Saturday, February 25, 2023

Chess - the Activity for Old, Sick People! Join Today!

The above is an advertisement for the Maccabi health insurance, asking for volunteers to help with old people who need friends and help in their home. Why is it that chess is rarely seen as played among younger people in ads? The top players, if nothing else, are all young. 

Two Cartoons

The above two cartoons are from the New Yorker Cartoons of the Year 2015, pp. 84 and 86, respectively. The latter is rather subtle: note the road to the altar is a series of knight moves, and that there is the correct number of pieces on both sides of the isle - taking into consideration the "missing" black and white knights (who are getting married) and the white bishop (who is, naturally, officiating). 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Chess Longevity, Again


A frequent correspondent points out that, a few days ago, Uri Tzahor announced his retirement from chess journalism, after editing Yediot Aharonot's chess column for 63 years. This is not a record, surprisingly - Mohilever's publishing career was even longer. But nevertheless it is more than respectable, another example of chess players' and writers' curious publication longevity. Above, notes our correspondent, is an article for him (in another newspaper, La'merhav, May 7 1961, pp. 4-5) about "four chess heroes," a pen-portrait of four international players who came to play in an international tournament in Israel in 1961. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Nimzowitsch and Science Fiction


In the famous science fiction story, "Catch that Zeppelin!" Fritz Leiber describes an alternate history where WWI ended differently, WWII never happened, electric cars and Zeppelins come instead of gasoline-based cars and planes, etc. The protagonist, Adolf Hitler, is a famous Zeppelin designer in that world, although some of his bigotry against Blacks and Jews remains even in this nearly-ideal world. 

The chess connection? Aaron Nimzowitsch, the "world chess champion" in this world, is the resident master in the chess rooms aboard one of the luxury Zeppelin, the Ostwald, named after the Nobel-prize winning physical chemist. 

The story's point is that there are "inflection points" in history, where a minor change in the past makes significant changes in the future. Did Leiber hear the story that Nimzowitsch considered himself the "crown prince of chess," and saw changing him to world champion such a minor change? It should be noted here that, as Edward Winter points out, the evidence for Nimzowitsch ever making such a claim is at best sketchy.