Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hon, Underground Radio, and Chess

Source: Davar, Jan. 7th, 1949, p. 16

Our correspondent Moshe Roytman notifies us of an article by Shaul Hon from early 1949 about the Kol Israel [Voice of Israel] radio station, which to this day is the (semi-) "official" Israeli station, more or less the equivalent of the BBC.

Hon adds (in the clip posted above) that, among more serious subjects, the station finds time to broadcast 'sport, chess... Talmudic lessons, theater and literature section' -- even as a war for independence, to say nothing of survival, was raging, and the radio was 'working in emergency conditions', notes Hon. This is remarkable, even if it probably isn't the first chess broadcast in Mandatory Palestine or Israel.

Another interesting point is that Hon, in this article, notes that he was one of the broadcasters in Kol Israel when it was still an underground, illegal Haganah - operated station. He also notes that it was known in Mandatory Palestine in the 1940s as Telem Sade Boaz, the Hebrew phonetic alphabet of the initials TSB, Tahanat Shidur Ba'Machteret -- 'underground radio station'.

The Haganah's Kol Israel was an illegal "competitor" of the official Kol Yerushalayim [Voice of Jerusalem] and other official Mandatory stations. One wonders: did Hon ever broadcast chess in the underground radio station? As Roytman notes, this isn't likely, or we would have heard about it from Hon (and, in general, the underground Kol Israel didn't have much time for arts but dealt, of course, with politics, reporting censored information, and the like).

But still, that Hon was a bona fide member of the underground is in itself newsworthy.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chess on the "Zeppelin", Palestine, 1929

Reuven Rubin, The Zeppelin in Tel Aviv, Purim 1929. Source: Ilan Schori, 'When the Zeppelin Arrived in Tel Aviv' [in Hebrew]
Our frequent corespondent Moshe Roytman notifies us that, when the Zeppelin flew to Palestine in 1929 (it did it again in 1931), one of the passengers, von Weisel, there as the special correspondent of the Neue Freie Presse, organized an "international chess club" on the flight -- and the "first chess tournament in the air", as the source (above, in Hebrew) notes, quoting from his article to the newspaper (published on the first page, March 26th, 1929) . Of particular interest is that one of the members was an Egyptian, Al-Fath [ph. spelling]. Two games are mentioned: Bate having defeated Kaye [ph. spelling in both cases], and playing with Al-Fath. Von Weisel adds that Mrs. Tony Zander [ph. spelling] demanded to be a "kibitzer" in the four-board "club", but was denied because she doesn't know to play chess.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Unusual Book Title

Photo Credit: goodreads.com
In my occasional forays into non-Jewish areas of chess on this blog, I discuss various matters. Today, I note that fiction titles with chess-related terms, from 'chess' itself to 'stalemate', 'checkmate', etc., are quite common, especially in (it seems) political thrillers and similar-themed works. But 'castling' seems rare. Here is one example, of a book written by a major Swedish writer, Lars Gustafsson.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Source: Davar, Sept. 24th, 1937, p. 4
In the following note, a propos of the Palestinian championship, Marmorosh adds that on Sept 18th, the representatives of 'a few chess organization in the country' had convened to 'renew the national chess organization and to put it on a solid base'. These included the Jerusalem Lasker club; the Tel Aviv club; the clubs in the Sharon area; the 'new chess club in Haifa'; and the 'chess association of the clerks' club in Jerusalem'. The 'founding meeting' was scheduled for 25/9/1937 in the Menorah club.

While this federation's activity, like chess activity in Mandatory Palestine in general, became (almost) moribund due to the war, it shows us a good 'snapshot' of the growth in interest in chess all over the country since the early 30s, as interest was raised for various reasons, such as visits by RubinsteinFlohr, and Mieses, the sending of a team to the Olympiad in Warsaw in 1935, etc., as we have seen previously on this blog.

Nice Combination by Marmorosh

Source: Davar, Sept. 10th, 1937, p. 3
On Sept. 5th, (p. 6), Marmorosh reported in Davar he will give a simultaneous display at the chess club in 4 Allenby St., Tel Aviv, on the 7th. Three days later, he reported the result (+27 -3 =4) in his column, as well as the following position. Apparently, Marmorosh, like some other masters, was willing occasionally to play black in such displays.

The game continued (Marmorosh's annotations):

1. ... Rf3! 2. Re1 (of course 2. gxf3 Nxf3+ - A. P.) Qg3+ 3. Kg1 Rf2!! 4. Qxf2 Nf3+ 5. Qxf3 exf3 6. Rc1 f2+ 7. Kh1 Bf3! 0-1

A bit generous on the exclamation points, perhaps, but a nice finishing-off combination nonetheless; and thanks to the commentator below for pointing out my original typo (writing the impossible 2. Re3 instead of 2. Re1).

Chess on the Radio -- in 1937?

Source: Davar, Sept. 10th, 1937, p. 3
In the above selection from Marmorosh's chess column, it is noted that the results of the 1937 Palestine championship will be 'be announced that very night on the radio [emphasis in the original - A. P.] and published the next day in the press'.

Does anybody know if the tournament's results really were broadcast over the radio? Checking the radio schedule in Davar from the relevant period notes that there were various programs which might have broadcast this information -- e.g., the evening news or the sports broadcasts -- but nothing more specific was noted.

But, if so, it would (probably) be the very first radio broadcast about chess in Israel or Mandatory Palestine, unless the previous visits of foreign masters (Rubinstein, Flohr, or Mieses) happened to be mentioned in the radio news at the time. 

Unusual Prizes

Source: Davar, Sept. 5th, 1937, p. 5.

Moshe Roytman, our frequent correspondent, found the following "coming attraction" notice for a simultaneous exhibition by the 'well known Viennese master Siegmund Beutum' (link to Wikipedia; see also 'Beutum' in this blog) against 30 opponents in Nahariya, at the Paltov Coffee House -- a local "institution" at the time (photo credit: Andreas Meyer, an early resident of Nahariya who recorded much of its history).

The tournament was sponsored by the Haifa branch of the Dubek cigarette factory, and promised prizes 'from the Dubek factory's products' -- presumably, cigarettes -- to the winners. Are there other cases where cigarettes were offered as prizes in tournaments?

It should be added that less than a month later, while reporting on the 1937 Palestinian championship, Marmorosh (Davar, Oct. 1st, 1937, p. 4) notes that 'the Dubek company made sure there was an ample supply of its product' , which implies they provided the contestants with cigarettes gratis as a sponsorship.


It could be that the simultaneous display didn't take place, as there is no report on it in the next days in Davar -- including in Marmorosh's chess column of the Sept. 10th issue (p. 3) in the same month.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chess and S-_-X

Credit: Sodahead.com

I noticed a "spike" of interest in my blog lately. I asked some people why and it turns out I have been noticed by a certain well-known chess blogger and GM who had linked to my post about chess in music.

I thank the man for the attention, but I cannot link "back" there since his chess blog, to my great surprise, is full of nude pictures! (No, not those chess players...). Why would someone feel the need to "spice up" a chess blog, of all web sites, with nude pictures? What is the motivation?

This is, to the best of my knowledge, the only well-known chess site that does anything like this. Occasionally some web sites like "chess base" may "spice up" things a bit by, for example, posting photographs of chess players participating in a tournament (especially attractive female ones) in "glamour shots", but certainly will not post nudity or sex.

Let me emphasize that it is certainly not the case that the author of the blog is using chess as an excuse to run a "porn" blog. First of all he is a GM, and, second, the chess context of the blog is certainly the main point of his blog. The "nudies" are an afterthought. For that matter, he doesn't seem to be making some sort of political point against censorship laws, either.

It seems that his motivation is different -- the same as that of John Speelman or the late Larry Evans, as Edward Winter noted in a review of one of Speelman's books (C. N. 332; scroll down from the top of the web page to find it). Winter writes that some authors are so fearful of making chess seem dull, that they must "spice things up": in Speelman's case with over-the-top prose ('the game looks like a blue-print for a cosmic junkyard!', for example), here with nude pictures.

Matters of taste aside, does this really work? I doubt it. I find it unlikely that anybody who is looking for chess on the Internet would be more likely to visit a chess blog because it has nude pictures. Like the overheated prose in certain chess books, it seems to me that it's more likely to achieve the opposite of the intended effect. Besides, unlike heated prose, nude pictures make the blog inappropriate for children, who are a major target audience for chess, and are distasteful for many men and (especially) women.

Finally, a point of fairness: shouldn't such a blog include a warning that it is inappropriate for children?

Lasker Club Symbol

Credit: Davar, Nov. 4th, 1941
Above is the logo, taken from an advertisement announcing the movement of the club to a new address, of the Emanuel Lasker Chess Club in Tel Aviv. It should not be confused with the club of the same name that operated in Jerusalem. The banner in the middle of the board says קלוב שחמטי -- chess club -- while the motto on the bottom says  עמנואל לאסקר -- Emanuel Lasker. On the right the writing says, 'THE CHESS CLUB "Emanuel Lasker"'.

 P.S. In Hebrew, unlike in English, the noun tends to come first and the adjective or possessive later, e.g., 'house red' (bayit adom) or 'club Lasker' (moadon Lasker) instead of 'red house' or 'Lasker's club'. Also, surprisingly, the official logo of the club had not often been seen in print.

Note 21/4/2015: Typing Error Corrected.