Monday, September 11, 2017

Czerniak, Havana 1966

Source: Ma'ariv, Oct. 24th, 1966, p. 13
Moshe Roytman notified us of a long article in Ma'ariv about the 1966 chess Olympiad. In it we find an interesting pen-portrait of Moshe Czerniak, by the paper's chess correspondent, Shaul Hon, describing him in the meeting place in Madrid, Spain, where the Middle Eastern, African, and Western European teams were housed before being flown to Havana:
[Czerniak] knows personally almost all the teams' members. On each he has a funny anecdote or story to tell. You pull his sleeve -- and dozens of stories fall out, like ripe pears... He became the [Israeli] team's unofficial translator, knowing no less than seven languages, Spanish included... without him the restaurant menus would not be more intelligible to us than if they were written in Chinese. 
But not only we make use of him -- the South African team seized him like a valuable prize, since without his help they would have to mumble and point their fingers, and the Spaniards would not understand anything they want... twelve teams are now in Madrid, including Morocco [i.e., an Arab state -- the point is that it did not boycott the olympiad due to Israel's presence]. 
Hon adds that the Israeli team is made of the "old timers": Smiltiner, Aloni, Porat and Czerniak himself; the two "youths" are Kagan and Kraidman. Indeed, this was the "last hurrah" of the old guard. In 1968 only Czerniak and Porat played, and -- in 1974 -- Czerniak, on the third board.

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