Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Yiddish Descriptive Notation

Credit: California Jewish Voice, Dec. 16, 1932.

Mr. Bruce Monson, who is researching Jewish life in California, found in the Jewish press of the 1930s -- more specifically, in the Yiddish-language California Jewish Voice -- a short-lived chess column edited by Noam Light. It covered, in particular, some games from the Pasadena, 1932 tournament won by Alekhine.

Unusually for Yiddish or Hebrew chess columns, the column used the descriptive notation -- in fact, the "long" descriptive notation popular ca. 1900: E.g., using, 'B. takes P.' insead of 'BxP', 'Castles' insread of '0-0', 'K-B' insread of 'K-B1', etc. This seems to imply Light was an "old timer", using the notation he was used to from ca. 1900. But this is speculation.

Above, is how the beginning of Borochov (or Borochow) - Araiza (Caro-Kann, 0-1, 23 moves) was printed, "translating" the initials from the Hebrew / Yiddish to English:

1. P-K4                        P-QB3
2. P-Q4                        P-Q4
3. QN-B3 (sic)            P. takes P.
4. N. takes P.              N-B3
5. N. takes N. check  K. P. T[akes]. N.
6. P-QB3                     B-Q3

It seems a small wonder that algebraic notation eventually won the day.

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