Saturday, April 14, 2012

More about Najdorf from Horacio Volman

Najdorf, Fischer, and a few non-chess-playing friends in a typical Najdorf  situation., ca. 1970. Najdorf seems significantly more comfortable than Fischer... the young girl between them is one of Najdorf's two daughters. From GM Ocampos's web site

I promised the readers more anecdotes about Najdorf from my meeting with Horacio Volman. It is well known he got rich -- but not from chess, rather from running an insurance company. Aileen Volman's (Horacio's wife) father was a famous gynecologist in the Jewish community in Buenos Aires. His clinic was practically across the street from the Club Argentino de Ajedrez [Argentinian Chess Club] in the city, where Najdorf was a regular player. Every other day, apparently, for years, Najdorf used to come into her father's clinic and try and sell him insurance. Her father never did -- apparently one of the few Buenos Aires Jews who managed to resist his charm, or his persistence...

This did not stop her father from being friendly with Najdorf, indeed even delivering one of his daughters' babies. This, too, Horacio and Aileen told me, was typical: Najdorf was a charming and generous man and had no enemies. Indeed, he often offered to pay people's entry fees to "force" them to play in tournaments, sometimes paid for the Argentinian team's tickets to various international events, invited everybody on the Argentinian team -- secretaries and helpers included -- to dinner in a fancy restaurant during an Olympiad / FIDE congress, etc.

Less well known, perhaps, is Volman's note that Najdorf did not consider himself a serious theoretician (the Najdorf variation in the Sicilian defense notwithstanding). He knew very well certain openings and variations, of course, and did his own deep analysis of them, but as for the openings in general he was helped by the strong player and opening theoretician Julio Bolbochan (who was also Jewish).  Also, though hardly news, in particular Najdorf thought very highly of Fischer, and analyzed games with him in the 1970 Olympiad.

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