Friday, August 15, 2008

The Mysterious Dr. Alfred (Aharon) Weiner

In Yosef Porat's and Eliyahu Fasher's book, Yosef Porat, Aman ha'Sachmat ("Yosef Porat, The Chess Master"), appear this photo of Porat's uncle, Dr. Aharon Weiner. Adds Fasher (p. 11, my additions in brackets):

"He [Porat] learned chess at the age of 9 from a relative, his late uncle Dr. Alfred (Aharon) Weiner, a lawyer first in Berlin and later in Jerusalem. This man had an extremely deep understanding of chess, but for certain reasons he didn't play in a single tournament, and limited himself to offhand games with friends. He had one of the largest chess libraries [in Israel], which he donated to the city of Jerusalem.

"For decades Weiner had corresponence with Porat, starting in Berlin in 1925 and ending soon before his [Weiner's] death in 1971. These letters are saved in Porat's house in three thick folders. Some of it is discussin about general matters, but Weiner would usually would get Porat's games and comment on them. Occassionally a certain subject would be discussed for a few letters. These letters greatly influenced Porat: 'Neither once nor twice I realize where I've gone wrong.'"

Porat was an International Master when there were less than 200 IMs in the world. By today's standards he would have been at least a Grandmaster, probably a rather strong one. Mr. Weiner is a unique, or at least very rare, case of a chess enthusiast who hasn't played in a single tournament--and yet has a Grandmaster's understanding of the game.

One of the uneforseen downsides of the chess programs' revolution is that, today, it is hard to tell by someone's analysis how good a player they are. Everybody can use Fritz! Back then, however, when someone gave you grandmaster-level analysis of your games, you could be sure they really knew chess.

No comments:

Post a Comment