Friday, October 21, 2011

Jerusalem Chess -- Some Things don't Change?

Logo Credit: Jeruchess

The first chess club in Palestine was established in Jerusalem in 1918 by Col. Ronald Storrs, the British military governor of Jerusalem. It was called the "International Chess Club". This was not false advertisement, but an expression of the hope that it would be a chess club that would unite the different nations -- local Arabs and Jews, and European Christians of various nations who were then stationed in the city -- and help promote peace and understanding. Unfortunately the club closed within a year of its founding, due to the increasing tensions between the Arabs and Jews. 

But hope springs eternal, and today Jerusalem's most active chess club -- Jeruchess (link partially in Hebrew and partially in English) -- has, as its motto, its Hebrew name (ירו-שחמט, Yeru-Sachmat) with the word שחמט (chess) incorporating the Muslim crescent, Jewish star of David, and Christian cross into the typography. What's more, the club is located in the Tarbut Ha-Amim center -- literally, the "international civilizations" center -- whose goal is (according to their English language web page and the Hebrew wikipedia page about them) to serve as a center for the meeting of the different cultures in Jerusalem and to promote pluralism. 

Will it work this time? Who knows?

Source for information about the 1918 chess club: The editors, “Ha’moadon Ha’sachmati Be’yerushaliaim ‘Emanuel Lasker’” [The Emanuel Lasker Chess Club in Jerusalem], Ha’shachmat, vol. 1 no. 1-2, Tishey-Heshvan 5684 (Sept.-Oct. 1923), pp. 20-22;  Moshe Czerniak, Toldot Ha’sachmat Me’reshito Ve’ad Yameynu [History of Chess from its Beginnings to Today], p. 155 (Tel Aviv: “Mofet” Press, 1963.)

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