Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Escape Route

Source: See Below
In a previous post, we have speculated that two players, Yaakov and Aryeh Zilberhats, had used the Maccabiah merely as a way to get out of Europe in 1935, while being no more than amateur players. Yaakov's grandson, Boaz Zilbershats (his preferred English spelling of the original Polish Zylberszac) had confirmed that this was in fact the case -- and that, in fact, the 1st and 2nd Maccabiahs were notorious for such "cheating". He provided us with much information; inter alia his grandfather's membership in the Maccabi World Union (above), his visa certificate to Palestine, etc.

The Wikipedia article, in Hebrew, notes that those who remained in Palestine as illegal emigrants after the 1935 Maccabiah included, inter alia, the entire Bulgarian brass band, which played in the opening and closing ceremonies... Mr. Zilbershats adds that, while never claiming to be more than amateurs, the two brothers were long-time chess fans, and that there is even a chess team in the Israeli league named after Yaakov Zilbershats, where he (Boaz), as well as his father (Yaakov's son), and two of his own children play.

We are in the process of compiling information on Jewish players who used chess to escape Europe to Palestine in the 1930s. Many have tried, and some failed, as can be seen here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sac, Sac, Sac, Mate

We have mentioned in the previous post that Shaul Hon had claimed Barav was an exemplary Blitz player. Here is a game by him -- against Aloni -- where the final combination is very beautiful: it  involves three sacrifices (almost) in a row, each one for a particular tactical reason, and ends with a "quiet" move. The source is Barav's scoresheet, generously given to us by his son, Ami Barav.

Barav, Israel -- Aloni, Itzchak 

French Tarrasch (C05)

Blitz game, Lasker Chess Club, Tel Aviv (Date?)

Annotations: Based on Fritz 5.32's analysis.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 Be7 8.Nf3 0–0 9.h4 f6 10.Nf4 Nb6?

11.Ng5! the first sacrifice. 

11... fxg5 Black is still lost after 11... f5 12.Ngxe6 or 11... g6 12.Nxh7, but now there is a forced mate. 

12.Bxh7+ the second sacrifice. 

12... Kxh7  12... Kf7 13.Qh5+; 12... Kh8 13. Qh5. 

13.hxg5+ Kg8 14.Rh8+ the third sacrifice. 

14... Kxh8 15.Qh5+ Kg8 16.g6 Black resigned (1–0); it's mate in two. 

The final position deserves a diagram:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Barav - Vidor, 1944: A 12-move Combination

Barav was called by Shaul Hon (in Ptichot Be'Sachmat [Chess Openings], 3rd ed., Tel Aviv: Shach press, 1965, p. 92) 'one of the greatest tacticians in our country' and a 'exemplary blitz player'.

He was also an organizer: he was one of those who established the Palestine Chess Federation, organized the sending of the Israeli teams to the Olympiads in the 1950s, headed the Israel Chess Federation for a while in the 50s, and so on.

His son, Ami Barav, apart from supplying me with the above information, also kindly gave me press clippings and score sheets of such games. One of them is between Barav and Vidor, the scoresheet given to me by his son:

Source: Ami Barav's collection.

The game was published, not only in Hon's book (pp. 92-93), but, as part of Barav's obituary, in Shachmat vol. 11 no. 8 (Aug. 1979). The obituary was written, and the game analyzed, by Avshalom Yosha. His is the analysis below, unless otherwise indicated. 

Barav, Israel - Vidor

Dutch Defense, Staunton Gambit (A82)

Lakser Club "Yovel" championship, 05.02.1944

1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 e6 5.Bxf6 Qxf6 6.Nxe4 Qg6 (Better is 6...Qh6) 7.Ng3 Be7 8.Bd3 Qf7 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.c3 b6 11.Qe2 Bb7 12.0–0 0–0–0 13.a4! Bf6? (13...g5  required) 14.b4 h5 15.a5 h4? (better is 15...g5) 16.Ne4 h3 17.g3 Qh5 18.axb6 axb6? (The file should not have been opened, but even after  18...cxb6 19.Ba6 white is Much better.) 19.Ba6 Nb8 20.Bxb7+ Kxb7 21.Qc4! 

'The beginning of a majestic combination' (Yosha). 'It too me 45 minutes, then I calculated a 12-move combination. Persitz would come to me to show me another variation every time, but I showed him I calculated it all.' (Israel Barav, from his son's recollection). 

21...Qd5 (21...Qxf3 22.Ra7+! Kxa7 23.Qxc7+ Ka6 24.Ra1+ Kb5 25.Nd6#) 22.Ra7+ Kxa7 23.Qxc7+ Qb7 (23...Ka6 24.Ra1+ Kb5 25.c4+  etc.) 24.Ra1+ Na6 25.Rxa6+ Kxa6 26.Nc5+ Kb5 (26...bxc5 27.Qa5#) 27.Nxb7 Ra8 28.Nd6+ Ka4 29.Qc4 Ka3 30.Nd2 Kb2 31.Qb3+ and Black resigned (1-0), due to 31...Kc1 32.N2c4 Bg5 33.Kf1 with unavoidable mate:  

'One of the most brilliant combinations even made in the country' -- Mohilever (quoted in Yosha's article). Mohilever also remind the reader in Yosha's piece that that Barav was one of the founders of the Palestine Chess Association, with Mohilever himself, Nachum Lebounsky, Haim Reid, and others. 

A search of secondary sources (books in Hebrew from the 1950s, chessbase's database, chessgames.com , etc.) find no games by Barav online, and only this specific game appeared once or twice in Hebrew-language sources. Ami Barav had done a significant service in saving some of his fathers games, which I plan to publish here periodically. Let us say now only that they justify Hon's statement about Barav's talent. 

Edited to add: Barav notes that the correct spelling is 'Labounsky', not 'Levonsky'.