Saturday, May 9, 2009

The big Fight

Chess organizations are somewhat notorious for their infights. This fate had also touched Israeli chess. In the 1980s, the Israeli Chess Federation (ICF) had experienced a "insider's revolt", in which certain players and activists (e.g., Almog Burstein, Avraham Kaldor, and Efraim Carmel, among others) fought the ICA over certain matters, and even left the ICA to found a competing organization -- the Israeli Chess Players' Association (ICPA) -- with its own magazine, Shachmat be'Yisrael [Chess in Israel], competing with the ICF's Ha'Sachmat [Chess (lit. 'The Chess')].

As an example of the two sides we can see the above pictures. On the bottom, on ICF stationary, we have a letter from Ya'akov Hadasi, the head of the ICF, to Yehezkel Kalnitzki, the head of the ICF's inspection committee ( va'adat ha'bikoret), explaining the ICF does not recognize the ICPA and that it is unacceptable that Kaldor, an inspection committee member, tries to make an inspection of the ICF's files: 'the real goal of this inspection is to look for a specific subject in the Federation's files... with a serious suspicion that anything found will be passed on... to organizations that do not have the ICF's interests at heart'. (Source: Eliyahu Fasher's files, Yad Tabenkin archives.)

On the other hand, above, we have a (small section) of a long article ('Is there Justice?') by Efraim Carmel, complaining -- among many other things -- that a complaint letter he sent to the president of the ICF (Yossi Hachmi) about the behavior of the VP (Yidael Stepak) had arrived in Stepak's hands, and he -- in retaliation -- decided to try Carmel in the ICF's internal court for 'unsportmanlike behavior'. After citing the unobjective nature of the court's composition and debates, Carmel notes that, after a second appeal he made to the ICF's highest internal court, he was cleared and the higher court had been very critical of the lower courts' actions. (Source: Sachmat be'Yisrael, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 28-30, Feb. 1993).

As an historian, it is not my job to decide who is the angel and who is the devil in this debate. It is to discover the facts, using original source material and interviews. After 15 years, it's time for an objective investigation.

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