Friday, March 22, 2013

A Nice Marmorosh Win

This game is quoted in Eliyahu Fasher's book, Shachmet Le'Hanna'atcha [Chess for Pleasure, 2nd Edition, 1980], p. 165. Fascher notes - without comment -- that the game is taken from "Chernov's book" -- presumably Fasher is using a variant Hebrew spelling for Irving Chernev [or Cherniev], the prolific chess author -- who says the game was played by "the Egyptian [sic] player Mussa Marmorosh" in Jerusalem in 1928.

This is surely the Palestinian player Moshe Marmorosh ["Mussa" is the Arabic version of "Moshe", that is, Moses], who at the time was indeed giving such exhibitions quite often. Can anybody locate the original quote -- and if so, how could Chernev make such an odd mistake with Marmorosh's name?

In any case, the game itself:

White: Moshe Marmorosh
Black: Polani [Ph. spelling]
Vienna Opening [C29]

Source: Irving Chernev?

Annotator: Eliyahu Fasher

1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. f4 d5 4. fxe5 Nxe4 5. Nf3 Be7 6. Bd3 Nxc3 7. dxc3 Bc5 8. Bg5 f6 9. exf6 gxf6 10. Qe2+ Kf7 11. Ne5+ Kg7

 12. Bh6+! Kg8 (12... Kxh6? 13. Nf7+) 13. Qf3 fxe5 14. Rf1 Qh4+ 15. g3

15... Qe7 (15... Qxh6? 16. Qf7#) 16. Qxd5+ Be6 

17. Bc4!! "with unaviodable mate" 1-0

Quick Note on Gelfand...

Well, Chess is Hard. Credit: Horsham Chess Club.

Boris Gelfand's performance in the World Championship Candidates' Torunament is, more or less, as expected: he is last on the rating scale for the tournament, and currently in last place. However, his performance -- two losses, four draws through round six, losing to Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian, who are leading the field by 1.5 points -- is hardly shameful. Chessbase, for its part, has an extremely detailed look at Gelfand's career, including all previous games against all his opponents.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How Chess is [Sometimes] Reported in the Media

Boris Gelfand, from the same news story mention below. 

Boris Gelfand will plays  in the Candidates' Tournament in London. As expected this is reported in the Israeli media. Unfortunately sometimes the reporting standard is not up to snuff. The following report [in Hebrew] has the headline: "Gelfand is waiting for the Norwegian Fashion Model". The meaning, of course, is that Gelfand will also play Magnus Carlsen, who had dabbled in modeling.

While the report's headline is intended to be tongue-in-cheek [the sub-header notes Carlsen is "a Scandinavian which also models"], it is annoying. First of all, it might mislead those who only have a casual interest in chess, i.e., most of the readers, who might be left wondering what chess and fashion have to do with each other.

But the real annoyance, as I see it, is not that the headline is seriously misleading [it is not], but that the idea is that the game itself is boring, or hard, so that the reporter must concentrate on the "interesting" details, like Carlsen's modeling career, to make the reader care at all. After all, what is more glorious -- chess or modeling?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

75 years of Documented Chess Activity -- a World Record? [Edited: Probably not, but...]

Credit: Pixar
What is the longest time a Jewish, or Israeli, or Palestinian chess personality was active? We already saw the case of A. L. Mohilever, who published a letter in a chess magazine as late as 1994 -- 73 years after his first chess publication, in 1921.

A reader notes two more cases.

Shmuel Friedmann, known as "Dugo", who started his activity in the Rishon Letziyon chess club in 1940, and was still active upon his death last year -- 72 years of activity, including 50 [1947-97] as the club's president.

Beating both, however, is Eliezer Pe'er [nee Perelberger], who appears as a solver in Davar on Dec. 10th, 1937 [link in Hebrew] and is still active today, 2013, in the Reti chess club in Tel Aviv. This would make it 75 -- going on 76 -- years of chess activity.

Is this a world record?

Edited to add: various web sites, such as this one, claim the record is held by Walter Ivans, who "started to play chess at age 10" and "died at 98" having "played for 85 years" [i.e., to age 95].


1. It is not clear what the source of this record is. Does any reader have information about Ivans?

2. Pe'er, too, is to be 98 this year [b. 1915], and probably "started to play" chess as a child [most players do]. If we accept that he learned chess before his 13th birthday -- which would be unusually late -- then he already beat Ivans' record.

3. It is not clear of what Ivans' chess activity had been [can some reader enlighten me?], while Pe'er constant activity in Palestinian / Israeli chess is well known. He was, for example, the captain of the Israeli team to the 1962 Olympiad; he was active in the Reti club since its founding in 1952, the reader noted above informs me; etc.

Many people learn the game as children and play occasionally all their lives; any centenarian who plays an occasional game could thus claim 90+ years of "chess activity", beating both Pe'er and Ivans.This is why I attempt to find documented evidence of "chess activity": actually joining a chess club, publishing or solving a problem, etc. Hence I am not claiming that Pe'er has nearly 90 years of "chess activity", nor make similar claims about "Dugo" or Mohilever.

4. Finally, "learning the game at age X" is too vague. For one thing it would add -- as we saw -- quite a few years to the records of Mohilever, Pe'er and "Dugo" as well. For another, it's usually impossible to verify -- how can one tell, nearly a century later, if a player learned to play at age 6, 10, or 14?

More editing: The same reader noted that, for example, Andor Lilienthal and Aron Schvarzman probably had longer documented careers. True, true -- but it is still surely an Israeli record, at least...