,000 words…
Najdorf vs Yanofsky, 1939
The above photo was taken on Friday the 25th of August 1939, right as play was beginning in the 2nd round of the 1939 Olympiad in Buenos Aires. Abe Yanofsky was then a 14 year old Canadian prodigy, while Miguel Najdorf was a mature 29-year old Polish master.
Note that in those days this important international chess gathering was not known as an ‘Olympiad’ as it is today, but instead it went by the name Tournament of Nations.
Taking place between August 21 and September 19, the entire event was held in one of Buenos Aires’ best known cultural centres, the Politeama Theatre. I wrote an extensive article on this Olympiad back in 2009, complete with photos from that era, as well as actual news paper accounts.
Najdorf,M – Yanofsky,A
Buenos Aires ol
The game below is exactly what one could expect when a talented, but inexperienced, young boy plays Black against an experienced master at the top of his game. Add to this Yanofsky was clearly unprepared in the opening, and never really got all of his pieces out.
In short, Najdorf scored an easy and convinving victory, but which proved to be a very valuable lesson to the young prodigy. This was the first of 11 Olympiad appearances by the Canadian star.
It is definitely worth mentioning that Abe was not discouraged by this loss. Infact, it motivated him and by the end of the Olympiad he became the sensation of the tournament, not only achieving the best score on board 2, but also receiving very positive compliments from the World Champion of the time, Alexander Alekhine.
I received some inquiry from a reader a while back about whether the photo of Yanofsky playing Najdorf was not infact from their meeting in Groningen 1946.
While it is true that Yanofsky in the first photo above looks older than his 14 years, the photo is indeed from 1939. One can see that the jacket he is wearing is the same as in the group photo with the Canadian team.
And if that is not enough, in the photo (immediately above) from Groningen 1946 where he is seen in the background playing Black (again!) against Najdorf, he is flanked on the on side by spectators and on the other side by Botvinnik playing Euwe.
So definitely, the photo in question is from Buenos Aires 1939. For those who like coincidences, the game from Groningen 1946 was played on the 24th of August (not very different from the August 25th game in 1939)!