Friday, January 13, 2012

Koblenz in "Doar Hayom"



Source: Doar Hayom (see below)
Moshe Roytman informs me that he had found -- under the sub-title "a letter from Amsterdam" -- a report in Doar Hayom (Jerusalem), on 19.12.1935, concerning the 25th game of the Euwe - Alekhine. In this very famous game, Euwe, who had been trailing for most of the match up to that point, finally took the lead -- defeating Alekhine with the black pieces -- and never gave it up.

The match was (of course) reported extensively in the chess press in Mandatory Palestine at time, and this was by no means the only report on it. The interesting point, however, is that this report is a letter from no other than Alexander Koblenz -- the Latvian Jewish player who was later Mikhail Tal's trainer, among many other achievements.

Some interesting issues about this article are that Koblentz was only 19 when he wrote it, and that -- based on the title -- it was possibly written specifically for the Jewish press (although whether this is in fact the case needs needs further research).

Apart from this, his report is particularly relevant to the famous accusations of Alekhine being drunk during the match. He reports (my translation):
The reporters were greatly intrigued by rumors about a conflict that erupted in Armilla during the 21st game ... when the organizing committee that it will not pay his salary if he continued to drink vodka [יין שרוף]  before every game. 
It cannot be denied that Alekhine is a 100% genuine fonya [Russian -- A. P.],  and likes to have a drink of vodka before every important game, and would play, perhaps, even better than usual afterwards. After the 21st game Euwe explicitly said that he values that game more highly than all the previous ones of the match.
Why, then, you may ask, was Alekhine condemned to give up the drink he so loves?
The answer is: the members of the club where the two masters played the 21st game are supporters of prohibition, and they pressured the members of the match's committee to come out, in a high-handed way, against Alekhine's glass of vodka. 
Koblenz believes, then, that the fight had nothing to do with Alekhine losing the game, or being late for it (as he was), but with "political" pressure.

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