Saturday, September 13, 2014

More about Politicians and Chess

Both Pictures: credit Moshe Slav and Slav Inc. 
The current Israeli PM, Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, is a chess fan, or, at least, has a chess set at home and was photographed playing chess, in particular with his father; see 'political leaders and chess' in this blog. In the above official Israel Chess Federation photograph, he is posing (apparently in the Prime Minister's office), next to a special chess set: the 'Jewish chess' set made by Slav Inc.

as the details in the photo below shows, it is set where the Christian symbols of the traditional Staunton set (a cross on top of the king, a bishop's mitre for the bishop) are replaced by Jewish ones -- i.e., the king is crowned with a star of David, the queen with a menorah, the knight becomes a lion (an old symbol of Judea), and the rook has the ten commandments on it. The open hand on the bishop and pawn seems to be a hamsa, a stylized amulet against the evil eye, which is technically not of Jewish origins but very common in Jewish folk art, especially among oriental Jews.

(One can click on the pictures for a larger version).

An enlarged section of the second picture above.


  1. Another analogy with the rook, which in Hebrew is referred to as 'Tura', with the depiction of a Torah.

  2. Interesting idea. But most "serious" Hebrew speaking players call it a "tzariach", that is, a turret. Calling the piece a "tura" is possible, but it's a bit like calling the knight a "horse" in English. Perhaps the similarity has more to do with the turret and the Ten Commandments both being made of stone, or seen as the "corner stone" of the board or of Judaism, respectively.