Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Ha'Olam Ha'Ze" and Czerniak

Source: Back Cover, Ha'Olam Ha'Ze, vol. 15 no. 756 (24/4/1952)
One would not expect chess masters to be on the back cover of Ha'Olam Ha'Ze ['This World']: a far-left, muck-raking weekly scandal-sheet known for its lurid photographs, where the back cover is more notorious for featuring scantly-dressed models and actresses than chess masters. Yet Moshe Czerniak, Israel's "Mr. Chess", was featured on its back cover -- fully dressed, sans an accompanying model or actress -- twice.

Here, we have one back cover (we hope to give the other in a later post). It has Czerniak in the middle, surrounded with photos of his opponents. These are photos from a simultaneous display he gave in 'the new PICA high school in Petah Tikvah', as the report of the magazine (p. 12) notes. The report adds there were '25 boards' and '50 players' in the display, i.e., two players per board, a claim the the photos support. The report claims this is was the 'largest' simultaneous display to date in the country, a doubtful claim.

The light-hearted, slightly tongue-in-cheek report has some interesting tidbits. The pupils knew of the match a month in advance. Some created their own sets in the school's wood shop in preparation. Czerniak was for some reason 'not intimidated' by the fact that pupils had been studying chess 'for weeks' now, to the point that 'all the tactical highways and byways' of the game are clear to them.

He had grounds for his confidence: the display lasted from 5 to 9 PM (exact date not given), and ending +24 -0 =1. One pair of players, after losing a knight and two pawns in the first eight moves, was convinced that they are 'still holding on' -- and after they lost, vowed to practice and have their revenge next time. Another player was afraid to take Czerniak's queen, 'because it must be a trick'. The lucky pair to draw, Nachman Weinstein and Yehuda Shapira (both 17 years old), were playing chess for two years, 'from the time they won a chess set in a Purim party raffle'. The two consoled Czerniak, telling him the draw was surely 'because he was tired'.

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