Saturday, April 5, 2014

Kniazer's Dates

Yisrael Yosef Kniazer. Source: E. A. Mandelbaum & R. Persitz Yi'srael Be'Olympiadot: Helsinki - Amsterdam - Moskva - Skirat Ptichot U'Mivchar Siyumim [Israel at the Chess Olympiades [sic], Helsinki - Amsterdam - Moscow - A Review of the Openings and Selected Endings. Tel Aviv: Yeduha Marcus Press, 1958, p. 95.

Several correspondents, including Moshe Roytman, notified me that Tel Aviv's Chevra Kadisha web site (link in Hebrew) notes that Kniazer had been born on April 1st, 1894, and died on May 4th, 1958. Thanks to all the correspondents!


Taking a page from Edward Winter's Chess Notes, perhaps the readers might be interested in solving a puzzle about what famous chess personality is in the picture. Who, for example, is this person?

To non-Israeli readers: this is a fair question. He is a very well-known chess personality. Hint: the photograph was taken during his visit to Israel in the 1970s.

More About Avraham Levonsky, the First Secretary of the Palestine Chess Federation

Avraham Levonsky. Credit: see below.

We have noted before that Avraham Levonsky was the first secretary of the Palestine Chess Federation (his brother, Nachum Levinsky, was elected the first treasurer in the same meeting).

Moshe Roytman now informs us that a capsule biography of him (from which the above photo is taken, in British Uniform; link in Hebrew) was published in Davar on Feb. 21st, 1947, p. 23, on the occasion of him winning the [1946] Tel Aviv championship -- ahead of Mendelbaum, Kniazer, etc. The full crosstable is found, e.g., in Shaul Hon's Ptichot Be'Sachmat [Chess Openings], Shach Pulishers: 1964 [1957], p. 90.

Of particular interest is the claim that he started 'getting interested in chess at age 16', which is relatively late; his winning Rome's city championship in 1933 when he studied there; and playing a match against 'Bizzio [ph. spelling -- ביזיאו], the 'Roman champion', winning 6:2. It is also mentioned that when he was in active servive in the British Army (1943-1946), he 'organized simultaneous displays in the Jewish companies'. Surpisingly, his role in the Palestine Chess Federation is not mentioned.

These companies -- which served in branches as varied as the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps to transportation and camouflage companies -- were the forerunners of the more famous Jewish Brigade, est. late 1944. More information (in Hebrew) about these units can be found here.

Lakser Street, Part II

Davar, March 17th, 1950, p. 29. See below for translation

We had already noted that there is an Emanuel Lasker street in Tel Aviv. Our frequent correspondent Moshe Roytman had found the date the street was named after him. This short notice, 'A Street in Tel Aviv Named After Emanuel Lakser', tells us the Tel Aviv Lasker chess club's management asked the city council to name a street after Lasker, and the city council accepted this 'a few days ago'.

'This Man had Murdered Me.'

Ha'aretz,, Dec. 12th,  1932, p. 1. See below for translation.

Raafi Perstiz was mentioned in this blog many times. He came from a family which had several prominent members. His mother, Shoshana Persitz (1892-1969) was a prominent Zionist activist and educator, which, inter alia, was a member of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) in the first three Paeliaments, and won the Israel Prize for education.

Shoshana Persitz [or Parsitz]. Source: Wikipedia.

His grandfather -- Shoshana's father -- was Hillel Zlatopolsky, the founder of Keren Hayesod, philanthropist, author, and much more. When Zlatopolsky was assassinated in Paris in 1932, this was front-page news throughout the Jewish world -- including in Palestine, where Ha'aretz (above) put the news on its front page, and added a large death notice on the same page, noting that "Our dear father, Mr. Hillel Zlatopolsky, passed away in Paris on Sunday, 12 Kislev [Of the Hebrew year 5693, i.e., Dec. 11th, 1932 - A.P.]", signed by "Shoshana Persitz and her family".

Zlatopolsky was assassinated by a disgruntled employee, Leon Laval, who committed suicide. Doar Ha'Yom reported, two days later (Dec. 15th, 1932), also on the first page, that the murder scene was especially dramatic: after hearing shots from his office, the police was called, finding the shooter lying on the floor after having shot himself, and Zlatopolsky, 'deathly pale', whispering that 'this man had murdered me, shot me in the stomach' and asking the police to inform (inter alia) his son.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kinazer's 120th Anniversary?

Our frequent correspondent, Moshe Roytman, who is especially interested in anniversaries of chess players, notes -- based on Raafi Persitz's book about him, Ha'Derech Le'Nitzachon Be'Sachmat [The Way to Victory in Chess], which we often mentioned in this blog -- that Kniazer was probably born ca. 1894. Update: exact birth date found -- see post from 5/4/2014 about Kniazer's dates. 

In particular Mr. Roytman found the above note from Doar Ha'Yom (March 14th, 1926, p. 4) which notes that Kniazer was Egypt's (!) chess champion, and -- in particular -- a 'few years ago' was the only winner in a simultaneous game against Capablanca (40 boards), as well as noting a recent Haifa simul he gave (+18 -1 =1).

Kniazer was probably born ca. 1894, based on the book. But even Gaige's Chess Personalia has no exact  birth (or, for that matter, death) date for Kniazer ('Keniazer' in Gaige's spelling -- perhaps a better transliteration from the Hebrew than 'Kniazer').

Why? Roytmann also notes [link in Hebrew] that, in a (justifiably positive) review of Persitz's book about Kniazer, Shaul Hon quotes Persitz as saying that he found little biographical data about Kniazer because... 'he would never speak about himself'. The complete review -- in Hebrew -- with a game fragment, more biographical detail, Persitz's comments, etc. -- is here (Maariv, Oct. 2, 1959, p. 15).

Friday, March 7, 2014

An Earlier Youth Tournament -- and Which Hon is this?

Source: Davar, March 19th, 1936, p. 6
The same column mentioned in the previous post (which see for credits) also had another interesting note: of a school match, which predates the 'Palestinian Youth Championship' mentioned here, between the Montefiore and the 'Trade High School' [בית הספר למסחר] schools which ended "4.5:3:5" (sic -- 3 draws and one win; the score was 2.5:1.5) in the latter's favor.

Of interest is that one of the Montefiore pupils was named 'Hon' -- is this perhaps the same Shaul Hon (1922-2009, from 1925 in Palestine, according to his Hebrew Wikipedia page) that later became Israel's most prolific chess author and was often mentioned in this blog? The age and location, at least, fits.