Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Penrose Fainting and Gereben Swindled

Source: Davar, Sept. 25th 1970, p. 16
A frequent correspondent to this blog notified us of an interesting article by the late Zvi Bar-Shira about the Siegen (1970) Olympiad. Bar-Shira notes, among other things (we have only used a small cutting of the entire article) that Penrose had blundered a piece to an opponent from Andorra (Olaf Ulvestad according to the databases), fainting at the board, and being sent back to England.

Bar-Shira also adds that Arno (Aharon) Gereben -- 'an Hungarian Jew who didn't manage to find himself in Israel and emigrated to Switzerland' -- was a victim of 'an unpleasant event. His Indonesian opponent, Haji Ardiansyah (full name from Chessbase's 2005 'Big Database'), had 'smugly declared a stalemate', and both signed the scoresheet. Only after the game both saw it was not a stalemate, but Gereben's appeal of the score was rejected.

The databases bear this story out. Acording to Chessbase's database, they reached the following position:

Ardiansyah (Black) played 71... Qg6+, obviously believing that after the (forced) 72. KxQ Black is stalemated. In fact Black is not (72... Kc6), but the game is recorded in the databases as a draw after Black's 71st move, meaning White indeed accepted Black's claim.

This is somewhat comforting to players on my level. If this sort of fire can consume, as the Talmud says, the Cedars of the Lebanon (or of Siegen, at any rate), the moss on the wall, like ourselves, can feel better about our own lapses.

Graves of Chessmasters -- Moshe Blass

Credit: See Below
A frequent corespondent to this blog has found a picture of the grave, in the Holon cemetary, of Moshe Blass -- or, as is written on the tombstone, 'Moshe Abba Blass, son of Itzhak Meir'.

Chess and Terrorism

Source: Shachmat, vol. 11 no. 10 (Oct. 1972), p. 2 (back side of front cover). 
This is not a political blog, and we make it an explicit point not to go into political issues as such. We note that terrorism, now constantly in the news, is not a new concern -- nor is its connection to chess.

In the above article, by Israeli Eshel, the head of the Israeli Chess Federation, justifies the ICF's decision to send men and women's teams to Skopje, since there were serious concerns about terrorism, in the wake of the attack in the Munich Olympics which killed eleven Israeli athletes.

Eshel notes that the decision was made to participate, but only after serious discussion, an 'clear-cut promise' from the Yugoslav organizers to protect the participants, which included also making special arrangements for the Israeli team (Olimpbase too notes there were, in general, 'extraordinary security arrangements' made due to Munich's shadow). He also notes that the ICF as well as the participants cooperated fully with the Israeli security authorities.

The Olympiad, we now know, passed without any (security) incidents, but it was not an easy decision to make.

In the Beginning: "Al Ha'Mishmar"

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, Sept. 6th, 1945, p. 3.
Chess columns usually start with games and problems together -- usually, 'game 1' and 'problem 1' (or else, "[endgame] study 1"). In Al Ha'Mishmar, the chess column was different: it started in that newspaper, in effect, as a problemist's column, with two problems, on Aug. 23rd, 1945 (p. 3). The first game (from the Moscow championship, 1945) was published only two weeks later, as seen above.

The  Sept. 6th column (below) is also interesting for explaining the history of the column, noting it is in effect a problemist's column, which "migrated" to Al Ha'Mishmar from the Palestine Post, where it was established five months previously, and had found an audience of 'close to sixty solvers'.

As was typical at the time, the tone was explicitly Zionist: 'this is a number no large publication abroad would have been ashamed of... an international [composing] tournament was announced, which will no doubt help publicize our nation in the world'.

In addition, it also notes founding of the Palestinian Problemists' Association, in the Emanuel Lasker club, Tel Aviv, on Sept. 15th.

Source: See above

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Barav - Koch, 1947

The following game was played in Feb. 1947 by Barav against B. Koch in the Lasker chess club in Tel Aviv. It is from Ami Barav's collection of his father's games, the annotations being both by Barav (Sr.) and by Shahar GindiOnce more, Barav is out for tactics, looking for the mating attack -- and finding it:

"Lakser Club", Tel Aviv
Date "1947.02.??"
Israel Barav – B. Koch
Irregular Opening (A00)
Annotations: Barav & Shahar Gindi

1. d4 Nf6 2. e3 e6 3. Bd3 b6 4. Ne2 Bb7 5. O-O c5 6. c3 cxd4 7. exd4 Be7 8. Nd2 O-O 9. f4 Nc6 10. Nf3 Rc8 11. Ng3 h6 12. Ne5 Bd6 (?! -- White has been building up without interference for several moves, this move further hinders Black's ability to prepare for an attack -- S. G.) 13. Qe2 Qc7 14. Bd2 g6 15.ae1 Kg716. f5 (! White's army is fully targeted toward Black's king and the f5 break decides - S.G.) Ne7 17. fxe6 fxe6 (17…dxe6 18.Rxf6! Kxf6 19.Bxh6 and the king is helpless -- S.G. )18. Nxg6 (18.Bxg6 is better-- Barav. Indeed, 18.Bxg6 Nxg6 19.Nh5+ Nxh5 20.Qxh5 +- the knight on e5 prevents the Bxh2+ resource that Black had in the game -- S.G.)18… Bxg3 (? 18…Nxg6! 19.Nh5+ Nxh5 20.Qxh5 Bxh2+! 21.Kh1?! Bxg2+! 22.Kxg2 Qg3+ 24. Kh1 Qxd3= -- S.G.) 19. Nxe7 Bxe1

20.Bxh6+ ! Kf7 ( 20…Kxh6 21. Qe3+ Kg7 21.Qg5+ Kh8 22.Qh6 mate; 20…Kh8 21. Bxf8+- -- S.G.) 21. Nx8 Rxc8 22. Bg5 Rh8 23. Rxf6+ Black Resigns (1-0).

The game is also available in the "games" section of Barav's memorial web site. (Note: one might have to "reload" or "refresh" the pages on the web site to see the latest update). 

Chess on the Front Page

Source: Ha'Olam Ha'ze ["This World"], Year 16 no. 820 (July 9th, 1953), front cover.
We already noted in the blog that Moshe Czerniak was mentioned on the cover of Ha'Olam Ha'Ze in 1952. That, however, was the back cover. About a year and a half later, he was there again -- on the front cover, with the title "Chess Master Czerniak -- in the game of kings, the little pawn decides".

The article itself, on pp. 13-14, gives a "standard" outline of chess history -- from the famous legend about its invention in India by a priest to teach the king a lesson about the limits of his power, to the fact that many Jews were champions, to Czerniak's biography. It notes how he studies chess in Paris, where he went to study chemistry, from Alekhine, noting his devotion to spreading and teaching chess in Israel, and his tournament successes.

One point of detail: it notes that Czerniak drew his first game with Capablanca in the 1939 Olympiad. The paper claims that, while Czerniak was a pawn ahead when the game was adjurned, Capablanca analyzed with Alekhine and found a 16-move drawing combination.

In fact, the game only lasted 42 moves so there was no question of a '16 move drawing combination' (as the game score itself makes clear). It was Capablanca who was a pawn ahead, after winning Czerniak's isolated e-pawn in the middle game (17... Nxe4). In any case, it would be extremely unlikely Capablanca would analyze with Alekhine, of all people, given their mutual enmity.

An interesting linguistic point addressed in the article is how to spell 'chess' in Hebrew. This article, and Ha'Olam Ha'Ze's articles about chess in general, deliberately  use the spelling שחמת, claiming the more common spelling שחמט is wrong, since שחמת, means 'the shah [שח, king] is dead [מת]', which is the correct description of the game's purpose, to "kill" the king, as the author explains in a footnote on p. 13.The author is probably wrong on this point. שחמט is preferred today not 'by mistake' but because it means literally 'the king is captured (or more literally, toppled, or defeated - מט).

The article also has (p. 13) a nice photograph of Keres playing Czerniak in the 1952 Helsinki Olympiad, a game eventually drawn in 90 moves after tenacious defense from Keres, a pawn down in a knights' ending:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Another Barav Victory

The masthead of Marmorosh's Ha'Sachmat (Tel Aviv), vol. 1 no. 1, March/April 1932.
Marmorosh had attempted to publish a chess magazine in 1932, named Ha'Shachmat -- literally 'The Chess', meaning, of course, simply 'Chess'. To the best of my knowledge this was the one and only issue.

However, it has some historical importance, in publishing games played in Palestine, or by Palestinian players, which would not have otherwise been known. One of these games -- published on p. 12 -- is by Israel Barav (Rabinovich). It was played against Braun [ph. spelling from the Hebrew], 'in a tournament in Berlin in 1931', as Marmorosh says.As usual for Barav, it was an enjoyable attacking game. The punctuation and annotation are Fritz 8's unless otherwise stated. We note that more about Barav can be found at this site.

Barav, Israel - Braun

​D00: 1. d4 d5: Unusual lines 

1. d4 d5 2. 3. e3 Nf6 3. Bd3 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. f4 e6 6. Nd2 ('to prevent 6... Ne4' - Marmorosh) 6... Bd6 7. Nf3 a6 8. 0-0 b5 9. Ng5 Bd7 10. Kh1 h6 11. Nf3 b4 12. Ne5 Qa5 ​

​13. e4 dxe4? 

13... cxd4? 14. Nxc6! with 15. e5 -- Marmorosh; but Fritz thinks 13... bxc3! holds. 14. Nxe4 Nxe4 15. Bxe4 Qc7 16. dxc5! (Marmorosh; but Fritz prefers 16. Nxd7) 16...Bxe5 17. fxe5 bxc3 18. bxc3 0-0?

'This loses immediately' - Marmorosh, and Fritz agrees, to a nice combination:  ​19. Bxh6! Qxe5 (19... gxh6 20. Qg4+ and wins [Fritz] due to 21. Rf6 [Marmorosh]). 20. Bxg7! Kxg7 (20... Qxg7 21. Rf3) 21 Qxg4+ Black resigns (1-0).

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Zvi Bar-Shira, 1932 - 2016


We note sadly that our colleague in Israeli chess history, Zvi Bar-Shira, had passed away two days ago (Thursday). A reporter by profession, he was active in Israeli chess for over 60 years as a judge and organizer. For a Hebrew-language obituary by Sivan Hadad see here, from the ICF's web site.

Karff Visiting Israel

Image Credit: Chess Review, June/July 1942

We have occasionally mentioned Mona May Karff in this blog. Our correspondent, Moshe Roytman, notes that in the same article from Al Ha'Mishmar noted in the previous post (August 12th 1949, p. 8), Karff is mentioned -- in the language typical at the time for the Israeli press -- as the 'famous Israeli player', which apparently just happened to be 'USA [women's] champion for many years'. The article also adds that  and is 'currently in the country' (presumably on a family visit).

The implied, though not explicitly stated, reason for treating Karff as an Israeli "temporarily" in the USA despite the fact that she had left then-Palestine in the late 30s and settled in Boston for the rest of her life, is made clear by her obituary (see link above): she was the daughter of Aviv Ratner, a noted Zionist who later became one of Israel's richest citizens. It was at the time considered almost heretical to admit publicly that a person -- especially from a prominent Zionist family -- would prefer to live abroad.