Monday, September 1, 2014

Itzchak Aloni, 5/4/1905 - 2/6/1985

Itzchak Aloni by Ross, 1964. Source: Ha'Lochem: Izhak (sic) Aloni (The Winner: Itzchak Aloni), by Shlomo Kandelshine, p. 116. 

It seems odd, but no widely-available database or web page seems to have Itzhak Aloni's exact date of death. Nor does Jeremy Gaige's Chess Personalia, still the most reliable and complete source -- which gives his exact date of birth and birth name (Izak Schaechter) -- has a death date except for "1985". (Note 13/9/2014: a reader notes that the correct Polish-language spelling of the name, which would be the language the birth certificate was written in, would be 'Izaak'). 

The date is given by Shlomo Kandelshine in the same book noted above, on p. 35. Aloni died on June 2nd, 1985, and was buried in Holon, Israel. Perhaps the lack of an exact date of death is due to the fact that the only sources giving it are in Hebrew.

Ironically, Shachmat, the Israeli Chess Federation's journal, had to announce his passing in the August 1985 issue -- right after celebrating his 80th birthday with a career retrospective in the previous two issues.

As said before, for consistency's sake I use Gaige's "Itzchak", but notes he was born "Izak". Kandelshine prefers "Izhak" in the English title of his book. All of these are simply variants of יצחק (Isaac). Think of Victor Korchnoi, Viktor Korchnoj, etc. for Ви́ктор Корчно́й.

Incidentally, Schaechter is a Yiddish name which means "kosher butcher". Aloni changed his name to 'Aloni' -- literally, '[like an] oak tree' -- when he was in a kibbutz in Palestine in 1943 (Kandelshine, p. 14). Changing one's foreign-sounding name to a Hebrew one was quite common among immigrants to Palestine and, later, Israel, until the 1960s. Porat, Oren, Aloni and many other chess players of those generations did so.

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