Thursday, February 22, 2018

'Based on Barav-Vidor'

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, Aug. 22nd, 1946, p. 3
What is the first Israeli or Palestinian chess game where a player chose an opening based on a previous game played in the same country? Our first suggestion: the game Yona Margalit - Hanan Ben-Artzi (Staunton gambit, Galillee championship, 1-0) where it is reported the winner 'chose this reply to Black's move based on Rabinovich-Vidor, [Shaul Hon's] Shachmat 1, game 6'.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Checkmate -- A Romanian-Language Musical in Tel Aviv

Credit: see below
As Edward Winter published in Chess Notes #10709, in 1967 debuted a new Romanian-language musical in Tel Aviv, titled 'Shach-Mat'. Go to Chess Notes for the full item (January 20th, 2018), which includes a link to the advertisement.

Above is a cutting from the advertisement: the Hebrew translation of the Romanian title.

Winter noted, in correspondence with us, that contrary to our initial assumption, the musical is not named  chess, which is what 'Shach-Mat' means in Hebrew, but rather checkmate, which is what it means in Romanian.

(P.S.: Technically, Shach-Mat' can mean 'checkmate' in Hebrew, but it is an extremely archaic and uncommon use of the term; the term used almost exclusively for nearly a century is 'mat').


Source: 64 Msihbatzot (64 squares), Sept.-Oct. 1957, cover page.
A quick note for those interested in finding tournament results from the early days of the Israeli / Palestinian chess: in Shaul Hon's Ptichot Be'Sachmat (Chess Openings), there is an historical introduction that lists the major tournaments. But a more detailed list, with many local and other tournaments missing from Hon's account, is found in Moshe Czerniak's collection of results from the 1930s to the 1950s in the Sept.-Oct. 1957 issue of 64 Mishbatzot. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Flohr Simul in Tel Aviv

Source: see below
From the same source as the previous post, we find a poster advertising a simultaneous display by Flohr in Tel Aviv, against 60 opponents, on 24/6/1934. The ad speaks for itself (click for larger version).

In Hebrew it is also added that prizes are: getting one's registration fee back if one wins, and getting half of it refunded if one draws... also, it is requrested from the participants to bring 'fair boards and pieces'.

Simul Note

Source: National Library of Israel
The National Library of Israel has a small but interesting collection of chess ephemera (see link above).

One example is the following -- a note, filled in by hand, announcing a simultaneous display at Jerusalem's Lasker club. Asher Wolowelsky (ph. spelling), 'Jerusalem's Champion for the [Jewish] year 5693 [1932/3]', will play against 20 people, on 24/12/1932.

Apparently, as this is a filled-out form, the club had organized enough simultaneous displays to make it worth while to have a regular form made.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Chess in the German POW Camps

Source: Ha'Mashkif, Dec. 20th, 1944, p. 2
As part of our new year's resolution, we hope to finally also get back to speed from the generous amount of material correspondents with us give us. One frequent correspondent had found, looking at old Palestinian and Israeli magazines, quite a lot of interesting material. Here is one of his more interesting finds.

The article is about Jewish soldiers fighting for the British Empire as part of the Palestinian brigade, recently released in a prisoners' exchange from a German military prison camp in Lamsdorf. Amazingly, they do not report mistreatment due to their Jewishness, and their description of camp life does is actually rather humane.

They returned to Palestine with a chess set made in the camp 'by Russian prisoners for the colonel who was the camp commander'. In July 1944 the camp organized a chess league tournament -- a four-man team for each prisoners' nationality -- and the Palestinian team won. They add that the prize, the chess set, was given to them by a British Officer POW with 'apologies from the camp commander', whose 'position and race forbid him from awarding the prize personally'.

The prisoners were lucky to be released when they were. Soon afterwards, as the Red Army approached, the camp was evacuated westward in one of the many notorious 'death marches' during the winter of 1944/1945.

More Chess Book Covers -- Hebrew Language Edition

Image Credit: here.
This time, a book from a rather well known veteran Israeli writer, Eli Netzer, who wrote many books and won several literary prizes. One of his books, Mot Ha'Kanarit (The Death of the Canary), a collection of stories, was published with a chess-themed cover (above). While the cover is hardly meant to be a realistic representation of a chess game, it should be seen that it, too, has the 'dark square in the lower right corner' disease. Then again, perhaps the rules are different for a 4x4 board.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Resolution

Source: here.
My news year resolution: to continue updating this blog more regularly, and finally -- finally -- finish the history work I have been doing for many years.

All I can say in my defense is quote Dr. Samuel Johnson, the author of the famous English dictionary, was praised for the immense amount of work that he put into it. He told Boswell, his biographer, that he was very lazy: he did his dictionary in ten years, while, if he had applied himself regularly, he could have done it in three.

If Sam Johnson could be lazy, I have at least some excuse...

Chess Posters

Source: The NLI
In Israel, it was common until the 1970s (at least) to advertise chess tournaments on posters which were posted on official notice boards in cities. Here is one for the 1969 (15th) Tel Aviv Championship, officially, the Abraham Labounsky memorial tournament. It includes both the "old guard" -- Czerniak, Aloni, Blass, Smiltiner -- and the "new blood", such as Bobis, Stepak, and 'ten talented youths'.