Friday, November 23, 2012

Chess on the Radio

Credit: Occam's Razor blog

A frequent contributor had returned from the evening in honor of Shimon Kagan, the first native-born winner of Israel's national championship (in 1967) among other achievements, had noted that those who arrived had reminiscences of the "good old days" -- and, in particular, noted the importance of radio in Israeli chess. They recalled how they used to listen to chess programs on the radio, and when Zadok Domnitz had drawn with world champion Tigran Petrosian in the 1964 Olympiad held in Israel, this item opened the radio's regular news program.

A few more details: there were already regular chess radio columns in the 1940s before the declaration of the state of Israel in Kol Yerushalayim ["Voice of Jerusalem"], the British-mandate run radio channel. After the founding of Israel and of the national Kol Israel ["Voice of Israel"] channel, Shaul Hon ran the chess column for a few years, followed by Moshe Czerniak. Czerniak's programs were quite advanced: in 1951 he ran an entire series of broadcasts about chess endings, including "Queen vs. Pawn" (14.2.1951) and "Bishop vs. Pawns" (11.4.1951), to name two.

Edited to add: a (different) frequent contributor notes that Aviad Yafe [link in Hebrew], an Israeli politician who was inter alia the head of the Israeli Chess Federation, had given an interview in the 1970s where he remembered how, in 1936 or 1937, as a 13-year-old, he served as an assistant to Czerniak in producing his radio column. This makes it likely that Hon took over when Czerniak, who left for the Argentine Olympiad in 1939 and only returned in the early 50s to Israel, was not in the country. Hon, apparently, gave the column "back" to Czerniak by the 1950s. The same reader also notes Davar mentions as recently as 1964 regular chess columns in the radio and provided us with the link (below).

Also, from Yochanan Afek
During  Haifa olympiad 1976 there was a special national radio studio there run by  professional presenters like Amos Goren and Khaiuta Dvir with a daily program broadcasted at 23.00. Moshe Czerniak was the chess expert summerizing the daily round and  interviewing  celebrities of whom I can remember the good old Edward Lasker. My own role in that studio was to announce every night the results of the day to the entire nation.

Sources (In Hebrew): "A Listener's Comments" [B. Ron], Davar, 21.1.1949; "A Radio Chess Department" [Shaul Hon], 29.10.1948; also the weekly "radio guide" published in Davar (Friday supplement) for details concerning Czerniak's programs. "The New Kol Israel Schedule", Davar, 27.3.1964 (chess is mentioned in the last line [link in Hebrew]); personal email from Afek and a contributor.

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