GM Jan Timman
Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
Kingdom of the Netherlands
Jan Hendrikus Timman was born in Amsterdam on 14 December 1951. His gift for the “game of kings” was recognized early on; in the Netherlands he was soon seen as the most talented player since Max Euwe, world champion from 1935-37. He had his first major success in Jerusalem in 1967, winning the bronze medal at the U20 world championship at the age of 15. Four years later, just one year after Timman had decided to pursue a professional career, he became an International Master.
In 1974 Timman won the Dutch national championships for the first time; by 1996 he would win a further 8 championship titles. In the same year he was declared an International Chess Grandmaster. In world championships, Timman initially experienced a series of narrow defeats: in the interzonal tournament in Amsterdam in 1978 he was half a point off the third place needed to qualify. His attempt at the world championship title 4 years later took a similar turn: he finished fifth equal in the interzonal tournament in Moscow.
But in 1985 his time had come at last: Timman was a clear winner at the interzonal tournament in Taxco (Mexico), by a margin of 1.5 points, which meant that he qualified for the candidates’ tournament in Montpellier. Here Timman ranked fourth, gaining a place in the candidates’ semi-final, where he lost, however, to the Russian grandmaster Artur Yusupov. Four years later he made it to the top eight once more, where he beat first Lajos Portisch, then Jonathan Speelman in the semi-final. He could only be stopped in the final by Anatoly Karpov.
In the world championship in 1991 Timman reached the candidates’ final again, but then lost to Nigel Short from England. Short, however, along with reigning world champion Garry Kasparov, was disqualified by FIDE because of financial disagreements, and an official decision was made to have Timman compete in the world championship final against Anatoly Karpov, who defeated him 8.5:12.5. 1994 was the last occasion to date on which the Dutch player qualified for a candidates’ tournament; in Sanghi Nagar (India) he initially beat Joel Lautier (France) in the eighth-finals, but then lost to the Russian player Valery Salov in the quarter-finals.
Alongside his active chess career, Timman is the editor-in-chief of the well-known chess magazine "New in Chess", and is considered an excellent analyst and composer of chess problems.