Thursday, January 21, 2021

Chess on the Front Page


More from the "chess on the front page" file: This time, from Ha'aretz (May 14th, 1954), p. 1 - Botvinnik's retaining his title after drawing the match 12:12 with Smyslov

Sure-Fire Prediction Fails


In the above note (Ha'aretz, April 30th, 1954, p. 3), there is a report of the Jerusalem championship, with Dobkin, Czerniak, Etinger (ph. spelling) and others. Of the three unfinished games, the editor  of the chess column notes, inter alia, that "Etinger is about to beat Czerniak." 

That's certainly an expert's opinion. The editor was Moshe Czerniak. But he was wrong! As he reports On June 11th in the same paper, p. 3:

 "The game Czerniak - Ettinger, in which Ettinger was about to win, ended in a draw after a surprising and extraordinary ending." This time, Czerniak adds also that "Czerniak is about to win again Zucker..." (ph. spelling). 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

A Reshevsky Simul


A Reshvesky simul in Jerusalem (against 40 players) in 1959 was brought to our attention by a frequent correspondent. It was reported with humor but with keen observation in Ma'ariv (20.11.1958, p.2) by Uri Oren. The author lists the well-known Jerusalem figures who played, from professors and lecturers to 'a new immigrant from India and Rosenberg the tailor'. He is surprised nobody lynched the noisy major who kept thinking out loud, and notes Reshevsky looks only at the boards and rarely looks at his opponents or communicates with them, and measures Reshevsky's "round" time (starting at 4 minutes and ending at 10 minutes). 

A Snapshot, 1956


The following "snapshot" of La'Merchav's chess column (Jan. 27th, 1956, p. 7), brought to our attention by a frequent correspondent, gives an interesting view of chess growing in Israel. We have in particular local tournaments in the south (Ashkelon, six southern kibbutzim, simuls in Eilat, etc.) and, more generally, in the small agricultural communities all over the country. 

The report emphasizes the activity of established players, like Itzchak AloniCzerniak, and Oren, in giving simuls, organizing tournaments, and so on all over the country. No less than eight of the reports deal with chess activity in the country's small cities and agricultural communities, 

Mashian Annotates

 A frequent correspondent notes that Ya'akov Mashian, 'Persian Champion 1958', had arrived in Israel in 1958 and immediately began to be involved in the chess life of the country. One example is him annotating, in Davar's chess column (ed. Zalman Gurevich) the game Van den Berg - Szabo from the 1958 international tournament in Israel. Here is the game (Davar, Nov. 14th, 1958, p. 10): 

Van den Berg - Szabo 

Ruy Lopez [C89]

1958 International Tournament, Tel Aviv/Haifa, rd. 13

Source: see above

Annotator: Ya'akov Mashian

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 Better is 8. a4 since after} Bb7 9. d3 $1 d6 10. Nc3 b4 11. Ne2! White has better chances. 8... d5 9. exd5 e4 There is another way, as in Capablanca-Marshall, which is better for White: 9... Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 Nf6 12. d4 Bd6 13. Re2!, defending against Black's KS pressure. 10.dxc6 If 10. Ng5 Bg4 11. f3 exf3 12. Nxf3 Nxd5 13. d4 10... exf3 11. Qxf3 Bg4 12. Qg3 Bd6 12... Re8 Doesn't do much for Black:13. d4 Bd6 14. Rxe8+ Qxe8 15. Qe3 Qxc6 16. f3 Re8 17. Qf2. 13. f4 Re8 14. Re5? A mistake! This move was played before by masters, but only this time the Hungarian grandmaster manages to exploit the mistake. Correct was 14. d4 Nh5 15. Rxe8+ Qxe8 16. Qf2 Qxc6 17. Be3 Re8 and Black doesn't have enough initiative for the pawn.

14... Bxe5!! 15. fxe5 Nh5 16. Qxg4 Rxe5 17. Na3 White has no stronger move. For example: 17. d4 Re1+ 18. Kf2 Nf6 19. Qf4 Qe7 20. Be3 Rxe3 21. Qxe3 Ng4+  wins the queen. 17... Re1+ 18. Kf2 Nf6 19. Qf4 19. Qf3 Rxc1 and wins (due to 20. Rxc1 Qxd2+ - A. P.) 19... Qe7 20. Qf3 Rh1 21. Nc2 Ne4+ 22. Ke2 Nxc3+ 23. Kd3 Rd8+ 24. Nd4 Ne2 White resigns (0-1)

Gruengard- Smiltiner Match


In the following short notice, brought to our attention by a frequent correspondent, we see a note about a match between Gruengard and Smiltiner in the Tel Aviv Lasker club, noting the latter is leading 1-0 so far. It always speaks of a "retirement tournament" - presumably, an elimination one - that will start, with 32 players, the coming Saturday. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

"Chess Characters," by the Badmaster


One of the most charming characters in British chess was G. H. Diggle, the "Badmaster." Edward Winter published his memoirs in 1984. I read them with great enjoyment. I will not violate copyright by extensive quoting (although I am tempted). I shall note only one of his many quips: he describes one kibitzer as a man "whose recreations were chess and hypocrisy." (p. 14). 

Rather, I will give here the table of content, to give potential readers an idea of the breadth, both in subject matter and chronology, of the Badmaster's chess interests: 



The above is a set of signature of chess players who played in the 1964 Olympiad in Tel Aviv. How many can you recognize? 

The selection is from an article about the players' "signature habits" by Aryeh Lin (ph. spelling), Davar, 29.11.1964, p. 4. The author notes that in this Olympiad, the usually cagey soviet players signed more readily than in previous Olympiads, due to the "heartwarming" atmosphere at the Olympiad. He notes that Petrosian is hard to get to sign, and that in general when the soviet players do sign, they do so between other signatures, perhaps so as to not have their signature misused. Reshevsky on the other hand offered a fan to sign either in Hebrew or in English, and waited with the pen in his hand "for more customers." 

The reporter finishes with a trick he learned: to get signatures, use an envelope - not regular paper - and write a few fake signatures on it before you show it to the first "victim," who will find it hard to refuse if others already signed! 

The Future


The above cutting, from Al Ha'mishmar, May 10th, 1963, p. 8, mailed to us by a frequent correspondent, is about the students' chess tournament of 1963. The interesting point is that the winners are all future chess "greats" in Israel, the younger generation that replaced the "old guard" of Czerniak, Porat, Itzhak Aloni and others in the 1960s. These are Shimon Kagan, (1st place, 8.5/11 with no losses), Uri Avner, ex-IDF champion (8), who lost in the last round to Yoel Aloni (Holon's champion). Third place went to Amir Helman

Another Nice Attack

The same chess column number which published Marmorosh's simul win had also published the following game, played in the second league (liga bet), northern division, in Israel that year, 1956, only a few years since the league games were established in the early 1950s. The game was between Emek Hefer and Kfar Saba, in the 6th round. It is remarkable for the crushing attack by White. 

Yehuda Michaeli - Rami Furman (ph. spelling for both names)

Semi-Slav, 5.e3 [D45]

2nd league, northern division, Emek Hefer (Michael) vs. Kfar Saba (Furman)

Source: see above

Annotator: Eliyahu Shahaf

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Be7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bd3 Nf8 9.0–0 Ng6 10.Bd2 0–0 11.Ne5 c5 12.f4 cxd4 13.exd4 Qb6 14.Be3 Be6 15.Qf2 Bc8

16.f5 Nh8 17.g4 Qd8 18.g5 Nd7

19.Qh4 Nxe5 20.dxe5 f6 21.exf6 gxf6 22.g6 And White won (1-0) after a few moves.

A Marmorosh Victory

A Frequent correspondent points out that in 1956, Davar (7.6.1956, p. 7) there was a "festive simultaneous display" and an "exhibition" of "30 years of chess in the country" in Jerusalem. It was actually 30 years since Marmorosh came to Palestine. (Our correspondent adds that there was, after all, chess in the country before that!). 

Marmorosh, who gave the display (+25 -0 =0, in two and a half hours) was congratulated by the head of the workers' union (Histadrut) for his anniversary. The paper adds the ending of one of the games, between Marmorosh (White) and a "young player who played with great talent." 

Marmorosh - NN

July 1956 

Source: see above

Annotator: Eliyahu Shahaf

Black's last move puts White in a difficult situation, since the rook has no escape square (Rg3? Nh5!). So Marmorosh prepares a last-resort swindle. 18.Bc2! Ne4?? This move, which seems very strong (attacks three pieces) is what White waited for, quietly replying 19.Rxc6! Nxd2 20.Bxf5 Rxf5 21.Bxd2 and White won (1-0) after a few moves.



A frequent correspondent points out to us this note about the Netanya "Shach-kayit" tournament (Ma'ariv, 20.5.1960, p. 12). The article notes that abroad, "famous spa towns organize large tournaments with well known players," and adds that while Israel hadn't reached this point, "the renewing 'Schach-kayi' ('chess-vacation') tournament in Netanya does so, if "in smaller dimensions." As usual, the problem is financial: "Israeli chess, built on the volunteer work of motivated people, needs to be happy with any organized event with many players in a competitive setting."