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Daniel Yanofsky

Daniel Yanofsky in 1947
Full name Daniel Abraham Yanofsky
Country Canada
Born March 25, 1925
Brody, Poland (now western Ukraine)
Peak rating 2460 (July 1971)

Daniel Abraham Yanofsky, OC QC (March 25, 1925 - March 5, 2000) was Canada's first chess grandmaster, an eight-time Canadian Chess Champion, a chess writer, a chess arbiter, and a lawyer.

Life in chess

Yanofsky was born to a Jewish family in Brody, Poland (now western Ukraine), and moved to Canada when he was eight months old, settling with his family in Winnipeg. He learned to play chess at the age of eight. Yanofsky won his first Manitoba provincial championship at age 12 in 1937, also making his debut in the Closed Canadian Chess Championship that same year in Toronto. In 1939, just 14 years old, he played for Canada at the Buenos Aires Olympiad. Yanofsky was the sensation of the tournament, making the highest score on second board. He won his first Canadian Chess Championship in 1941 at age 16, at home in Winnipeg. The next year he won at Ventnor City with 6.5/9, and tied 1st-2nd with Herman Steiner on 16/17 in the U.S. Open at Dallas.

In 1946, at age 21, Yanofsky entered the first top-class post-war tournament, at Groningen, and defeated Soviet champion and tournament winner Mikhail Botvinnik, winning the brilliancy prize. During the next two years, he played several more European events, where his best result was second place behind Miguel Najdorf at Barcelona 1946. Yanofsky represented Canada at the Interzonals held in Saltsjöbaden 1948 and Stockholm 1962. He won the British Championship in 1953. At Dallas 1957 chess tournament, Yanofsky achieved his first grandmaster norm with wins over Samuel Reshevsky, Friðrik Ólafsson and Larry Evans. His performance at the Tel Aviv 1964 Olympiad earned him his second grandmaster norm, and the title, thereby becoming the first grandmaster raised in the British Commonwealth.

Yanofsky repeated as Canadian Champion in 1943, 1945, 1947, 1953, 1959, 1963, and 1965; his eight titles is a Canadian record (tied with Maurice Fox). He represented Canada at eleven Olympiads: (Buenos Aires 1939 {13.5/16}, Amsterdam 1954 {9/17}, Munich 1958 {5.5/11}, Tel Aviv 1964 {10/16}, Havana 1966 {3.5/5}, Lugano 1968 {6/14}, Siegen 1970 {7/14}, Skopje 1972 {6/13}, Nice 1974 {7/14}, Haifa 1976 {3.5/10}, and Lucerne 1982) {6/11}, a total surpassed among Canadians only by IM Lawrence Day (thirteen). His total of 141 games played in Olympiads is another Canadian record. Further tournament titles included Arbon 1946 (tied with Karel Opocensky and Ludek Pachman), Reykjavík 1947, Hastings 1952-53 (tied with Harry Golombek, Jonathan Penrose, and Antonio Medina), and the Canadian Open Chess Championship 1979 (Edmonton). Yanofsky placed second at Hastings 1951-52 behind Svetozar Gligorić, and second at Netanya 1968 behind Robert Fischer.

Yanofsky had the lead organizer role for Canada's first supergrandmaster tournament at Winnipeg 1967, to mark Canada's Centennial, and played in the tournament, winning the Brilliancy Prize for his victory over László Szabó. The Winnipeg tournament was jointly won by Bent Larsen and Klaus Darga.

Yanofsky earned the FIDE International Arbiter title in 1977. He played in his final Canadian Championship in 1986 at age 61 at home in Winnipeg, and qualified for another Interzonal appearance, placing tied 3rd-5th with 9.5/15, but generously ceded that opportunity in favour of a younger player. He returned to Groningen in 1996 for the 50th anniversary reunion tournament among the 1946 event's surviving players. Following Yanofsky's death in 2000, an annual Memorial Tournament has been held in Winnipeg to honor his wide-ranging contributions to Canadian chess.

Professional career

Except for a short period in the late 1940s, Yanofsky never concentrated full-time on chess. He graduated with a law degree from the University of Manitoba in 1951, and served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II (1944-1946). He won several scholarships, which allowed him to pursue legal studies at Oxford University (1951-1953). Following graduation, he practised law in Winnipeg, with his brother Harry, who was also a chess master. Daniel Yanofsky argued several cases before the Supreme Court of Canada.

He was mayor of the Winnipeg suburb of West Kildonan, and served on the Winnipeg City Council from 1970 to 1986, chairing the Finance Committee. Yanofsky campaigned for the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba in the 1959 provincial election as a candidate of the Liberal-Progressive Party. He finished third against Co-operative Commonwealth Federation candidate David Orlikow in the St. Johns constituency. He was also a contributor to the development of the Seven Oaks General Hospital and the Wellness Institute.

In 1972, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 1980, he was appointed a Queen's Counsel.

Yanofsky's writings

Notable chess games