Sarah's Chess Journal
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The History and The Culture of Chess
Che Guevara, revisited
March 23, 2004
Mieczyslaw Najdorf was born in Warsaw, Poland back in 1910. He was a good chess player who learned to play when he was 12. Good enough to be on the Polish team for the 1939 Chess Olympiads.
But this Olympiad proved to be a bit unusual. It took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Two weeks into the tournament, Hitler invaded Poland, effectively starting WWII.
Nadjorf, a Jew, wisely chose to remain in Argentina.
Although he himself escaped the Holocaust, his wife, his child, his father, his mother and his four brothers weren't so fortunate. They all died in concentration camps.
In 1940, Najdorf gave a simultaneous blindfold exhibition, playing 45 boards - winning 39, drawing 4 and losing only 2.
Later, in a 1972 interview, he explained:
I did this not as a stunt. I hoped that this exhibition would be reported throughout Germany, Poland and Russia and that some of my family might read about it and get in touch with me.
He changed his first name to Miguel, married another woman named Rita and had another child, a daughter named Mirta. !n 1944, he became an Argetinian citizen.
Besides being one of the best players in the world, he was also a chess writer and a columnist for Clarin , the Buenos Aires newspaper (in which he published a problem sent to him by a fan, Pope John Paul II) and a businessman. He was one of the richest chess players in his day and didn't depend on chess for his support.
His most famous game is called the Polish Immortal
[This game is displayed everywhere as having been played in 1935.
See Chess Cafe's Chess Notes entry #3259 for some historical clarification.]
1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.Nf3 d5
1,523 games of Miguel Najdorf
According to this site:
He [Najdorf] was a well known personality, playing chess games against Churchill, Kruschev, the Shah of Iran, Juan Peron, Fidel Castro, Ernesto "Che" Guevara and many others. Always courtious, he always offered draws to such personalities, and all accepted, excepting Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Najdorf told "I have no other alternative than to beat him ".
Che is my kind of guy.
Che facing down Najdorf.
Miguel Najdorf died in 1997.
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