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...