Monday, May 16, 2016

Tartakower & His Parents' Death

Tartakover's Parents. Credit: See Below

It is often stated that Savielly Tartakover (or Tartakower)'s parents were killed in a pogrom. A frequent correspondent to this blog notes that an excellent article about his early days, recently published online (in Russian), found the exact details: they were in fact killed in a robbery gone bad by one of their shop's workers. The article has numerous rare photographs, including those of his parents (above), their shop, and much much more. The article is -- if I am reading the Russian correctly -- by Sergey Borochov.

More on Rivka Lichtenfeld

A regular correspondent with this blog notes that Rivka Lichtenfeld was born Rivka Chwoles, to Chava-Leah and Moshe Chwoles. According to her testimony in Yad Va'Shem, her entire family -- both her parents and her three sisters -- were all murdered in 1942 near Vilno, Poland (both links partially in English and Partially in Hebrew). Such a life story was by no means unusual for holocaust survivors who arrived in Israel -- or anywhere else -- after the war; they were often the only remnant of their entire family.

In addition, Lichtenfeld (who is still alive, at 92) had recently been -- finally -- awarded her fair share of her late husband's property; i.e., the entire apartment she lives in now belongs officially to her, and not half to her and half to the state's general trustee. The mix-up was due to the fact that the Israeli ministry of the Interior decided she was divorced, when in fact she was not, as the link (from the Ynet web site, Feb. 2nd 2012, in Hebrew, by Yair Harush) notes.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Another Chess Stamp -- and Three First-Day Covers

Image Credit: Israel Post

A new(ish) chess stamp, to mark the European Individual Chess Championship of 2015 which took place in Jerusalem. The Israeli Philatelic Society also has the first-day cover:

Image Credit: Israeli Philatelic Foundation

As well as the first-day cover (from the same web site) of the 1964 and 1976 Chess Olympiad stamps:

It seems, based both from philatelic sources and on the opinion of various chess players / fans I've talked to about the issue, that this is the first chess stamp Israel had issued since 1976 -- i.e., a gap of 39 years! One possible exception is a single stamp from 1990, showing a chess board on a computer screen. But it is dedicated not to chess or to any particular chess event, but to 'computer games'.

From Harvard University

Image Credit: See Below
Edward Winter, in Chess Notes 9850 (link here, scroll down for the relevant C. N. Item) that Harvard Library has a collection of chess photos from Palestine / Israel, and gives a link to the relevant Harvard web site. The above is the simultaneous display of Rubinstein vs. Marmorosh, which we often mentioned in this blog. The Harvard web site has a much higher resolution picture.

To the best of my knowledge this is the only surviving picture of the display in question. The note (in Hebrew script) at the bottom right says Plastica / Tel Aviv. "Plastica" was, presumably, the name of the shop which developed the prints.

In addition, notes Winter, it has a link to numerous photographs of the 1964 Olympiad taken by the photographer Ya'akov Agor, (יעקב אגור -- his name, the Hebrew, or original, version of 'Jacob', is also sometimes spelled Yakov, Ya'acov, etc.). He was a photographer for various Israeli newspapers, especially of cultural figures, as this link for example notes. One good example is an informal photograph of Aloni (obviously in a private home, not in the tournament hall):

Details: see above.
Or, obviously from the same roll of film, those who wish to know how Haifa looked at the time, on a "regular" street, not in or near the tournament hall:

Details: see above.
But these are two of literally hundreds of such photos, arrange on Harvard's site in a few groups of ca. 150 photographs each. It has numerous photographs of chess personalities, better and lesser known.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Bad Simultaneous Display Results

Source: The Atlantic
When one plays simultaneous displays as often as Moshe Czerniak did, it is of no surprised that sometimes one slips up. Davar notes (Jan. 12th, 1951, p. 23) that Czerniak had 'struggled in Hadera', giving a simultaneous display at that town the previous Saturday (i.e. Jan. 6th, 1951) that ended + 18 =1 -10 (!). Do the readers know of any worse results in simultaneous disaplys by leading masters?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Steinitz, Insanity, and Jews

Chess Notes 9830, by Edward Winter, has long quotes from the Pall Mall Gazette, of which Isidor Gunsberg was chess editor, concerning Wilhelm Steinitz's incarceration in an insane asylum in Moscow. Of particular interest to this blog is the following quote (see Winter's post for full details):

Source: Pall Mall Gazette, April 5th 1897, p. 10.
Steinitz's decision to write a book about Judaism in chess to combat antisemitism is remarkable. In fact, this report shows that Steinitz had, at least, began writing the book (hiring a typist to do so). Previous reports about it in the Gazette's chess column (see the link to Winter's C.N. 9830 above for details) call it a 'philosophical' book which Steinitz had contemplated writing for years, and that he 'raved' about it in Moscow. It seems -- unsurprisingly under the circumstances -- that the book was never finished.

It should be noted, in fairness, that while Steinitz's behavior was seen, from the reports quoted by Winter, as odd enough to require hospitalization, the belief in astral communication (with others distant, or with the dead) or attempting to employ it was, during the turn of the century, by no means an unusual idea. It was the heyday of numerous psychics and seers, and many people from W. B. Yeats to T. A. Edison to A. C. Doyle were either believers or at least considered trying to make such communications worth the effort. Perhaps they were naive or even foolish in this, but not insane.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Fasher Victory

We have often mentioned Eliyahu Fasher in this blog, but we didn't often see games by him. Here is one such game, from 64 Mishbatzot no. 2 (March 1956), p. 32, played in the 1956 Western Galille section of the Kibbutzim (the "Histadrut Ha'Ovedet") championship:

Eliayahu Fasher -- A. Nahir
Annotator: Moshe Czerniak

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Nxd4 exd4 5. Bc4 d6 Weak; the famous game Anderssen - Lange, 1859, continued: 5... Nf6 6. e5 d5 7. Bb3 Bg4! 8. f3 Ne4! 9. O-O d3!! 10. fxg4 Bc5+ 11. Kh1 Ng3+ 12. hxg3 Qg5 13. Rf5 h5!! 14. gxh5 Qxf5 15. g4 Rxh5+ 16. gxh5 Qe4 and white resigned due to a mate in five
starting with 17. Qf3 Qh4+ etc. 6. O-O Nf6 7. c3 dxc3 8. Qb3 d5

Even after 8... Qe7 White retains the initiative: 9. Nxc3, d4, etc. 9. exd5 Bd6 10. Re1+ Kf8 11. dxc3 a6? The well known combination 11... Bxh2+ 12. Kxh2 Ng4+ 13. Kg1 Qh4 fails here to 14. Bf4; but Black could have tried 11... Ng4! with chances of a draw. [Czerniak gives some possibilities here - A. P.]. In any case, due to the danger to [Black's] kingside, there is no justification for a passive move on the queenside. 12. Bg5 Bxh2+? now black falls in the trap, and instead of winning a pawn... gets mated:

13. Kxh2 Ng4+ 14. Kg1 Qxg5 15. Qb4+ 1-0

A Snapshot

Who, exactly, were the masters, or international masters, or gradnmasters, etc. in Israel in the 1950s? Wonder no more: the complete list was, helpfully, given by Moshe Czerniak in first issue of 64 Mishbatzot (Feb. 1956, p. 17):
Source: see above
It is noted how these include the "old guard" who was in Palestine before the war (Porat, Czerniak, Barav, Knaizer, Mandelbaum, Macht, FischerDobkin, Beutum, and Smiltiner and Blass-- we are using Gaige's spelling), but also the new arrivals, AloniDyner, and Oren, as well as new blood, in particular, Perstiz. This did not mean other talented players did not exist; only they didn't yet have time to gain titles.

This is listed in the same page has an article by a visitor, Saul Wachs (USA), who notes how chess advanced in Israel and, in particular, its popularity in the kibbutzim and other agricultural communes, not just in the large cities.

A Nice Lichtenfeld Victory

This time, from Moshe Czerniak's 64 Mishbatzot [64 Squares], No. 9-10 (Sept.-Oct.) 1957, p. 300, her victory over Nehama Margalit in the 1957 Israeli women's championship (Czerniak's annotations):

Margalit, Nehama - Lichtenfeld, Rivka

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Bg5 h6 4. Bd2 c5 5. Nf3 b6 6. e3 Bb7 7. Be2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Nc3 d5 10. Qb3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Bxf3 12. gxf3 cxd4 13. exd4 

13... Nc6! 14. d5 Na5 15. Qa4 Nxc4 16. Qxc4 exd5 17. Qd3 Qd7 18. f4 Rad8 19. Qg3 d4 20. Ne2 Ne4 21. Qd3 Nxd2 22. Qxd2 Qg4+ 23. Kh1 Qf3+ 24. Kg1 Rd6 25. Rfe1 Rg6+ 26. Ng3 Bf6 27. Rac1 h5 28. Kf1 h4 29. f5 

29... hxg3 30. fxg6 gxh2! and mate next move (0-1).