Monday, September 11, 2017

Keeping the Shabbath

'Sammy Reshevsky -- Three Meals and Dessert'. Ma'ariv, Nov. 9th, 1964, p. 4.
Moshe Roytman notifies us of an unsigned collection of short items from Ma'ariv on the date above, some of them related to the chess Olympiad then taking place in Tel Aviv. It has the following caricature of Reshevsky, by the Ma'ariv caricaturist "Ze'ev" [Ya'akov Farkash, 1928-2002]. 

Farkash was one of the four members of the affectionately called "Hungarian Mafia", a team of four staff members of Ma'ariv who had been in the paper for decades, from the 50s to the 90s. They include himself, the caricaturist "Dosh" (Kariel Gardosh), the journalist Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, and satirist Efraim Kishon. Of them, as we have noted in this blog before, Lapid was inter alia the head of the Israeli Chess Federation, Kishon saved his life during the war by playing chess, and Dosh illustrated covers for chess books; we now add a chess connection for Ze'ev. 

The story is that in the 1964 Olympiad in Tel Aviv, the Saturday round started at 5:30 instead of 4:00, to avoid desecrating the Shabbath (from sundown Friday to Sundown Saturday), but Reshevsky got special permission to start half an hour later than that. It is well known that Reshevsky would not play on the Shabbath and was usually given the option of starting to play after it ended when he played in tournaments. But here all the rounds began later for just this reason. So why would he need an extra half hour? 

The reason given -- how seriously, it is hard to tell -- is that Reshevsky, being a religious Jew, also observed the religious tradition (though not an absolute requirement) of having three holiday meals on the Shabbath, which means he would only be available, not just after the Shabbath had ended at 5:30, but only after he finished his third Shabbath meal. Perhaps; we note, however, that as the Shabbath ended during the time of the Olympiad only a few minutes before 5:30, and religious Jews are not allowed to drive or travel by car, carry money, etc., during the Shabbath, it is likely that it would take Reshevsky a few more minutes to get to the tournament hall from his hotel than a person who does not follow these rules in any case.

The article adds that he played against Ya'akov Mashian  (ne Hushang Mashian) as stated in Gaige's Chess Personalia) and 'of course' won quickly 'as a dessert'. Mashian, a Jew, was playing first board for Iran. He later emigrated to Israel and became an active player there. 

We add that the same issue of Reshevsky and the Shabbath -- including his interesting explanation as to why he does not play on the Shabbath, when playing chess is not in fact (by most authorities) forbidden on the Shabbath, as well as a somewhat similar illustration by Buchwald -- when he came to the 1958 tournament in Israel, as noted here

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