The Najdorf Memorial 2015 begins

by ChessBase
7/10/2015 – Miguel Najdorf was a true chess legend. Born in Warsaw in 1910 he later lived in Argentina where he became a successful businessman. In his prime he was one of the world's strongest players. The annual Miguel Najdorf Festival, which starts on Friday in Warsaw, celebrates the memory of this true chess lover. 500 players take part, among them many strong GMs.

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By Tomasz Mincewicz

The MetLife Warsaw Najdorf Chess Festival (10. to 18. July) is the biggest tournament in Poland. It is organised by the Kazimierz Sosnkowski Foundation and the Polish Chess Federation and offers a total prizefund of 30.000 Euros. Players start in four rating groups.

Warsaw skyline at night

“For Varsovians it is a big festival. Everybody who loves chess and would like to spend some time in Warsaw should follow our tournament, or, even better, play!," said tournament director Maria Macieja at the press conference which openend the tournament. “In recent years the field was really strong. The tournament is well organised and already the biggest chess tournament in Poland but we are still ambitious - it would be nice to be one of the biggest tournaments in Europe”, said Macieja.

(From left to right) Tournament director Maria Macieja, Piotr Murdzia,
General Secretary of the Polish Chess Federation, and Tomasz Delega,
President of the Polish Chess Federation

Piotr Murdzia explains why the Najdorf Memorial is a special event 

This year a number of strong grandmasters take part in the open:

 Bulgarian grandmaster Ivan Cheparinov who with a rating of 2683
is the top seed and who also played in the Najdorf Memorial 2014

Igor Kovalenko (2682) was born in Ukraine but now
plays for Latvia. (Photo: Eteri Kublashvili)

Andrei Volokitin (Ukraine, 2654) (Photo: Yoav Nis)

Zahar Efimenko (Ukraine, 2652) (Photo: Georgios Souleidis)

But the strong players Michal Krasenkow (the first polish chess player who crossed the 2700 mark), Bartlomiej Macieja (European Champion 2002), and Dariusz Swiercz (2012 World Junior Chess Champion U18) might be especially motivated in Warsaw.

Tigran Petrosian came back to defend his title. He won the Najdorf Memorial 2014.


Miguel Najdorf

A short biographical sketch on the official tournament site pays tribute to Miguel Najdorf

Miguel (Mieczysław) Najdorf was born in Warsaw on April, 15, 1910. He revealed his great chess talent as early as at the age of 10, when he achieved his maiden tournament successes. His first notable results at the Polish and international chess arena date back to the 30s. He was second (1931) and first (1934) in Warsaw Championships and then second (1935) and third (1937) in Polish national Championships.

As one of Poland’s leading players, he represented his native country at Chess Olympiads three times, gaining team medals on all three occasions (bronze in 1935 and 1937, silver in 1939) and an individual gold medal in 1939. Additionally, he won an individual gold and team silver medal at the so-called unofficial Chess Olympiad in 1936.

The outbreak of World War II caught Najdorf in Buenos Aires, at the Chess Olympiad. Unable to return home, he decided to stay in Argentine and continue his chess career there. He won four more team medals (silver in 1950, 1952, 1954, bronze in 1962) and three individual medals (gold in 1950 and 1952, silver in 1962) at Chess Olympiads. He won the Argentinian Championships eight times (1949, 1951, 1952, 1955, 1960, 1964, 1967, 1975).

In the 40s and 50ts Najdorf belonged to the close group of world’s best players, qualifying for the Candidates’ tournament of the World Championship on two occasions. In 1950 he was one of the 27 top players awarded the newly introduced Grandmaster title by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).

In 1947 in Buenos Aires, Najdorf performed a historical display of simultaneous chess play. He played blindfold (i.e. without looking at chess boards) against 45 players. The greatness of our compatriot is witnessed by the fact that he won 39 games out of 45, drew 4 and lost merely 2. It is worth mentioning that his superhuman effort had an additional purpose: to inform the rest of his family, which might remain in Poland, that he was still alive.

Najdorf’s great chess career was crowned by his nomination for the „Rest of the World” team in the so-called „Match of the Century” against the USSR in 1970.

Miguel Najdorf (left) analysing with Lev Polugayevsky (Buenos Aires 1994) 

Najdorf died in Malaga (Spain) on July, 5, 1997, aged 87, still passionately observing contest of world’s top players. That reflects the way he treated chess: “Chess is my passion. When playing chess, especially blitz, I forget all the troubles of daily life. I feel like listening to music since chess resembles a symphony by Mozart to me. It inspires me with new ideas, revives my fighting spirit.”

Official tournament site


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