Sunday, September 15, 2019


Source: see below
The photos above is that of a very young Mikhail Tal, from Kol Ha'Am, February 28th, 1958, p. 6. The paper, a communist one, was especially concerned with informing its readers of chess in the USSR and other communist countries. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

New Candidate for 'Earliest Mention of Chess in the Hebrew Press'

Source: Ha'Zfira (Warsaw), 27/4/1880, p. 7
We hare already mentioned that Ha'Zfira might have had the first mention of chess in the Hebrew press in the world. We now add an earlier occurrence -- because the newspaper used the older term nardshir (see previous post for more details on the term) instead of schachmat, (or schach-mat) as the Hebrew term for 'chess'. 

It is an article about the game and its history. Written long before modern chess sholarship, the author  - signed 'Z. Scherschewski', presumably the Hebrew writer Zebi Hirsch Scherschewski -- assumes nardshir is chess, and even claims it is named thus 'after its inventor, Nassir Daher'  - but the editor adds on the same page a skeptical footnote, given below, that 'in context, it does not seem nardschir is the game of chess', nardshir in the Talmud being mention in context as 'an easy game that only women play'...  

Source: see above

Earliest Mention of Chess in Palestinian Press?

Source: Ha'Zvi, 29/4/1898, p. 5

We believe the above is the earliest mention of chess in the Palestinian press, courtesy of the Historical Jewish Press site, found above. It is a translation of Israel Zangwill's short story (1895), 'Maimon the Fool and Nathan the Wise' (first photo). In this dialogue between the two Nathan notes that he met prof. Gotold (ph. spelling) for the first time 'in the game of nardshir' - the translator's word for Zangwill's 'chess'. It was published in Ha'Zvi, an early Hebrew-language newspaper in Palestine, edited by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.

We note that 'nardshir' appears in the Talmud (Ketuboth 61:2). Rashi, the famous medieval Talmudic commentator, translates 'nardshir' mistakenly as 'Ishkashish' (אישקשיש) -- from the medieval French eschecs. Thus both 'Ishkashis' (or variants such as 'Ishkoki' or 'Ashkaoki') and 'nardshir' are sometimes used for 'chess' in Hebrew literature, before the term 'schachmat' (שחמט) -- also mentioned by the translator -- became by far the most popular term.

There are earlier mentions of chess in the Hebrew press -- e.g., in the Ha'Zfira (Warsaw), noted in this blog here and here. But Ha'Zfira and other papers which a propos mention chess I have found from this time have been published outside Palestine. 



Source: Ha'Boker, Dec. 1st, 1950, p. 7
For a quick snapshot of chess politics in the very early state of Israel, we can note Ha'Boker from 1950: it notes that OrenRabinovich-Barav, Gruengard, Amihud Weinstein, Yochanan Ya'akovi, and Israel Rosenfeld were elected to the management of the ICF, and notes that soon the (first) Israeli championship would take place, including (oddly) 'strong players from abroad' as well as 'the master Czerniak which had just returned from Argentina'. No 'strong players from abroad' played in the Israeli championship, needless to say, nor would they have been eligible to play. But Czerniak did indeed play, scoring a disappointing 5/13 , for 12th place out of of 14. (Source: e.g., Hon's Ptichot Be'Sachmat [Chess Openings], 3rd ed., Tel Aviv: 'Schach' publishers, p. 91). 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Chess and Movies -- with a Twist

Source: see below
Chess in the movies is hardly a new thing, as the Chessbase article from which this photo is taken shows, for example. But the same Ha'Boker article we noted in the previous post, reporting on the international tournament of 1958, above has a twist on the usual connection. The article complains about the short draw S. BursteinDunkelblum, noting that Dunkelblum 'is not eager to make an effort' in the tournament's games', and that Burstein 'was seen in the late evening standing in line for a movie in the Mugrhabi movie theatre', at the time one of the busiest theatres in Tel Aviv... 

Dunkelblum did indeed 'not make an effort', ending the tournament with a "perfect" 50% - 6.5 / 13 -- with 11(!) draws, according to Chessbase 14. 

Chess on the Radio (and on the Front Page)

Source: Ha'Boker, 11/11/1958, p. 1
A frequent correspondent notes that another instance of chess on the radio can be seen in Ha'Boker reporting (on the front page) about the international tournament in 1958. It notes that tonight (11/11) at 19:35 there will be a radio report in Kol Israel ['Voice of Israel'] about the tournament, by Shmuel Rosen and David Klein

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Weiz Cup, 1939

Source: Ha'Aretz, 28/5/1939
We already noted in this blog the start of what is above called the 'cities chapionship' between Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv and 'the settlements' in 1939, i.e., the Weiz cup. A frequent contributors notes that in 1939, Ha'Aretz reports, the championship (again) took place in the Lasker club, Haifa didn't play, and Tel Aviv won the championship. Individual results were given as well. 

The 1939 'Lasker' Club Passover Tournaments

Source: Davar, 21/4/1939, p. 8
Marmorosh had promised, in the April 14th column, to give a detailed report of the tournament the next week. This he did. Below the photo -- showing, right to left (seated) Mrs. Schwarzman, Zelmenitzka, Nachmani (both ph. spelling), Dr. Labounsky, Porat, Marmorosh, Zerodinzki (ph. spelling; club manager), Winz, Blass, Kniazer, Mrs. Binfeld (ph. spelling) and Ya'akov

Highlights from Marmorosh's report are that Rabinovich-Barav (then in Haifa) and Porat (then in a Kibbutz in the north) were elected 'honorary members' of the Lasker Tel Aviv Club. Other highlights note there are now 130 members in the club, that there were more than 1000 visitors during the tournament, and that 'interest in the women's tournament did not flag, despite the amazons' flagging game'. 

Like many of his generation, Marmorosh just counldn't take women's chess seriously, Graf and Menchik's achievement notwithstanding. 

First Women's Tournament, 1939

Source: Davar, 31/3/1939, p. 8.
A frequent correspondent notes the announcement of the 1939 Passover activities in the Lasker club in Tel Aviv, 1939. Not only did it include a master's tournament (won, eventually, by Porat -- see, for a crosstable, e.g., Hon's Ptichot Be'Sachmat, [Chess Openings], 3rd ed. (1965), p. 89) but also, for the first time, a women's tournament. This was not the same as a women's championship (which had not occurred until the 1950s) but this is still a first. The results were reported two weeks later, on 14/4/1939 (p. 3):

Source: Davar, 14/4/1939, p. 3
The winner of the women's tournament was Mrs. Schwatzman [ph. spelling] followed by Ms. Zemlenitzka [ph. spelling] and Nachmani. The secondary tournament was won by Ben Artzi, followed by Susna [ph. spelling] and Weisboard. Hon won the junior section, together with Carmon

Czerniak - Winz, 1939

Source: Davar, 14/4/1939, p. 3
The famous game Czerniak - Winz (Lasker club championship, 1939) had been reprinted often. A frequent correspondent now found the original publication -- in Marmorosh's Davar column. The column, with Marmorosh's annotations, end with the exclamation -- 'one of the most brilliant games ever played in the country!'. 

A New Chess App

Source: Decodechess
Above is (part of) a window from a new online chess analysis, from an Israeli start-up called "Decode Chess". As the name implies, the idea is to "decode" chess games into human language, looking at threats, good moves, plans, concepts, etc. Give it a look! 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Chess at the Jewish Museum, Vienna, Austria

Source: see below 
A quick note: chessbase, from whose web page I took this clip, has a long and interesting article on Chess at the Jewish Museum of Vienna. Did you know Simon Wiesenthal was an arthitect and designed a coffee house with a chess room?

Chess for the Immigrants

Source: Davar 4/2/1940, p. 5
Our frequent correspondent notifies us that Davar published an appeal for those (then) illegal immigrants to Palestine who were caught by the British and put in the Atlit camp required books and games: 'books of all kinds, especially Hebrew primers, and games of all kinds, especially chess and domino'. 

Game Theory

From posters of a conference on game theory in Bar Ilan University. Chess is as always fascinating to game theorists:

The "Old Timers' Club"

Source: Shachmat vol. 17 no. 6-7 (June-July 1978), no p. #
A frequent correspondent noted that in 1978, there was an 'Old Timer's Get Together' with the following photo. It is one of the photos which has the most of the Israeli players and organizers in one photo. Included are among those who were active in the 60s or before: 

Standing: 1st from right: Yosha; 2nd: Wolfinger; 3rd: Itzchak Aloni ('previous champion'); 4th: Rabinovich-Barav ('previous secretary');6th: Smiltiner; 10th: Mohilever ('previous secretary'); 14th: Rauch; 17th: van Amerongen; 19th: Porat ('champion'); 21st: Gelfer; 23rd: Kagan ('champion'); 24th: Luba Kristol ('hidden'); 25th: Rivka Lichtenfeld ('championess'); 26th: Avner; 30th: Czerniak.

Sitting: 1st from right: Dyner; 6th: Peretz; 7th: Levant; 9th: Bleiman.

Weiz Cup: first League Championship in Palestine

Source: see below

A frequent correspondent notified us of the Weiz cup, which took place in 1938. This was, in effect, the first league championship in Israel. Our correspondent gives us Marmosoh's contemporary report in Davar, 29/4/1938, p. 3 (top cutting). We note Fascher notes the exact details 20 year later, in La'merchav,  29/4/59, p/ 6 (bottom cutting).

Marmorosh notes this was a four-team event (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and 'the settlements', i.e., the agricultural smaller communities). Each team had 8 players ; Haifa won. Fascher add the name is because the prize -- a silver cup -- was donated by Menachem Weiz

Almost "anybody who was anybody" in Palestinian chess played -- with some exceptions. Marmorosh notes that, in Haifa, the 'top players' Rabinovich-Barav and Enoch didn't play, but the team still 'surprised everybody' and (eventually) won. Fascher adds that, in Tel Aviv, Blass and Rauch didn't play, either, and in Jerusalem, Burnstein was missing. 

Fashcer also notes this was the third major achievement of the Palestine Chess Federation (est. 1934), after the individual Palestine championships and the Warsaw Olympiad. 

Chess Humor

Source: Al Ha'mishmar 13/6/1963 p.2
A frequent correspondent notifies us of an interesting contest which took place during the 1963 Natanya tournament: a chess humor context, 'on the initiative of Geffen Public Relations Ltd., responsible this year for promoting vacation tournaments to the general public'. The winners were B. Ben-Menachem, 'the oldest contestant', with (of all people) Itzchhak Aloni, the Israeli champion, second, and V. Kahana third. 

Czeniak - Mecking in a Report about Hastings 1966/67

Above is film by British Movietone of Hastings, 1966/1967. There is a short view (about 15 seconds) of Czerniak playing Mecking. Czerniak ended last, with 3/9, in that event. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Reti's Cancelled visit

Source: Ha'aretz 20/12/1923 page number missing
In 1923, there was much excitement in Palestinian chess circles due to the expected Jan. 1924 visit of 'Ha'Koach Vienna', and especially of the Jewish star of the team, Richard Reti.As Ha'aretz notes, the plan included for him to play a 60-man simul and a blindfold 15-game one. Many people - 'Jews and non-Jews' - are asking the Lasker club in Jerusalem to register as players. The paper adds these include 'high government officials' (of the British Mandate of Palestine's government).

Eearliest (?) Live Chess Display in Palestine?

Source: Ha'aretz, 21/3/1924. See also below/
A frequent corespondent had brought to our attention the following note in Ha'aretz, March 21st, 1924. It shows the first live chess game in Palestine took place, not in April 1924, as previously stated in this blog, but about a month earlier, on March 20th, in Tel Aviv, as part of the Purim celebrations in Tel Aviv. The report adds that the live chess show was seen by 'about 10,000 spectators' - among them 'a few thousand Arabs, who came from Jaffa and the nearby villages, and filled the streets'. 

This, if accurate, is significant considering, first, the entire population of Tel Aviv at the time was only a little more than 20,000 (according to Dalia Manor's article, 'Art the the City', in Azaryahu & Troen (eds.).  Tel Aviv: the First Century : Visions, Designs, Actualities) and Jaffa at the time was about 30,000 (according to Wikipedia's Hebrew-language page. This means that about 1 of 5 of the population came out to see the game! 

It is also an early example of chess being used for joint Jewish-Arab entertainment, if, in this case, the occasion was actually "Jewish" (Purim). 

A Winz Simultaneous Display

Source: Ha'artez, 12/12/1926 (page?) , see also below
A frequent correspondent notes that Victor Winz had played a simultaneous display on Dec. 12th, 1926. The literal translation from the Hebrew notes that the game, at 19:30 in the Zionist Club on Rothschild avenue in Tel Aviv. It is called a 'one-time' game (i.e., Winz playing many at once) against 25 opponents. It also notes that Winz will then play 'with his eyes closed' (i.e., a blindfold game) against the 'most strong player' among the 25.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Rare Photos

Source: See Below
Dan Ha'Dani (דן הדני) is a retired news photographer who had documented, in his IPPA news photo agency (IPPA stands for 'Israeli Press and Photo Agency', active 1965-2000) had donated his collection of over 1,000,000 photographs and other items to the National Library of Israel. 

A quick search of 'דן הדני שחמט' (Dan Hadani chess) finds 411 results of various Israeli players from various times, mostly the 60s and 70s, while checking in particular for the ID # of 'אולימפיאדת השחמט סרט' ('chess Olympiad reel') finds numerous photos, in particular, of the Haifa chess Olympiad of 1976, with many interesting photographs, such as the above one. 

The links are in (mostly) in Hebrew, but the navigation is standard and the photos need no particular explanation. 


Source: O. Henry, Cabbages and Kings, p. 19 of the 1920 Doubleday & Page (NY) edition. 
References to the game of chess in general are very common in literature -- often using terms like 'check', 'checkmate' or 'stalemate' to illustrate dramatic points in the plot, reference to chess problems is not common. So it is interesting to note in O. Henry's (William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910) early novel, Cabbages and Kings

The fact that Henry uses the exact terminology found at the time in most chess columns seems to show that he was, at least, acquainted with chess. A quick online search found various e-book publishers offering collections of O. Henry's works (since they're in the public domain). At least two have the same biography of O. Henry -- claiming he could 'hold his own against the best players of [his] town' (Greensboro, North Carolina) as a teenager. 

This is likely, but these e-books are obviously hack works. As they both have the exact same biography, it is very likely this biography is itself cut-and-pasted a previous (and naturally uncredited) biographer's work. I would therefore not consider their say-so as reliable evidence, without first finding the original work.

Incidentally, since copying and incompetence usually go hand in hand (as Edward Winter notes), it is not surprising a brief overview of these e-books finds howlers. One  book claims in the biography O. Henry was born in 1802. This is surely the plagiarist's -- or his scanner's -- mistake, not that of the original biographer. The other claims that Cabbages and Kings is a 'collection of short stories'.  That one of the publishers finds it necessary to praise itself for its 'High-Quality eBook Formatting' (capitals are sic) is also a big warning sign. 

Who do these "ePublishers" think they are -- Ray Keene

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Grau "Saves the Day"

Source: Shaul Hon's Shachmat, April 1946, p. 14
As is well known, in the 1939 the second world war broke out in the middle of the Olympiad. Matches between enemy countries were declared drawn (2:2) without play. But so was the match between Argentina and Palestine. Why? 

Yosef Porat gives his reminisces of how this came about in Shaul Hon's chess magazine (which, we believe, lasted only one issue). The magazine was generously given to us by Ami Barav, Israel Barav's son. 

Says Porat (my translation): 

Our team was not invited to the negotiations [in which the matches between warring countries were decided as drawn] for reasons we didn't understand. It was clear to us in advance we shall not play against the Germans. A few days before the round when we were supposed to meet we notified the organizers and received a reply that we would be treated similarly. 

The next day we were surprised by a second letter: the organizers notified us that the German team objected with the claim that Palestine, as a Mandate, is not in a state of war with Germany, so they see no reason to cancel the match! An absurd situation arose -- the representatives of the Nazis' land demanded to play with the those of Jewish Palestine! 

We all agreed we will not play with them no matter what, and informed the management that we will not come to play against them. It was a crucial situation; if we were scheduled to play with the Germans, they will get 4 points without a fight, which would give them first place! 

The Argentine team complained about the harm we do to [their chances for first place]. We offered to them to not appear in our match with them, but other teams then objected that would hurt their chances. The press had a field day... 

...[E]ventually [Roberto] Grau, the head of the Argentine team, found a solution by chance: he noted that since, by sheer chance, we had a 2:2 result against all other teams with chances for a prize that we have already met. So if we agree to a 2:2 draw with both Germany and Argentina, no country with a chance for a prize would either gain or lose by our hand.... even the Germans found no way to object to this. 

First Specially-Composed Soviet Problem in a Palestinian Newspaper

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, 19/6/1947, p. 3
A frequent correspondent notes that this problem, by Alexander Baturin (Gaige's spelling in Chess Personalia -- some sources prefer 'Alexandr') is special. As the editor, Eliyahu Feigin, notes, it is the first Soviet problem especially composed for Al Ha'Mishmar. He adds he would be glad to continue the cooperation with this 'chess Eldorado'. 

We add that, to our knowledge, it is also the first Soviet problem that was ever specifically composed for any Israeli or Palestinian chess column or magazine, although there were problems by international composers specifically composed for Palestinian chess journals already in the 1920s. 

About the Lasker Club

Souce: ynet
In a new feature (for subscribers only, alas), ynet, the web site of Israel's most common paper, Yediot Aharonot, just published an article about the Lasker club in Tel Aviv. Titled: 'The Most Romantic Club in Israel', It notes:

With black coffee, biscuits, and peculiar humor, the Lasker club gives its members a refuge from the daily grind for 83 years, for a camaraderie of chess. They survive financial difficulties and even shady gamblers, who tries to take over the club - only don't ask them to play backgammon.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Hayim Segel's Private Olympiad

Source Ha'Tzophe, 4/12/1964, p. 6 of the weekend supplement
A frequent correspondent sends us the story of the "private olympiad" of Hayim Segel (sitting on the right in the photo) a 28-year-old amateur player, who - in the 1964 Tel Aviv olympiad -- somehow managed to get the greats of the chess world to play many friendly games with him. These included Efim Geller (sitting on the left), Boris Spassky (whom he beat 2:1), and many others. 

The whole thing started, according to the report, when Segel - waiting, with others, for Reshevsky whose plane was late -- passed the time playing Darga. He beat him in two blitz games, raising the interest of Unziker. Unziker beat him 3:1 in a blitz match, but praised his play. He thus got to play - apart from those mention above -- also Kotov, Boleslavsky, Gligoric, Ivkov, Najdorf, and many others. He often drew or won, including (in the case of Spassky) in "regular" friendly games (i.e., without clocks). Reshevsky - an orthodox Jew -- was also his guest for a shabbath. 

When asked why he doesn't, in fact, play on the Israeli team - his reply was that, as a yeshiva students studying for the rabbinate, he has no time to play. 

The same correspondent adds that, later in his career, Segel was jailed for "white collar" offences when he served as a senior rabbi in the Israeli rabbinate. He was considered by the other prisoners as an expert in three things: religious law, investment advice, and chess. The paper says, with unnecessary understatement, that the man who bear Spassky 2:1 in a friendly match was "one of the best players" in the prison. 

Source: Ma'ariv, 25/2/1977, p. 56 of the weekend supplement

It is surely Segel who is described, unnamed, as the 'yeshiva student' who 'challanged' the best players in the world to a game in the 1964 olympiad, in a book of essays by a Jewish author whose title I undfortunately forgot (can any reader add the details?). That book gives a partial explanation of Spassky's performance: after starting with 1.a3, which is playable (the Anderssen opening), Spassky continued 2.h3, which 'showed he had something else than chess on his mind' (quoting from memory). Spassky was surprised that his opponent was too strong for what is, in effect, two-move odds. 

Some Things Never Change

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, 5/2/1948, p. 3
Square brackers are our additions.

Reply to Correspondence:[To] Israel Schaechter [ph. spelling], Cyprus:
There is no limit on the number of pieces that may be promoted, and it is therefore legal to have two queens, three knights, etc.; by the way, the colloquial Hebrew term [for 'pawn'] is hayal [soldier] or ragli [foot soldier], and not ikar [farmer, i.e., the German term Bauer]. 

We note that the fact that a Jew with such a name was writing from Cyprus means he probably was a refugee caught by the British when trying to enter the mandate of Palestine illegally, or else perhaps one of the representatives from the Yishuv or other organizations that were allowed to join them to help take care of their needs. 


Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, 22/1/1948, p/ 3 

In the above column, then edited by Eliyahu FeiginAl Ha'Mishmar's chess columns noted the death of Avraham Feldklein in battle near Gan Yavneh in the Israeli War of Independence (1948). We have already commented on this note, but here we add the two problems in his memory: by Yosef Goldschmidt (using Gaige's spelling Yosef rather than Feigin's German-based Josef) and B. Hendel

The solutions were published on Feb. 12th (p. 3) of the same paper. No. 201: to avoid the "cook" 1.Nh6 the authors adds a black pawn on h7. Key: 1.Rxh7. No: 202: 1.Qf6 Nf7 2.Qd6+ Nxd6 3.Rc8+ Nxc8 4.Rh7! with four varieties of mate. 

Obituaries and Congratulations

Source: Sachmat, Vol. 17 no. 2 (#183)
A frequent correspondent of ours notes the obituary of  Ya'akov Gavish, the late Haderah (Is.) chess player and organizer, not only in his city but in the Ha'Poel sports organization and correspondence chess. The writer of the editorial, Zalman Gurevich, was the treasurer of the ICF in the 50s and 60s, after Dr. Menachem Oren resigned. 

The curious historical part of the obituary is that Gavish was the manager of the local Ha'Poalim bank in Hadera, and that without his contributions and those of others in financial circles, the ICF could never afford to send teams to the Olympiads in the 50s and 60s. The entire ICF's budget at the time, notes Gurevich, was based on voluntary contributions from well-wishers. 

In addition, the page has a congratulatory message for Roman Dzindzichashvili for his victory in the 1977/1978 international tournament in Hastings (ahead of ex-world champion Petrosian and many other top players). Understandably, the same issue has him on the cover, stating 'Roman Dzindzichaschvili -- I came, I saw, I conquered', the latter statement also in the original Latin.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Chess on TV

Source: La'Merchav, 3/7/1970 p. 9.
We have previously noted chess on television in this blog, but a frequent correspondent pointed out another contemporary source. The paper notes the exact schedule on Israeli education television: 14 20-minute broadcasts, twice weekly. The newspaper adds the series was created by Moshe Czerniak and would also be partially presented by him.

The first Palestine Problemists' Association Tournament

Source: Palestine Post, Jan. 16th, 1948, p. 6.
The results of the first Problemists' international tournament, the Felix Seidemann Memorial Tourney, were reported in the Palestine Post on Jan. 16th, 1948. The organizers noted the numerous problems, and added an apology by Eliyahu Feigin, on behalf of the PPA, for delays in the publication of the results. Feigin also added more details on the large number of problems, etc., in his Al Ha'Mishmar column we have just quoted in the previous post. Note the judges include also Drs. F. Weber and I. Gruengard, Gruengard, in particular, having been a major influence on Israeli chess in general and problemists in particular for many years. 

War Losses

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, 22/1/1948, p. 3
In the above chess column in Al Ha'Mishmar, edited by Eliyahu Feigin, the editor note the death in combat (in the War of Independence, or rather in the disturbances before it started) of Avraham Feldklein, 'one of Rishon Le'Tziyon's best chess players'. 

He was killed at the age of 18, came in 3rd in the last city (moshava, lit. 'settlement') the previous year, and also was the city's blitz champion and won a match with the city's champion, M. Stoltz (ph. spelling), 3:2.

Added: a frequent contributor adds, based on contemporary sources (link in Hebrew) that the correct spelling is probably Stoltzaft (שטולזפט). He was apparetly quite an active played at the time.

It is added that the two problems published in the paper that day are dedicated to his memory. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Czerniak the Palestinian

Source: Davar's weekend supplmenet (Dvar Ha'Shavua), 27/7/1951, p. 14. 
Above, we have a clip from the chess column in Davar, noting Czerniak's victory in the 1951 Reggio Emilia tournament in Italy. We thank a frequent contributor to this blog for the information. The column notes that he was also awarded the IM title by FIDE, and that this victory is the first victory of an Israeli player in an international chess tournament. 

The column adds a letter from the Israeli consul there, Israel Eshel, who notes that the local press refer to Czerniak as a 'Palestinian', and only after he and the consulate protested that this was correct to 'Israeli' in the press. We add that, before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, 'Palestinian' was the usual term used in English and other languages for Jews who lived in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine.

The column also wonders how to use Czerniak's winning to get funding for the ICF, in the only practical way many organizations in Israel at the time could gain any funding, to wit, with government assistance. The key issue is who will be the next minister of education after the elections, it is noted.

The Education of a Chess Player

Source: see below
Note: updated 21/6/2019.

Above, we see a page from Israel Rabinovich-Barav's notebook of annotated games, which he kept as a young man. The notebook was loaned to me by his son, Ami Barav. The games are mostly famous ones from the 19th and early 20th century, of which the first, Schiffers vs. Chigorin, St. Petersburg, 1897, is a typical specimen. The game above is Blackburne vs. Marco, Monte Carlo, 1901.  

There are also some games where one of both of the opponents are unnamed, and one curiosity: a game allegedly by J. J. Rousseau (vs. an unnamed opponent, given in other sources as prince Conti). Barav understandably didn't know that this game, widely circulated in various sources from the mid-19th century onward, was proven by the chess historian H. J. M. Murray to have been a forgery as early as 1908, as shown by Edward Winter in a definitive article about Rousseau's chess career. 

Why did Barav copy out famous games when he could just read them in a book? The reason is obvious. Barav uses the tried-and-true method that (almost) all strong players used to get better: learning from game collections of other players, and trying to understand what both players were doing, each side's plan, where the crucial mistake was made, why it was a mistake, etc.

For this purpose, Barav annotates on his own many of the games, sometimes in great depth. His annotations are sometimes made at great length; e.g., a Tarrasch - N.N. brilliancy is annotated in five whole pages (10 columns), almost own his own.

In the Blackburne-Marco game sample page above, he notes, for example, that 5...Bxe3 is bad since it 'opens the f-file for the [white] rook', and similarly that 10,,,Nxb3 is weak since 'Black wants to gain the upper hand on the queen's side, but by this weakens the king's side'.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Candid Photos from the Tel-Aviv / Haifa 1958 International Tournament

Details: see below
Ami Barav, Israel Rabinovich-Barav's son, kindly provided us with the following photos he took, as a young boy, of the players in the international tournament that took place in Tel Aviv and Haifa in 1958. They are from the 13th round. The photos show, from top to bottom, White mentioned first:

Arie Rosenberg thinking in his game against Sylvain Burstein
Israel Dyner playing Itzchak Aloni
Laslo Szabo playing Samuel Reshevsky
Carel Van den Berg playing Yosef Porat.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Major update to Barav's Web Site Finished

Israel Rabinovich-Barav playing in the "Lasker" club, ca. 1945. From Ami Barav's collection
A major update to Israel Rabinovich-Barav's memorial site had been done. The web site's outlay has been made much more spacious and regular, solving some problems with text which was hidden behind diagrams or photos. Games were arranged in chronological order, annotations have been updated, and various other changes were made. Go take a look!

Rabinobvich-Barav - Tziner, 1956

In our update of Israel Rabinovich-Barav's web page, we have been generously given another game score by his son, Ami Barav. It is of a game between him and Tziner.

Correction: Ami Barav informs us that the player was Tziner, not Israel Dyner as we previously reported. The two names appear quite similar in Hebrew script!

Rabinovich-Barav, Israel -- Tziner
"Reti" club, 18/4/1956

Queen's Gambit Declined (D36)

Annotations: Fritz 13 and Avital Pilpel

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 Be7 6.Qc2 c6 7.Nf3 0–0 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 Re8 10.0–0 Ne4 11.Bf4 f5? 

A tactical error which Barav exploits immediately. 

12.Nxd5! Bd6 12...cxd5? 13.Bc7 wins the queen.

13.Bxd6 Nxd6 14.Nf4 Nf6 15.Qb3+ Kh8 16.Rfd1 Qe7 17.Ne5 Be6 18.Qa3 Bf7? the final mistake in a lost position.

19.Qxd6! and Black resigned (1-0) due to 19...Qxd6 20.Nxf7+.