Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Chess, Beer, and "In Memoriam" Walls

Image credit: Gdali Roizman

This photo of the memorial wall in Rishon Le'Tziyon Chess Club (link in Hebrew, with -- incidentally -- much history under the "history" tab on the web site) is interesting for many reasons. First, it has some of the historical figures we have met before, such as the problem composer Yosef Goldschmidt (bottom row, second from right) and the player Israel Dyner (top row, right), as well as two young men, Shlomo Zlil and Erez Levanon (bottom row, extreme left and second from left, respectively) in uniform, who were killed in their army service.

Mr. Roizman, who sent us this photo, points our another curiosity: Yitzhak Schwartz (second row, second from left), a founding member, was the head of the workers' union in a large local brewery. and that the club's first location was the workers' cafeteria on the brewery's grounds.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sending Newspapers to Tel Aviv

Unser Express, 22/8/1935, p. 7

Moshe Roytman informs us that the same Unser Express had also published a list of amusing anecdotes from the 1935 Olympiad. Above is one of them (part of a longer article), relating to the Palestinian team.

A Jew came to the Olympiad to see the Palestinian players. Why? Asks another. He explained: 'my daughter sent me a letter from Tel Aviv, asking me to send her some newspapers; surely I can send them to her with the Palestinian players, don't you think?'.

Chess and Antisemitism in Russia

Illustration of the famous "lost son who became Pope" medieval legend. Source: Jewish Fairy Tales and Legends (1919), by Gertrude Landa ('Aunt Naomi'). Available online here
Tomasz Lissowski notifies us that, in his research for his book on Winawer, he discovered that in April 1914, an 'All-Russian Chess Society' was founded in St. Petersburg by P. P. Sosnitsky, who was elected president and '1st honorary member'. The other two honorary members were the Jewish players Winawer and Rubinstein, quite a surprising fact considering the well-known antisemitism in Russia at the time.

Of course, antisemitism being common in Russia at the time did not mean every Russian was antisemitic. We already noted Chigorin had openly and warmly praised Winawer, which he considered his 'master and guide', in an official reception in the St. Petersburg's chess club. 

The members of the newly-founded chess society apparently had nothing against Jewish players. Alas, adds Mr. Lissowski, the first world war, which broke out a few months later, put an end to all those plans. 

Porat in the "Unser Express"

Source: Unser Express [Yiddish], Sept. 1st, 1935, p. 4

Our frequent correspondent Moshe Roytman notes that the Yiddish-language Unser Express (עונזער עקספרעס) had published an article, 'The Chess Olmypiad', about the 1935 Warsaw Olympiad which included a pen-portrait of some of the players.

Interestingly, they chose to portray William Winter, Tartakover, NajdorfFine, and Porat (then, of course, Foerder) -- no doubt due to him being 'Palestine's strongest player'. He is described as a talented young player which 'even the world masters, like Vidmar, Tartakover, and Flohr, could achieve nothing against him'.

A quick search found no games in the databases of Porat playing Vidmar (which is not to say it didn't happen) but certainly he could hold his own -- drawing and winning -- against Tartakover and Flohr.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Powerful Piece Play"

This is the headline given to Barav’s victory against the 2nd place finisher in the Verbandsmeisterschaft in Berlin, Waechter (to use the English transliteration). Barav himself was then Rabinovitch, or 'Rabinowitsch' in the German spelling above -- 'Barav' is a Hebrew translation of the name, which means 'the Rabbi's son'. 

We see, as the annotator notes, Barav's favorite weapon -- a kingside sacrificial attack -- at work once more. The tournament crosstable, and the newspaper cutting, were sent to me by his son, A. Barav

Barav, Israel - Waechter

(Souce & Annotations: Vossische Zeitung, 26/5/1929, p. 12)
Queen’s Pawn Game (D00)

"Powerful Piece-Play" [V.Z.]

1.d4 Nf6 2.e3 d5 3.Bd3 c5 4.c3 e6 5.Nd2 Nc6 6.f4 cxd4

Now Black has an inferior center. 7.exd4 Bd6 8.Nh3 Qc7 9.0–0 a6 10.Qe2 0–0 11.Nf3 b5 12.Ne5 Bb7 13.Bd2 Rfe8

Black should not have given up the defense of f7 with the rook. Now both White knights join the attack on it. 13...Ne4 Is no good: 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.Ng5 (not 15.Qxe4? Nxe5); but 13...g6 should have been considered, with the idea of Kg7 and Rh8, parrying Ng5 with h6.

14.Ng5! Nd8 One should not that the Bb7 and Ra8 should have been freed. 15.Ng4 The Nf6 defender must be eliminated. 15...Nxg4

If  15...h6 16.Nxf6+ gxf6 17.Nh7 Be7 18.Qg4+ Kh8 19.Qh5 and wins. 16.Bxh7+ Kf8 17.Qxg4 g6 18.Qh4

Threatens 19. Bxg6 fxg6 20. Qh8+. 18...Kg7 18...Ke7 19.Ne4+ Kf8 20.Nf6 19.Rf3 Rh8 20.Rh3 Bc6 21.f5! exf5 22.Ne4 Kf8  22...dxe4 23.Bh6+ Kxh7 24.Bf8+ (Or  24.Bg5+ ) 24...Kg8 25.Qxh8# 23.Bh6+

Black Resigns 1–0

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Another Nice Barav Victory

As promised, I am occasionally publishing on this blog games by Israel Barav (orig. Rabinovich), who was especially known for his tactical brilliance. Here is one such nice game, against one of Palestine's stronger players, Shlomo Smiltiner, who had passed away recently at the age of 100:

Lasker Club, Tel Aviv
June 7th, 1945
Israel Barav – Shlomo Smiltiner
Source: A. Barav’s collection.
[Annotations adapted from Deep Fritz 8's]
Caro-Kann (B10)

1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Ng3 Bg4 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O Nbd7 8. d4 Bd6  (8...h5 9. h3 Bxf3 10. Qxf3 =) 9. h3 Bxf3 10. Qxf3 Qc7 11. c3 Nb6 12. Bb3 h6  13. a4 Rd8 (13... Nbd7 14. Bc2 is better) 14. Re1± Kf8 15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Rxe4 Kg8 17. Bd2 Nd5 18. Rae1 Qe7 19. c4 Nf6 20. R4e2 Bb8 (20... Bb4?! 21. Bc3 Bxc3 22. bxc3 Qc7±) 21. Bc3 h5? (21... Qd6 22. g3 Bc7 +-)

22. d5! (Clearance to allow c3-e5) cxd5 (22... exd5 23. Rxe7) 23. cxd5 Nxd5? (better is 23... e5 24. Bxe5 Bxe5 25. Rxe5 Qd6, but Black is still lost) 24. Bxd5 Qd6 25. Re5 (Fritz prefers 25. Rxe6!? due to 25… Qxd5 26. Qxd5 Rxd5 27. Re8+ Kh7 28. Rxh8+ Kxh8 29. Re8+ Kh7 30. Rxb8 Rd7 +-) 25... exd5 26. Re8+ Kh7 27. Qxh5+ Qh6 28. Rxh8+ Rxh8 29. Qxf7 Qg5 (if 29... d4 30. Bxd4 Rd8 +-)

30. Bxg7! Rg8 (if 30... Qxg7 31. Qh5+ with mate) 31.Bf6+ Rg7 and Black resigned without waiting for the opponent’s reply (1-0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A "Life Chase" Match

Credit: The National Library of Israel "Time Travel" web site
A contributor to this blog had reminded me that Israel's national library, apart from a large physical collection of chess materials in rare magazines, etc., also has them on their web site. Entering 'שחמט' (Sachmat, chess) or 'chess' (in English) does indeed find quite a few items -- although, for this particular item, one needs to look for 'chase', not 'chess', for obvious reasons. Here, we have an advertisement for the live chess game between Marmorosh and Rubinstein.

One wonders whether more people came to 'Hapoel graund' to watch the chess game or the 'foot-ball' (i.e., soccer) game. One may also wonder about the number of typos and factual mistakes (Rubinstein was not, of course, the 'world chase [chess] champion'). This is especially surprising since, according to the item's description, it was printed in Ha'aretz press -- that of the most important newspaper at the time in Mandatory Palestine -- and is also of exceptional quality in terms of color and technical printing quality for the time.