Thursday, September 17, 2015

Shlomo Smiltiner, 1915-2015

Smiltiner (l.) playing Keller, Moscow Olympiad, 1956. Source: 64 Msihbatzot [64 Squares], no. 10-11 (Nov. / Dec/ 1956), p. 161. 

Shlomo Smiltiner (27/11/1915-13/8/2015), who had been mentioned here before, had recently died in his 100th year. He was, as noted in the link, one of those who played Jaque Mieses in a simultaneous display when Mieses visited Palestine in 1936 (and won), played in three Olympiads, was one of the major figures in the 'Reti' club in Tel Aviv in the 50s and 60s (he played in the very first Israeli championship, in 1951), and had good results in many tournaments.

As this link [Hebrew] notes, the poster 'Super Pat Sir' gives a whole list of his achievements in various (mostly local) tournaments, upon Smiltiner's arrival at age 95. Here [Hebrew] the same poster adds more information upon his passing, and, inter alia, adds that he kept the chess set given to him by Fidel Castro in the Havana Olympiad.

He indeed proudly showed me this set when I visited his home a few years ago, and also showed me his collection of trophies, of which a selection is in the photo below:

The cups in the middle (and the one on the left) are for winning, in different years, the 'Reti' club championship, of which, as said above, he was a leading member in the 50s and 60s.

Czerniak - Zakon, 0:1

Moshe Roytman informs us about Eliyahu Shahaf's chess column of Dec. 2nd, 1955, in Davar (p. 2). It includes, inter alia, the interesting note that both the a women's national championship and a youth section in the 'Lasker' Chess Club, which they hope would become the core of a youth's national championship, were established. This is indeed what happened, as Wikipedia (for example) notes.

What's more, the same article notes that Moshe Czerniak is establishing a new chess journal, 'a necessity'. This, too, had indeed occurred, the journal in question, 64 Mishbatzot (64 squares) lasting a respectable (by Israeli / Palestinian chess journal standards of the time...) two years and being quite informative.

The article also notes Czerniak's sole loss in the Israeli 1955 championship (which he won), to Zakon. As usual, Czerniak goes for an all-out attack, but an oversight of a Zwischenzug costs him a pawn and, eventually, the game. Even so, he does not give up, but Zakon is not to be denied victory.

Israeli Championship, 1955.
Czerniak - Zakon
Queen's Indian Defense (E14)
Annotator: Eliyahu Shahaf

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. e3 Bb7 5. Bd3 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 d5 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Ne5 c5 10. f4 Nc6 11. Rf3 cxd4 12. Rh3 g6 13. Nxc6 Bxc6 14. exd4 Ne4 15. f5 Bf6 16. Be3 Re8 17. Qf3 Ng5 18. Bxg5?

18...  Bxd4+ 19. Kh1 Qxg5 20. fxg6 fxg6! 21. Rg3 Qf6 22. Qh5 Re5 23. Qg4 Rae8 24. Ne2 Bxb2 25. Rb1 Ba3 26. Ng1 Re1 27. Rf3 Qd6 28. Qh4 Qe7 29. Qxe7 R8xe7 30. Bxg6 Bc5 31. Bf7+ Kg7
32. Rxe1 Rxe1 33. h4 Bxg1 White resigns (0-1).

Chess In the Cyprus DP Camp

Photo Credit: see below
Our frequent correspondent Moshe Roytman notifies us that the Yad Va'Shem collection includes a machine for making chess pieces and a set of pieces made by it (above) that belonged to Holocaust survivors who donated it to the museum.

The web page tells (in Hebrew) the story of Isaac and Israel Rot and their cousin Aryeh Klein, holocaust survivors who were caught as illegal emigrants to Palestine by the British in 1946, and sent to a Cyprus holding camp until 1948.

They were bored, and a 'chess master' who was another inmate offered to teach them the game if they will get him a set. They started by carving stones from an abandoned cemetery, but then hit upon the idea for "industrial production". They made the lathe from a pair of skates (!) bought from one of the other inmates, and started producing chess sets and selling them to British soldiers as souvenirs.

The web page is in Hebrew, but has many photos of the three at work. Israel made the pieces on the lathe, Aryeh carved their features, and Isaac made the boxes. The identity of the chess master is not given