Sunday, May 27, 2012


Source: Hapoel Ha'Tzair, March 15th 1910, p. 11

A frequent reader had sent me the following. It is a very early -- pre-WWI -- mention of chess in the Jewish press in Palestine. In the article, A Letter from Petah Tikva, the author, who signed with the pseudonym "Ben Sarah" ("Son of Sarah"), writes about the many problems and difficulties the town of Petah Tikva was facing at the time. It is an interesting historical document.

Near the end of the melancholy list of natural and man-made problems, the writer finds time to criticize the town's social scene (between red markers):
Social life among the workers is very lacking. We have virtually no public events to unify and improve their lives. The only institution where the workers get together every night is the club, but the club is no longer, currently, the spiritual center its founders envisioned. Poetry readings, balls, public meetings etc. are very few due to the lack of intellectuals, and for that reason the club is used only for chess games and drinking tea.
So much for the "chess players are intellectuals" myth.

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