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
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 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. 

Barav annotates some of the games, sometimes in great depth. In the Blackburne-Marco game above, he notes, for example, that 5...Bxe3 is bad since it 'opens the f-file for the [white] rook', and that similarly 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+.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Under Construction

Image credit: Vector Stock
In the post about the Lasker club's sad demise from a few days ago, we should note that Israel Barav was one of the most active players and activists in the club until he left for the Reti club in the mid-1950s. 

We do not link this time to our memorial site for Barav, because we are now in the process of a major update: adding a new game, arranging all games in chronological order, and so on. 

The site is online and functioning, but the updates are not viewable yet, as the changes are not quite finished. Expect a major update on Barav's site in a few days. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Clocks on all the Boards

Source: La'Merhav Oct. 25, 1957, p. 6
A frequent correspondent points out the follow report from La'Merchav about the third kibbutzim (agricultural communes) championship, which included that time the Ramat Gan team as well (presumably, since its club hosted the event). The author notes that there were 100 players and especially noting the use of 50 chess clocks -- by no means self-evident in those days in Israel. The report included the following game:

Geller, Uzi - Ben-Artzi, Hanan
10.1957, 3rd kibbutzim championship, Ramat Gan, Israel.
(Annotations: La'Merchav's chess column's editor)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.Nf3 0–0 6.e3 c5 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 Nbd7 9.cxd5 exd5 10.Bd3 Re8 11.0–0 Qc7! A strong move. White should have continued 12.a4 at once. 12.Bb2? c4 13.Bf5 Nf8 14.a4 Bxf5 15.Qxf5 Rad8 16.Ba3 Ng6 17.Rab1 Ne4 18.Rfc1 Re6 Better than 18…Ne7, since it activates the rook. 19.Rb5 Rf6 20.Qg4 a6?? The losing move. weakens b6 and allows the rook's retreat to b2. 20…Ra6! would have won a pawn and the game. 21.Rb2 a5 22.Ng5 Nxg5 23.Qxg5 h6 24.Qh5 Rb6 Tries to prevent White's control of the b file. 25.Rcb1 Rxb2 26.Rxb2 b6 27.Rb5 Qc6 28.Qf5 

Black in in Zugzwang. His one remaining move also loses. 28...Nf8 29.Be7 Rd7 30.Bxf8 Kxf8 31.Qh7 Qf6? 31…f6 was a better try. Black is very short on time. 32.Qh8+ Ke7 33.Qb8 Rd6 34.Qb7+ Ke8 35.Rxd5 Finally the first pawn falls. 35...Rxd5 36.Qxd5 Qe6 Exchanging queens is forbidden, since Black will break through on the queen's side, but White chose another continuation and won (1–0) in a few moves.

Tidhar about Marmorosh

Source : David Tidhar's Encyclopedia, digitized by Turo college
David Tidhar's Entsiklopedyah le-Halutse ha-Yishuv u-Vonav ["Encyclopedia for the History of the Pioneers and Builders of the Zionism", 1947-1971] was a one-man project that took years. The author (according to Wikipedia's entry in Hebrew on the subject at least) had made it his goal to create, in effect, a Zionist "who's who" of the building of Israel. 

Tidhar's idiosyncratic methodology -- sending thousands of copies of a circular letter to the personalities he wanted to add to the book or their descendants, allowing some people to be included based on a contribution, etc. -- meant that his Encyclopedia was not widely quoted and not considered truly academic, but nevertheless it contains a wealth of information on numerous personalities that, before the Internet at least, was extremely difficult to come by in "official" sources. 

One entry, from the fourth volume (1950), p. 1723, includes a capsule biography of Menachem "Mendel" Marmorosh. The Encyclopedia notes, inter alia, the exact date of his book Shachmat -- 1945. It also adds more obscure information, such as:

- That the live chess event during Flohr's visit (1934) included live horses.
- That in his visit to the Emir Abdullah (1928) 'there is no need to say the Jewish wisdom beat the Eastern cunning'. 
- Exact date (21/3/1903) and place (Meili, now in Romania, then the Austro-Hungarian empire). 
- Names of parents, wife, and even mother-in-law. 
- Clarification that, despite being from Tel Aviv, he indeed was one of those who established the Halutzei Ha'Mizrach ("Eastern Pioneers") club in Jerusalem, where he also played in tournaments. 
- Was a member (since 1929) in the Ha'ganah, the pre-state paramilitary (and then illegal) organization. 

From the type of the material and the date (1950) it seems likely that Marmorosh himself was the source of the information.

The End of the Lakser Club's Original Location

 Photo credit -- online Tel Aviv Encyclopedia , in Hebrew
A frequent correspondent notifies us that the above building, the Drori House -- the original home of Tel Aviv's Lasker club, managed by Menachem "Mendel" Marmorosh, had been -- finally -- torn down in 2018, due to the real-estate boom in Tel Aviv that left (the Encyclopedia says) no chance for an old building (originally built 1925) like this. Sic transit gloria mundi. The building stood at 54 Ha'Yarkon St. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

On Israeli Radio

Credit: "Kan" Radio
We have just been on the Israeli "Kan Tarbut" station -- the Israeli Radio's culture station. We spoke (in Hebrew) about Kasparov and Deep Blue, computer chess, general chess history, and Jewish chess history. The program is Shlosha Sheyod'im ("Three Who Know", link above), hosted by Dudu Erez, and the direct link to the program is here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Labounsky Brothers, Palestine, 1920s

Credits: See Below
The following two pictures show us the Labounsky brothers. In the top photo, Nahum Labounsky is standing and his brother Avraham is sitting on the right. In the bottom picture, Nahum is sitting on the left Avraham is standing. 

The pictures, from Ami Barav's collection, were in his view photographed in the 1920s in Tel Aviv. Can anybody identify who they are playing with? 

More on Flohr's Picture

Credit: Ami Barav's collection
Following the previous postcard of Flohr , we add the back of the postcard (see link for credits). It is addressed by a chess player who visited Palestine in 1934 to "my dear chess friend" Nahum Labounslky for his help during the player's stay. Can anybody decipher the signature?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Major Update to Israel Rabinovich-Barav's web page

Credit: see below
We are pleased to announce a major update to Israel Rabinovich-Barav's web site, found here. The update includes a new background, and, much more importantly:

1). Games now arranged chronologically
2). New annotations incorportated
3). Some new games. 

Take a look!