January Timman is the son of a mathematician and engineer, Reinier Timman. He was already in early childhood as one of the largest Dutch talents since Max Euwe: In addition to numerous national youth titles he became the 15 - Years' at the U20 World Cup in 1967 in Jerusalem, a remarkable third place. From 1967 to 1969 he worked regularly with the International Master Hans Bouwmeester to improve his skill level. 1970 Timman decided to a professional playing career in 1971, he became an International Master in 1974 he won the title of grandmaster. Nine times he was the Dutch national champion: 1974-1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1987 and 1996, he participated since 1972 in numerous Chess Olympiads for the Netherlands, 2005 in Gothenburg, he was with the selection of the Netherlands European Champion. .
In 1978 he qualified for the first time via the zone tournament in Amsterdam for Interzone tournament in Rio de Janeiro in 1979. To prepare him a match against Lew Polugajewski was funded, he could win with 4,5:3,5. He also received Ulf Andersson set aside as secondary Danten. Interzonal Timman had until the last lap opportunities to qualify for the Candidates Tournament, but eventually finished fourth (only the first three is qualified). Also Interzonal in Moscow in 1982, which won Garry Kasparov, he did not make the jump to the Candidates tournament (5th - 7th place).
In 1985 he achieved a convincing victory in the Interzonal in Taxco (Mexico) with 1.5 points ahead, thus qualifying for the Candidates Tournament of Montpellier in 1985, in which, with former world champion Mikhail Tal he shared space 4-5. The matured random battle for the last seat for the candidates semi-final ended 3-3 ( 1, -1, = 4 ), whereupon Timmans better rating in the tournament was the decisive factor, and he in Tilburg met Artur Yusupov 1986, he with 3:6 ( 1, -4, = 4) was subject. Timman was thus pre-qualified for the next World Cup qualification cycle: In 1989 he defeated in the quarterfinals in the Antwerp Hungary Lajos Portisch with 3,5:2,5 ( 2, -1, = 3), in the semi-finals in London England's Jonathan Speelman with 4,5:3,5 ( 2, -1 = 5). In the Candidates final in 1990 in Kuala Lumpur, he finally defeated former world champion Anatoly Karpov with 2,5:6,5 ( 0, -4, = 5). Again Timman was pre-qualified for the candidates fighting the next cycle: In 1991 he defeated in the second round of the German Robert Hübner in Sarajevo with 4,5:2,5 ( 2, -0 = 5), in the quarterfinals, he beat the Swiss in Brussels Viktor Korchnoi also with 4,5:2,5 ( 2, -0 = 5), defeated in 1992 in the semi-finals at Linares Artur Yusupov 6-4 ( 4, -2, = 4) and lost the candidates final in El Escorial the Englishman Nigel Short with 5,5:7,5 ( 3, -5, = 5).
Surprisingly, Nigel Short and world champion Garry Kasparov in 1993 were disqualified from FIDE because of financial differences and the World Chess Federation held a world title fight in the last two opponents shorts that has ever been fought half in various Dutch cities and Jakarta. In this contest, in which he had little chance of defeated Timman former world champion Anatoly Karpov with 8,5:12,5 ( 2, -6, = 12). In the following cycle Timman won first in the second round in 1994 in Wijk aan Zee a 4,5:3,5 ( 2, -1, = 5) victory over Joël Lautier, but he was defeated in the quarterfinals Valeri Salow with 3,5:4, 5 ( 1, -2, = 5) in Sanghi Nagar (India).
Timmans most successful season during the 1980s and the early 1990s. It was in January 1982 by Anatoly Karpov in second place in the world rankings, in January 1990, he reached an Elo rating of 2680, which is his personal record. Among his most significant victories: Stockholm in 1973, Hastings 1973/74: Sombor in 1974, Netanya 1975, Reykjavík 1976, Amsterdam 1978, Nikšić in 1978, Bled, Portoroz 1979, Amsterdam 1981, Las Palmas 1981 Wijk aan Zee 1981, Mar del Plata 1982 ( ahead of world champion Anatoly Karpov ), Djkarta 1983, Bugojno 1984, Sarajevo 1984, Wijk aan Zee 1985, Amsterdam, 1985, Zagreb, 1985, Taxco ( interzonal ), 1985, Amsterdam, 1987, Tilburg 1987, Linares 1988, Amsterdam, 1989, Rotterdam, 1989, Prague 1990. , Amsterdam 1995, Merrillville 1997, Hoogeveen 1999, Malmö 2001, Willemstad (Curaçao ) in 2001, Malmö / Copenhagen 2005 during his career he won next candidate competitions numerous other competitions: among the most important victories over Lew Polugajewski 1979 in Breda [4, 5:3,5 ( 2, -1, = 5)], on Lajos Portisch in Hilversum 1984 [ 3,5:2,5 ( 2, -1, = 3)], via Ljubomir Ljubojević 1987 in Hilversum [ 4,5:1,5 ( 3 -0 = 3)], Jeroen Piket over in Amsterdam 1995 [ 6:4 ( 3, -1 = 6)] and Ivan Sokolov in Amsterdam 1996 [ 2.5: 1.5 ( 2, -1 = 1)]. In the chess Bundesliga he played for the SG Porz.
His current Elo rating is 2569 (as of July 2009), so that it is ranked 9 in the Netherlands.
Timman is chief editor of the magazine New In Chess and is considered an excellent analyst and commentator. Since 1971 he is also active as a chess composer. Timmans wife is according to him an expert on retro analytical chess problems. He has published numerous books:
- January Timman analyzes grandmaster games. The Chess Archives, Hamburg 1982, ISBN 978-3-88086-048-3
- I Schaakwerk Analyses en studies. Uitgeverij Bert Bakker, Amsterdam 1983, ISBN 90-6742-001-8. ( Eng.: studies and games)
- Schaakwerk II Aanvalswendingen s Eindspelfinesses. Uitgeverij Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 1991, ISBN 978-90-351-1086-1
- Chess the adventurous way. New In Chess, Alkmaar 1994, ISBN 90-71689-85-9.
- Selected endgame studies. Koblenz 1995, ISBN 3-929291-03-7. ( with 40 of the best studies Timmans )
- On the attack. New In Chess, Alkmaar 2006, ISBN 90-5691-187-2.
- The force of the minor pieces. New In Chess, Alkmaar 2006, ISBN 90-5691-196-1.
- The Art of the Endgame. My Journeys in the Magical World of Endgame Studies. New In Chess, Alkmaar 2011. ISBN 978-90-5691-369-4