Saturday, May 30, 2015

First Israeli Championship -- 1951

Credits: see below

Ami Barav, the son of Israel Rabinovich-Barav, who was the chairman of the Israeli Chess Federation in the early 50s, and who inter alia was present as one of the organizers in the 1951 Israeli championship and was with the Israeli team in the 1954 chess Olympiad. Similar photographs from the tournament, esp. showing Oren, the winner, were already posted in this blog (see here, for example), but Barav kindly gives us more. According to him (correctly, it seems to me) the people in the photographs are, from top to bottom, left to right:

1). Gruengard (speaking), Barav, speaking to David Ben Gurion.
2). Barav, Ben Gurion, Pinchas Rosen (minister of Justice and honorary chairman of the Israel Chess Federation), and David Shimoni (the poet).
3). Gruengard, Barav, Ben Gurion, Rosen.

Chess by Phone

Source: Davar, Jan. 4th, 1952, p. 22

We have previously noted in this blog that chess was occasionally on the radio in Palestine (possibly) and (the early years of) the state of Israel. As the article in Davar notes (in Hebrew), another version of "distance" chess was a match by telephone, which took place on Dec. 27th, 1951, and arranged by Kol Israel, where, as we saw before, Hon was employed at the time.

The games are reported (verbally) in the article. The summary is (from first to fourth board):

Jerusalem                      Tel Aviv
Czerniak        0            Aloni                1
Dyner                           Kniazer            'Adjourned with Kniazer a piece up'
Porat             0.5          Mandelbaum   0.5
Glass                            Hon                   'Adjourned in a drawn position'

Hon, who wrote the article, adds that the success of the telephone match means also that one should arrange "pure" radio matches between Israeli and other teams abroad. He adds the interesting point that such matches are difficult for the players since they cannot see the opponent's expression, which is often very important.

Another interesting point is that the photographs of the players are arranged by board and team as in the list -- i.e., Czerniak's photo is at the top left, Kniazer's second from the top on the right, etc. The two bottom photographs show Yochanan Maroz (l.) and Y. Ish-Horowitz (ph. spelling), who were the communication men in Tel Aviv, and David Carmeli (ph. spelling) who received and sent moves in Jerusalem.

Finally, these photographs were taken (notes the article) in Tel Aviv by S. Frank (ph. spelling) and in Jerusalem by W. Brown (ph. spelling). It is of some importance that these very same photographs were often re-printed in numerous Israeli-printed articles and books for years afterwards.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hon, Underground Radio, and Chess

Source: Davar, Jan. 7th, 1949, p. 16

Our correspondent Moshe Roytman notifies us of an article by Shaul Hon from early 1949 about the Kol Israel [Voice of Israel] radio station, which to this day is the (semi-) "official" Israeli station, more or less the equivalent of the BBC.

Hon adds (in the clip posted above) that, among more serious subjects, the station finds time to broadcast 'sport, chess... Talmudic lessons, theater and literature section' -- even as a war for independence, to say nothing of survival, was raging, and the radio was 'working in emergency conditions', notes Hon. This is remarkable, even if it probably isn't the first chess broadcast in Mandatory Palestine or Israel.

Another interesting point is that Hon, in this article, notes that he was one of the broadcasters in Kol Israel when it was still an underground, illegal Haganah - operated station. He also notes that it was known in Mandatory Palestine in the 1940s as Telem Sade Boaz, the Hebrew phonetic alphabet of the initials TSB, Tahanat Shidur Ba'Machteret -- 'underground radio station'.

The Haganah's Kol Israel was an illegal "competitor" of the official Kol Yerushalayim [Voice of Jerusalem] and other official Mandatory stations. One wonders: did Hon ever broadcast chess in the underground radio station? As Roytman notes, this isn't likely, or we would have heard about it from Hon (and, in general, the underground Kol Israel didn't have much time for arts but dealt, of course, with politics, reporting censored information, and the like).

But still, that Hon was a bona fide member of the underground is in itself newsworthy.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chess on the "Zeppelin", Palestine, 1929

Reuven Rubin, The Zeppelin in Tel Aviv, Purim 1929. Source: Ilan Schori, 'When the Zeppelin Arrived in Tel Aviv' [in Hebrew]
Our frequent corespondent Moshe Roytman notifies us that, when the Zeppelin flew to Palestine in 1929 (it did it again in 1931), one of the passengers, von Weisel, there as the special correspondent of the Neue Freie Presse, organized an "international chess club" on the flight -- and the "first chess tournament in the air", as the source (above, in Hebrew) notes, quoting from his article to the newspaper (published on the first page, March 26th, 1929) . Of particular interest is that one of the members was an Egyptian, Al-Fath [ph. spelling]. Two games are mentioned: Bate having defeated Kaye [ph. spelling in both cases], and playing with Al-Fath. Von Weisel adds that Mrs. Tony Zander [ph. spelling] demanded to be a "kibitzer" in the four-board "club", but was denied because she doesn't know to play chess.