Monday, September 17, 2018

Czerniak's "Sefer Ha'Sachmat" ["Book of Chess"] - and an Alekhine Quip

We have just received a copy of Moshe Czerniak's Sefer Ha'Sachmat: Yesodot, Be'ayot Ve'Shitot (Tel Aviv: Mofet, 1967, 2nd edition). This literally translates as 'The Book of Chess: Foundations, Problems, and Systems', although the back page has the English title 'Sefer HaSahmat: Chess Strategy and Tactics'. . 

It is a sturdy hardcover, #48 in part of 'Danny's Popular Science Library'. The library (i.e., series of books) was named -- says the front page -- after Daniel Mass, a war hero killed in the 1948 War of Independence, who was the publisher's son, according to Wikipedia (link in Hebrew). Wikipedia adds that the series had published a total of 84 books. They covered everything from geology to philosophy, and indeed had been written, as the back dust cover says, by 'expert professionals'.

The book itself is typical of the "old fashioned" books. The technical parts are excellent -- the book is almost 400 pages, covering all aspects of chess and having many deeply annotated games. These include many subjects usually ignored by primers: for example 'exploiting a small advantage in the endgame' or 'the psychology of the attack'. The book has many well-known games, but Czerniak also brings to the reader's attention many contemporary (1960s) and local (Israeli) games. Obviously Czerniak worked hard in writing the book. 

The one jarring point is... chess history. Czerniak often repeats (in the margins) well-worn chess anecdotes, such as the the Gibaud-Lazar 'shortest tournament game' (Tim Krabbe, Edward Winter and others had noted the game is fiction), accepting as genuine two spurious games by Napoleon, and even -- in the photographic plates opposite p. 17 -- giving a picture of a chess set allegedly 'given as a present to Alexander the Great (4th century BC) -- despite p. 17 itself claiming, correctly, that chess was probably invented in India in the 6th century AD. 

That said, Czerniak also adds, with more verisimilitude, interesting first-person accounts of conversations he had with chess fans. One (p. 335) is a quote from a chess fan who explained to him why he likes Alekhine's games: 'his pieces do not retreat even when attacked'. Did Alekhine himself know of this? Wonders Czerniak. 

Another anecdote, which he gives as one that he had witnesses himself, is of a 'certain player in a certain coffee house' (presumably, Czerniak is thinking of his time as a student in Paris) who would put his knight in blitz games at the corner of four squares. This would give him a piece that could control '16' [actually, 32] squares -- 'the strongest chess piece I've ever seen' (p. 77). 

Not all of the anecdotes are spurious. Some are well-known ones, such as Najdorf's simultaneous records (p. 76) or his own (then) longest game (vs. Pilnik, a 191 move draw, Mar de Plata, 1950). The problem is that it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Chess on the Front Page

Credit: this cool bar
Edward Winter had kindly posted an example of Israeli "chess on the front page" I have sent him in Chess Notes 10978, dealing with the 1957 Israeli championship. The page in question was brought to my attention by Moshe Roytman. As usual, Chess Notes in its entirety is well worth reading.  

Monday, August 13, 2018

Unusual Chess Cartoons

Source: Shachmat May 1985, no page number
A frequent correspondent points out that Shaul Hon, inter alia, had organized the first chess championships of the 'working settlements' -- i.e., the kibbutzim, moshavim, and other Zionist agricultural communities in Israel and pre-state Palestine. The first such championship, notes Hon in an article on the same page as the above illustration, was organized by him in the Summer of 1946. The tradition continues to this day, the last championship (as of this writing) having taken place in 2017 (link in Hebrew). 

Hon reminds the reader that he already wrote in 1946 that this tournament was organized inter alia for Zionist reasons, so that 'the man of work and the field will feel himself part of the national chess effort'. This cartoon is often seen in connection with this championship -- a man plowing a chess board with a plow harnessed to two "horses" which are chess knights, joining agriculture with chess. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Israeli Championship. 1951 -- an Unusual View

Credit: Ami Barav's collection
Above is an unusual view of the Israeli 1951 championship's concluding ceremonies. We see on stage the back of the head of Pinchas Rosen (left) and David Ben Gurion (right), and the players and their wives in the first and second row. The audience seems to be enjoying Tur-Sinai's speech. 

The players in the front row include among others Kniazer (2nd from left), Dyner (3rd from left)), Porat (5th from left), Smiltiner (7th from left) and Czerniak (in dark suit, extreme right, next to Smiltiner). Can anybody identify the rest with certainty? 

A Postcard from Amsterdam

Credits: see below

Above, is the front and the back of a postcard sent to Israel Rabinovich-Barav from Dr. Menachem Oren when the latter was in the chess Olympiad in Amsterdam, 1954. It was brought to our attention by his son, Prof. Ami Barav

On the back there are the signatures of many players. According to Oren's son, the identity of some of the signatures can by identified. It seems to be mostly that of the Soviet team. We have:

Credits: see above
1. Botvinnik
2. Smyslov
3. Keres
4. Kotov 

Can any reader identify more signatures? 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Salo Flohr, 1934

Source: see below
This picture had been sent to me by Ami Barav, the son of Israel Rabinovich-Barav, from Labounsky's grandson, Dori Parnas (ph. spelling). The brothers were Rabinovich-Barav's cousins. We thank Martin Weissenberg for helping us identify Flohr.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Quick Note -- Najdorf vs. ?

.Najdorf in 1973; from Wikipedia
Edward Winter had kindly published an item about Najdorf and a currently unknown opponent, based on a photograph from Ami Barav we have forwarded to him. See Chess Notes 10927

Odd Sets

Credit: Personal Collection
A close relative, on holiday in Safed, Israel, sent me these two pictures. Decorative chess sets of army X vs. army Y are common (French vs. English, Elves vs. Orcs, etc.) but I admit I never saw a Hassidim (white pieces) vs. Mitnagdim (black pieces) before, juxtaposing the two main groups of ultra-orthodox Jews. In the bottom picture, there is a more abstract set, which apparently is a green(ish) army of flowers doing battle against a white one. 

The pieces of both sets are made of wax, and even have wicks -- i.e., they are in fact candles. The reason is that they both sets are display pieces in a specialty candle factory -- Safed Candles. A Hebrew-language review of their store has many pictures that show the store's interior, complete with a Noah's ark made completely of wax. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Snapshot

Source: La'Merhav Feb. 12, 1960, page 8 
A frequent correspondent notifies us of the interesting "snapshot" of the Israeli first league in 1960. We see the "old guard" in Jerusalem's Rubinstein club: Czerniak, Dobkin, Mohilever and others. We see a "mixture" in Tel Aviv's Lasker club: Aloni and Oren, but also the young Domnitz. The IDF's and the students' teams naturally feature young players: Kraidman, Guti, Stepak, and others. Tel Aviv's Reti has the "old timers" Smiltiner and Barav but also the young Persitz in the first board. 

Of particular interest is the Bat Yam club, which has Gereben in the first board, but the article (by La'Merhav's chess columnist, Fasher) notes that he already left the country -- and that Bat Yam also lost Ya'akov Mashian, the Iranian-Jewish master, 'who also left the country'.

Mashian returned to Israel in the mid-70s (at least according to Wikipedia), and -- incidentally -- played with Stepak a 193-move game in the Israeli championship semifinals (Stepak won, 1:0). This game, according to Tim Krabbe, was the longest recorded game ever played for seven years (1980-1987), and is still the longest game in time -- 24.5 hours -- 'a record it will forever hold'.

As for Gereben, he had emigrated to Israel in 1959 and played in the 1959 Israeli championship (coming in second), but left the country soon afterwards, as Fasher already notes. Ha'Tzophe of Oct. 9th, 1959, p. 4, notes our correspondent, says the 'Erno Gereben (Grünfeld)' had come to the country shortly before the championship began. Can any reader explain why 'Grünfeld'?

Edited to add: a frequent correspondent noted that the English-language Wikipedia entry for Gereben has his birth name as "Ernest [or Ernst] Grünfeld' and adds:
This name change, with other survival skills, probably helped him survive the holocaust. It was printed in the Israeli press that during one of the Olympiads, a Hungarian player, in a worse position, whispered to the Israeli player (in Yiddish) 'I am a Jew', and the game was drawn. 
It turned out to be Gereben. Based on the details given by our correspondent, an Olimpbase and Chessbase search reveals the game is probably Gereben - Kniazer, Amsterdam 1954, ending in a draw in the following position:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Aloni - Glass combination

 Source: Davar 25/5/1951, p. 22 
Int this game in the 5th round, Glass (Black) defeated Aloni. Here, Glass (with two queens, on a1 and d1) played 1...Qb3, to stop checks after 2.Qf5+ kh8 3.Qc8+ Qg8. 

Hon pointed out that Black could win brilliantly with 1...Qxf3+!! 2.gxf3 (2.Kh4 g5#) Qf1+ 3.Kh4 Qf2+ 4.Kg4 (4.Kh3? Qxf3+ and 5...g5#) Qg2+ 5.Kh4 (5.Kf5? Qh3+ wins the queen!) g5+ 6.Kh5 Qxh2+ 7.Kg4 Qh4+ 8.Kf5 Qh3+ and wins the queen. 

Whether all this is necessary, given that Black is a queen up in the initial position anyway, is to me unclear. 

Czerniak about the 1951 Championship, and Prizes

 4 .Source: Al Ha'Mishmar 6/4/1951 p
In Al Ha'Mishmar, Czerniak gives an interesting view of the 1951 championship. Before this, the editor, Eliyahu Shahaf, adds that the tournament took a long time -- two months -- as opposed to the Passover, 1939 tournament where the "Lasker" club organized six tournaments in one weekend. 

He then publishes a long interview with Czerniak. The latter overviews the strengths and weakenesses of the players, noting that, overall, is a 'second level international tournament', comparing it to Venice, 1947 (won by Tartakover) or the Hastings tournaments in England.

One of the reasons the tournament took long is that the games were played in many locations. The result was a large number of special prizes. As Shahaf notes in the same column:

Oren also won the beauty prize for the second round in Haifa (against Czerniak) and for the best result in the last five rounds (4 out of 5). Kniazer won a prize for the most beautiful game for the first round in Haifa (against Glass) and Smiltiner -- the beauty prize for a game in Hadera (against Fischer), and Braun -- the beauty prize for a game in Rishon Le'Tziyon (also against Fisher). Glass also won a special prize for the shortest game (23 moves, against Braun). The overall beauty prize was won by Dobkin for his game against Mandelbaum.

This makes for five beauty prizes, a special prize for the shortest game (presumably, the shortest decisive game), a prize for best performance in the last five rounds, as well as (as Davar reports, April 6th, 1951, p. 12 of the weekly supplement) five "regular" prizes for overall placement as 1st to 5th. making it a total of eleven prizes for an 13-person tournament, or -- since (as Davar reports) the fifth prize was shared by three players, 13 prizes in a 13-person tournament. 

Oren and Czerniak Simul

Source: Ha'Boker, June 13th, 1952, p. 6
In Ha'Boker's very first chess column, we are notified of an interesting event. Oren and Czerniak played a simultaneous display in Haifa -- 'the largest simultaneous display [ever] in the country', says the paper, probably justifiably. 

It was played against 123 children from 23 schools, 'including the school for the deaf-mutes and the Arab school'. We see here an early example of chess being used as an inclusive activity. 

The results were: Oren +58 =1 -1, Czerniak +59 =1 -3. An excellent performance from both, even if one assumes that the level of play was (these being school children) below that of the average enthusiast. 


Source: Davar, June 22nd, 1951, p. 14 (of the Dvar Ha'Shavua supplement)

From Hon's comment: 'Botvinnik and Ragozin, training together for the match against Bronstein, also trained in this healthy way'. 

Glass - Kniazer, 1951, and Special Prizes

The reporting on the 1951 Israeli championship in Davar's chess column (edited at the time by Shaul Hon) was quite extensive, and has many photograph which were later reproduced in other books (including Hon's own...). Here is his report of the Glass - Kniazer game, played inthe 8th round, with Hon's annotations. Kniazer -- who lived in Haifa -- won a special prize from Haifa's municipal government for this victory. 

The same game was later analyzed in more detail in Persitz's book of Kniazer's best games, Ha'Derech Le'Nitzachon Be'Sachmat [The Road to Victory in Chess] (1959, with an introduction by Kniazer.) The remarks are broadly similar, although Persitz analyzes in more detail. White, both agree, wrongly believed his attack on the king's side will succeed, while Black correctly sacrificed one exchange and offered to sacrifice another to make sure his attack will be first. 

Glass - Kniazer [C14]

1951 Championship (8), Feb. 1951

Annotations: Based on S. Hon, Davar 1/6/2951, p. 14 [of the Dvar Ha'Shavuah supplement].

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 Sacrificing a pawn to open a file for the rook. 6...a6 7.Qg4 f5 8.Qg3 c5 Just like in Beutum-Czerniak, Tel Aviv 1938. 9.Nge2 Nc6 10.0–0–0 Nxd4 Kniazer looks for exchanged to have more space for his pieces, but still needs to solve the c8 bishop's problem. 11.Nxd4 cxd4 12.Ne2 Aiming at 13.Nxd4 with pressure on e6.12...Nc5 13.f3 d3 Limiting the f1 bishop further. 14.cxd3 Bd7 15.Kb1 Rc8 16.Nd4 In order to prevent 16...Ba4, with many scarificial threats. 16...Na4 Kniazer is on the prowl. 17.Nb3 a5 18.Be2 0–0 19.Bh6 Rf7 20.f4 Threatening Bh5.20...Bf8 21.Bh5 Qb6! 

Now Black's plan is revealed: he prepared a counter-attack. He sacrifices an exchange so as to win the second bishop easily later. 22.Rc1 Nc3+! 23.Rxc3 Rxc3 24.bxc3 a4 White can cause no harm on the king's side, while Black has a crushing attack on the queen's side - with the assistance of the two bishops.

25.Kb2 axb3 26.axb3 Ba4 27.Bd1 The rook stood en prise for six moves -- and was not captured. 27...d4! 28.Bg5 dxc3+ 29.Ka1 Bxb3 30.Bxb3 Qxb3 31.Qf2 c2 White resigns (0–1) due to 32.Qa7 Ba3 33.Qd4 Bc1! and mates. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

More on Chess on the Radio

Source: here

Our frequent correspondent notes that another person who broadcast about chess on the radio was Yochanan Marcuze. For example, Davar (Sept. 7th, 1949, p. 5) reports that he will speak on the radio about 'The heavy pieces -- the queen', while on on Oct. 5th, 1949, Davar reports his show about 'the move 1.d4 - general overview'.

We also add that for a few years, in the 1950s, as we noted before Czerniak had a regular chess column on Israeli radio; e.g., a search for "Czerniak" in the Jewish Press Archives (link in Hebrew) finds his "chess corner" often mentioned, broadcasted at 3PM or 4:30 PM on Friday afternoons, usually for about 20-30 minutes.

We also add that Davar (Feb. 8th, 1951, p. 17 of the weekly supplement) notes that the Israeli chess championship would be followed on the radio, with commentary from the players, every Sunday at 13:45; for example, on the coming sunday (Feb 10th) there will be a talk about the three first rounds and other matters with Dr. Gruengard.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Barav's Web Site Updated

Israel Barav (Rabinovich). Photo credit: Ami Barav
Israel Barav's memorial web site had been updated with some new games. These includes games from his later (1960s) career, as well as the last game from his 1926 match with Churgin. In particular, we a see-saw 64-move game with Barav getting a winning attack, Churgin surviving the onslash and getting two connected passed pawns for a bishop, and then Barav, after both play rather well for a long time, pouncing on Churgin's inaccuracy to ensnare the opponent's king in a rook-and-bishop mating net. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Chess in the Cyprus Internment Camp

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, Sept. 18th, 1947, p. 3
As our frequent correspondent Moshe Roytman notes, chess was also played in the Cyprus internment camp for illegal (in the British Mandate's view) emigrants to Palestine. The report is about Yosef Heytenburg (ph. spelling) from Hungary, 'only 23 years old, and an expert in sharp play'. While it is not stated explicitly, from the context it seems he was an inmate himself. On August 16th 1947 he played 38 (+33  =2 -3) and on August 23rd he played 82 (+62 =7 -13). 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Tunisia, Lebanon and Israel in the 1960 Olympiad

Source: Eliezer Pe'er's collection
The late Eliezer Pe'er had been with the Israeli team in the 1960 Olympiad. He had, inter alia, collected (as we have noted) signatures from all the players (with the exception of... the Israeli team!) 

This included the signatures of the Tunisian (left) and Lebanese players. What is more, not only have they signed the autograph book willingly, but Tunisian even played Israel in the event two years later, i.e., in the 1962 Olympiad, being the first time to our knowledge Israel played an Arab team in any sporting event. 

Reginald Storrs' Signature

Source: Almog Burstein
Almog Burstein forwards the following signature -- including chess content ('King's Gambit accepted... P-K4) of Sir Ronald Storrs, the first governor of Jerusalem under the British Mandate of Palestine and the founder of its first chess club. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The New Chess Square in Be'er Sheva's "B" Neighborhood

This is the new (Dec. 2017) chess square in Be'er Sheva's Schuna Bet -- "B" Neighborhood. The video is brought to our attention by a frequent contributor to this blog, and is to be found on Be'er Sheva's Official City YouTube Channel.

Edited to add: it is named after Eliyahu Levant, the late chess organizer and activist (as well as strong amateur player) in Be'er Sheva, who made it Israel's chess "capital", the city with the highest percentage of grandmasters in the world. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

New Game By Oren

The following game, by Menachem Oren (then Chwojnik) was published in Al Ha'Mishmar (Jan, 6th, 1950, p. 8). It does not appear in Chessbase 14's database, nor in online databases such as , or for that matter in Kandelshein's (very good) 1989 biography of Oren, Oren Ba'Tzameret (On the Top: Dr. Menachem Oren, the First Chess Champion of Israel). Edited 25/5/2018: We add, in square brackets, the annotations of a strong player, Shahar Gindi, a good colleague of ours.  Edited 27/5/2022: the game is not in fact "new," actually appearing in Oren Ba'Tzameret (pp. 70-71)!

White: M. Oren
Black: P. Chramkov [ph. spelling]
Annotations: M. Oren and [Shahar Gindi]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e3 f5 5.Nf3 Nd7 6.Qc2 Qf6 

Indending to protect f5, in order to avoid c-d pawn exchange. Black's next move is intended for the same purpose. 

7.Bd3 Nh6 [This weird looking development is played by top playes to this day -- S.G.] 8.b3 Bd6 9.Bb2 [Both sides avoid castling, which is especially awkward for Black] b6 

9...e5 10.dxe5 Nxe5 11.Nxe5 Bxe5 12. f4 with advantage fot White


Protects the Nc3 and prepares Qe2, to prevent Black's e5. 

10...Bb7 11.Qe2 a6 12.0-0 Ng4 [? - 12...g5? 13.c5! ruins Black's pawn structure, so 12...Qe7 was in order.] 13.cxd [13.c5! is also good] cxd 14. e4! [The Stonewall has collapsed] Bf4? 

If 14... dxe4 then 15.Nxe4! fxe4 16.Bxe4 wins back the piece. [But still better than the game contiuation,]

15.exf5 [!+- From here on Black defends poorly and White's advantage keeps growing until mate.] Bxc1 16.Bxc1 Qe7

Necessary. If 16... 0-0 17.Bg5! and wins.

17.Ng5! Ndf6 

17...exf5 18.Qxe7+ Kxe7 19.Re1+ and wins in all variations.


18...Kd7 19.f3 Nh6 20.Na4 Qd6 21.Bf4 Qb4 22.a3! [Oren keeps finding the best moves] Qxa3 

22...Qxb3 23.Nec5+ wins the queen.  

23.Nec5+! [Now mate is unstoppable] bxc5 24.Qe6+ Kd8 25.Qd6+ Nd7 26.Qc7+ Ke7 27.Re1+ Kf6 28.Qd6+ Kf7 29.Qe6+ Kf8 30.Bd6#


An Odd Dedication

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, Nov. 22nd, 1945, p. 3

Dedicating problems to persons -- especially in memorium -- is common, but here is a dedication which is rare: a problem (mate in 4) by Y. Ashkenazi [ph. spelling] 'dedicated to the Evron kibbutz to celebrate the day it was established' (literally, 'the day it was raised up'). We see here, again, the Zionist streak in the Palestinian and Israeli chess community. This kibbutz was, in fact, established in 1937, but the problem may well have well simply been composed then, and only pubnlished in 1945 - or simply dedicated to the 1945 anniversary of the event.  

First(?) Original Retrograde Analysis in the Palestinian Press

Al Ha'Mishmar, Dec. 20th, 1945, p. 3

What was the first retrograde analysis problem published in the Israeli chess Al Ha'Mishmar was, as we noted before, started as a de facto problem column. Here, for example, is a problem Yechezkel Hillel, noted above. What was Black's last move? The column add that this problem, 'the result of much work', is in memory of Baruch Rauchner, of Kibutz Mizra, one of the 'top chess pioneers in the country. Can any reader solve it?

The paper previously published a retrograde-analysis problem, on Nov. 22nd the same year (p. 3), by the well-known British problemist Thomas Dawson, which is solved in detail in the Dec. 20th column, while explaining the term "retrograde". But Dawson's problem, as well as not being a Palestinian one, of course, is a mate in two, not a "pure" retrograde analysis problem. The retrograde analysis is necessary to show why the key -- 1.gxf6 e.p. -- is permissible (i.e., that Black's last move had to be Pf7-f5.) The diagram amusingly has been printed with the stopgap-text 'black pawn' on e4:

The same column (brought to our attention by a frequent correspondent) also notes an important event -- the re-opening of the Jerusalem chess club after the war, incidentally with 'Comrade Marcuze' as treasurer, with well known players (Mohilever, etc.) as members.

Persitz, the "New Face" in the Tel Aviv Championship

Source: Davar, Jan. 24, 1950, p. 30

Here, we see a note of the 1950 Tel Aviv championship, in Davar's chess column, reporting the drawing of the lots. The editor notes that while Avraham Labounsky (the current champion) as well as Kniazer and Mendelbaum could not play, we see some "new faces" such as the fifteen and a half years old Persitz. Persitz indeed will become one of Israel's greatest chess talents inthe 60s and 70s. We thank a frequent correspondent for adding pointing this our to us. 

A Snapshot of Israeli Chess Leadrship, 1955

From La'Merchav, Jan. 21st, 1955

From a frequent correspondent: just a snapshot: the leadership of the Israeli Chess Federation in 1955. The chairman was  Dr. Zephler [ph. spelling], with the management and various subcommittees including (for league play, rating, youth, etc.) including naturally Dr. Oren, Marmorosh, Bar-Shira, Czerniak, and others. Chess strength as such was not crucial: Zephler himself was not a top player or even a master, nor were many others.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tel Aviv Championship, 1946 -- and the First all-Hebrew Chess Magazine

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, April 18th, 1946, p. 3
An interesting report is found in Al Ha'Mishmar in 1946 by our frequent correspondent: it reports that despite 'a few unfinished battles', which 'cannot affect the final result', Kniazer won the Tel Aviv Championship for 1946. Yet the complete table -- given, e.g., on p. 90 of Ptichot Be'Sachmat ['Chess Openings'] by Hon,(3rd edition, Sept. 1964, as pointed out on p. 2 of the 4th edition, 1968) -- shows that A. Labounsky won the championship (Kniazer was joint 2nd/3rd).

The 1946 report also adds severe criticism of the tournament -- no less than four players had withdrawn, but 'unfortunately there is no official supreme organization (a Palestinian federation) to investigate the matter'. Technically false, as such a federation existed since 1936 as we have seen, but it was indeed de facto defunct due to the war, the battle for independence, and many other more important events. As Hon himself notes, (Ptichot Be'Sachmat, 4th ed., p. 27, for example) it was only after the end of the war that chess life in Palestine was renewed.

He adds (ibid) that the time was also ripe for 'a renewed appearance of a chess magazine' and that he took it upon himself to publish it -- but that it only 'lasted four issues', but was the first time a chess magazine was written (entirely) 'in Hebrew transcription' -- in earlier cases, as numerous examples in this blog show, the squares were usually given in Latin letters.

Indeed, in the very same column where the report of the 1946 tournament was given, a quick review of the first issue of Hon's magazine was given as well -- with the chess editor of Al Ha'Mishmar adding that an important point is that it is entirely in Hebrew, precisely what Hon wrote later in Ptichot Be'Sachmat

Marcuze Reporting from Holland

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, Oct. 23rd, 1947, p. 3
Yochanan Marcuze, points out our frequent correspondent, was the representative of the Palestinian Chess Federation in the FIDE congress of 1947.

Marcuze first reports on the two tournaments which took place in Hilversum, Netherlands, with Porat representing the Palestinian federation, in the European Zone championship and then in a local tournament, commemorating the 60 years' anniversary of the Hilversum chess club, in which Porat 'took fourth place in his group'.

Marcuze then adds that he was chosen as the Paelstinian federation representative in the FIDE congress of that year (which took place in the Hague) and that he established warm relations with many representatives -- e.g., B. H. Wood asking him about arranging a radio chess match between England and Palestine.

Marcuze adds in particular the importance of the massive amounts of chess literature brought by the different delegations, and especially the 'heart-rending' books of game collections by victims of the Nazis, 'among them, needless to say, many Jews' -- and notes the old-timer Maroczy was also present. 

He ends with noting his visit to England, where many players, especially Jewish ones, showed great interest in chess in Palestine, and the Jews in particular look at Palestine 'with love and longing'.

Chess on the Radio (again)

Source: Davar, April 14th, 1950, p. 30
Our frequent correspondent noted that in 1950, there was an active chess column in Israeli radio -- noting for example that on 12/4/1950 (source: Davar, April 12th, p.5) a 'chess corner' broadcast by Marcuse and Ben-Menachem. Here is another example -- this time, about the 'Reti [opening] system' -- by Y. Ron, to be broadcast the week after, on the 19th of April.  

Chess in Haifa, 1938

Source: Davar, Feb. 4th, 1938, p. 18
From our frequent contributor, here is a snapshot of chess in Haifa in 1938. We have more than 50 players who played in a 'graduated tournament' (i.e., based on their level of play). Inter alia The article report on the winners of the first (strongest) group were Barney [ph. spelling] and Greenberg, of the second, Dr. Landau, and of the third, Bandeis and Weinstein. The winners 'received prized from the De Haas cigarette corporation in Haifa.

Paying Our Debts...

In the last few months, we have received quite a bit of information in email from a frequent contributor to this blog. It is high time we give him due credit and publish his findings here. In the next series of posts, we shall do that. Mostly -- but by no means only -- our contributor finds in his searches notices of chess in less common places: i.e., in the news or in other places, not in the chess columns. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Another Stormy Petrel - and Some Things Never Change.

Source: Palestine Post, April 25th, 1945, p. 2
As Edward Winter noted in Chess Notes 8191, several players were known as "stormy petrels". We add another one -- Israel Barav (then Rabinovich, or Rabinovitch), so named in the Palestine Post's newly-established chess column in 1945. They also published a game by him, reproduce here (game 29, see for full details).

The column, incidentally, suffered from the usual false start. As they note on March 16th, 1945 (p. 6):

Thursday, February 22, 2018

'Based on Barav-Vidor'

Source: Al Ha'Mishmar, Aug. 22nd, 1946, p. 3
What is the first Israeli or Palestinian chess game where a player chose an opening based on a previous game played in the same country? Our first suggestion: the game Yona Margalit - Hanan Ben-Artzi (Staunton gambit, Galillee championship, 1-0) where it is reported the winner 'chose this reply to Black's move based on Rabinovich-Vidor, [Shaul Hon's] Shachmat 1, game 6'.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Checkmate -- A Romanian-Language Musical in Tel Aviv

Credit: see below
As Edward Winter published in Chess Notes #10709, in 1967 debuted a new Romanian-language musical in Tel Aviv, titled 'Shach-Mat'. Go to Chess Notes for the full item (January 20th, 2018), which includes a link to the advertisement.

Above is a cutting from the advertisement: the Hebrew translation of the Romanian title.

Winter noted, in correspondence with us, that contrary to our initial assumption, the musical is not named  chess, which is what 'Shach-Mat' means in Hebrew, but rather checkmate, which is what it means in Romanian.

(P.S.: Technically, Shach-Mat' can mean 'checkmate' in Hebrew, but it is an extremely archaic and uncommon use of the term; the term used almost exclusively for nearly a century is 'mat').


Source: 64 Msihbatzot (64 squares), Sept.-Oct. 1957, cover page.
A quick note for those interested in finding tournament results from the early days of the Israeli / Palestinian chess: in Shaul Hon's Ptichot Be'Sachmat (Chess Openings), there is an historical introduction that lists the major tournaments. But a more detailed list, with many local and other tournaments missing from Hon's account, is found in Moshe Czerniak's collection of results from the 1930s to the 1950s in the Sept.-Oct. 1957 issue of 64 Mishbatzot. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Flohr Simul in Tel Aviv

Source: see below
From the same source as the previous post, we find a poster advertising a simultaneous display by Flohr in Tel Aviv, against 60 opponents, on 24/6/1934. The ad speaks for itself (click for larger version).

In Hebrew it is also added that prizes are: getting one's registration fee back if one wins, and getting half of it refunded if one draws... also, it is requrested from the participants to bring 'fair boards and pieces'.

Simul Note

Source: National Library of Israel
The National Library of Israel has a small but interesting collection of chess ephemera (see link above).

One example is the following -- a note, filled in by hand, announcing a simultaneous display at Jerusalem's Lasker club. Asher Wolowelsky (ph. spelling), 'Jerusalem's Champion for the [Jewish] year 5693 [1932/3]', will play against 20 people, on 24/12/1932.

Apparently, as this is a filled-out form, the club had organized enough simultaneous displays to make it worth while to have a regular form made.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Chess in the German POW Camps

Source: Ha'Mashkif, Dec. 20th, 1944, p. 2
As part of our new year's resolution, we hope to finally also get back to speed from the generous amount of material correspondents with us give us. One frequent correspondent had found, looking at old Palestinian and Israeli magazines, quite a lot of interesting material. Here is one of his more interesting finds.

The article is about Jewish soldiers fighting for the British Empire as part of the Palestinian brigade, recently released in a prisoners' exchange from a German military prison camp in Lamsdorf. Amazingly, they do not report mistreatment due to their Jewishness, and their description of camp life does is actually rather humane.

They returned to Palestine with a chess set made in the camp 'by Russian prisoners for the colonel who was the camp commander'. In July 1944 the camp organized a chess league tournament -- a four-man team for each prisoners' nationality -- and the Palestinian team won. They add that the prize, the chess set, was given to them by a British Officer POW with 'apologies from the camp commander', whose 'position and race forbid him from awarding the prize personally'.

The prisoners were lucky to be released when they were. Soon afterwards, as the Red Army approached, the camp was evacuated westward in one of the many notorious 'death marches' during the winter of 1944/1945.

More Chess Book Covers -- Hebrew Language Edition

Image Credit: here.
This time, a book from a rather well known veteran Israeli writer, Eli Netzer, who wrote many books and won several literary prizes. One of his books, Mot Ha'Kanarit (The Death of the Canary), a collection of stories, was published with a chess-themed cover (above). While the cover is hardly meant to be a realistic representation of a chess game, it should be seen that it, too, has the 'dark square in the lower right corner' disease. Then again, perhaps the rules are different for a 4x4 board.