Szymon Winawer bigraphy, stories - Polish chess player

Szymon Winawer : biography

March 6, 1838 - January 12, 1920

Szymon Abramowicz Winawer (March 6, 1838 – January 12, 1920), born in Warsaw, Poland, was a leading chess player who won the German Chess Championship in 1883.

Tournament and match results

At the Paris 1867 tournament held at the Café de la Régence, his first international tournament, Winawer finished in second place, tied with Steinitz behind Kolisch. He remained one of the world's best players for the next 15 years. At Warsaw 1868 Winawer won the first chess tournament conducted in Poland. He won an 1875 match in Saint Petersburg against Russian master Ilya Shumov, 5–2. At Paris 1878 Winawer tied for first place (+14 −3 =5) with Zukertort, ahead of Blackburne and Mackenzie, but took second prize after the play-off. At Berlin 1881 he finished 3rd= with Chigorin. Winawer's best result was a first place tie with Steinitz at Vienna 1882, in what was the strongest chess tournament in history up to that time. At London 1883 he failed to place for the first time, but later that year at Nuremberg (3rd German Congress) he finished first, defeating Blackburne who took second place.

After a long absence Winawer returned to chess in the 1890s, but by then he had been surpassed by younger players including Tarrasch and Lasker. At Dresden 1892 and Budapest 1896 he placed sixth. He lost an 1896 match to Janowski 2–5. He turned 61 during his final international tournament, Monte Carlo 1901, and did not place among the prizewinners. Winawer continued to play competitive chess into his 60s, and in his career he faced all of the top players from the last third of the 19th century, from Anderssen to Lasker. His rivalry with Blackburne stretched from 1870 to 1901, and they met in competitive games in five consecutive decades. Winawer died in Warsaw on January 12, 1920.


Winawer has several opening variations named for him. The most important is the popular Winawer Variation of the French Defence. His name is also associated with the Winawer Attack in the Ruy Lopez. At Monte Carlo 1901, Winawer's last international tournament, he introduced the Winawer Countergambit in the Slav Defense in a game against Marshall.

Sample game

In one of his best known games, he beat Steinitz in Nuremberg in 1896: 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qe3 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Bd2 O-O 7.O-O-O Re8 8.Bc4 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 Nxe4 10.Qf4 Nf6 11.Nf3 d6 12.Ng5 Be6 13.Bd3 h6 14.h4 Nd5 15.Bh7+ Kh8 16.Rxd5 Bxd5 17.Be4 f6 18.Bxd5 fxg5 19.hxg5 Ne5 20.g6 1–0

Living octopus

Living octopus

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