Monday, October 9, 2017

More Chess Signatures

Source: ebay (click on image for larger picture)

The above is the program of the Israeli 1957 chess championship. The seller wants $350 for it, which seems a rather high price. But at least it does have the signature of most (not all) of the participants, including, e.g., on the right page of the last image, Czerniak (top right), Porat (top left), Itzchak Aloni (bottom right), and Dyner (bottom left).

Still, we are beginning to see here some challenges to the "old guard", e.g., Yair Kraidman (top right, second image), Rudy Blumfeld (to left, second image) and others. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Foy's Third Castling -- and Heidenfeld's Second

Bernard Foy's Third Castling, Hebrew edition (trans. Ruth Shapira), by Lars Gustafsson. Am Oved, 1989,
We had already noted this book and its unusual title, but I was not aware that a Hebrew edition existed. We add that Tim Krabbe found that there is at least one serious game, Heidenfeld - Kerins (Dublin, 1973) where there were in fact three castlings -- Heidenfeld castling twice, 10.O-O and 33.O-O-O.


Not chess related: there is at least one more 'Foy' in literature: 'Death of a Foy' by Isaac Asimov. It is a feghoot -- a joke short story ending in a pun. In this case, the alien Foy's "dramatic last words" are an (awful) pun on the popular song 'Give my Regards to Broadway'.

The Israeli science fiction magazine Fantasia 2000 reprinted this story in the 1980s, -- translated into Hebrew, so the pun was lost in translation, not that many of the magazines' readers would have heard of 'Give my Regards to Broadway' in any case. I recall reading the story as a teenager and scratching my head -- wondering what made Asimov write such a pointless story.

Keeping the Shabbath

'Sammy Reshevsky -- Three Meals and Dessert'. Ma'ariv, Nov. 9th, 1964, p. 4.
Moshe Roytman notifies us of an unsigned collection of short items from Ma'ariv on the date above, some of them related to the chess Olympiad then taking place in Tel Aviv. It has the following caricature of Reshevsky, by the Ma'ariv caricaturist "Ze'ev" [Ya'akov Farkash, 1928-2002]. 

Farkash was one of the four members of the affectionately called "Hungarian Mafia", a team of four staff members of Ma'ariv who had been in the paper for decades, from the 50s to the 90s. They include himself, the caricaturist "Dosh" (Kariel Gardosh), the journalist Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, and satirist Efraim Kishon. Of them, as we have noted in this blog before, Lapid was inter alia the head of the Israeli Chess Federation, Kishon saved his life during the war by playing chess, and Dosh illustrated covers for chess books; we now add a chess connection for Ze'ev. 

The story is that in the 1964 Olympiad in Tel Aviv, the Saturday round started at 5:30 instead of 4:00, to avoid desecrating the Shabbath (from sundown Friday to Sundown Saturday), but Reshevsky got special permission to start half an hour later than that. It is well known that Reshevsky would not play on the Shabbath and was usually given the option of starting to play after it ended when he played in tournaments. But here all the rounds began later for just this reason. So why would he need an extra half hour? 

The reason given -- how seriously, it is hard to tell -- is that Reshevsky, being a religious Jew, also observed the religious tradition (though not an absolute requirement) of having three holiday meals on the Shabbath, which means he would only be available, not just after the Shabbath had ended at 5:30, but only after he finished his third Shabbath meal. Perhaps; we note, however, that as the Shabbath ended during the time of the Olympiad only a few minutes before 5:30, and religious Jews are not allowed to drive or travel by car, carry money, etc., during the Shabbath, it is likely that it would take Reshevsky a few more minutes to get to the tournament hall from his hotel than a person who does not follow these rules in any case.

The article adds that he played against Ya'akov Mashian  (ne Hushang Mashian) as stated in Gaige's Chess Personalia) and 'of course' won quickly 'as a dessert'. Mashian, a Jew, was playing first board for Iran. He later emigrated to Israel and became an active player there. 

We add that the same issue of Reshevsky and the Shabbath -- including his interesting explanation as to why he does not play on the Shabbath, when playing chess is not in fact (by most authorities) forbidden on the Shabbath, as well as a somewhat similar illustration by Buchwald -- when he came to the 1958 tournament in Israel, as noted here

Czerniak, Havana 1966

Source: Ma'ariv, Oct. 24th, 1966, p. 13
Moshe Roytman notified us of a long article in Ma'ariv about the 1966 chess Olympiad. In it we find an interesting pen-portrait of Moshe Czerniak, by the paper's chess correspondent, Shaul Hon, describing him in the meeting place in Madrid, Spain, where the Middle Eastern, African, and Western European teams were housed before being flown to Havana:
[Czerniak] knows personally almost all the teams' members. On each he has a funny anecdote or story to tell. You pull his sleeve -- and dozens of stories fall out, like ripe pears... He became the [Israeli] team's unofficial translator, knowing no less than seven languages, Spanish included... without him the restaurant menus would not be more intelligible to us than if they were written in Chinese. 
But not only we make use of him -- the South African team seized him like a valuable prize, since without his help they would have to mumble and point their fingers, and the Spaniards would not understand anything they want... twelve teams are now in Madrid, including Morocco [i.e., an Arab state -- the point is that it did not boycott the olympiad due to Israel's presence]. 
Hon adds that the Israeli team is made of the "old timers": Smiltiner, Aloni, Porat and Czerniak himself; the two "youths" are Kagan and Kraidman. Indeed, this was the "last hurrah" of the old guard. In 1968 only Czerniak and Porat played, and -- in 1974 -- Czerniak, on the third board.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Shlomo Seider -- Update

Credit: see below

We have already mentioned Shlomo Seider in this blog in previous posts, and we noted that there is a memorial site for him. The site in question had been taken offline, but Yochanan Afek pointed out to us it was replace by a Facebook memorial page. The page is in Hebrew, but there are many photos, including of family, personal effects, etc. It links inter alia to the Wikipedia page about him, and a lot more).

In particular, the memorial page has, not only problems and notes by him, but also interesting articles by him. In particular he argues in one article that, since chess composition is first of all an art and only secondarily chess, one should not be dogmatic about not allowing illegal positions (which cannot be reached from the array), or even positions that have no solution, so long as the thematic beauty of the idea is great.

The site, in particular, has numerous of his "original paintings" -- that is, the problems he sent to problem tournaments. Here is one, which won an honorable mention (as the Hebrew on it shows), which uses seven grasshoppers (the "upside down queens"):

More "In Memorium"

Credit: Ha'aretz weekend supplement, June 9th, 2017

As Yochanan Afek reminded us, when Hillel Aloni passed away, Ha'aretz chess editor, Israel Shrenzel (ph. English spelling) had written extensively about him, including a photo (above). The paper notes that Aloni was not only a talented composer -- the father of the Israeli endgame studies -- but also promoted and trained many younger composers, such as Afek himself, Amaztia Avni, Yehuda Hoch, Ofer Komai, and others. Afek adds the AVRES site has a memorial page as well with many studies.

He added one of Aloni's early compositions, from 1959 (annotations by Shrenzel):

White to move and draw
Solution: 1.Bf5+! Kxf5 2.Nh4+! (not 2.Nxe2 fxe2 3. Nh4+ Kxh5 4.Kxa2 e1=N!) Kxe5 3.Nxf3+ Kf4 4.Nxe2+ Kf3 5.Nd4+ Ke3 6.Nc2+ Kd2 7.Na1! (insufficient is 7.Kb2 c3+ 8.Kb3 Kb1 -+) Kc3 8.Kxa2 b4 9.Nb3! cxb3 10.Ka1 (10.Kb1 loses to 10...b2 11.ka2 b1=Q+ 12.Kxb1 Kb3) b2+ 11.Kb1 Drawn.

Chess in High Places

Photo credit: A. P.

Above is a photograph of the De Haar Castle in the Netherlands. On a recent tour there I have found out -- unsurprisingly -- that the owners had had, in (one of) their living rooms, a nice chess set:

Photo credit: A.P. 

The set is arrange in the array, and, for once, with the right bottom square being white.

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!