Tuesday, August 8, 2017

More on Chess and the Radio

Source: Davar, Jan 21st, 1949, p. 13 of the weekend supplement (Dvar Ha'Sahvuah).

Here we have a note by B. Ron, part of his regular 'A listener's notes' column of radio criticism, brought to my attention by a regular reader of this blog. In it Ron notes that there are now two chess radio columns -- one broadcast in the 'Voice of Jerusalem' station and a new one in the 'Voice of Israel' station.

The first, which started soon before, is edited by Eliezer Manor and concentrates on the historical figures of great players, while the second, by Shaul Hon, concentrates on the techniques of the opening. Ron adds that the two would find a way to coordinate the content of the two columns for the benefit of both, as well as helping with creating more working relations, i.e., inter-city matches (Hon was in Tel Aviv and Manor in Jerusalem).

Ron had a reason to be satisfied. As the same reader noted in a message to us, it was he who, in a previous issue of his Davar column (Oct. 10th, 1947, p. 13 of the supplement) was apparently the first to suggest the need for a radio chess column at all. Now he had -- for a while -- two.

As it happened, the 'Voice of Jerusalem' -- Kol Yerushalayim -- ceased broadcasting soon afterwards, since it was from the start the official radio organ of the British Mandate, which no longer existed, but it had continued to broadcast a year or two later due to (Wikipedia argues) the unclear status of Jerusalem after the War of Independence. Hon's column too did not last too long, but I am not certain about the date of its last broadcast. Does any reader have details?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Chess in the Israeli Navy

Credit: The Last Battle of the Destroyer 'Eilat', between p. 160 & 161.

To add to the 'chess in the IDF' file, an example from chess in the Israeli navy (in Israel, the navy and air force are part of the IDF as a whole, not independent armed forces). Here is an interesting example from the book The Last Battle of the Destroyer 'Eilat' [הקרב האחרון של המשחתת אילת]. 

The INS Eilat was an Israeli destroyer sunk by Egypt in Oct. 1967, shortly after the Six Days' War. The last commander of the ship, Commander [Sgan AlufItzhak Shoshan, wrote a book about the event and the ship in general. 

In one of the photos in the book, dated 'winter 1966-1967', we see behind Shoshan, again using naval ranks, 'Lieutenant [seren] Mashiach and Lt.-commander [rav seren] Ginzburg playing chess'. 

P.S. it seems that the other three officers are playing an informal game of roulette! 

Chess on Stamps: Ourania(?) and Burundi(!)

Credit: micronation wiki

One side-issue of this blog is chess on stamps, as can be seen on the list of topics on the right. This time the stamps have nothing to do with Jews in particular, but they are a truly weird incident.

The "Kingdom of Ourania" issued a stamp celebrating the secret chess champion of the world, the man with the highest chess rating ever -- Stan Vaughan. This stamp is above.

Vaughan is, of course, no real chess champion. The above claims about his feats are true only according to himself; in reality, he is a crank who believes himself the "real" successor to Bobby Fischer, a claim accepted by nobody but himself, among other reasons because his actual chess level is at best that of a good amateur.

Nor is the kingdom of Ourania (which apparently claims for itself a sizable chunk of Antarctica, as per its web site) a real nation. If you haven't heard of this kingdom, it's because it's one of those fake nations created by cranks for various reasons - especially to avoid taxes, declare themselves "sovereign", make themselves kings and lords, demand diplomatic immunity, and so on (in fairness, sometimes the "declaration of nationhood" is tongue-in-cheek, as the link notes). Ourania is no more a nation than Vaughan is world champion.

Cranks giving each others fake honors, in this case a fake stamp of a fake nation honoring a fake chess master, would not merit a post about chess stamps all by itself, even if it surely is the weirdest chess stamp ever -- because it is not a genuine stamp. But the truly absurd thing here is that the Vaughan-featuring Ourania "stamp" is actually based on a real stamp.

Somehow, Stan Vaughan was chosen by Burundi to be featured as one of four 'chess masters' on a set of stamps it issued (picture from this link), together with those of the genuine chess champions Emanuel LaskerPaul Morphy, and Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Credit: 'Chess for all Ages' blog

How this had happened, I cannot imagine. There are cases of relatively weak or unknown players, such as Willi Schlage, on stamps (in his case Mali). There are also cases of players, such as Ray Keene, accepting dubious or outright fake honors. But at least in those cases the players are or were genuine masters, if not necessarily world-championship class. Vaughan's Burundi stamp is surely the only case where a fake master is given a genuine chess honor of this sort.