Wednesday, December 10, 2014

From Zvi Bar-Shira's Reporting on the 1964 Olympiad.

Credit: Ma'ariv, 12/11/1964, p. 3ff. See also below. 

On 12/11/1964, Ma'ariv's reporters Zvi Bar Shira (who had given me the right to photograph the newspaper articles in his collection) and Avner Bar-Nir reported a sensation: for the second time ever, an Israeli (or, for that matter, pre-state Palestinian) player had drawn (and as black, too!) with a reigning world champion.

In previous Olympiads the Israeli (or Palestinian) players had managed many "upsets", and Porat had drawn with Botvinnik in the Amsterdam, 1954, Olympiad, but this is the first time any of the "youngsters" -- not of the group that came to Palestine in the 1930s or 40s --had managed the same.

The photo shows Zadok Dominitz (the caption mistakenly claims it is Kreidman) shaking Petrosian's hand after the draw; the headline, in large letters, notes: 'DOMINITZ - PETROSIAN: DRAW!'.

Politicians and Chess

Image Credit: Chessimo
We have often noted (see the "Political Leaders and Chess" label) that David Ben Gurion was a chess fan, despite being a weak player. The 'Chessimo' blog linked to above adds a whole slew of other politicians who were related to chess, although without sources.

One of the many newspaper articles linked to in the thread mentioned here (found by Moshe Roytman) notes that Ben Gurion gave his support to the 1964 Olympiad in a letter reported in Davar on Jan. 31st, 1963, p. 3 (link in Hebrew) in which he adds inter alia that he himself is a chess fan, and while he had to 'cease from chess activity' in recent years, it 'does not harm his love of the game'.    

Israeli-Made TV Broadcasts... before there was Television in Israel

Image Credit: Davar, Nov. 16th, 1964, p. 13

From the thread mentioned here, we have an image of one of the first uses of television in Israel -- let alone an Israeli-made TV. Eight such televisions were in the viewing room and showed what is happening in the playing area.

This can be seen as (in effect) a 'trial run' for Israeli television: it was not actually broadcast, but a Closed-Circuit TV. Israeli TV did not actually begin broadcasts until 1966.

What is a Combination?

Image credit: A. P.
Edward Winter had written a chessbase article about what is a combination, and also has on his web site ( a somewhat different article which concentrates more on early (as opposed to famous) definitions and uses of the term.

Winter, fair as always, does not lay down the law about what a combination is, or is not, but looks for what famous players, or early sources, or readers think a combination is. Most definitions, however, seem to concentrate either on (a) sacrifice of material; (b) forcing continuations to reach a winning (or drawing) position; and (c) the use of more than one piece. (c) would imply that every time someone wins a pawn by putting more pressure on it than the opponent can rebuff it is a combination, while (a)  and (b) would mean, for example, that exchanging a rook for a knight in order to simplify into a winning pawn ending is a combination. Of course, all of the above are good, even winning, moves (or plans) -- but are they really "combinations"?

I believe Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld had the best definition I've seen. In their view, it is not the power of pieces that is combined, but that of the tactical motifs (pins, skewer, overloading the defender, exploiting a weak back rank, etc.).

Indeed, the more such motifs are combined together, one after another, the deeper and more shocking and absurd the combination's moves seems at first glance -- and the more we understand and enjoy it once we analyze its motifs. In their words (from the book above, the 1988 reissue of the 1949 original by Faber & Faber):

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pilpel -- Roytman, 1964 Olympiad, 0:1

Image credit: . Relevance below...
Well, I have been planning to post many comments about the 1964 chess Olympiad, but -- as John Lennon said -- 'Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans'. Moshe Roytman beat me to it, and had already collected, in the following thread in the chess-il web site, a collection of contemporary newspaper reports from Israel about the Olympiad, which started in Nov. 1964.

Still, my contribution here would be to translate and expose to the non-Hebrew speaking public what the Hebrew papers noted by Roytman say. Starting at the beginning is the criticism of the radio broadcast (Israel did not yet have television) of the opening ceremony (Ma'ariv, Nov. 9th, p. 11, 1964). which notes that for some reason the ceremony decided to accompany the national anthem on an accordion --a bit like deciding to open an Olympiad in the USA with the Star Spangled Banner played on an harmonica. Go figure.

50 Years Ago: Geller Simul, 1964

Image Credit: Wikipedia
We have noted before on this blog that, when visiting the country in 1964 for the Olympiad, the players of the Soviet team gave simultaneous displays in the country. An interesting point is that one of the group -- Efim (or Yefim) Geller, who was not one of the six players on the team, but was present (as team captain), also gave such displays.

Our frequent correspondent Moshe Roytman notes that Davar published, on Nov. 19th 1964, p. 7, a short notice that Geller would play the next day (Friday, Nov. 20th) a 40-board display against the pupils of the Ort Yad Singalovski high school in Tel Aviv.

Occupation: Master of Chess

Credit: Jonathan Schick (see below)
Jonathan Schick, who is researching Akiba Rubinstein's life, had found (and kindly shares) the following 'List or Manifest of Alien Passengers' for the S. S. Berengaria, sailing from Cherbourg to New York, arriving there on Feb. 1st, 1928. The list includes (click on the picture for larger image), on lines 15 and 16, Akiba Rubinstein and his wife, Enia Rubinstein.

The list includes, inter alia, her place of birth, and the fact that both declared that they read German and Russian -- presumably, in addition to Polish and Yiddish (as well as Hebrew, at least in Akiba's case, as noted before on this blog), which they didn't declare to the immigration official, perhaps because Russian and German were more "international" languages. Knowing many languages was very common among Europeans of their generation, as even the list of passengers here shows.

Of particular interest is the 'occupation' line, which puts down Enia as a Housewife and Akiba as a 'master of chess'. Quite accurate.