Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chess Envelope (and the Identity of a "Mystery Player")

The above envelope, which was given to the ICA's chess house by Eliezer Pe'er, has the signatures of (most of) the players who participated in the 1958 international tournament in Israel--the first of its kind held in the country.

The signatures include those of Samuel "Sammy" Reshevsky, Arthur Dunkelblum, Robert Wade, Itzchak Aloni, Arie Rosenberg, Ignacy Branicki, Moshe Czerniak, Carel van der Berg, Rudy Blumfeld, Yosef Porat, Israel Dyner, and Silvan Burstein. Laszlo Szabo and Raphael Persitz did not sign.

Burstein--a "young master from France", who "played in the 1954 and 1956 Olympiads" (as Dan Klein reprts in Al Ha'Mishmar, Nov. 10th, 1958), is, for some reason, not mentioned at all in Jeremy Gaige's Chess Personalia, while chessbase's 3-million-strong 2005 database only has "S. Burstein". Klein also reports that Branicki's second surname was Grunfeld (not mentioned in Gaige or chessbase's database) and that he spoke fluent Hebrew, which he learned as a child in the cheder (Judaism's equivalent of primary school.)

Tomasz Lissowski adds (6/9/2012): 

Izaak GRYNFELD was a strong chess player in Lodz in 1930s. Nobody knows where Grynfeld spent the years of WWII. He participated several times in the championship of Poland (see wikipedia in English).

The official in Polish chess organisation in the 1950s. He translated one chess book from Russian into Polish (as I remember, it was Keres' openings manual). Ca. 1955 he changed his family name - one day he became Ignacy Branicki. It was not such a rare case, many Poles (not only of Jewish roots) did the same after the WWII, from various reasons.

Grynfeld adopted the name of aristocratic family, the prince (!) family, which produced a line of marshals, archbishops and senators. Also first name "Ignacy" was obsolete and rather typical for wealthy noble families (remember Ignacio Loyola!). His biography has many "white spots". Even his date of birth is doubtful. According to some sources Branicki was much younger than Grynfeld - but it is one person!
Mr. Lissowski describes Grynfeld's life and chess career in a two-part article, "Zapomniany Polski Olimpijczyk - Pogromca Donnera"  [Forgotten Polish Olympic Player - Donner's "Crusher"] in Vistula Chess Monthly

I add that changing one's name to a aristocratic one happens also in other places. There is the famous case of a Jewish immigrant in Boston, related by Isaac Asimov in Asimov Laughs Again, originally named Kabotinsky or something similar, who changed his named legally to Cabot -- a name of a very aristocratic Boston family. The Cabot family appealed, but the judge ruled that so long as he does not say or imply he is part of the famous family, he can be called by any name he wishes... 

No comments:

Post a Comment