Sunday, December 8, 2013

Porat's First Published Game in Palestine

The following game is from the Tel-Aviv - Jerusalem match (Jerusalem won 11:9, in a two-round ten-board match) concluded Feb 16th, 1935, and reported Feb. 22nd, 1935, in Davar's chess column by Marmorosh (p. 6) It is typical of Porat's style, with his particular partiality to Indian setups and strategic, rather than tactical, chess (although as an IM he could, of course, play all positions well). Here the game is against the 'famous Berlin player Enoch', another refugee from Germany. Porat (White) is playing for Tel Aviv. Of course, Porat was still named Foerder then, but I have changed the name in Marmorosh's annotations for consistency's sake.

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. e3 b6 3. b3 Bb7 4. Bb2 e6 5. d4 Bb4+ An unnecessary move. 6. c3 Be7 7. Nbd2 c5 8. Bd3 cxd4 9. cxd4 Nc6 10. Rc1

a3 first is better, but White wants to provoke Nb4 hoping to win a pawn. A very dangerous idea, since Black gets a strong attack. 10... Nb4 11. Bb1 Ba6 Prevents castling. The game now becomes very tense. 12. Nc4 d5 13. Nce5 Ne4! The White king is stalemated, so there is the threat of Nxa2 followed by Bb4+! But Porat defends himself coolly. 14. Nd2 O-O 15. Nxe4 dxe4 16. a3 Rc8! 17. Bxe4

White achieved his objective, but is still in danger, since he cannot castle. 17... f5 18. Rxc8 Qxc8 19. Bb1 Qc7 20. Qd2 Qb7 Threatens g2. 21. Nf3 Nd5 22. Bd3 Rc8 Black takes over the important c-file. 23. Ke2? A serious mistake. Castling was better.

23. ... Nf6? Black didn't exploit White's mistake: 23... Nf4+! 24. exf4 Qe4+ 25. Qe3 Bxd3+ 26. Ke1 Rc2 and wins. 24. Rc1 Ne4 25. Rxc8+ Qxc8 26. Qd1 Bd6? Taking on a3 immediately was better. 27. Ne5 Bxa3! 28. Bxa6 [Of course 28. Bxa3? Nc3+ -- A. P] 28... Qxa6+ 29. Qd3 Qxd3+ 30. Nxd3 Bxb2 31. Nxb2 b5 32. Nd3 a5 33. f3 Nd6 34. Nc5 Kf7 35. e4 fxe4 36. fxe4 h5 37. h3 a4 Drawn (0.5-0.5). The most interesting game in the match.

Actual Founding of the Palestine Chess Federation

Decleration of the founding of the Palestine Chess Association. See source below.
In a previous post we have wondered when exactly the Palestinian Chess Federation was founded, if in Nov. 1934 it already speaks of a "previous" committee of the organization. The answer is found in Mohilever's recollections, in Shachmat no. 261-262 (Feb. - March 1985), p. 35-36.

Mohilever notes that the official founding was in the 'Zidon' cafe in Tel Aviv, where 'about 30 players, mostly from Tel Aviv and a few from Jerusalem and Haifa' met on June 30th, 1934.

Israel Rosenfeld was chosen as the chairman of the organization, the two Levonsky brothers (Avraham and Nachum) as secretary and trasurer, respectively, Winz and Wexler as members, etc.; the document above includes the signatures of practically all important players or activists in Palestinian chess at the time, which naturally made the organization accepted by the players in the country in general.

They also had a foreign dignitary to endorse them. No less a personage than Salo Flohr, then (as noted before in this blog) visiting Palestine, was present, chosen as an 'honorary chairman', and signing his name first on the list (about the middle of the page in the photograph above).

Within a year, quite apart from everything else it did, the organization also had that essential issue: a masthead, with the name in English and Hebrew and two knight heads and a rook next to a checkered field:

P. S.

It would be nitpicking to go back and correct all previous mentions I made of the term, but from now on I will be careful, when relevant, to use the correct 'Palestine Chess Federation', as they masthead says, and not 'Palestinian Chess Federation'.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Early Days of the Palestine Chess Federation

Source: Davar, Nov. 14th, 1934, p. 5. 
A frequent correspondent of ours notes that on Nov. 14th, 1934, the Palestinian Chess Federation officially started its activities by opening a chess club in the "City" cafe in Tel Aviv (three times a week) and calls for all chess players to join by writing to the secretary, Nachum Labounsky, in his Tel Aviv address. What's more it notes that its first general meeting in the same cafe had about 70 (!) players. It is interesting that one of the items on the agenda was 'hearing a report about the activities of the previous [chess] committee'.

As there was no previous chess Palestinian Chess Federation prior to this date, indeed the article itself notes that it had just started its actions, this can mean either the leading Tel Aviv players or organizers, perhaps that of the Rubinstein's club committee, or else that a committee of chess enthusiasts had worked as an unofficial Palestinian Chess Federation before the official annoucement. Mystery solved -- see next post, above.

Lebounsky himself writes on Nov. 30th in Davar (p. 10) that the Federation's two main goals are, apart from promoting chess in general (buying new sets, arranging tournaments, etc.) to stop the 'chaos' in Palestinian chess by having one federation, and to get Palestine into FIDE for the Olympiads -- in both of which it succeeded.

Edited to add: Ami Barav notes that the corrct spelling is 'Labounsky', not 'Levonsky'.

How to Get Better in Chess & Variations in Laws

Source: Shock Ha'Sach [The Game of Chess], p. 12, by Yosef Zamnitz (ph. Sp.), Vilna, 1880.
For those of us who think our game is in a rut, here is some advice from Zamnitz on how to attack:
17. The attack. After he had put his army in the correct tabia, the player should try to create a plan to capture and defeat his opponent. It is a good idea to think at the same time of two goals and targets, so that if the enemy realizes one and nullifies it, the other will remain; and if it too will fail, he will create another plan. But he should be careful not to expose himself in his desire to defeat his enemy, and will fall, beaten, before his also-scheming opponent.
In other words: 'make good move and win, but avoid making bad moves and losing'. Well, true so far as it goes, but...

In fact however we are being somewhat unfair to the book. It does have quite a lot of interesting and rather deep strategic advice -- for example, distinguishing between the general characteristics of 'piece play' and 'pawn play' and considering them both as legitimate  (p. 13) or carefully considering the relative advantages of bishops and knights and noting that which one is superior depends on the type of position (p. 27).

Most interesting is the book's list of rules which are 'dependent on pre-game agreement or location'. These includes "two-move" chess (where the game starts with two moves in a row by the same player), variations in castling and promotion (e.g., can a pawn be promoted to a piece that still is on the board, etc.), whether it is customary to announce a 'check to the queen', is en passant allowed, and whether reaching a position where the opponent has a bare king counts (on its own) as a victory or as an immediate draw (!) (p. 9-10).

Finally, The author seems to have a strong dislike of the 'very ungentlemany way' of winning the game by queening one's last pawn (p. 11) since it makes one pawn (the book, incidentally, speaks of one 'farmer', Ikar, from the German term Bauer) enough for victory, which the  author clearly does not consider the correct way to win a chess game, namely, by a vigorous attack, although the book does prefunctory discuss basic endgames (in the very last pages of the book, pp. 35-36).

Eduard, Emanuel, and Edward Lasker

Source: Ha'Tzfira, Oct. 1st, 1897, p. 3
The Jewish press, even in the 19th century, sometimes reported on chess. In this report of Emanuel Lasker's victory over Wilhelm Steinitz in the world championship match, we read much interesting biographical information about Lasker -- i.e., his father's initials (M. Lasker), exact birth date, early history, and so on.

With the flowery language typical of the Hebrew press at the time, it describes him as a genius whose game 'went from strength to strength', how the match between him and  the match as a contests about who will be 'the supreme king and ruler of all the lands' in chess, and so on. To be fair, most of the flowery language are in fact biblical verses, originally describing kings or emperors, used to describe, here, chess players. This was considered a sign of education and good taste at the time, much like using classical Latin or Greek quotes was in the wider literary world.

What is interesting is that the article opens with the claim that:
 The name "Lakser" became known in this century. Who, while hearing the name, does not remember fondly the man who, with his genius, fought gallantly in the German Parliament for the German Jews' rights and the rights of all Germans? 
The famous Lasker here is Eduard Lasker  -- a liberal German Jewish politician. Not the least of the chess world's Lasker's claims to fame, notes  Ha'Zfira, is his family relation to this man.

As wikipedia notes (with sources), the chess playing Edward Lakser was distantly related to Emanuel Lasker -- and, therefore, also to Eduard Lasker. One wonders if Edward Lasker, the chess player, who was born Eduard Lasker (as the name is spelled in German-speaking countries) is named in honor of Eduard Lasker, the politician?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Inaccurate Headline

Anand (left) and Carlsen during the recent match. Source: Ynet.
Sometimes we need to remember that not everybody plays chess, or sees the world as chess players do.

One example is in the following headline from Israel's most popular news site, Ynet, about the recent world championship between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand (link in Hebrew): 'The World's New Chess Champion: A 23 Year Old Norwegian Model'.

To be fair, the article itself is far more reasonable, concentrating on his chess achievements, calling him (inevitably) a 'chess genius' and noting that he only models 'in his spare time'. But still, the editor obviously thinks Norwegian models would be much more interesting to the average reader than old boring chess players, even world champion caliber ones.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Warning from History

'Give me an 'e'! give me a '4'! What have you got? Open game!' (Image credit)

A certain Magnus Carlsen had, it is rumored, won a rather important match recently.

Young and enormously talented, we hear the usual prediction about him winning the world championship: that this will make chess massively popular, as in the case of Susan Polgar (who, frankly, should know better, presuming she is serious and not just trying to please the interviewer) which argues cheerleaders in chess might be the next thing, or others arguing that it will make chess cool, that we are now in the "Carlsen era", and so on.

Possibly. But while Kasparov won the world championship in a similar age and indeed ushered in a nearly 20-year-long unchallenged reign (though without cheerleaders, except of the metaphorical sort), one should note that the equally young and talented Tal, Capablanca, and Fischer either lost the title on their first attempt to defend it, or else (in Fischer's case) failed to defend the title at all. Edward Winter's Chess Notes -- see "Chess History" link on the links list -- is an excellent source for numerous successful or failed predictions of this sort. Also, for rather obvious reasons, no matter who wins the world championship, cheerleaders and millions of new chess fans are not too likely.

All this is not said, of course, to belittle Carlsen's achievement, but as a note against making such predictions.

Yeshayahu "Shaiy" Blaustein

We have often commented in this blog about the connection between chess and art, and between chess in Israel and Israel's various wars. Above is a picture of the title page of a boxed set of five booklets in memoriam of Yeshayahu "Shaiy" Blaustein (link in Hebrew; using Jeremy Gaige's English spelling of the name from Chess Personalia).

Blaustein (1949-1972) was a young architect, who was killed during his military service in a car accident on Dec. 30th, 1972. The fifth booklet is titled, 'chess problems' and has 30 of his compositions. The material is the post below is taken from this boxed set.

A Haifa resident and a Technion graduate, he was part of the group of talented young players who included, inter aliaBleiman. Here is Blaustein (dark shirt on right), looking on at Bleiman (with the white pieces) playing, probably in the Technion's chess club in the late 60s.  The booklet has a total of 30 such problems, of many types -- "regular" problems, helpmates, selfmates, maximummers, etc.

He was especially interested in problems that show close relationships between different positions: changed mates and twins. Yoel Aloni notes he was extremely talented in creating problems with changed play, and adding that he was by far Israel's greatest talent in the late 60s and early 70s -- four prizes and 20 [! - A. P.] honorable mentions in four years.

Below is his most famous problem, which won for him the Ben-Zion Hendel cup for fairy problems in 1970 (together with other problems), a helpmate from Al Ha'Mishmar, no. 3086. The "twin" is with Ka3 --> Kc7. Each one of the "twins" has (deliberately of course) two solutions, given at the end of this post.

Blaustein was, apart from being a chess problemist, a talented architect. Like many problemists, his friends say that his main goal -- as an architect, an amateur musician, and a chess problemist -- was a search after beauty. Recalls his father (my translation):
At age 13-14 he began to be interested in chess... and then in solving chess problems, joining the Israeli Problemists' Association and even winning prizes.
One day in 1970 I was called by the head of the problemists' association in Haifa, Mr. Yosef Bierer [ph. spelling -- A. P.] and asked me why Shaiy doesn't come to get his cup. It turns our that he won the national problemists' cup [i.e., the Hendel cup -- A. P.] that year, but didn't come to get it, probably out of shyness or modesty.
'You don't know what a talent you've got', added Bierer. 
The Israeli problemist association also published a condolences ad in Shachmat (Jan. 1973, p. 7) and established a memorial cup in his name.

Solution to above problem (highlight to view):

King on a3:

1. Nxg3 Nxd6 2, Ne4 Nf5#
2. Nxc5 Nxc3 2, Ne4 Ne2#

King on c7:

1. Nxg3 Nxc3 2. Ne4 Ne2#

2. Nxc5 Nxd6 2. Ne4 Nf5#

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Alla Kushnir Memorial Lecture, 28 10 13, Tel Aviv University

A quick note: there is going to be, tomorrow, a memorial lecture in the Gilman building in Tel Aviv University, room 496, starting at 18:30, in memory of Alla Kushnir -- or, as she later became known, Prof. Alla Kushnir-Stein.


It seems that there is another Alla Kushnir -- a Ukranian belly dancer. At least that's what the search engine says.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chess in the Yom Kippur War (Continued).

Official Notice of chess players who were killed (top) or whose relatives were killed (bottom) in the Yom Kippur War. Shachmat,  April 1974, back page of front cover. 

The Israeli Chess Federation had asked me, as reader in this blog have heard before, to be their unofficial "court historian", so to speak. From now on, about once a month I will publish there a short article or collection of pictures relating to the history of chess in Palestine or Israel.

I have just submitted one example -- a quick collection of a few photos that show what Ha'Sachmat, the Israeli Chess Federation's magazine, reported about that war. It contains a few rarely-seen (today) pictures from the magazine. It should be online here but it might take a day or two. If it is not online yet in a few days I will check.

A quick note -- of the chess players who were killed, three of the eight were officers. Similarly, two of the three relatives of chess players who were killed were officers. This shows something, perhaps, about chess players or their families.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mamrorosh - Mashler, Tel Aviv - Jerusalem Match, Janaury 1932

Here is an interesting game -- "with chances for both sides", as the cliche goes -- which Marmorosh won in the Tel - Aviv Jerusalem match of Janaury 16th, 1932, which ended 6:4 in Tel Aviv's favor, as Davar reported on 21/1/1931, p. 3, with the game.

Event: Tel Aviv - Jerusalem Match
Date: Jan. 16th, 1932
White: Marmorosh
[Black: Mashler
ECO:  C10 (French Defense)
Annotator: Marmorosh
Source: Davar, Jan. 21st, 1932, p. 3.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 c5?! A risky move, since it isolated the queen's pawn. The game begins to be lively from now on. 4. exd5 exd5 5. dxc5 d4 6. Nb5 Bxc5 7. Bf4 Na6 8. Nf3 Bg4 9. Nbxd4 Qb6! Black gets a solid attacking position for the pawn. Castling QS might decide the game in his favor. 10. Qe2+ Kf8  An excellent move which exploits the white queen's weak position. The only defense of the knight and pawn is: 11. c3 Nb4!? Better was 11... Re8. Now White begins to free himself 12. Qb5! Re8+ 13. Kd2 Nf6!! A very beautiful and resouceful move, but the opponent is on his guard. 14. Qxb6 White's main goal is to simplify, so as to have the pawn plus count for more. 14... e4+! 15. Kc1 Bxb6 16. Bb5! 16. cxb4 Bxd4 17. Nxd4 Nxf2 and Black wins. 16... Rc8 17. Re1 f5 The Knight cannot move, or else 18. Bd6+. 18. h3! a6 19. Bf1 Nd5 Forced. 20. hxg4 Nxf4 21. gxf5 Bxd4 22. Nxd4 Nxf2 23. Kc2 White's game is now totally free. 23... Kf7 24. g3 Nd5 25. Kb3 Ng4 26. Bc4 Rhd8 27. Ne6 Rd6 28. Ng5+! Kg8 29. Rad1! Ngf6 30. Re6! Rxe6 31. Bxd5 Nxd5 32. fxe6 Nf6 33. e7 All of Black's moves are forced. 33... Re8 34. Rd8 h6 35. Ne4 $1 Kf7 36. Nxf6 gxf6 37. Rxe8 Kxe8 38. Kc4 Kxe7 Black won his pawn back, but the queen side pawn majority decides. 39. Kd5 h5 40. c4 Kd7 41. b4 b6 42. a4 Ke7 43. c5! bxc5 44. bxc5 Kd7 45. c6+ Kc7 46. Ke6 Kxc6 47. Kxf6 Kc5 48. Kg5 Kb4 49. Kxh5 Kxa4 50. g4 Black resigns (1-0). One of the most interesting games of the match.

First Published Postal Game in Palestine

Source: Chessgraphics 

On 22/10/1931 (p. 3), Marmorosh's Davar chess column announced, that, as a result of the interest in the Marmorosh - Kniazer match (+4 =2 -4), some of the games from which had been published in his column, a postal game between the two will be published, move by move, in the chess column. This was duly done, and the game was concluded on Feb. 11th, 1932 (Davar, p. 3). This is, to our knowledge, the first published postal game in Palestine.

Event: Postal Match 1931/32
White: Kniazer
Black: Marmorosh
ECO: B01 (Center Counter)
Annotator: Marmorosh
Source: See above.

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. Bc4 Nc6 5. d3 Bd7 6. Bd2 Qf5 7. Nf3 e5 8.O-O O-O-O 9. h3 h6 10. Re1 Bd6 11. Nb5 g5 12. Bc3 Nf6 13. d4 e4 14. Nxd6+ cxd6 15. d5 Ne5 16. Nxe5 dxe5 17. Qe2 h5 18. Ba5! b6 19. Bb4 Rdg8 20. Be7 Rg6 21. d6 Be6 22. Ba6+ Kb8 23. Bxf6 Rxf6 24. Qxe4 Qxe4 25. Rxe4 Bc8 26. Bxc8 Rxc8 27. Rxe5 Rxd6 28. Rxg5 Rxc2 29. Rf5! Rc7 30. Rxh5 Rf6 31. Re1 Kb7 32. Ree5 Black resigns (1-0).

Sunday, September 29, 2013

First Mention of a Woman in a Palestinian Chess Publication?

Giulio Campi, The Chess Players, Ca. 1530. Source: Web Gallery.
Women in the Yishuv were not too likely to play chess. But it is an open question when the first note of a local female player was made in a Palestinian chess publication. We suggest that Ms. Zipporah Bord (ph. spelling) is the first one.

On 5/11/1931, In Davar's chess column (p. 3), she is told by Marmorosh about the notation used in his column: 'check is designated by a cross...' and so on. This is not the same as being explained the rules of the game, of course; it is quite likely Ms. Bord was already a decent player, and only wanted a clarification about the notations.

As evidence, we submit that the very next week -- Davar, 12/11/1931, p. 3 -- Marmorosh notes her as one of the (correct) solvers of the previous week's chess problem, and is mentioned in later columns as a solver as well.

Igal Mosinzon, Solver

Quick note this time: we have already noted that Igal Mosinzon, the famous (in Israel...) author, was a chess fan. Inter alia, he is noted as one of the solvers of the problems in Marmorosh's chess column, for example on Sept. 24th, 1931 (p. 3).

Yet another game from the Same Match -- A Very Interesting Tactical Struggle

Is is very interesting how Kniazer refutes Marmorosh's threats of back-rank mate with a winning counter-attack.

Event: Haifa Match, 1931.
Site: Haifa
Date: May 5th, 1931
White: Marmorosh
Black: Kniazer
ECO: C32
Annotator: Marmorosh
Source: Davar, 16/7/1931, p. 4.

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5 3. exd5 e4 4. d3 Nf6 5. dxe4 Nxe4 6. Nf3 Bc5 7. Qe2 A move that leads to many interesting complications. 7... Bf5!! With this move, Tarrasch brilliantly defeated Spielmann in Ostrau, 1923. Very interesting is 7... Bf2+ 8. Kd1 Qxd5+ 9. Nfd2!! f5 10. Nc3. 8. Nbd2 8. g4? O-O!! 9. gxf5 Re8 -+ 8... Qxd5 9. g4?? A gross blunder.

9... Bf2+!10. Kd1 Bxg4 11. Bg2 f5 12. c3 O-O 13. Kc2 Bb6 14. Nxe4 fxe4 15. Qd2! Qh5 16. Ng5 e3 17. Qd5+? 17. Qe1! was better. 17... Kh8 18. h3 Bf5+ 19. Be4 c6! 20. Qc4 Na6 21. Bxf5 Rxf5 22. Re1 Qh4 23. Bxe3 Bxe3 24. Rxe3 Rxg5! 25. Qe4 With this move, White thought he would win the exchange, but Black's reply refuted him. On the other hand White could have played 25. Rae1 Rf5 26. Re8+ Rf8 27. Qf7 and make a draw more likely [sic].

25... Rf5!! 26. Rae1 26. Qxf5 will not work: 26... Qf2+ 27. Kd3 Rd8+ wins back the rook. 26... Rxf4! 27. Qe8+ Rf8 28. Qe7 28. Qxa8? Qf2+! 29. R3e2 Qxe2+ 30. Rxe2 Rxa8. 28... Qh5 29. Qxb7 Qf5+! 30. Kc1 Nc5 31. Qxa8 Nd3+! 32. Kd2 Nxe1 33. Qxc6 Qc2+ 34. Kxe1 Qf2+ And mate in five (0-1). Black handled this game beautifully.

Another Game from the Marmorosh - Kniazer Match

This time, played May 25th, 1931, in Haifa, given on July 3rd, 1931, p. 3 in Davar's chess column.

Event: Haifa Match 1931
Site: Haifa
Date: May 25th, 1931.
White: Marmorosh
Black: Kniazer
ECO:  C00 (French Defense)
Annotator:  Marmorosh
Source: See above.

1. e4 e6 2. g3! This move in the French Defense is Tartakower's invention. 2... d5 3. Bg2 Nf6 If 3... dxe4 then 4. Nc3 f5 5. f3! 4. Nc3 c5 5. e5 Nfd7 6. f4 g5 A sharp move, quickly refuted by White. 7. Qh5! with the threat of Nf3 - g5. 7... gxf4 8. gxf4 Nc6 9. Nf3 h6!? If 9... Nb4 then 10. Ng5 Qe7 11. Nb5!! and wins. Therefore, Black decided to sacrifice the exchange. 10. Ng5 hxg5 11.Qxh8 gxf4 12. O-O Ndxe5 Black acquired a fortified pawn position. 13. d3 Ng6 14. Qh5 Bd6 15. Ne2 Qf6 Black threatens Bd7, 0-0-0, and a strong attack. 16. c3 Bd7 17. Bxf4!! Nxf4 18. Nxf4 O-O-O 18... Bxf4 19. Rxf4! Qxf4 20. Qh8+ +- 19. Nxd5 Qh8 20. Qxh8 Rxh8 21. Nf4 e5 22. Ne2 e4 23. Bxe4 Bxh2+ 24. Kf2 f5 25. Bf3 Ne5 26. Rad1 Rh3 27. Kg2 Rh8? Better is 27... Rxf3 folowed by Bc6. 28. d4! Nxf3 29. Rxf3 Bc7 30. Nf4 Rg8+ 31. Kf2 cxd4 32. cxd4 Bc6 33. d5 Bb6+ 34. Ke2 Bb5+ 35. Kd2 Bc7 36. Kc1 Rg4 37. Ne6 Be2? 38. Rc3 Rc4 39. Rxc4 Bxc4 40. Rd4! Bxa2 41. b3? Bxb3 42. Kb2 Be5 43. Kxb3 Bxd4 44. Nxd4 f4 45. Kc4 Kd7 46. Kd3! The dangerous passed pawn is doomed, and the other pawns are guarded by the knight. 46... Kd6 47. Ke4 a5 48. Nf5+! Kd7 48... Kc5 49. d6 Kc6 50. Kxf4 a4 51. Ke5 a3 52. Ke6 a2 53. Nd4+!! Kb6 54. d7 a1=Q 55. d8=Q+ Ka7 56. Nb5+! wins the queen. 49. Kxf4 a4 50. Ke5 a3 51.Nd4 a2 52. Nb3 b5 53. d6 and Black resigned (1-0) a few moves later.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dobkin - Kniazer, 1929

In one of the relatively few games recorded in Palestine in the 1920s, we find the following, given in Raafi Persitz's excellent book Ha'Derech Le'Nitzachon Be'Sachmat [The Way to Victory in Chess], a collection of games by Kniazer.

The book, apart from its historical value -- the majority of the games there do not appear in commercial databases -- is deeply annotated by Persitz, in a style that is both knowledgeable and witty (especially in Hebrew). I am only giving here a few smatterings of Persitz's annotations -- ignoring, for example, his deep opening analysis and his reference to numerous other games. The total annotations take eight pages of small type.

Event: Tel Aviv Championship?
Site: Tel Aviv
Date: 1929
White: Dobkin
Black: Kniazer
ECO: C10 (French, Rubinstein variation).
Annotator: Raafi Persitz.
Source: Persitz, Ha'Derech Le'Nitzchon Be'Sachmat [The Way to Victory in Chess]. Tel Aviv: Mofet, 1959, pp. 17-24.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Nxf6+ Nxf6 8. Bd3 O-O 9. O-O?! 9. Qe2 9... c5?! 9... b6 10. Re1?

If White had correctly assessed the position after Black's 13th move, he would have found that despite winning the Black queen, the position isn't in his favor.

10... cxd4! 11. Nxd4

11... Qxd4! 12. Bxh7+ Nxh7 13. Qxd4 Bxg5

Other things being equal, experience shows that the queen and pawn are inferior to three pieces when there are two pairs of rooks on the board, equal when there is a rook each, and superior when there are none. White should defend by a 'wait and see' attitude and preventing, at any price, the penetration of Black's rooks into his position. But he prefers a 'do or die' ill-timed king side attack.

14. Rad1 b6 15. Rd3?! Bb7 16. Rg3? Bf6 17. Qg4 Rac8 17... Bxb2? 18. c3 g6 19. Qb4! traps the bishop. 18. Rh3? White continues in his wrong-headed plan. Rc5 19. f4 Rxc2 20. Qh5 The first threat, which is also the last gasp. 20... Bd4+ White resigns (0-1).

Marmorosh - Kniazer Match, 1931

This match, played in Haifa, was drawn (+4 -4 =2). Marmorosh gives 'the most interesting game' in his chess column (see source below). If the previous games made it seem that Marmorosh only publishes his victories, here he shows how he didn't win a won position, due to the Kniazer's resourcefulness. It is a nice lesson in back-rank mating threats (for both sides).

Event: 1931 Match, Marmorosh-Kniazer.
Site: Haifa
Date: May 24th, 1931
White: Marmorosh
Black: Kniazer
ECO: B03 (Alekhine's Defense)
Annotator: Marmorosh
Source: Davar, July 5th, 1931, p. 5

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. c4 Nb6 4. d4 d6 5. exd6 exd6 6. Nc3 Bf5 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Nc6 9. Nf3 Nb4 10. Qd1 d5 11. c5 Nc4 12. Qa4+ Nc6 13. b3 N4a5 White now takes advantage of the Black Knight's loose position. 14. O-O Be7 15. Bd2 Threatening 16. Nxd5 O-O. 15... b6 16. Nxd5 Qxd5 17. Bxa5 bxa5 18. Ne5 16. Nxd5! Qxd5 17. Bxa5 b5! 18. Qxb5 Nxd4 19. Nxd4 Qxd4 20. b4! Now white is a pawn up with a sure win.  20... Rac8 21. Rad1 Qb2 22. Rfe1 c6 23. Qc4 Rfe8 24. Rd7 Qf6

25. Qe4?? A gross blunder. 25. Rxa7 wins easily. 25... Bf8! 26. Qb1 26. Qxe8 is impossible due to Rxe8 27. Rxe8 Qa1+. 26... Rxe1+ 27.Qxe1.  26... Re8 28. Qd1 Qc3! 29. Rd2 Bxc5 30. g3 Bf8! 30... Bxb4? 31. Rd8! Kf8 32. Rxe8+ Kxe8 33. Qd8#. 31. Qc2 Drawn. (1/2-1/2)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Marmorosh vs. Gordon, Tel Aviv - Jerusalem Match, 1930

Marmorosh, as we have seen, liked to publish queen sacrifices -- especially his own, and was a bit generous with self-praise. Here is another such example -- which, in fact, is more interesting than the previous one. Rather than sacrifice his queen for mate, he sacrifices it to force a winning ending, and indeed easily converts it into a win.

Event: Tel-Aviv Jerusalem Match, 1930.
White: Marmorosh
Black: Shaul Gordon
ECO: C30 (King's Gambit Declined)
Annotator: Marmorosh
Source: Davar, 14/11/1930, p. 5. 

The most interesting game of the recent Tel-Aviv - Jerusalem match. 1. e4 e5 2. f4 d6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exf4 6. Bxf4 Be7 6... Nxe4 is impossible, because after 7. d5 Ne7 (or any other knight move) 8. Qa4+ wins a piece. 7. Bd3 Nh5 8. Be3 O-O 9. O-O Nf6 10. h3 Ne8 11. Nbd2 g6 $2 12. Bh6 Ng7 13. Qe2 f5 14. Rae1 Bf6 15. exf5! Re8 Black counted on this move to free himself, but White sacrifices his queen and ensnares Black. 

16. Bc4+! d5 17. Bxd5+!! Qxd5 18. Qxe8+!! Nxe8 19. Rxe8+ Kf7 20. Rf8+ Ke7 21. Re1+ Be6 22. Rxe6+ Qxe6 23. fxe6 Rxf8 24. Bxf8+ Kxf8 25. Ne4 Ke7 26. d5 Ne5 27. Nxf6 Nxf3+ 28. gxf3 Kxf6 29. Kf2 b5 30. b3 c6 31. c4 a5 32. Ke3 a4 33. dxc6 axb3 34.axb3 bxc4 35. c7 Black resigns (1-0).

A Marmorosh Victory, 1926.

A different kind of Spanish battle. Source: wikipedia commons
The following game was played by Marmorosh in Jerusalem, 1926 (these are all the details given). Source: Davar, 9/1/1931, p. 5. It is given the nice name, 'A Spanish Battle'. He is somewhat (to my taste) too generous with the exclamation points -- but the combination in the end is, indeed, pretty. In any case, queen sacrifices are always fun "for the gallery"...

Event: Unknown (simultaneous display?)
Date:  1926
White: Marmorosh
Black: "N." (sic)
ECO: C84 (Closed Ruy Lopez)
Annotator: Marmorosh
Source: see above.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Bd5 b4 9. Ne2 Bb7 10. Ng3 d6 11. d3 Nxd5 12. exd5 Nb8 13. c4! bxc3 14. Qb3 Qc8 14... cxb2 would win a pawn but would put Black behind in development. 15.bxc3 Nd7 16. d4 Nb6 16... Nf6 is better, to defend the king side. 17. c4 exd4 18. Nxd4 Qd7 Black wishes to save himself by exchanging queens, but he's too late. 19. Bb2 Qa4 20. Ndf5 Bf6 21. Nh5 Qxb3

22. Bxf6!!! (sicNc8 If the queen moves, then 23. Ne7+ Kh8 24. Bxg7#. 23. Bxg7!! with unavoidable mate. (1-0)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Flohr Loss, Jerusalem, June 4th, 1934.

Salo Flohr. Credit: wikipedia commons.

As we have said before, Salo Flohr had visited Palestine in May-July 1934, and played quite a few simultaneous displays. We currently have a total of eight such displays, as well as a live game (against Marmorosh, which he won).

These simuls included, inter alia, a display against the 11 top players in the country -- including Czerniak, Dobkin, Winz, Mohilever, Blass, and others (source: Marmorosh's Davar chess column, July 13th, 1934, p. 9), scoring +9 =1 -1. As the opponents included a future IM (Czerniak), Olympiad players, and Palestine / Israel champions, this is a more than respectable score.

We have already communicated what we knew at the time about Flohr's visit to Edward Winter and in particular about the simul against the country's top players, based on Fasher's 1980 book (see C. N. 3962 for details), including Flohr's loss to Dobkin, but we now - checking the original sources - can tell that Fasher's data is slightly inaccurate, i.e., about the date of the 11-player simul. It took place July 7th, not June 2nd.

What's more, Marmorosh's column also gives another Flohr loss -- not only to Dobkin, but to  T. Segel from another simul, in Jerusalem. It is not a particularly good game, being an example of over-emphasizing the master's losses out of "local patritorism": White effortlessly refutes Black's dubious opening, gaining a pawn for nothing, but then blunders due to carelessness and reaches a strategically lost position. Nevertheless, the way Black exploits this advantage is instructive.

Flohr,Salo - Segel,T. [D08]
Simul, 4.6.1934, Jerusalem.
[Annotations: Marmorosh]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Nc6 6.Bxb4 Nxb4 7.a3! [7.Nxd4?? Qxd4 wins a piece] 7...Nc6 8.b4 Bg4 9.Nbd2 Qe7 10.h3 Bd7 11.Nb3 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 Qxe5 13.Qxd4 White won a pawn and is winning. 13...Qg5 14.Nc5 0–0–0 15.Qd5? A gross blunder. 15...Qxd5 16.cxd5 Nf6 17.Rd1 b6 18.Nxd7 Rxd7 White cannot save the d5 pawn. 19.e3 Nxd5 20.Ba6+ Kb8 21.Bc4 Rhd8 22.0–0 f6 23.Rfe1 Nc3 24.Rxd7 Rxd7 25.Rc1 Rd1+! Black has good chances after the rook exchange. 26.Rxd1 Nxd1 27.Kf1 c6 28.Ke2 Nc3+ 29.Kd3 Nd1 30.Ke2 Nc3+ 31.Ke1 Kc7 32.f4 b5 33.Bd3 g6 34.Kd2 Na4 35.Bc2 Nb6 36.e4 Kd6 37.Bb3 Nd7 38.h4 c5 39.Bg8 h6 40.g4 g5 41.bxc5+ Nxc5 42.hxg5 hxg5 43.Ke3 Ne6! 44.f5 Nc5 45.Kd4 a5 46.Ba2 b4 47.axb4 axb4 48.Bc4 b3 49.Bd5 b2 50.Ba2 Nd7 51.Kc3 Ne5 52.Kxb2 Nxg4 53.Kc3 Ke5 54.Kd3 Nf2+ 55.Ke3 Nxe4 56.Bb1 Nd6 57.Kf3 Nxf5 58.Kg4 Nd6 59.Bc2 Ne4 60.Bb1 f5+ 61.Kh3 Kf4 62.Bc2 g4+ 63.Kg2 Ke3 White resigns (0–1).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bobby Fischer, Reshevsky, and Chabad

Reshevsky playing chess. Source: Chabad's web site. 

In an article titled "Bobby Fischer vs. the Rebbe" in Tablet magazine, by writer Jonathan Zalman, clearly a chess fan, there is an interesting story.

Among other relatively well known (to chess historians) material, is a claim I had not encountered before -- for what that is worth. Zalman claim Reshevsky tried to get Fischer to rediscover his Jewish roots: despite the fact that he never considered himself a Jew, he was technically Jewish according to Jewish religious law since his mother was.

According to the article, not only did Reshevsky meet Fischer for three hours and 1984 and tried to induce him -- unsuccesfully, due to Fischer's by then paranoid antisemitism -- to return to Judaism, he did so on the behest of the Lubavicher "Rebbe", the leader of Chabad, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

In (one of) Chabad's web sites, there is indeed a long article -- which Zalman cites -- about Reshevsky which tells us of his long involvement with Chabad and Judaism in general. It has, inter alia, Shneerson's explanation of what the real meaning of chess is in the "worlds above" (!), and the claim that he told Reshevsky, in a P.S. to a letter dealing with other matters concerning Judaism and chess, that:
The following lines may appear strange, but I consider it my duty not to miss the opportunity to bring it to your attention. You surely are familiar with the life story of Bobby Fischer, of whom nothing has been heard in quite some time.
Unfortunately, he did not have the proper Jewish education, which is probably the reason for his being so alienated from the Jewish way of life or the Jewish people. However, being a Jew, he should be helped by whomever possible. I am writing to you about this, since you are probably better informed about him than many other persons, and perhaps you may find some way in which he could be brought back to the Jewish fold, either through your personal efforts, or in some other way...
What else is known of the Reshevsky / Chabad connection?

Jailhouse Chess

Ma'ariv, May 8th, 1959, p. 15. Credits: see below.

The story about how Cambridge University lost a correspondence game to the inmates at Bedlam (i.e., the Bethlehem insane asylum) is well known. One would suspect that it is spurious, but, as Edward Winter notes, the game was actually played.

A similar event had happened in 1961 in Israel, and, as Moshe Roytman notes, was reported in Ma'ariv on January 12th, 1961, p. 6. The newly-established Ramla chess club (says the article), looking for worthwhile opponents, found "under their nose" a chess team in... the local prison. The result of the match? You guessed it -- the prisoners won, 6 to 1. The excuse given (clearly not intended too seriously), by the Ramla club (the one on the outside, I mean)? 'They've got time to play there!'.

The number of games -- 7 -- leads one to think that the players in question was the same team which was one of four which, in another link provided by Roytman among many others about 'various issues' in this thread in the chess-il web site [both in Hebrew], scored respectably in the first Israeli prisons' tournament in 1959.

The event was a three-round team event with four 7-player teams, and was reported in Ma'ariv on May 8th, 1959, p. 15 (see picture above). The full results were: Ma'asiyahu 17/21, Tel Mond 13/21, Ramla 11/21, Mahane Ha'Miyum 1/21. In addition the same article notes that the tournament concluded with Dr. Menachem Oren playing a simultaneous game against 30, scoring +29 =1, the draw 'probably against a prisoner in jail for embezzlement, who was active in one of the chess clubs in his civilian life'.

More About Alla Kushnir

Credit: see below.

Our correspondent Moshe Roytman points out -- in the "Chess-il" blog -- an excellent biographical monograph about Alla Kushnir, including some fantastic photographs, in an article by Jan Kalendovsky (in Czech).

The most artistic of the photographs is given above; it reminds one of a famous similar photograph of David Bronstein

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

War Chess 1939-1945

Credit: see below.
Paweł Dudziński had kindly sent us his book Szachy wojenne 1939-1945 [War Chess], which is about just that: chess during WWII, mostly in Poland by Poles (especially Jewish Poles), Germans, and others, e.g. the Russian-French Alekhine. It also has a large section about games among Poles elsewhere, e.g., in Russian gulags, the Buenos Aires Olympiad, or the Middle East (e.g., Aloni, who was a member of Anders' army), and so on.

How many people who are reading this can name a single game played during that time by Polish players or in Poland? The book has well over 100 such games, and the games themselves are only a small part of the history covered in the book. The book tells us of over-the-board players, correspondence players, and problemists; of male and female players; of (to repeat) Poles, Germans, and others; of games played in private and in tournaments, in Olympiads and in ghettos; and much more besides. It has numerous rare photographs, not only of the players or of tournaments but of diplomas, personal effects, newspaper clippings, etc.; to name one particularly startling example, it has a collection of photos of chess sets made by inmates in the death camps.

The book's research and erudition puts that of most "serious" history books, let alone "mere" chess history books, to shame. I am giving only one example. Above is p. 295 from the index -- a perfectly typical page out of 20. It names, on that single page, dozens of people, including not only Tarrasch and Tartakower (noting the latter's nom de guerre 'Georges Cartier'), but also -- for example -- Jürgen Stroop, who destroyed the Warsaw ghetto, and a player we have met before on this blog -- Marek SzapiroNeed it be said that the sources I credit in the blog entry about Szapiro, as well as many others I did not use (or, for that matter, were aware of), are all used in War Chess's writing about Szapiro -- a fact easy to verify, since the book, naturally, gives full credit to all the sources used? 

David Friedmann Exhibition -- Mark Your Calendars!

Rabbis, David Friedman, ca. 1970. Credit: see below.
We have already noted in this blog the story of the lost chess art of David Friedmann, as well as using (with permission of his daughter, Miriam Friedman Morris) one of his portraits -- that of Akiba Rubinstein.

Ms. Friedman Morris, his daughter, now informs us that an exhibition of his art will be displayed in Israel, after it was shown also in New York. To quote Ms. Morris:
Please mark your new Jewish year calendars for the opening of an exhibition of my father’s lost musician drawings on October 23, 18:00, at the Felicja Blumental Music Center & Library, Bialik 26, in Tel Aviv.
The portrayed musicians were outstanding soloists, conductors and members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Among the portraits are Jewish subjects forced to exile Germany, such as: Arnold Schoenberg, Szymon Goldberg, Gregor Piatigorsky, and Hansi Freudberg (Joanna Graudan). Also on exhibit will be the 1925 portrait of James Simon who performed in Theresienstadt and perished in Auschwitz.  
The exhibition is part of the Goethe Institute-Tel Aviv, Berlin Dayz program, until 16.12. Then it will be presented at the Goethe-Institut-Jerusalem from 19.12. until 10.02. From 20.02. 2014 on it will be presented at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (Except for the opening in Tel Aviv, the dates need confirmation.) 
In New York the title was: GIVING MUSIC A FACE: David Friedmann's Lost Musician Portraits from the 1920's featuring the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Here is a short film on youtube: However, the title translates awkwardly to Hebrew, so in Israel the title will be: THE LOST PORTRAITS – Sketches of Musicians of the 1920's by David Friedmann.
I put above an example, also sent by Ms. Friedman, of her father's art --  'Rabbis', ca. 1970. 

An additional -- if indirect -- chess connection is that Piatigorsky, whose portrait Friedmann drew, the famous cellist, was not only a chess fan, but married to Ms. Jacqueline Piatigorsky (née Rotschild) (1911-2012), who was one of the top women players in the USA for a long time. They organized the two Piatigorsky cup tournaments, among others, as well as the Fischer - Reshevsky match of 1961.


Updated, 12/2/2013:  Ms. Friedman informs me that when they became naturalized in 1960, the family members, father included, dropped the last 'n' in its name, and the father became 'David Friedman'. Hence, following her suggestion, I am changing the spelling above in the 1970s painting. Ms. Friedman informs me, however, that when referring to earlier work, she still uses her father's name at the time, 'Friedmann'. Since this blog is mostly concerned with pre-1960s history, I keep the 'Friedmann' spelling in the labels and the blog in general.                                            

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rubinstein's Record and Broken Sets

Photo Credit:
While visiting Palestine -- from April 14th to May 25th, 1931 -- Akiba Rubinstein gave quite a few simultaneous displays -- nine, by his own reckoning. His total record was a very respectable 88%: +235 =27 -28 -- especially considering that, based on contemporary reports, most of the displays were, in effect, all-night affairs, typically starting about 8 or 9 PM and ending somewhere from 3 to 5 AM the next morning. (Sources: Doar Hayom, April 15th, May 29th, and Sept. 23rd, 1931, among other contemporary reports).

 In one of the simuls in Tel Aviv (+32 =6 -7), reported on April 20th 1931 in Doar Ha'Yom (p. 3), the author of the article (Avishalon Drory) notes sarcastically that one of Rubinstein's losses -- to Moshe Rose -- was due to the fact that Rubinstein lost his queen after 'mistaking it for a knight' -- since both pieces were missing their head...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Political Leaders and Chess -- Does Anybody Know What Became of this Suggestion?

From Chess [Britain], Feb. 1996:

Does anybody know what became of this suggestion, or of Shimon Peres's alleged exemption from it? I am quite sure nothing became of it. By the way, the reference to Elijah Williams is presumably to the slow-moving 19th century British chess player, not the American football player.

Political Leaders and Chess -- Continued

Source: Shachmat, 1970, no. 10 (October), p. 264.

We have already seen -- here and here -- that David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, was interested in promoting chess, not so much as a player (he was a very weak player, to judge by the position in the photo of him actually playing) but as a Zionist Enterprise, a healthy past time for youths and a source of pride for the country when it achieves good results abroad.

Above is a copy of a letter sent by him to Israel Eshel, at the time the head of the Israeli Chess Federation, sending his hopes for success to the Israeli Students' team for success in the Student Olmypiad, which, at the time of the letters' writing, was about to begin in Haifa. This letter too emphasizes how Jews have been partial to chess for 'thousands of years', how it shows man's intelligence, etc.

The full report of the students' Omypliad was given in Shachmat's previous issue (no. 9, 1970, pp. 224-226), by the captain, Malkiel Peretz. He noted sarcastically that most of the players have unsolved exams or work issues -- 'interestingly, these problems are always solved when we play abroad'. But, on the whole, the team did quite respectively: 4th place, after England, Germany, and the USA; the Soviet bloc, for political reasons, did not participate. Peretz notes that Ben Gurion's letter was read in the closing ceremony.

It should be noted that by far the best player for Israel in the event was the 'Vilan Gaon', Bleiman, which we have met before in this blog.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Another Excellent Polish Chess History Book

Credit: Penelopa, Warsaw.
Poland had developed quite a collection of excellent chess historians, which do serious research and bring to our knowledge a lot new information about unknown periods in chess history (see C. N. 8204), or of obscure players who should be better known, and much more besides. 

Tomasz Lissowski, Jerzy Konikowski, and Jerzy Moras now offer us a new book -- Mistrz Przepiorka ('Master Przepiorka', 2013, Warsaw: Penelopa) -- a biography, article, game, and problem collection of David Przepiorka

The book is divided into four parts: a biography, which is very detailed, and in particular, investigates his early life, family history, education, and murder by the Nazis, as well as the better-known periods of his life. It includes many rare photographs -- including, inter alia, copies of his school record, and a color plate of his mother's gravestone. The second part is a collection of articles from numerous sources, mostly contemporary, by or about him. The third is a selection of 53 deeply-analyzed games. The last part is a collection of what he was most famous for: 160 problems and studies. Naturally, the original sources for all historical material used are given in detail. No unsourced 'Przepiorka had once...' stories here! 

Here is one early mate in 2 by him -- the 2nd he ever published -- from the book (p. 16, the source given being the Kurier Warszawski, 30.4.1895). The analysis is from the book.

Mate in 2.
1. Qb1!

'Tempo.' -- Lissowski et al

I.e., Black now has to move, and he is -- to use the players', not the problemists', term -- in "zugzwang". That is, any move which ignores White's last move allows mate:  

1. ... a4 2. Nb4#
1. ... c3 2. Qd3#
1. ... c5 2. Qb7#

1. ... Nxe6 2. Qf5#
1. ... Nf5+ 2.Qxf5#
1. ... Nh5 2. Qf5#
1. ... Ne8 2. Qf5#

1. ... Rd1 2. Nc3#
1. ... Re1 2. Nc3#
1. ... Rf1 2. Nc3#
1. ... Rg1 2. Nc3#
1. ... Rh1 2. Nc3#

1. ... Rc2 Qh1#
1. ... Rc3 Nxc3#

So Black must try: 

1. ... Rxb1 

Which is answered by 

2. Nc3#

P. S.

I apologize for the dropping of the accents from the Polish names in this post -- it is impossible to me to add them with the fonts available on my blog editor. At least, I don't know how to do it...

In Memorium: Alla Kushnir, 1941-2013

Source: Davar, June 29th, 1977, p. 9.

Alla Kushnir, the top Israeli female chess players for many years, has passed away this Aug. 3rd. Both the Israeli Chess Federation and Tel Aviv University (both links in Hebrew) praise her highly. Why Tel Aviv University? Because that's where she served as a world-renowned professor of Numismatics after she had, in the late 70s, given up chess for the academic world.

Like Philidor, if we may make the comparison, she truly excelled in two different fields (music, of course, was Philidor's second field; indeed according to the Oxford Companion to Chess, he saw it as his true vocation, chess as a mere hobby). It is not often that we meet people who are world-class achievers in two totally different fields. 

Among her chess achievements were to play three times in a match for the women's world championship (losing to Nona Gaprindashvilliand once in the (women's) candidates' final (losing to Maia Chiburdanidze). She also won the gold medal with the Israeli team in the 1976 Olympiad in Haifa, with a nearly clean score of 7.5/8, astonishing even considering the fact that the eastern block, for political reasons, did not participate. Her overall Olympiad record (in three women's Olympiad -- the 4th, 5th, and 7th -- for both the USSR and Israel) is the equally impressive +21 =4 -0.  

A frequent correspondent of ours had noted that an extremely interesting interview with her in Davar (from which the above photo is taken, link in Hebrew) has some interesting material about chess in the days of the "Iron Curtain". Among the more interesting questions:

Q: Is there a difference between "female" and "male" chess?

A: There were joint tournaments from the beginning, but once I started to play for championships, the sexes were separated.

Q: Was the separation, then, for no good reason?

A: Not exactly. Since there are 20-30 boys for every girl who plays, it's easier for a girl to reach achievements in the protected "women's only" field. This has traditional reasons. But it's not because women play differently than men -- it's just a matter of playing level. I, for example, can play with male masters in international tournaments; there is no difference, they make the same mistakes...

Q: Why was it crucial for your husband to accompany you to the [Women's] Interzonal in Holland, half a year ago? [Kushnir won both first prize and the best game prize there, as is noted in the Interview -- A.P.]

A: It was the first tournament where I would play Soviet players since I left the USSR. It happened before that when the Soviets were in a bad situation in such matches, they used real terrorism -- diplomatic pressure, various threats, and "nerve terror" -- which put the player in such a nervous state they lose because they cannot concentrate. 

Q: How do they do it?

A: Phone calls in the middle of the nights, threats of the "when you'll come home we'll take care of you" if home is in a country behind the Iron Curtain, as they did to a Russian player which married a Bulgarian ... my husband worked for a year in the USSR ... he knows how to speak with them, if one has to. 

In honor of her, we give here a game that caused quite a sensation at the time -- her defeat (as White) of Larry Evans in Lone Pine, 1975, being featured, inter alia in the July 1975 Chess Life and Review (the source for this claim is this blog -- I do not have a copy of this article -- with another photo of Ms. Kushnir). Allegedly, Bobby Fischer called Evans to ask him how such a fiasco could have happened -- although, like so many "Fischer stories", this one needs to be taken with a big grain of salt. 

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. Bg5 Bg7 8. e3
h6 9. Bh4 O-O 10. Nd2 b6 11. Be2 Ba6 12. a4 Qe7 13. O-O Bxe2 14. Qxe2 Nbd7 15.
f4 Rfe8 16. Rae1 Nf8 17. e4 Qd7 18. Qf3 N6h7 19. Nc4 

19. ... Bxc3? 

Fritz consider this the decisive mistake.

20. bxc3 f6 21. f5 g5 22. Bg3

22. ... Qxa4!?

At first sight, this looks like the last nail in the coffin -- moving the queen away from the scene of the action, as well as allowing Black's obvious next move. In fact this is not a blunder, but played deliberately. Evan's plan is to liquidate the center at the cost of some material, hoping for a draw. However, Black was already lost according to the computer's analysis. 

23. Nxd6 Re7 24. e5 Rxe5

Trying to liquidate the center at the cost of material but, again, it's too late. 

 25. Bxe5 fxe5 26. f6 Qd7 27. Nf5 Kh8 28. Nxh6 Re8 29. Qh5 e4 30. Nf7+ Kg8 31. Nh6+ Kh8 32. c4 

Fritz sees here a forced mate in 13, starting with 32. Rf5, which Kushnir "missed", but of course Black is lost in any case. 

32. ... e3 33. Nf5 a6 34. Ne7 b5 35. Rxe3 bxc4 36. Qf7 Black resigns (1-0). Mate is unavoidable.  

Who is the Warrior in "The Warrior's House" -- and Aloni's Involvement

Source: Davar, Feb. 3rd 1956, p. 9.

One of the most active chess clubs in Israel for decades had been the chess team from "Beyt Halochem" -- literally, "the Warrior's House" -- the IDF's injured veterans' organization's headquarters. But what connection does this has to do with chess in particular?

A frequent correspondent to our blog noted that the connection goes back nearly 60 years. In 1956 Davar reported that a group of Independence War (the 1948 war) injured veterans, at the suggesting of some such veterans including (phonetic spelling) Dov Winer, Moshe Reshkesh, S. Lusky, Wexelbaumer and Avraham Or-Hayim in 1954, and that this year (1956) they will compete in the Israeli "B" league (one of only two leagues at the time, "A" and "B", noted our correspondent).

Of particular interest to Jewish chess history is that the trainer of the group was Itzchak Aloni, which we have met quite often in this blog, and that the article notes that they have 'made great strides in theory and play' under his tutelage.

Oren vs. Gelfer

Source: Davar, Dec. 17th 1954, p. 14

A frequent correspondent to our blog noted that in 1954, the ex-Israeli champion, Menachem Oren, played a simultaneous game in the Emmanuel Lasker club in Tel Aviv 'last saturday' (i.e., Dec. 11th) against 24 players, 'mostly youth of level Aleph [at the time, the rough Israeli equivalent of 'candidate master' or 'expert' level in other countries -- A.P.]. The result was (from Oren's point of view) +14 -4 =6. The interesting point? One of the winners, then a nine-year old, was Israel Gelfer -- currently FIDE's vice president and for a long time the holder of numerous important posts in both Israeli chess and FIDE.

He is, by the way, an FM with a rating of about 2350, as well as an international arbiter, international organizer, and senior trainer. All of these are, incidentally, are official FIDE titles showing real achievements and the compliance with stringent standards, not honorary descriptions.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Nice Marmorosh Simul Win

In this position, Marmorosh (white, to move) has a nice attack. But how does he win? The game is from a simultaneous display given in Tel Aviv in 1927, published in La'Merchav's chess column on 20/7/1956 (editor: Eliyahu Fasher, with his annotations below).

1. Qh7+ Kf7 2. g5 Rh8 3. g6+ Kf6 4. Rde1! (threatening 5. Rxe6#) Bd5 5. Bc1! (threatening mate in two on g5) Nf5 6. Bf4 Rxh7 7. Rxf5+ exf5 8. Bxc7 Kxg6 9. Rh5 Be4 19. Rxe4 and wins (remains with two bishops for the rook).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Who was Rev. Cohn of Chicago?

Lost to Rabbi Cohn? Credit: wikipedia.

In The Occident, on Nov. 15th, 1860, (p. 6), the Jewish-American newspaper, appears a note that "Rev. Mr. Cohn" was chosen as a Rabbi for the Chicago congregation. This is relevant to Jewish chess since the article continues to note that he is a celebrated chess player who "vanquished the celebrated Paulsen."

The problem is that I can find no game which Paulsen lost to Cohn, nor a tournament (using Jeremy Gaige's Chess Tournament Crosstables) finds any player named "Cohn" who played in America in that time period in strong tournaments.

Is this mere puffing by the newspaper -- e.g., perhaps Cohn once won a game in a simultaneous display or the like -- or was there really a strong player named Cohn from 1860s Chicago? I shall re-check using Gaige's Chess Personalia, but I doubt I will find anything. Does any reader know more?

Edited to add: I checked, and, as expected, found no Cohn or Cohen who could fit the bill in Chess Personalia.

Chess History and the Hebrew Language

Credit: wikipedia

It is now well known, and accepted by almost all authorities, that chess originated in India ca. 600 AD. This was not the case in the 19th century, when the invention of chess was attributed to numerous other ancients, legendary or real, such as Achilles, King Solomon, etc.

One of the first mentions of chess in a Jewish newspaper was in The Occidentthe American Jewish newspaper, on Oct. 18th, 1860, pp. 4-5, reprinting an article from the Chess Player's Chronicle, by the Jewish player, Aaron Alexandre, who was a strong player (winning a match against Staunton in 1838) and chess historian. The letter claims that chess was invented, perhaps, by Moses, and that 2 Samuel ii. 14 is, based on the original Hebrew, was really the settlement of a political dispute by a game of chess, much like the old Indian legend about chess being invented as a replacement for actual war.

Alexandre's interpretation is ingenious, linguistically speaking, but quite forced, and in any case not accepted by most people. But it is probably the first time in the modern era a Jewish player tried to argue for a specific origin of the game -- naturally attributing it to the Jews.


For some reason I cannot link to the article itself, it's possible however to search the newspaper in the link with the details provided.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Quick Addition about the 1929 "Mystery Tournament" & Other Inter-City Tournaments in the 1920s.

Note: all links here are in Hebrew, except the first.

We have seen before that there was an unofficial Championship of Palestine in 1929. Tarbut Encyclopedia (Masada Press, 1964), in "Jews in Chess", adds that the the winner was Victor Winz, one of the strongest players in Palestine at the time.

This was not, it should be noted, the first tournament where players from various cities had joined. Already in 1922 there was a Tel Aviv - Jerusalem match; here is a report on the second (1923) tournament, which mentions in particular Pappo, the Tel Aviv player, as being successful (in Hebrew).

What's more, Marmorosh, in the mid-1920s, was promoting chess all over Palestine. While from Tel Aviv, he played for a while also in Jerusalem clubs, and even won the Jerusalem championship in 1928, while Pappo, playing for Tel Aviv in 1923, played in the Jerusalem championship in 1924.

As people did not "move about" too much at the time, it is likely that the clubs simply didn't care where a strong player lived -- as long as he joined and played. So the whole matter of which tournament was the first "general" or "nation-wide" tournament in Palestine depends more on definitions than on the facts. Was it in 1922, 1924, 1928 or 1929?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Congratulations, GM Gelfand

Credit: Chess Base's report

GM Boris Gelfand had made the best result of his career, winning the Tal Memorial, with 6/9 with no losses, ahead of Carlsen, Anand, Kramnik, Nakamura and others, for a 2900 Elo performance.

It was an excellent tournament with many fine games, and such a score is a great achievement by any standard. Congratulations, Boris, for an excellent performance.

Apart from Gelfand's another particularly noteworthy score is Nakamura's: only one draw, four wins and four losses.