Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tel Aviv Championship, 1946 -- and the First all-Hebrew Chess Magazine

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, April 18th, 1946, p. 3
An interesting report is found in Al Ha'Mishmar in 1946 by our frequent correspondent: it reports that despite 'a few unfinished battles', which 'cannot affect the final result', Kniazer won the Tel Aviv Championship for 1946. Yet the complete table -- given, e.g., on p. 90 of Ptichot Be'Sachmat ['Chess Openings'] by Hon,(3rd edition, Sept. 1964, as pointed out on p. 2 of the 4th edition, 1968) -- shows that A. Labounsky won the championship (Kniazer was joint 2nd/3rd).

The 1946 report also adds severe criticism of the tournament -- no less than four players had withdrawn, but 'unfortunately there is no official supreme organization (a Palestinian federation) to investigate the matter'. Technically false, as such a federation existed since 1936 as we have seen, but it was indeed de facto defunct due to the war, the battle for independence, and many other more important events. As Hon himself notes, (Ptichot Be'Sachmat, 4th ed., p. 27, for example) it was only after the end of the war that chess life in Palestine was renewed.

He adds (ibid) that the time was also ripe for 'a renewed appearance of a chess magazine' and that he took it upon himself to publish it -- but that it only 'lasted four issues', but was the first time a chess magazine was written (entirely) 'in Hebrew transcription' -- in earlier cases, as numerous examples in this blog show, the squares were usually given in Latin letters.

Indeed, in the very same column where the report of the 1946 tournament was given, a quick review of the first issue of Hon's magazine was given as well -- with the chess editor of Al Ha'Mishmar adding that an important point is that it is entirely in Hebrew, precisely what Hon wrote later in Ptichot Be'Sachmat

Marcuze Reporting from Holland

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, Oct. 23rd, 1947, p. 3
Yochanan Marcuze, points out our frequent correspondent, was the representative of the Palestinian Chess Federation in the FIDE congress of 1947.

Marcuze first reports on the two tournaments which took place in Hilversum, Netherlands, with Porat representing the Palestinian federation, in the European Zone championship and then in a local tournament, commemorating the 60 years' anniversary of the Hilversum chess club, in which Porat 'took fourth place in his group'.

Marcuze then adds that he was chosen as the Paelstinian federation representative in the FIDE congress of that year (which took place in the Hague) and that he established warm relations with many representatives -- e.g., B. H. Wood asking him about arranging a radio chess match between England and Palestine.

Marcuze adds in particular the importance of the massive amounts of chess literature brought by the different delegations, and especially the 'heart-rending' books of game collections by victims of the Nazis, 'among them, needless to say, many Jews' -- and notes the old-timer Maroczy was also present. 

He ends with noting his visit to England, where many players, especially Jewish ones, showed great interest in chess in Palestine, and the Jews in particular look at Palestine 'with love and longing'.

Chess on the Radio (again)

Source: Davar, April 14th, 1950, p. 30
Our frequent correspondent noted that in 1950, there was an active chess column in Israeli radio -- noting for example that on 12/4/1950 (source: Davar, April 12th, p.5) a 'chess corner' broadcast by Marcuse and Ben-Menachem. Here is another example -- this time, about the 'Reti [opening] system' -- by Y. Ron, to be broadcast the week after, on the 19th of April.  

Chess in Haifa, 1938

Source: Davar, Feb. 4th, 1938, p. 18
From our frequent contributor, here is a snapshot of chess in Haifa in 1938. We have more than 50 players who played in a 'graduated tournament' (i.e., based on their level of play). Inter alia The article report on the winners of the first (strongest) group were Barney [ph. spelling] and Greenberg, of the second, Dr. Landau, and of the third, Bandeis and Weinstein. The winners 'received prized from the De Haas cigarette corporation in Haifa.

Paying Our Debts...

Source: www.chess.com  
In the last few months, we have received quite a bit of information in email from a frequent contributor to this blog. It is high time we give him due credit and publish his findings here. In the next series of posts, we shall do that. Mostly -- but by no means only -- our contributor finds in his searches notices of chess in less common places: i.e., in the news or in other places, not in the chess columns. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Another Stormy Petrel - and Some Things Never Change.

Source: Palestine Post, April 25th, 1945, p. 2
As Edward Winter noted in Chess Notes 8191, several players were known as "stormy petrels". We add another one -- Israel Barav (then Rabinovich, or Rabinovitch), so named in the Palestine Post's newly-established chess column in 1945. They also published a game by him, reproduce here (game 29, see for full details).

The column, incidentally, suffered from the usual false start. As they note on March 16th, 1945 (p. 6):




Thursday, February 22, 2018

'Based on Barav-Vidor'

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, Aug. 22nd, 1946, p. 3
What is the first Israeli or Palestinian chess game where a player chose an opening based on a previous game played in the same country? Our first suggestion: the game Yona Margalit - Hanan Ben-Artzi (Staunton gambit, Galillee championship, 1-0) where it is reported the winner 'chose this reply to Black's move based on Rabinovich-Vidor, [Shaul Hon's] Shachmat 1, game 6'.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Checkmate -- A Romanian-Language Musical in Tel Aviv

Credit: see below
As Edward Winter published in Chess Notes #10709, in 1967 debuted a new Romanian-language musical in Tel Aviv, titled 'Shach-Mat'. Go to Chess Notes for the full item (January 20th, 2018), which includes a link to the advertisement.

Above is a cutting from the advertisement: the Hebrew translation of the Romanian title.

Winter noted, in correspondence with us, that contrary to our initial assumption, the musical is not named  chess, which is what 'Shach-Mat' means in Hebrew, but rather checkmate, which is what it means in Romanian.

(P.S.: Technically, Shach-Mat' can mean 'checkmate' in Hebrew, but it is an extremely archaic and uncommon use of the term; the term used almost exclusively for nearly a century is 'mat').

Sources

Source: 64 Msihbatzot (64 squares), Sept.-Oct. 1957, cover page.
A quick note for those interested in finding tournament results from the early days of the Israeli / Palestinian chess: in Shaul Hon's Ptichot Be'Sachmat (Chess Openings), there is an historical introduction that lists the major tournaments. But a more detailed list, with many local and other tournaments missing from Hon's account, is found in Moshe Czerniak's collection of results from the 1930s to the 1950s in the Sept.-Oct. 1957 issue of 64 Mishbatzot. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Flohr Simul in Tel Aviv

Source: see below
From the same source as the previous post, we find a poster advertising a simultaneous display by Flohr in Tel Aviv, against 60 opponents, on 24/6/1934. The ad speaks for itself (click for larger version).

In Hebrew it is also added that prizes are: getting one's registration fee back if one wins, and getting half of it refunded if one draws... also, it is requrested from the participants to bring 'fair boards and pieces'.

Simul Note

Source: National Library of Israel
The National Library of Israel has a small but interesting collection of chess ephemera (see link above).

One example is the following -- a note, filled in by hand, announcing a simultaneous display at Jerusalem's Lasker club. Asher Wolowelsky (ph. spelling), 'Jerusalem's Champion for the [Jewish] year 5693 [1932/3]', will play against 20 people, on 24/12/1932.

Apparently, as this is a filled-out form, the club had organized enough simultaneous displays to make it worth while to have a regular form made.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Chess in the German POW Camps

Source: Ha'Mashkif, Dec. 20th, 1944, p. 2
As part of our new year's resolution, we hope to finally also get back to speed from the generous amount of material correspondents with us give us. One frequent correspondent had found, looking at old Palestinian and Israeli magazines, quite a lot of interesting material. Here is one of his more interesting finds.

The article is about Jewish soldiers fighting for the British Empire as part of the Palestinian brigade, recently released in a prisoners' exchange from a German military prison camp in Lamsdorf. Amazingly, they do not report mistreatment due to their Jewishness, and their description of camp life does is actually rather humane.

They returned to Palestine with a chess set made in the camp 'by Russian prisoners for the colonel who was the camp commander'. In July 1944 the camp organized a chess league tournament -- a four-man team for each prisoners' nationality -- and the Palestinian team won. They add that the prize, the chess set, was given to them by a British Officer POW with 'apologies from the camp commander', whose 'position and race forbid him from awarding the prize personally'.

The prisoners were lucky to be released when they were. Soon afterwards, as the Red Army approached, the camp was evacuated westward in one of the many notorious 'death marches' during the winter of 1944/1945.


More Chess Book Covers -- Hebrew Language Edition

Image Credit: here.
This time, a book from a rather well known veteran Israeli writer, Eli Netzer, who wrote many books and won several literary prizes. One of his books, Mot Ha'Kanarit (The Death of the Canary), a collection of stories, was published with a chess-themed cover (above). While the cover is hardly meant to be a realistic representation of a chess game, it should be seen that it, too, has the 'dark square in the lower right corner' disease. Then again, perhaps the rules are different for a 4x4 board.