Friday, May 7, 2010

Euwe in Israel and Chess in the Kibbutzim

Max Euwe (right), Eliezer Pe'er, and Euwe'e wife in Israel, early 60s. Photo: Eliezer Pe'er.

GM Max Euwe, world champion and head of FIDE, was a friend of Israel and a man of principle. He insisted on holding the 1976 chess olympiad in Israel, as agreed, despite attempts by the USSR and the Arab world to "steal" the event. As Shlomo Kandelshein notes in his book Chess Olympiad Haifa: 1976, when the Soviets declared it is irresponsible for him to hold the olympiad in an "unsafe country", he replied that he felt quite safe in Israel on his visits.

But Euwe didn't visit Israel only on the occasion of the 1976 olympiad (and FIDE congress). He also visited before, in the early 60s. Above is a photo of Euwe and his wife from that time. Adds Eliyahu Fasher in the Israeli Kibbutzim's Yedion [bulletin], Vol. 13 no. 9, May 1977 (Shavuot [Pentecost] issue of the Jewish year 5733), p. 34:
Prof. Euwe and his friend Prof. Mehring from Holland toured Israel about 15 years ago and visited many kibbutzim. At the end of the tour they wrote an article in La'Merchav [an Israeli newspaper] and noted especially the high level of chess playing there. They explained [this] in the Kibbutz member's need for intellectual stimulation, one of the ways to achieve it being chess.
Euwe was a gentleman in the real sense of the word. Praise from him means quite a bit.

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