Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nimzowitsch's Hebrew Signature

Credit: Davar 3.5.1935
In a obituary to Aron Nimzowitsch published in Davar, 3.5.1935 (editor: Moshe Marmorosh), there appears a photo of Nimzowitch with his name signed in Hebrew letters. Apparently this is supposed to be his own signature in Hebrew (or Yiddish). It is almost certain that Nimzowitch, a European Jew, spoke and wrote Yiddish (and perhaps Hebrew), but are there other examples of his signature in this language?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The First Israeli Telephone Match

L. to R.: D. Carmeli, Y. Maroz and Y. Ish-Horowitz, the "Kol Israel" operators of the special phone line during the match. Source: Shaul Hon's Davar chess column, 4.1.1952.
On 14.12.1951, Shaul Hon's chess column in Davar declared there will be a "chess duel" between Tel Aviv and the rest of the country. The gimmick -- the match will be transmitted on a special phone line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The match took place over Hannukah 5712 (last week of December 1951). According to the 4.1.1952 report in Hon's chess column, the result was (Tel Aviv's team on the left):

1). Aloni (W)- Czerniak (B) 1:0 (White won)
2). Mandelboim (ph. spelling) (B)- Porat  (W) 0.5:0.5
3). Hon (B)- Glass (W) : "Game stopped where Hon has chances of a draw".
4). Keniazer  (W) - Dyner (B) : "Game stopped with Keniazer a piece up and with winning chances".

So Tel Aviv showed its superiority over "the rest of the country". Hon gives the sharpest game -- Aloni - Czerniak -- in his 18.1.1952 column. As usual, a computer check finds some oversights but on the whole Hon's analysis is quite good.

Aloni, Itzchak - Czerniak, Moshe
Tel Aviv - "Rest of Country" Telephone Match, 12.1951
[Comments: Shaul Hon and (when noted) Rybka 2.3.2]
E71: King's Indian: 4 e4 d6 5 h3  

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.h3 

To prevent Ng4 after Be3. 

5...0–0 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 Ne8  

This defense's problems are seen in the cramping of the c8 Bishop and the entire Queen side.  

8.g4 f5 9.gxf5 gxf5 10.Nf3  

White has more space and attacking chances on the King's side.  


 Now the c8 Bishop is completely paralyzed. 

11.Bd2 Rf6 12.Qc2 Rh6  

A rook with no future. 

13.0–0–0 a6  

Better is  13...a5 with the idea of Nd7-c5 since there's no White Bishop on e3. 

14.Kb1 c5 15.dxc6  

(Rybka prefers 15.Qb3 immediately.)
15...Nxc6 16.c5! 

Activating White's King's Bishop.  

16...b5 17.cxb6 Be6?  

Better is  17...Qxb6 18.Nd5 Qb7 19.Qxc6 Qxc6 20.Ne7+ Kf8 21.Nxc6 Bb7 22.Rc1 Rc8 And Black recovers the piece. (Rybka quite agrees...) 

18.b7 The winning pawn. (Here Rybka prefers 18.Nd5.)

18...Rb8 19.Nd5 Ne7 20.Bxa6 Nxd5 21.exd5 Bf7? 

Better is 21...Bxd5 22.Bxf4 Bxf3 23.Qb3+ Kh8 24.Bxh6 Bxd1 25.Bxg7+ and wins the Bishop on d1. (Rybka believes 21...Qb6 as the best chance).

22.Ka1 22...Bh5 23.Qb3  

(Rybka prefers 23.Qc8 Bxf3 24.Ba5 Rxc8 25.bxc8Q Qxc8 26.Bxc8. But this move does set a trap...)

23...e4 ('??' -Rybka, since it allows the following combination.)


A deliberate sacrifice to allow Rc8. 

24...Bxf3 25.Rhg1 Rg6 26.Rxg6 hxg6 27.Rc8 Qg5 


28.a4 e3 29.fxe3 Bxd5 30.Bc4 Bxc4 31.Qxc4+ d5 



32...dxc4 33.Rxe8+ Kf7 34.b8=Q Qg1+ 35.Ka2 Qd1 36.Rd8 Qxa4+ 37.Kb1 And Czerniak resigned on the next move. (1–0).

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Nice Combination by Shaul Hon

Hon -- R. M. White to play and win.

Shaul Hon, one of Israel's main chess organizers, authors, and all-around chess activists, was (as he would surely would have been the first to admit) by no means a weak player, but not a particularly strong one. He never, for example, played on Israel's national team in the Olympiad or won Tel Aviv's (or the national) championship.

But this does not mean he could not find good moves! Above is an ending (given in Davar's chess column, which he edited, on 27/10/1950 as "ending 78" from a game "played in September 1950") where White wins with a nice combination.

Solution (highlight to view):

1. Ne5+ Kh6 2. Ng4+ Kg6 3. Be4+ Qxe4 4. Qxh7+ Kxh7 5. Nf6+

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Persitz's Earliest (?) Published Game and Photograph

Tel Aviv Championship, March 1950. Sitting (L. to R.): Dr. N. Labunski, Y. Dobkin, H. Cahana, Dr. M. Oren (then Chwojnik), A. Weiler (phonetic spelling), A. Sokolovski (ph.). Standing (L. to R.): A. Labunski, D. Wolfinger (ph.), S. Smiltiner, Y. Harnick (ph.), W. Wollpart (ph.), R. Persitz (red dot), K. Friedman, M. Koynovski (ph.) Source: Davar's chess column, 3.3.1950. Some spellings from Jeremy Gaige's Chess Personalia: a Biobibliography.
Raphael Persitz (1934-2009) was one of Israel's greatest natural talents. His first published game -- to my knowledge -- is the following victory over Avraham Labunski, Tel Aviv's champion, in the second round of the Tel Aviv Championship of 1949-50 (Jewish year 5710). It was played in the 2nd round.

I doubt there was a change in the editors of the chess column from Shaul Hon to anyone else, but, for the record, for a few months previously (and in this column as well) the chess column was unsigned -- nor was Hon given any credit for it anywhere in the paper (so far as I could find). Hon had often mentioned elsewhere that he is "in the army" as an excuse for delays. Perhaps at the time the column was done by someone else due to Hon being on active duty?

The reason for me wondering is that the annotations are a bit odd. First, it is true that in this line, unlike in some others in the Nimzo-Indian, 8. Qxc3 is less popular than 8. bxc3, but it is still playable (the motivation is, naturally, to not double the pawns as well as to keep the two Bishops, although here this plan is probably not the best.) Second, the annotator's insistence that, in effect, all of White's trouble come from "moving the queen too much" seems to me to be rather dogmatic. Third, taking the annotations as a whole, one wonders why, if White made somewhere between four and six bad moves up to that point, and wasted a third of his moves on Queen wanderings, Black only has "the initiative" (as opposed to a completely winning position) by move 22. (A computer check also shows Black has only a slight, though real, advantage after 22. ... Qc8.) Perhaps Hon was in the army and the annotations done by someone else?

Labunski,Avraham - Persitz,Raaphi [E38]
Tel Aviv Championship 49/50 (2), 04.03.1950 
[Annotations: Hon, Shaul(?); Source: Davar's Chess Column, 10.3.1950] 

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.e3 0–0 6.Nf3 c5 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Qxc3 

It is better to take with the pawn.  

8...Ne4 9.Qc2 

The Queen made 3 out of 9 moves and this is a loss of time in the opening.  

9...Qa5+ 10.Nd2  

Wants to keep the two Bishops, but Persitz continues to pressure. 

10...Nc6 11.Rb1 

Better is  11.cxd5 and to simplify. 

11...cxd4 12.b4 Qd8 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.Qxe4 f5  

A weak move, due to the weakening of the pawn formation and the closing in of the Queen's Bishop, but White did not take advantage of this tactical mistake.  


Better is  15.Qc2. 

15...dxe3 16.Qxe3?  

The Queen again? Better to take with the Bishop, and if the Queens are exchanged White will have a better ending due to the two Bishops and Black's shut out Queen's Bishop. 

16...Nd4 17.Bd3 e5  

Black takes advantage of White's error and releases the Queen's Bishop.  

18.0–0 Re8 

18...e4? 19.Bb2! 

19.f3 f4 20.Qf2 Bf5 21.Rd1 Bxd3 22.Rxd3 Qc8 

 Black now has the initiative. 

23.c5 Qf5 24.Qd2  

Of 24 moves, White's Queen made 8! 


 Threatens 25. ... Nxf3+!  
 25.Kf1 Kf8 

 Renewing the threat. (25...Nxf3? 26.Qa2+ and wins the Knight.) 

26.Qd1 Re7 27.Bb2  

The Bishop finally moves. 

27...Red7 28.Bxd4 Rxd4 29.Rxd4 Rxd4 30.Qe1 Qd3+ 31.Kg1 Rd5 32.a4 Qc2 

 The concentration of force on the second rank determines the battle.  


 White is helpless. 

33...Rd2 34.Qf1 Rxg2+ 35.Kh1  

35.Qxg2 Qxb1+ 

35...Rf2 36.Qg1 Rxf3 0–1

Wolf's Later Chess Activities

My previous note that Wolf apparently didn't participate in any chess activities in Palestine or Israel was wrong. As Davar chess column (Ed. Shaul Hon) noted on 6/1/1950:
On Dec. 19th 1949 the old master Siegfried Reginald Wolf celebrated his 82nd birthday. In world chess today there are only two survivors which encompass three generations: Mieses (now 84) and Wolf.Wolf attacked chess with youthful enthusiasm from his childhood, and soon conquered and got first prizes. He played with the best players in the world and had good results. Even four years ago (at the age of 78!) he participated in a six-person tournament in Haifa, and if his stamina could not keep up with that of the younger players, his thought and chess knowledge made him a hard nut to crack to the other contestants. 

The S. R. Wolf Cup

Tel Aviv and Rishon Le'Tziyon teams with the S. R. Wolf cup, 1950. Sitting (L. to R.): I. Dyner, L. Braun, J. Hajtun, Dr. A. Adler, L. Shatner. Standing (L. to R.): Y. Dobkin, A. Labunski, I. AloniDr. M. Oren (then Chwojnik),  Y. Schwartz (Rishon Le'Tziyon club secretary). Source: Davar, 27.1.1950. Spelling of some names helped by Jeremy Gaige's indispensable Chess Personalia: A Biobibliography.
Today, few people have herd of Siegfried Reginald Wolf. But, in his old age in Haifa, he was honored by the Israeli chess establishment (such as it was) at the time. One example is reported in Davar chess column (Ed. Shaul Hon) on 13, 20, and 27/1/1950.

Davar reports on these dates that the "Shemen" corporation had donated an "S. R. Wolf cup", and that various cities' teams played in the "Inter-city championship for the S. R. Wolf Cup" for it. On 14/1 and on 21/1, the Tel Aviv team won both its meetings with Rishon Le'Tziyon's team (3:2 at the Rishon Le'Tziyon club, 4.5:0.5 in the return match in Tel Aviv), winning(*) the championship (and the cup).  

Davar mentions that in another match "three weeks ago" (20/1 column) Rishol Le'Tziyon's team defeated Jerusalem's team  "9:3" -- from the score, although it is not explicitly stated, it seems likely this too was a double match, part of this inter-city championship.

(*) or retaining -- the 13/1 column claims Tel Aviv already "holds" the cup, the 20/1 column that the match between the two teams is "part of" the inter-city tournament for the cup. It is not clear from the reports if the cup was offered in previous years.