At the end of February in Saarbrucken there took place the annual Lor-Lux-Open tournament. Included in this was the German Open Janus Chess Championship with 46 contestants taking part from 14 different countries. There were 12 GMs and 3 IMs, the GMs including Peter Leko, Andrei Sokolov, Jeroen Piket, Julian Hodgson and Artur Yusupov. Why so popular? Well, the 12,000 DM prize money may be a contributory factor!
The winner of the tournament was Peter Leko from Hungary. Second with the same number of points was FM Michael Hammes from Germany, and third, also with the same number of points, was England's own Julian Hodgson. This was the first time that the English player had seriously played Janus Chess and it is reported in Rochade Europa that his enthusiasm for the game ‘could not be contained’.
Below, from Rochade Europa, is the game between the second and third placed players, with annotations translated from the original German.
Play is on a 10×8 board. Each side has 2 Januses (N + B) which initially go between the Rs and Ns. Ks and Qs are reversed. In castling the K moves to the Janus file.
Julian Hodgson - Michael Hammes1.f4 f5 2.Nd3 Bd5 3.Bd4 e6 4.e3 Bf6 5.Bf3 B:f3 6.Q:f3 Jc6 7.Qj3+ Ng6 8.Jc3 Nd6 (Black should exchange on d4 and then play against the white doubled pawns.) 9.B:f6 g:f6 10.Nhf2 0-0?! (Black castles too early. White gets the initiative on the Kingside.) 11.Nb4! Je7 12.Qf3 Nh4 13.Qe2 Ne4 14.N:e4 f:e4? (Black should play here J:b4 so as to avoid a white Kingside attack.) 15.Qb5! Jd6
16.Na6+ Ka8 17.Q:d7!? (A courageous decision which is mainly based on destroying the black King position.) 17....Qi5?! (On 17....b:a there could follow 18.Qc6+ Jb7? 19.Q:b7+! K:b7 20.Ja5+ followed by 21.Jc6 mate; or 18....Kb8 21.a4, with the idea of Ra3. White can also play 18.Jh3 (with the idea of J:e6), bringing a further piece into the attack.) 18.0-0 b:a6 19.Jh3?! (White wins a tempo by this move, but overlooks that he could gain an immediate advantage. He makes up for this on his next move.) 19....Qc5 20.J:e4+! - and 1-0. (After 20....J:e4, naturally 21.Q:c8+ mate follows. On 20....Qd5 there follows 21.J:d5 e:d5 22.Q:c8+ with material advantage. 20....Kb8 fails to 21.J:e6, with deadly threats.)