Monday, July 23, 2018

A Snapshot

Source: La'Merhav Feb. 12, 1960, page 8 
A frequent correspondent notifies us of the interesting "snapshot" of the Israeli first league in 1960. We see the "old guard" in Jerusalem's Rubinstein club: Czerniak, Dobkin, Mohilever and others. We see a "mixture" in Tel Aviv's Lasker club: Aloni and Oren, but also the young Domnitz. The IDF's and the students' teams naturally feature young players: Kraidman, Guti, Stepak, and others. Tel Aviv's Reti has the "old timers" Smiltiner and Barav but also the young Persitz in the first board. 

Of particular interest is the Bat Yam club, which has Gereben in the first board, but the article (by La'Merhav's chess columnist, Fasher) notes that he already left the country -- and that Bat Yam also lost Ya'akov Mashian, the Iranian-Jewish master, 'who also left the country'.

Mashian returned to Israel in the mid-70s (at least according to Wikipedia), and -- incidentally -- played with Stepak a 193-move game in the Israeli championship semifinals (Stepak won, 1:0). This game, according to Tim Krabbe, was the longest recorded game ever played for seven years (1980-1987), and is still the longest game in time -- 24.5 hours -- 'a record it will forever hold'.

As for Gereben, he had emigrated to Israel in 1959 and played in the 1959 Israeli championship (coming in second), but left the country soon afterwards, as Fasher already notes. Ha'Tzophe of Oct. 9th, 1959, p. 4, notes our correspondent, says the 'Erno Gereben (Grünfeld)' had come to the country shortly before the championship began. Can any reader explain why 'Grünfeld'?

Edited to add: a frequent correspondent noted that the English-language Wikipedia entry for Gereben has his birth name as "Ernest [or Ernst] Grünfeld' and adds:
This name change, with other survival skills, probably helped him survive the holocaust. It was printed in the Israeli press that during one of the Olympiads, a Hungarian player, in a worse position, whispered to the Israeli player (in Yiddish) 'I am a Jew', and the game was drawn. 
It turned out to be Gereben. Based on the details given by our correspondent, an Olimpbase and Chessbase search reveals the game is probably Gereben - Kniazer, Amsterdam 1954, ending in a draw in the following position:

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