Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In Memorium: Yosef "Tommy" Lapid.

Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, who had recently died, was a well-known Israeli journalist, politician, and chess fan. Among other things, he was the head of the Israeli Chess Association (ICA), and (before that) the editor of its chess magazine. A very good journalist and editor, he was responsible for greatly improving the magazine's content and quality.

During his time as the head of the ICA, membership greatly increased. He was instrumental in getting the ICA a lot more sponsorship--both of wealthy donors (including, as he told me, talking one donor into giving money to chess instead of to a veterinary hospital...) and of strong international chess players. The most famous is Garry Kasparov, with whom he's photographed above.

It was due to his friendship more than any other reason that Kasparov often visited Israel, and allowed his name to be used (for a year) in the title of the new ICA chess center in Tagore St. in Ramat Aviv. Such celebrity sponsorship could only be dreamed of previously.

Finally, despite not knowing me from Adam when I first contacted him for help about chess history, Lapid--a modest, charming man--not only agreed to meet me, but was extremely helpful, giving me free access to his chess archives as well as answering all my questions. A planned one-hour interview stretched to over three hours.

Requiescat in pace.

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