The legendary grandmaster, Yuri Averbakh, had recently died in Moscow, at the age of 100. We note here the post we made on his 95th birthday, and add above, again, from our collection a book signed by him to Almog Burstein. We also note Chessbase's obituary and Edward Winter's feature article about him.
Saturday, May 21, 2022
Saturday, May 14, 2022
Monday, May 2, 2022
Saturday, April 23, 2022
Sunday, March 6, 2022
At 10th of November 1938, some Nazis came in his house in Vienna, as he played chess with his brother. The leader of the Nazi-gang was also a chessplayer - a bad one - he wanted tob e part of the game. Eric let him win of course: Eric Hassberg and his brother were the only Jewish boys from the whole area, not to go to (concentration) camp.
Our frequent contributor, Herbert Halsegger, just notified us that looking for "Schach" in the Bundesarchiv gives many interesting pictures, among whom we also have Nazi propaganda posters, such as the one above.
Friday, February 18, 2022
There had been many efforts to promote chess in schools in Israel. Shaul Hon, the editor of Davar's chess column in the 1940s, had occasionally promoted such efforts. Here is one such example, from Davar's 9 December 1949, p. 17 of the weekend supplement. We than Moshe Roytman for bringing this example to our attention.
A teacher in a Hedera school accepted the parents' requests in a class meeting and agreed to give a chess lesson to all the pupils in the class. For now, the class is one hour a month during school time. It caused much excitement and interest among the pupils.
Not exactly a mass movement, but it's a start!
Even at the height of the second world war, some Jewish players were rescued. In the following note, by the Aufbau (an German and English language Jewish weekly from New York) reports on New Year's day, 1943 (p. 24) that the "famous chess problemist Otto Gross," formerly from the Chess Club Anderssen, Frankfurt, is in New York, and promised his "lively participation" in chess activities. We thank Mr. Herbert Halsegger for bringing this report to our attention.
Saturday, January 15, 2022
A previous post noted that Stalin was reputed to be a strong chess player, and doubted this is accurate. A correspondent notes Stalin did play chess. He notes the evidence is in Stephen Kotkin's biography of Stalin:
[Kotkin] is an outstanding scholar who specializes in Stalin. You can find an [English] translation in the first volume of his Stalin trilogy of a letter written by Yakov Sverdlov on 12th March 1914, in which Sverdlov, who had an elephantine memory, boasted of beating the future despot...
Our correspondent found the Russian text here, and provides the English translation, in p. 154 of (one of) the English editions of Kotkin's Stalin trilogy:
My friend [Stalin] and I differ in many ways, " Sverdlov wrote in a letter postmarked for Paris on March 12th, 1914. "He is a very lively person and despite his forty years has preserved the ability to react vivaciously to the most varied phenomena. In many cases, he poses fresh questions where for me there are none any more. In that sense he is fresher than me. Do not think that I put him above myself. No, I'm superior [krupnee], and he himself realizes this... We wagered and played a game of chess, I checkmated him, then we parted late at night. In the morning, we met again, and so it is every day, we are our only two in Kureika.
The incident occurred, notes our correspondent, when Stalin and Sverdlov were exiled together to the very small village of Kureika before the first world war. He adds that Sverdlov is a partial source, as he quickly fell out with Stalin, but nevertheless there are two reasons to believe Stalin was indeed a weak player.
First, if Stalin were any good, good players among the bolshevists, e.g., Ilyin-Zhenevsky or Krylenko would have noticed. Second, Sverdlov boast that he checkmated Stalin (as opposed to have won) is typical of beginners, suggesting Sverdlov himself was a weak player, and yet he beat Stalin.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia's entry about Joseph Stalin.)