Sunday, June 4, 2017

Eliezer Pe'er, 1915-2017

Credit: Moshe Roytman
Israel's oldest player, Eliezer Pe'er, had just passed away at the age of 101. In the above picture, taken during an event held in his honor this passover, was sent to us by Moshe Roytman, we see him (seated in black) receiving a lifetime award. In the ceremony, adds Roytman, Pe'er officially declared his retirement from competitive chess (at the age of 101 and 7 months), ending at least eighty years of official chess activity

Depending on what "chess activity" means -- we start counting here (see the link) from his first public chess activity, a solver of a problem in Davar in 1937 -- at a relatively late age of 22. Assuming he had played in tournaments before that, perhaps as a child, this would add at least 5-10 years, making a record of ca. 85-90 years of competitive chess, surely close to a world record. 

Moshe Cna'an, a well-known chess enthusiast, noted that in one of his last two tournaments, Pe'er player a 9-year-old (age difference: 91 years). Nissan Levi organized the event. We note that Pe'er had very kindly given us much material for this blog -- such as the following item.

Hillel Aloni, 1937-2017

+; credit: see below
Hillel Aloni had recently passed away at the age of 80. As the Israeli Chess Federation notes, in an article by Yochanan Afek, he had been the composer of studies who had put Israel on the international "map" of studies composition, starting in the 1950s. Afek also adds much information about Aloni's work as a mentor, helping many talented Israeli composers, from their first steps to international recognition.

Afek chooses the above problem (Galitzki Memorial Tourney, 1964, 1st hon. mention) as illustrative of Aloni's talent. White to move and win. Solution in a coming post.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Chess and the IDF -- Jerusalem, 1949

Source: The National Library of Israel
Moshe Roytman, mentioned in the previous post, adds another item: a poster published in 1949 by the IDF's 'city officer' (Ktzin ha'Ir).

It notes the cultural events in the city (Jerusalem) in the week starting April 3rd, 1949 -- only a few months after the official end of the war of independence. The events in question are either general ones or those the IDF has reduced-rate tickets available for soldiers.

The range of the events is very wide, including classical Italian music, public lectures and readings, the popular Israeli past time of 'public singing' (zimra ba'tzibur) of popular songs, and -- on Saturday, 9/4/1949 -- a simultaneous game by the master Yochanan Marcuze.

1959 Blitz Championship

Source: Ma'ariv, Nov. 2nd, 1959, p. 12
We have just mentioned the 1959 championship. The poster notes that, among other things, there will be a blitz championship. Moshe Roytman adds a link describing the results: the winner was Raafi Persitz, the youngest Israeli master at the time (7.5/8, drawing with Greben) and that the 2nd and 3rd places were held by the two other young masters, Guti and Domnitz -- a full 2.5 points behind him.

Only Study - Wins First Prize?

Source: The National Library of Israel
The above poster (the top is cut off and has the logos of the Israeli Chess Federation and the City of Tel Aviv) is a poster for the Israeli championship of 1959, with the list of players, from Erno Greben to Rudi Blumenfeld. One of the players is Zvi Cahane. Yochanan Afek informs us he was a strong player and composer of problems, but that his only study won the first prize in the 1963 Israeli composition tournament (after corrections by Hillel Aloni). Is there any other case of a person's first -- or only -- study winning first prize in an important tournament? 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

More on the Tel Aviv Championship Photo

Credit: see below
Readers had contacted me about the matter. One frequent correspondent noted that the person to the left of Blass in the photo from the 1945 championship is probably Alexander Macht (a caricature from here is reproduced above, and the Hebrew Wikipedia entry photo is here. The first link, incidentally, tells the story of Macht's entire career, including his important banking one and his life in Tel Aviv, He was one of the founders of Banking in Palestine.

Amatzia Avni suggests, tentatively, that the person on the far left in the front row is Reuven Mauer (ph. spelling of ראובן מאוער), 'the mythological secretary of the Lasker chess club in Tel Aviv'.

If these two identifications are correct, they would be the two "extra" persons, apart from the 13 players, in the photograph.

ETA 31/4/2017: Yochanan Afek notes that it is not likely it is Mauer, due to the date of the photograph, taken when Mauer was much younger than the person in the photograph. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tel Aviv Championship, 1945 -- Help with Identifying Players

Source: See below

The above photograph, as is noted on the back, is that of the Tel Aviv Championship, 1945. It was forwarded to us by Ami Barav, the son of the late Israel Rabinovich-Barav. With Ami Barav's aid, as well as Hon's Ptichot Be'Sachmat and other sources, we have identified the persons in the photo as follows:

Standing, r. to l. : Rabinovich-Barav, Gruengard, Dobkin(?), Yosha, Smiltiner, Hon, unknown, Vogel(?), Wolfinger. Sitting, r. to l.: Aloni, Blass, Unknown, Mendelbaum(?), Porat, Unknown.

We are quite certain about the identity of some of the players. We are far less certain about three others, hence the question marks, and not sure at all about three of them, the 'unknowns'. The one participant not named here even tentatively is Gruenberg.

Note that Kniazer, one of the participants, is certainly not in the picture. As there are fifteen people in the picture and at most 13 of them are players, at least two others are non-participants, e.g., organizers.

Can any reader help with a more certain identification?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Staying Alive

Source: Davar, Feb 25th 1941, p. 3

A frequent correspondent (we apologize for the "backlog" in publishing his contributions, due to our vacation abroad and other personal issues) also sent us recently the sign of life found in the Palestinian Press about the Emmanuel Lasker Chess Club in Tel Aviv.

The note says in its entirety -- 'Emmanuel Lasker club, Alenby 2. The country's chess center. Chess school. Chess library. We buy books, clocks, etc. New members accepted'. It is one of the few signs of life from the club during this time (the early 40s), when due to the war, little room for chess was available in the papers, the chess column by Marmorosh ceased publication, and mentions of the club, or of chess, were very rare. But at least the club shows it still exists.

Ben Gurion as a Chess Player, and a Keres Caricature

Source: Maariv, Nov. 18th 1964, p. 4

A frequent correspondent had brought to our attention the following item. In it, it is noted that David Ben Gurion had been absent from the chess Olympiad of 1964 that was then taking place (he was later present, and even gave out the prizes, in the closing ceremony, as can be seen on this blog). It is noted that Ben Gurion is a member of the Sde Boker Kibbutz, where he was living at the time, and that he drew his game on the fourth board with Sodom's chess team, 'after a three hour battle'.

In another report from the Olympiad, on the same page, it adds a new record was set in the Olympiad the previous day: the USSR lost 3:1 to the West German team, the highest loss since it started participating in the Olympiads, in 1952, when Keres surrendered to Schmidt.The paper adds the following well-known caricature of the young Keres: