Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hon, Underground Radio, and Chess

Source: Davar, Jan. 7th, 1949, p. 16

Our correspondent Moshe Roytman notifies us of an article by Shaul Hon from early 1949 about the Kol Israel [Voice of Israel] radio station, which to this day is the (semi-) "official" Israeli station, more or less the equivalent of the BBC.

Hon adds (in the clip posted above) that, among more serious subjects, the station finds time to broadcast 'sport, chess... Talmudic lessons, theater and literature section' -- even as a war for independence, to say nothing of survival, was raging, and the radio was 'working in emergency conditions', notes Hon. This is remarkable, even if it probably isn't the first chess broadcast in Mandatory Palestine or Israel.

Another interesting point is that Hon, in this article, notes that he was one of the broadcasters in Kol Israel when it was still an underground, illegal Haganah - operated station. He also notes that it was known in Mandatory Palestine in the 1940s as Telem Sade Boaz, the Hebrew phonetic alphabet of the initials TSB, Tahanat Shidur Ba'Machteret -- 'underground radio station'.

The Haganah's Kol Israel was an illegal "competitor" of the official Kol Yerushalayim [Voice of Jerusalem] and other official Mandatory stations. One wonders: did Hon ever broadcast chess in the underground radio station? As Roytman notes, this isn't likely, or we would have heard about it from Hon (and, in general, the underground Kol Israel didn't have much time for arts but dealt, of course, with politics, reporting censored information, and the like).

But still, that Hon was a bona fide member of the underground is in itself newsworthy.

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