Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why I Haven't Posted Much this Month

Missile explosions above Tel Aviv last week (top picture) and Herzliya today (bottom). Credit: A. P., taken from cell phone.
Just a quick note. I apologize for having been rather slow to update the blog this month. Hamas ate my homework, as one can see in the above pictures. Hope to get back to the regular posting schedule soon.

By the way, today I was late for a meeting. 'Why are you late?' the person waiting for me asked. 'Sorry, missile attack stopped the traffic for a few minutes', I answered.

Don't you just hate when that happens?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chess Caricatures

Credit: See Below
In Chess Notes no. 8721 (scroll down required) the unlikely claim that this caricature of Fischer was in fact "by himself" was discussed by Edward Winter. Unsurprisingly, as Winter notes in Chess Notes no.8724 (scroll down required), it turns out that it was not by Fischer, but by the late Berislav Petric, as his daughter, Marina Petric, notes in her very interesting web site. Like father, like daughter: he clearly passed on his artistic talent to her.

Following the link Winter gives, I add that except this particular image, there are many other wonderful caricatures there. I add many of them are well known to chess "old timers" from various publications, but rarely given credit when originally published in them, at least to my admittedly vague recollection. Her web site is well worth a visit, including the non-chess content.

P. S.

In order not to violate copyright, I am only giving here the same image Mr. Winter used, which is one of many found on her web page. I believe this is "fair use" in this context.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Computer Problems / Birthday Announcements

Picture credit here.

Due to computer crash that temporarily doesn't allow me to access my files (I have backup but the computer itself is on the fritz) - oh, and this "war in the promised land" (again) thingy going on - I will only be posting quick notes in the next week or two. One such quick note is from Moshe Roytman, who reminds us that Luba Kristol is 70. She was one of Israel's top female players when she was active, winning two world correspondence championships (for women). Happy birthday!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Untimely Death Notices

Photo Credit: Quotespedia

Edward Winter notes in his article Chess and Untimely Death Notices that 'a surprising number of publications had misguidedly shovelled into the grave various chess figures who were, to a greater or lesser degree, still alive.' The (currently) last item on that list (also found in C. N. 8682) concerns Sammy Greenberg, whom Marmorosh had mistakenly killed off, as we had noticed while reviewing Marmorosh's chess columns from the 1930s. Full details found at the links provided. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Uri Avner, 1941-2014

Uri Avner. Credit: wfcc.

We are sad to report that the Israeli player and composer, Uri Avner, had passed away this Thursday. A brief biography of his problemistic achievements is found here. The same site also has a notice of his passing.

He was a strong OTB player (e.g., IDF champion 1961, member of the Israeli Students' Olympiad team a few times, etc.), with a FIDE rating of about 2250. But he was best known for his problemistic achievements, having left competitive chess for problem composing ca. 1970.

There, he made Israel a powerhouse in the field (organizing three PCCC congresses in Israel for example), and reached the very top of the organization -- the head of the FIDE Permanent Commission for Chess Compositions. He was also a GM for chess composition.

There is a lengthy, and very good, obituary in Hebrew here  by Ram Soffer, from which the above summary is taken. It is at the Israeli Chess Federation's web site. 

There is also one of his last -- and very entertaining -- lectures online, at this link, and one can see a few of his games here.

On a personal note, Avner, a psychologist by training, had a very acid and funny sense of humor. Three examples from my personal experience:

(After he got off the phone with a certain chess organizer who was, and still is, very good as an organizer, but only a mediocre player): "Ever since he broke 1750 in the rating list, he demands the honor such an achievement entails."

(Discussing with me whom to invite to an ICF meeting): "The only two people I know who would draw a crowd are myself and Adrian Schwartz ... [a chess playing serial rapist who just got paroled - A. P.]"

(About his composing style): "I compose anti-Merediths. That's the number of pieces left off the board when I'm done."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mona Karff -- Update

Source: Davar, 27/5/1938, p. 4

We have previously posted that Mona May Karff had been the first Palestinian World Chess Champion. Originally we noted that there was no notice of her achievements in the Jewish press, perhaps because she saw Palestine as a "stepping stone" to the USA and never was a "real" zionist.

It turns out this is not quite true: as noted above, when she won the USA women's championship (9.5/10!) this was noted in the Jewish press, which notes her play was praised, and her photo given, 'in all the American papers' (presumably, this last claim was not intended literally).

What is interesting is that the Palestinian part of her career and life is emphasized and all else is not. Her success in the 'Stockholm Olympiad' (actually the women's world championship held concurrently with the Olympiad) is mentioned, presumably because she represented Palestine (that time the Palestinian team did not participate), and spends considerable space on the Palestinian part of her biography.

For example, her birthplace (Bessarabia) isn't mentioned, but only that 'She emigrated to Palestine with her parents when very young'. It is also mention that 'after learning Hebrew [she] joined the Kfar Giladi kibbutz.' She is also describe in the first sentence of the article as being 'from Tel Aviv', and only in the very last as now being 'a resident of Boston'.

It is not wise to hang too much on the wording of a newspaper paragraph, but it is typical, in our view, of the explicitly zionist bent of the newspaper reporting in Palestine at the time, in particular Marmorosh's column.

Books and Magazines

Above we see two ways in which Marmorosh's chess column in Davar became a de facto clearing house for all matters concerning chess in Palestine. In the mid to late 30s, apparently a drip of foreign chess publications began to reach Palestine, and Marmorosh was the go-between. In both the above, typical, extracts from his column from the late 30s, we see this.

The first -- brought to our attention by our correspondent Moshe Roytman -- is from April 15th, 1938. It advertises two books (Championship Chess by P. J. Sergeant and Max Euwe by Hans Kmoch), and adds (the last paragraph) that 'large publishers now often send their books to the chess department's management [i.e., Marmorosh himself -- A. P.] for it to advertise. Some publishers noted their willingness to give a discount to those who order from Palestine'. This surely make economic sense -- publishers giving discounts to enter a new market, once they discovered it exists.

We note that the same occurred with magazines. The bottom selection, from Nov. 26th, 1937, notes that one can buy copies of the British magazine Chess at the 'newspaper kiosk next to Davar, and that those who wish to buy a subscription to 'immediatelly contact the chess department's management'.