Saturday, August 27, 2016

Barav - Koch, 1947

The following game was played in Feb. 1947 by Barav against B. Koch in the Lasker chess club in Tel Aviv. It is from Ami Barav's collection of his father's games, the annotations being both by Barav (Sr.) and by Shahar GindiOnce more, Barav is out for tactics, looking for the mating attack -- and finding it:

"Lakser Club", Tel Aviv
Date "1947.02.??"
Israel Barav – B. Koch
Irregular Opening (A00)
Annotations: Barav & Shahar Gindi

1. d4 Nf6 2. e3 e6 3. Bd3 b6 4. Ne2 Bb7 5. O-O c5 6. c3 cxd4 7. exd4 Be7 8. Nd2 O-O 9. f4 Nc6 10. Nf3 Rc8 11. Ng3 h6 12. Ne5 Bd6 (?! -- White has been building up without interference for several moves, this move further hinders Black's ability to prepare for an attack -- S. G.) 13. Qe2 Qc7 14. Bd2 g6 15.ae1 Kg716. f5 (! White's army is fully targeted toward Black's king and the f5 break decides - S.G.) Ne7 17. fxe6 fxe6 (17…dxe6 18.Rxf6! Kxf6 19.Bxh6 and the king is helpless -- S.G. )18. Nxg6 (18.Bxg6 is better-- Barav. Indeed, 18.Bxg6 Nxg6 19.Nh5+ Nxh5 20.Qxh5 +- the knight on e5 prevents the Bxh2+ resource that Black had in the game -- S.G.)18… Bxg3 (? 18…Nxg6! 19.Nh5+ Nxh5 20.Qxh5 Bxh2+! 21.Kh1?! Bxg2+! 22.Kxg2 Qg3+ 24. Kh1 Qxd3= -- S.G.) 19. Nxe7 Bxe1

20.Bxh6+ ! Kf7 ( 20…Kxh6 21. Qe3+ Kg7 21.Qg5+ Kh8 22.Qh6 mate; 20…Kh8 21. Bxf8+- -- S.G.) 21. Nx8 Rxc8 22. Bg5 Rh8 23. Rxf6+ Black Resigns (1-0).

The game is also available in the "games" section of Barav's memorial web site. (Note: one might have to "reload" or "refresh" the pages on the web site to see the latest update). 

Chess on the Front Page

Source: Ha'Olam Ha'ze ["This World"], Year 16 no. 820 (July 9th, 1953), front cover.
We already noted in the blog that Moshe Czerniak was mentioned on the cover of Ha'Olam Ha'Ze in 1952. That, however, was the back cover. About a year and a half later, he was there again -- on the front cover, with the title "Chess Master Czerniak -- in the game of kings, the little pawn decides".

The article itself, on pp. 13-14, gives a "standard" outline of chess history -- from the famous legend about its invention in India by a priest to teach the king a lesson about the limits of his power, to the fact that many Jews were champions, to Czerniak's biography. It notes how he studies chess in Paris, where he went to study chemistry, from Alekhine, noting his devotion to spreading and teaching chess in Israel, and his tournament successes.

One point of detail: it notes that Czerniak drew his first game with Capablanca in the 1939 Olympiad. The paper claims that, while Czerniak was a pawn ahead when the game was adjurned, Capablanca analyzed with Alekhine and found a 16-move drawing combination.

In fact, the game only lasted 42 moves so there was no question of a '16 move drawing combination' (as the game score itself makes clear). It was Capablanca who was a pawn ahead, after winning Czerniak's isolated e-pawn in the middle game (17... Nxe4). In any case, it would be extremely unlikely Capablanca would analyze with Alekhine, of all people, given their mutual enmity.

An interesting linguistic point addressed in the article is how to spell 'chess' in Hebrew. This article, and Ha'Olam Ha'Ze's articles about chess in general, deliberately  use the spelling שחמת, claiming the more common spelling שחמט is wrong, since שחמת, means 'the shah [שח, king] is dead [מת]', which is the correct description of the game's purpose, to "kill" the king, as the author explains in a footnote on p. 13.The author is probably wrong on this point. שחמט is preferred today not 'by mistake' but because it means literally 'the king is captured (or more literally, toppled, or defeated - מט).

The article also has (p. 13) a nice photograph of Keres playing Czerniak in the 1952 Helsinki Olympiad, a game eventually drawn in 90 moves after tenacious defense from Keres, a pawn down in a knights' ending:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Another Barav Victory

The masthead of Marmorosh's Ha'Sachmat (Tel Aviv), vol. 1 no. 1, March/April 1932.
Marmorosh had attempted to publish a chess magazine in 1932, named Ha'Shachmat -- literally 'The Chess', meaning, of course, simply 'Chess'. To the best of my knowledge this was the one and only issue.

However, it has some historical importance, in publishing games played in Palestine, or by Palestinian players, which would not have otherwise been known. One of these games -- published on p. 12 -- is by Israel Barav (Rabinovich). It was played against Braun [ph. spelling from the Hebrew], 'in a tournament in Berlin in 1931', as Marmorosh says.As usual for Barav, it was an enjoyable attacking game. The punctuation and annotation are Fritz 8's unless otherwise stated. We note that more about Barav can be found at this site.

Barav, Israel - Braun

​D00: 1. d4 d5: Unusual lines 

1. d4 d5 2. 3. e3 Nf6 3. Bd3 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. f4 e6 6. Nd2 ('to prevent 6... Ne4' - Marmorosh) 6... Bd6 7. Nf3 a6 8. 0-0 b5 9. Ng5 Bd7 10. Kh1 h6 11. Nf3 b4 12. Ne5 Qa5 ​

​13. e4 dxe4? 

13... cxd4? 14. Nxc6! with 15. e5 -- Marmorosh; but Fritz thinks 13... bxc3! holds. 14. Nxe4 Nxe4 15. Bxe4 Qc7 16. dxc5! (Marmorosh; but Fritz prefers 16. Nxd7) 16...Bxe5 17. fxe5 bxc3 18. bxc3 0-0?

'This loses immediately' - Marmorosh, and Fritz agrees, to a nice combination:  ​19. Bxh6! Qxe5 (19... gxh6 20. Qg4+ and wins [Fritz] due to 21. Rf6 [Marmorosh]). 20. Bxg7! Kxg7 (20... Qxg7 21. Rf3) 21 Qxg4+ Black resigns (1-0).

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Zvi Bar-Shira, 1932 - 2016


We note sadly that our colleague in Israeli chess history, Zvi Bar-Shira, had passed away two days ago (Thursday). A reporter by profession, he was active in Israeli chess for over 60 years as a judge and organizer. For a Hebrew-language obituary by Sivan Hadad see here, from the ICF's web site.

Karff Visiting Israel

Image Credit: Chess Review, June/July 1942

We have occasionally mentioned Mona May Karff in this blog. Our correspondent, Moshe Roytman, notes that in the same article from Al Ha'Mishmar noted in the previous post (August 12th 1949, p. 8), Karff is mentioned -- in the language typical at the time for the Israeli press -- as the 'famous Israeli player', which apparently just happened to be 'USA [women's] champion for many years'. The article also adds that  and is 'currently in the country' (presumably on a family visit).

The implied, though not explicitly stated, reason for treating Karff as an Israeli "temporarily" in the USA despite the fact that she had left then-Palestine in the late 30s and settled in Boston for the rest of her life, is made clear by her obituary (see link above): she was the daughter of Aviv Ratner, a noted Zionist who later became one of Israel's richest citizens. It was at the time considered almost heretical to admit publicly that a person -- especially from a prominent Zionist family -- would prefer to live abroad.

'Meet our Masters': Moshe Blass, by H. Reed

Our frequent correspondent Moshe Roytman had sent us, a while ago, quite a few nice "finds" from the chess literature of the early state of Israel. A particularly interesting one is that Al Ha'Mishmar's chess column had run a 'meet our masters' series of pen portraits of Israeli masters. Here is their portrait of Moshe Blass -- From Al Ha'Mishmar, Aug. 12th, 1949, p. 8, by H. Reed [ph. spelling]. Below is our translation, and our comments in square brackets.

Meet Our Masters

We are beginning this week a series of articles about Israeli chess players. We wish to introduce the reader a series of players that are not known to the public and, especially, to the youth. This week we overview Moshe Blass.

Moshe Blass

Among the chess masters in the country there are players of international caliber, which have succeeded in many tournaments and matches.

One of them is Moshe Blass. Before arriving in the country, 17 years ago, he was one of the strongest players in Poland, often mentioned together with Rubinstein, Tartakover, FrydmanMakarczyk, Dr. Kohn, and the late Przepiorka. In 1927, when Najodrf and Czerniak were young beginners [in Warsaw], he already won the Warsaw championship, after a brilliancy against P[aulino] Frydman. He played in the Olympiad twice for the strong Polish team: in 1928 in the Hague and in 1938 [sic - 1930 is correct] in Hamburg.

From 1933 he is part of the chess life in our country and for many years he had no equal, until younger forces like Foerder [Porat], Czerniak, and Aloni dethroned him.

His greatest victory was in 1935, in the international tournament arranged with the Maccabiah, when he came first before Foerder, Enoch, and the Viennese Glass, who recently returned to the country after many troubles [a hint that Glass ran away from Vienna to Shanghai in 1938, thus surviving the war].

Blass' style is superb, pure and classical, without entering opening complications. He shows his talent in the middle game, and his desire for beauty and perfection is evident in all his games.

As a man, Blass is modest, which made him popular with chess players.

Despite his age removing him from the tournament hall, it is a pleasure to see him next to his regular table in one of the coffee houses, beating strong opponents in offhand games.

The game added is Blass - Dobkin, Tel Aviv Championship, 1945 (Slav defense). According to the computer (Fritz 6), the game was more or less equal until Dobkin blundered, allowing mate in two, but it is still an interesting example. The analysis is by the editor of the chess column or Fritz 6, as indicated.

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. d4 d5 4. e3 e6 5. Nc3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 dxc4 9. a4 b4 10. Ne4 Bb7 11. b3 c5 12. Nxf6+ gxf6 13. Bb2 cxd4 14. Nxd4 Nc5 15. Bc4 Rg8 16. Rg1 Rxg2 17. Rxg2 Bxg2 18. Qh5 Bd5 19. Rd1 Bxc4 20. bxc4 Qa5 21. Qf3 Rc8 22. Nc6 Qxa4 23. Bxf6 b3 (23... Rxc6? 24. Qxc6! Qxc6 25. Rd8# - editor) 24. Na7

24...  Qxc4? (Fritz 6; it recommends 24... Rb8 or 24... Qb4+) 25. Qc6+ and Black resigned (1-0) due to 25... Rxc6 26. Rd8#.

Edited to add: we thank our correspondents for supplying the spelling of the names!

Kniazer in London, 1921

Eudardo Bauza had notified us that Kniazer had played in 1921 in England, in all places in a league game betweent Kent (Kniazer) and Surrey, played at Westminster, March 5th, 1921. 

The game was reported, adds Mr. Bauza, in the 1921 BCM 4/1921, pp. 136 and 152. He adds that the London Times noted, On March 21st, 1921, that Kniazer was the "champion of Egypt during the [First World] war". 

This is no doubt the same Kniazer we have encountered previously, here playing against H. C. Griffiths. This is especially interesting since Kniazer's early chess career -- though found in, for instance, Persitz's book -- is incomplete, and little seems to be known about his career in Egypt, let alone in England. 

Kniazer, J. -- Griffiths, H. C.

Old Indian Defense (A54) 

Annotations: A. P. noting Fritz 6's analysis. 

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. Nf3 e5 5. Bg5 Be7 6. Qc2 c6 7. O-O-O Qc7

 8. e3 a6 9. c5 exd4 10. cxd6 Bxd6 11. Rxd4 O-O 12. Bc4 b5

13. Rhd1  Fritz 6 prefers the quieter 13. Bd3 or 13. Be2. 13... Be5 14. Nxe5 Nxe5 15. Bxf6 Nxc4 16. Rh4 h6 17. Qe2 Bf5 18. Rxh6

18... Bg6 19. Qg4 gxh6 Fritz 6 believes this is perfectly sound, and that in fact Black has a significant advantage. "Real life" is something else, however... 20.  Qh4 Kh7 21. Ne4 h5 22. g4 Ne5?

The losing move. 22... Rad8 is necessary. 23. gxh5 Bxe4 24. Qxe4+ Ng6 25. hxg6+ fxg6 26. Qh4+ Kg8 27. Qh8+ Kf7 28. Qg7+ Black resigns (1-0). 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

More Chess Ads -- a Double Issue

Credit: Shachmat, Oct. 1964 (exact page?)

We add here, to our chess advertisement page, the following from the Oct. 1964 Shachmat.

It has two chess-related advertisements: one for avocados, 'the delicacy of kings', and another for Amcor's televisions. The interesting point is that at the time -- 1964 -- there was no Israeli television broadcasting, although it was clear that they will begin in the near future (the first broadcasts were in 1966).

But Amcor's TV were chosen (as the ad notes) as the close-circuit TV used to broadcast the games in the Olympiad -- as noted before in this blog, see, e.g., the 'Television' tag.

David Raziel and Chess

Photo Credit: A. P., the Eztel Museum (Hebrew)
Visiting Tel Aviv, we have gone to the Eztel museum. 'Etzel' (אצ"ל) is the Hebrew acronym of Irgun Tzvai-Leumi -- literally, the 'National Military Organization', or just (the) 'Irgun' (organization) in English.

We do not, in this blog, deal with politics, and we shall say no more about the Irgun as a political or military organization. What is relevant to this blog, however, is that the museum has the personal effects of many of its prominent leaders.

Inter alia, it has those of David Raziel, which include -- above -- a miniature chess set; click on the image for a larger one.