Saturday, August 31, 2013

Political Leaders and Chess -- Continued

Source: Shachmat, 1970, no. 10 (October), p. 264.

We have already seen -- here and here -- that David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, was interested in promoting chess, not so much as a player (he was a very weak player, to judge by the position in the photo of him actually playing) but as a Zionist Enterprise, a healthy past time for youths and a source of pride for the country when it achieves good results abroad.

Above is a copy of a letter sent by him to Israel Eshel, at the time the head of the Israeli Chess Federation, sending his hopes for success to the Israeli Students' team for success in the Student Olmypiad, which, at the time of the letters' writing, was about to begin in Haifa. This letter too emphasizes how Jews have been partial to chess for 'thousands of years', how it shows man's intelligence, etc.

The full report of the students' Omypliad was given in Shachmat's previous issue (no. 9, 1970, pp. 224-226), by the captain, Malkiel Peretz. He noted sarcastically that most of the players have unsolved exams or work issues -- 'interestingly, these problems are always solved when we play abroad'. But, on the whole, the team did quite respectively: 4th place, after England, Germany, and the USA; the Soviet bloc, for political reasons, did not participate. Peretz notes that Ben Gurion's letter was read in the closing ceremony.

It should be noted that by far the best player for Israel in the event was the 'Vilan Gaon', Bleiman, which we have met before in this blog.

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