Friday, July 10, 2009


Dr. Menachem Oren
. Source: Shlomo Kandelshine's book (see previous post), p. 8.

Dr. Menachem Oren, Israel's first chess champion and (according to many I have interviewed, as well as many books) the strongest player of his time in Israel. He was, inter alia, the first Israeli chess champion -- in 1951 -- as well as Lasker chess club's first board when the Israeli chess league was launched in 1954. He was was a teacher of physics in the famous Gimnasiya Hertzeliya high school in Tel Aviv. That, and that alone, was his profession. Chess was always a hobby, and, indeed, he often said that for (almost?) everybody -- chess should be a hobby, too. From Kandelshine's book:
As a hobby I like chess a lot, as a profession, no. It gnaws on one's nerves and gives no satisfaction or money. It is very hard to advance in it, and no easier to make a living from it. (p. 21)

I was not excited by my victory [in the Israeli championship, 1951- A.P.], nor would I have been excited by a defeat. I was very excited for only one moment -- when David Ben Gurion shook my hand... (p. 21)

One should not overindulge in chess. When it becomes the main thing it hurts man's ability to function, his life's work. (p. 42)

Chess is not popular among the young today, and when it is practiced, it's in an unhealthy manner. Instead of many youths dealing a little with chess, a few youths deal far too much with it. Chess is good only as a complementing device for an harmonic education. (p. 42)

I was Oren's student in high school and also knew him previously from the Lasker chess club. As I entered the class for the first time, he told me: 'Here is not the Lasker club!' (student's reminiscences, p. 45)