Friday, January 14, 2011

Problemists in Israel, the 1950s

As often noted on this blog before, in the 1950s the Israeli problemists were coming into their own. Here is one typical month's worth of work by such problemists -- all mates in two -- published in one of the smaller newspapers in the country at the time, Ha'Tzophe [The Observer], during one month.

While none of these problems are outstanding classics, they are all competently executed and quite good. This is the level achieved by composers in one small country, in one field (direct mate in two) of composing, during one month, in one newspaper. Some of the questions have many tries, changed mates, and other pleasing features; on the other hand we see once again the problemists' eternal nemesis, misprints, crop up again: the third problem is missing a black bishop on f2, as the paper made clear in a correction published three weeks later.

At the time Israeli newspapers were divided along political lines. Al Ha'Mishmar, for example, belonged to the left-wing "Mapam" party; Ha'Tzophe to the right-wing "Mizrachi" party. But when it came to chess, the left and the right both agreed.

Here is how the problem appeared in the paper. English spelling of names, as per usual, following Jeremy Gaige's Chess Personalia: a Biobibliography, except when indicated.

Yechezkel Hillel, 2X, 5/9/1958, Grimshaw theme.

Ze'ev Landau, 2X. 14/9/1958. Self-block theme.

Y. Isikovich (ph. spelling), 2X. 19/9/1958.

Aryeh Gruenblatt (ph. spelling), 2X. 26/9/1958. Zagoruiko theme.
 Solutions (highlight to view):

Hillel: 1). Qh2
Landau: 1). Qe8
Isikovich [add black bishop on f2]: 1). Qa5
Gruenblatt: 1). Sc3

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