Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chess in the Kibbutz and the IDF

Photo credit: see below.

In the
above article, Natan Jungreisz (Geremy Gaige's English transliteration), speaks of 30 years (1955-1985) of the 'inter-kibutz' (sic) tournament. I am not sure what the source of the article is, as I found it as a cutout in Eliyahu Fasher's archives.

Every year, each of the three streams (political movements) within the kibbutz movement would send a team, and all three teams would meet in a tournament held in a 'neutral' location -- Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the IDF -- with the hosts adding a fourth team. Jungreisz, who managed the tournament for these 30 years, mentions inter alia:

1). When he took over the new tournament, the entire kibbutz movement had only 4 or 5 rated players (!) and now (1985) there are over 1000.

2). Moshe Czerniak was contacted to help promote chess in the kibbutz, had visited 60 different kibbutzim within a year, giving a simultaneous display here, a lecture there, a 'best move competition' in the third place, etc. This means, practically, a weekly visit to a remote location -- no mean feat for a middle-aged man in 1950s Israel.

3). In the 1985 tournament, this time with the host team (as in the first, 1955 tournament) being the IDF, the army chief of the general staff (at the time, Moshe Levi) came late ('he has more pressing commitments', notes Jungreisz) but gave a speech praising the connection 'between the IDF and the kibbutz movement, as well as that between the IDF and chess, which allows the soldier to acquire many good and important qualities'.

Was there ever another chess tournament (in any country) when the chief of the general staff of a country's armed forces was present and gave a speech praising chess?

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