Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some People will Steal Anything.

Credit: www.butterybooks.com [and yes, the board is reversed...]

A constant reader [to use Dorothy Parker's old moniker] of this blog and of the Hebrew Jewish press noted what is probably the first case of stolen chess property reported in Israel, and possibly including pre-state Mandatory Palestine. On 29/7/1949, Ha'Tzophe ["The Observer"] reported that a woman was arrested when in her possession was found a chess clock which was stolen from the Jerusalem chess club a year before.

To whom, exactly, did this woman plan to sell this stolen property -- considering it was highly unlikely anyone who knew what a chess clock was in Jerusalem at the time would probably have been affiliated with the Jerusalem chess club -- is not clear. Perhaps she didn't know what it was, and kept this strange, obviously broken double clock [only one of the clocks works at once, after all] as a novelty item.

This leads us to the question -- by the same reader -- of when, exactly, was the first chess clocks used in Palestine or Israel? Various chess clubs had such clocks by the 40s, but, for example, in photographs from the first Championship of Palestine in the mid-30s it seems most of the games seem to have taken place without clocks. We have already commented on how, in the 1920s and even later, various tools were used instead for speed chess or regular chess -- i.e., using a stick to beat on the floor every 10 seconds or using two wristwatches [see the tags" "clocks" for example in this blog].

Perhaps it should be added that the modern chess clock [with a flag] was already invented in 1899 but rigid insistence on using it for claiming a win on time was not consider sportsmanlike until about 20 years later, according to the Oxford Companion to Chess.

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