Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shaul Hon Reporting -- II

Source: see below
From the same column mentioned in the previous post, we see an attempt by Shaul Hon to show chess in war. Taking his cue from a lecture by the IDF's chief of operations, Gen. Yadin, which described the attack on the enemy's left flank (towards Gaza) as a diversion, so as to switch to an attack on his right flank (towards Bir Alsuj and Ujah). He found a similar ending, by Safonov (1929), where "Israel" (White) wins by first attacking on "Egypt"'s (Black) kingside, and then switching to the queenside, with Hon's military-style annotations:

1. Bf3 we seem to wish to attack Gaza. Black repulses the attack: QxB. Here comes the sudden break towards the other flank, using an old Roman way, between the enemy's position: 2. Qf7+ Black runs for his life: Ke4. We entered enemy territory while pursuing him: 3. Qe8+ Kf5 4. Qf8+ Ke4. Now our army goes all the way to El Arish: 5. Qa8+ Black sends reinforcements: d5. Now we receive a withdrawal order from enemy territory: 6. Qe8+ (we are back in Abu Agila). Kf5. We now completely evacuate enemy territory: 7. Qf7+. Black, cut off from supplies and sources, encloses himself in the Gaza pocket: Ke4. And now just one step to victory: 8. Qh6 mate!

While chess is, of course, often compared to war, it is to be wondered how often chess actual games (or studies) were deliberately annotated to illustrate specific "real life" battles. 

Shaul Hon Reporting - I

Source: Davar, Jan. 21st, 1949,. p. 23
Moshe Roytman had also brought to our attention Shaul Hon's column from the above date. The first interesting report is that the weekly Parallel 50 (ph. spelling) writes on 31/12/1948 (no. 119) that 'despite the state of war, the young country pays much attention to chess', and mentions in particular that the master perform simuls for soldiers.  and that the national champion, Aloni, recently won a 41-soldier simul (+35 -5 =1). We mentioned such games often in this blog, in particular Aloni and Barav 'doing their part'. This is surely one of the first reports in the foreign press of chess in the (then new) state.

Strange Results in the Israeli 1971 Women's Championship

Source: Ma'ariv, Jan. 21st, 1972, p. 29
Our frequent correspondent Moshe Roytman notes what is probably a unique event in national championships. In the 1971 women's championship, Irene Cohen won first place, with 9/11 with no loss, followed by Lidiya Gal 8.5, Eda Sacharia 7, Miriam Bruckner and Frida Teitelbaum 6.5, Miriam Haimovich 5.5, Esther Samoshi 5, Tzvia Gigi 4.5, Anna Frank and Batya Juster 3, and Naomi Peretz 2 (all spellings -- except Roytman's.. -- phonetic).

What is so special about this? Roytman notes that the winner, as Ma'ariv notes on Jan. 16th p. 7, is a Romanian which 'intends to emigrate to Israel as soon as next month'. This eventually did not happen so the championship went to Lidiya Gal. Is there any other case of a player -- male or female -- being allowed to even participate in a national championship based on their promise to emigrate to the country, let alone winning the championship... and then not emigrating after all and forfeiting the title?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Chess and Education

To the issue of 'chess in the schools', two contributions from a frequent correspondent to this blog. First, in the same Davar chess column of April 28th, 1950, p. 31, there is a photo of Itzchak Aloni giving a simultaneous display in the Shalva high school:

In addition, the contributor notes that chess began to be taught in a high school in Hadera in 1949, when Davar noted (Dec. 9th, 1949, p. 27), that a teacher 'agreed with the parents' demand' to 'give a chess lesson to all the students in his class' once a month, which was 'enthusiastically received':

Chess in the 1950s

A frequent correspondent notifies us of the following report in Davar, Oct. 20th, 1950, p. 24:

It is an official 'Independence Day' tournament. It notes that it was in the 'Swiss system' but in fact describes it as, first 20 people playing under the 'loser is out' principle and the remaining five 'played against each other' -- a mixed "playoff" / league system, in other words.

The same correspondent noted that the tournament was announced in the same paper on April 28th, 1950, p. 31, with the note, inter alia, that "the Hadera [Chess] club published nice posters to advertise the tournament'.

The prizes were (some information about the books added using interent search and not found in the original article):

First prize: 'In the Battle' by David Ben Gurion, in five volumes -- about the War of Independence (1947-1949).
Second: 'Secret Defenders' [Magen Ba'Seter] by Zerubavel Gilad [ph. spelling] about the actions of the Palestinian [Jewish] underground warriors in Europe during WWII.
Third: 'A Nation at War' by Imanuel Ha'Deni [ph. spelling] about Jewish until in battles from WWI to WWII.
Fourth prize: a chess set.

It is notable that, as befitting the times, just after the war of independence, and the occasion -- a tournament to commemorate Israel's second independence day, the books all dealt with Israeli, or Jewish, military events. Still, it is true that at the time there were very few chess books in Hebrew.

Israel Barav Playing vs. the Bar Kochba Team

Credit: Ami Barav's collection. See also below.
The following game is interesting both from an historical and chessic point of view. From the purely chess based point of view, it is an example of 'crime and punishment'. White did not play well and found himself a piece to the bad. Israel Barav (Black) could have won in many ways. But he chose the most elegant method: having both his bishops pointing at the enemy king and his rook on the same file as the opponent's queen, he launches a sacrificial attack ending in a nice mate.

From the Jewish chess history point of view, it is an interesting game due to it being played against the Bar Kochba team. 'Bar Kochba' - named after the leader of the 2nd century Jewish revolt against Rome -- was a Zionist sports organization, established in the late 19th century in Eastern Europe following the first Zionist congress, but by the 1930s (and earlier) having clubs in Germany and elsewhere as well.

Unfortunately the opponent's name is (to us) a bit unclear; it seems to say 'Abrahamson' but if any reader has a more accurate suggestion, please notify us.

Abrahamson(?), ? - Barav, Israel

Vienna Game [C27]

Bar Kochba -- SCC [Sports Club Charlotternburg] leauge game, 4/7/1928

Annotations: Fritz 8

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nxe4 4.Nxe4 d5 5.Bxd5 Qxd5 6.Qf3 Be6 7.Ne2 Nc6 8.c3 0–0–0 9.0–0 Be7 10.Qe3 f5 11.N4g3 f4 12.Nxf4 exf4 13.Qxf4 Bd6 14.Qe3 Rde8 15.d4 

15... Bh3! 16.Ne4 Bxg2!

17.Kxg2 Rxe4 18.Qh3+ Rg4# (0-1):

Barav Game with Interesting Final Position

As we have seen in this blog already, Israel Barav was a very good attacking player, and had many interesting victories. Here is one, with a remarkable final position.

Barav, Israel - Unknown (name not on scoresheet)

Nimzo-Indian (E20)

SCC [Sports Club Chartlottenburg] -- Bewag, league match (2nd board) 

Annotations: Fritz 8

Source: Ami Barav's collection

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Bb4 5.Bd3 d6 6.Nge2 Nbd7 7.0–0 e5 8.d5 Bxc3 9.Nxc3 c5 10.Nb5 Nb6 11.f4 Bg4 12.Qe1 a6 13.Nc3 h5 14.fxe5 dxe5 15.Bg5 Qd6 16.Qf2 0–0–0?

17.b4 Nbd7 18.Na4 Kb8 19.bxc5 Qc7

20. c6! Qa5 21.Rab1 Kc7 22.Rxb7+ Kd6 23. Bxf6 Nxf6 24.c5+ Black Resigns (1-0). The final position deserves a diagram:

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Quick Update

Image Credit: this youtube channel
Dear all: happy to announce the memorial web site for Israel Barav (Rabinovich) had undergone a major cosmetic and content update in the last few days. Not only is the web site now better looking but many more games were added. Barav, known as an excellent tactician, won many games with beautiful combinations. Here is one, from his match against Churgin (ph. spelling), Tel Aviv, 1926, game 3, with Barav's annotations.

Barav, Israel -- Churgin

King's Indian [E62]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d6 3.c4 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 Nc6 6.0–0 0–0 7.Bg5 e5 8.d5 Ne7 9.Nc3 Bf5 10.Qd2 Re8 11.Rfe1 Nd7 12.e4 Bg4 13.h3 Bxf3 14.Bxf3 f5 15.h4 Nf6 16.Kg2 Qd7 17.Rh1 Rf8 18.h5 Rf7 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.Rh2 fxe4 21.Nxe4 Now, according to Fritz, White is winning.

21... Ng4 22.Bxg4 Qxg4 23.Qd3 Raf8 24.Rh4 Qd7 25.Rah1 Rf3 26.Qxf3 Rxf3 27.Kxf3 Nf5 28.Rh7 Nd4+ 29.Ke3 Qg4? 

This mistake allows White to finish the game with a nice combination -- sarcificing both rooks!

30.Rxg7+! Kxg7 31.Rh7+! and Black resigns (1-0) due to 31... Kxh7 32.Nf6+.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

No 'Protektziya', God Forbid

Source: Davar, Feb/ 9th, 1951, p. 22

An interesting overview of the opening ceremony of the 1st Israeli championship, 1951, was brought to our attention by Ami Barav, whose father, Israel Rabinovich-Barav, was one of those involved in organizing it.

There were three speakers: Pinchas Rosen, minister of Justice, who noted that the reason there was no Israeli team sent to the 1950 Olympiad in Yugoslavia (in Dubrovnik) was that the requested funding - 100 Israeli pounds was not approved. (This comes out to roughly $350 in today's USD, which seems very little, but such historical comparisons are problematic.)

He noted 'humorously' (says Davar) that he was happy to hear of the treasury's rejection of the requested funding, since it was 'proof' there is no protekziya (favoritism, nepotism) in the government decisions: even his own attempt to influence the treasury to fund it was to no avail. He also noted he always had a 'unrquited love affair' with chess -- he loved chess ,but chess did not love him, to judge by his playing level.

Then spoke prof. Tur-Sinai about 'the character and essence of the game of chess', adding that he brought with him a special prize -- a book of short brilliancies -- to the winner of the shortest game.

Finally spoke the minister of education and culture, David Remez, also a chess player. He (inevitably) noted that Jewish chess players are 'equal in importance to all non-Jewish players together', and added that the Israeli Chess Federation will 'concentrate on Israel's part in the field of chess' -- which, adds Davar, was a very diplomatic way of speaking, as he didn't promise anything concrete...

Finally a game from the tournament was given on the same page, as  'a serious contender' to Tur-Sinai's prize:

Braun - Glass,
Israeli Championship, 3rd rd. Feb. 1951.
Two Knight's Defense [C56]
Annotations: Davar unless otherwise noted.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 Each side threatens the others' weakness, f7 and e4, respectively. 4. d4 exd4 5. O-O For a pawn, White gets good chances for a strong attack. Nxe4 6. Re1 d5 7. Bxd5 Botvinnik played here 8. Nc3 immediately. Qxd5 8. Nc3 Qh5 More aggressive than the usual 8... Qa5. 9. Nxe4 Be6 10. Neg5? Rushing to regain the pawn. 10. Bg5! is more aggressive. 10... O-O-O! 11. Nxe6 fxe6 12. Rxe6 Bd6 Black overtook White in development. 13. Qe2? 13. h3 is necessary. 13... d3! 14. Qe4 14. Qxd3? Bxh2+ winning the queen; 14. cxd3? Nd4 threatening h2. 14... Nd4! 15. Rxd6 Forced; the bishop is too dangerous. 15... Rxd6 16. Be3 [Of course not 16. NxN? Qd1+ with mate next move - A. P.] 

16... Nxf3+ 17. gxf3 Re8 18. Qf4 Rg6+ 19. Kh1 Qh3 20. Rg1 dxc2 Threatening 21.... RxR+ 22. KxR cq=Q+ 23. BxQ Re1# 21. Rxg6 hxg6 Repeating the same threat. 22. Qc4 b5! Now White cannot defend both c1 and f1; he resigned (0-1).