Monday, February 8, 2016

Human vs. Computers, the Hague, 1995

Our correspondent, Hebert Perez Garcia, had sent us another video, also available on his Youtube channel -- '10th Aegon Human vs. Computers The Hague 1995'. The Jewish connection? Many famous Jewish players -- the Polgar sisters, David Bronstein, etc., as well as (of course) many non-Jewish ones. This was, of course, back in the days when top players still had a chance to beat the machines!

More Hebrew Terms

Source: Palestinian Problemists' Association Magazine, no. 3 (Dec. 1948), p. 4-5
We have previously noted (see "Chess Terms" in the blog's labels, right) the creation of Hebrew chess terms was a serious issue in early Palestinian chess. This also was the case with problemists' terms. The first "official" suggestion we are aware of is above.

By their very nature, it's pointless to translate the terms back into English as an explanation, but we note that the introduction notes that the list is a continuation of a list made by Itzhaki (ph. spelling) earlier, and is intended as an improvement of that list, but not as a final decision -- 'on the contrary, we expect members to take an active part in shaping it'. The list also concerns itself only with the most basic terms (e.g., how to translate 'cross check', 'critical square', and the like) and not with more technical terms 'of the logical school' which are 'not well known among us'.

This open-ended and reasonable approach probably was a reason why many, if not most, of the terms suggested in the list are still in use, although a few might make a contemporary Israeli problemist smile. The list itself is mostly based on German and English terms. A curious point is that the poet Avraham Shlonsky, which we have met before as a chess player, is credited with suggesting the term Masa'otayim (מסעותיים) for a two-mover, but this was rejected since it is the grammatical dual of Masa (מסע, move) -- which by its nature cannot be extended to 3- or more-movers.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Emanuel Luftglas-Emanueli

Credits & Notes: See below.
The top note (Davar, May 6th 1931, p. 1), deals with Rubinstein's live chess display against Marmorosh, which took place on 9/5/1931, and notes that the clothes worn by 32 actors were 'based on designs by the painter Emanueli'.

Moshe Roytman, our frequent correspondent, wonders if this is Emanuel Luftglas-Emanueli , 1896-1958 (link in Hebrew), who is mentioned, inter alia, as a stage designer for the TEI (Teatron Eretz-Israeli, 'Palestinian Theatre') in the second cutting above, Davar, Aug. 5th, 1926, p. 1.

It seems very likely that it is him. It turns out that Emanuel Luftglas, as he is usually known, was the first formally-trained stage designer in Palestine, who worked in many theatres after emigrating to Palestine in 1922.

Roytman also provides a link to a long article about the man and his work (Davar, May 8th, 1964, p. 20) and a tribute page by his grandson (both links in Hebrew). It seems that 'Emanueli' was never his official last name, but a "professional" one, based on his first name. Perhaps he followed the common Zionist custom of using a Hebrew name instead of one's foreign-sounding birth name.

Emanuel Luftglas-Emanueli, from Davar, May 8th, 1964, p. 20.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Who was "Milestone"?

Details & Credits: See below.
Amatzia Avni informs us that, while browsing Tel Aviv's 'Beit Ariela' library's newspaper archives on another matter, he discovered by chance that a 1930s children's magazine, Itoneynu (presumably Itoneynu Le'Ktanim, 'The Children's Newspaper'), had a chess column.

Avni sends us the first two column, from 1937; the first has instructions on how to make a chess set from old thread spools (of the type used by sewing machines, then common in many houses) and other household materials. The second describes the rules of the game. The author of the column was "E. Derech" (א. דרך), a short for the Hebrew expression Eben Derech, 'milestone'. Does any reader know who 'Even Derech' may have been?

Avni notes that he is surprised that the chess column starts with instructions of making a chess set, since cheap sets were widely available, even in 1930s Palestine. It seems to me from the context -- a children's magazine -- that the "make your own chess set" instructions were meant as an independent arts & crafts activity.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

An Oren Interview

Source: Ma'ariv, April 6th, 1951, p. 5
We have noted before an interview with Menachem Oren, quoted in Kandelshine's book about him (see link for details). We add here the original interview from which the quotes were taken is an in-depth one, including a rare photograph of Oren in play at the first Israeli championship, made after his victory, by Nechama Kerem.

The interesting interview emphasizes Oren's point that chess is a hobby, not a profession, as noted before. Incidentally, it adds that, contrary to popular belief, chess is not particularly related to mathematics -- some great players (like Dr. Lasker) were good mathematicians, but others were no good at it -- 'or at life, but play well'.

Oren's Victory, 1947

Source: Picture Section, Oren Ba'Tsameret by Shlomo Kandelshine, see previous post for full details.
From the same Kandelshine book as in the previous point, a curiosity: a first prize diploma given to Menachem Oren (then Chwojnik) for winning a chess tournament organized in Munich by the committee of the Jews who survived the holocaust, Dec. 1947. Before emigrating to Israel, Oren was active in this organization and 'did much for the displaced persons and their children' (p. 17).

Menachem Oren, 1902-1962

Mencahem Oren. Source: Oren Ba'Tsameret [On the Top], Reshafim Press: Tel Aviv, 1989,  p. 8.
Most sources (e.g., wikipedia, but more importantly Jeremy Gaige's Chess Personalia) claimed Menachem Oren was born in 1903. Oren's Obituary (Shachmat, no. 7, Dec. 1962, p. 3) has no exact birth date. However, Shlomo Kandelshine's book noted above claims (p. 13 and back cover) that he was born in December 1902, in Channukah, the Jewish Holiday, which that year took place Dec. 12th-19th, 1902. It seems likely he was really born in late 1902.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The First Live Chess Game in Palestine.

Source: National Library of Israel web page, brought to our attention by Moshe Roytman.
As the advertisement says, the first live chess game in Palestine was performed on April 24th, 1924 (a nice round date, 24/4/24, or, in the American manner, the even "rounder", because palindromic, 4/24/24, but I digress). Here is an ad for this extravaganza, reported (for example) in Ha'Sachmat, the journal of the Emanuel Lasker Chess club (Jerusalem), vol. 1 no. 4, pp. 61-62:  
On the fifth day of Passover a live chess show was set up by the E. L. Chess Club in Jerusalem. The show was part of the “national Passover festivities” and took place in the large sports arena in Beit Hakerem [a Jerusalem neighborhood]. A huge crowd was present. The 32 pieces were members of the E. L. chess club members wore original Jewish costumes, made by the members of “Bezalel”. The show was managed by club member Aryeh Pappo, who put much energy into it. The show, which gave great satisfaction to the audience, was very successful.
It is not clear why the ad says '40 persons' in special dresses will be there, given that there are, of course, only 32 pieces. Perhaps this is some advertisement "puffing". Interestingly, the name of the players or of the game result is not given in the advertisement, leaving the report of players to  Ha'Sachmat (ibid), which reported that the 'show managers' were Pappo, White, and A. Diskin, black. The use of the word 'manager' instead of 'player' and the neglect of mentioning the players in the advertisement make it likely that the performance was a reenaction of a famous brilliancy or some other pre-scripted event, not a genuine game. 

"Busy People's Got Time"

Source: Davar, 20/7/1964
The above is a cutting from an article in Davar, by Gershon Alimor (ph. spelling), brought to our attention by Moshe Roytman. The title is "Busy People's Got Time". The article (not related to the paper's chess column) deals with Rubinstein's visit to Palestine and especially the fact the Biyalik was a chess fan; but why would a great poet waste time playing chess? Alimor notes the answer given by the Jewish philosopher Jakob Klatzkin:
I was playing chess with him in the Hotel Gdansk. Suddenly he was approached by a writer (I don't remember who) who addressed him as follows: 'Prof. Kltazkin, I am surprised: you are writing an important book now, you're deeply busy with spiritual things; how can you waste hours playing a game?'. Klatzkin replied: 'listen, whomever tells you he's too busy to play chess, is a lazybones who does nothing. Whomever really works, his thought is ordered, and he finds time for everything, especially something as glorious as chess'. 
Indeed so!