Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year Resolutions + New Year Presents

Credit: Samuel Bartolo's web site. 

What is it about the new year that makes people make all these resolutions – which they never keep anyway? Or give presents to each other? Whatever it is, let us make a couple of them:

1). On the “resolution” side, I resolve to finally finish my planned work on the history of chess in Israel and Palestine, of which this blog is only part. Oh, and to make some improvements to my OTB play…

2). On the “presents” side, I can say that there is reason to believe that this blog will become significantly more popular, especially among certain populations who should be interested in the history of chess in Israel or Palestine, but, until now, have probably been unaware of its existence.

I am not at liberty to disclose any more details right now, but all will be made clear, I hope, within a few weeks.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blass - Czerniak, 1935 Maccabiah

Moshe Blass was the first unofficial champion of Palestine, winning the 1935 Maccabiah tournament, as we have seen elsewhere in this blog. (The first official champion was Czerniak, in 1936).

This time -- a game where he defeated Czerniak in a nice kingside attack from that tournament (April, 1935). While the game is not up to modern standards, it's nice to see how Blass exploits Czerniak's mistakes. It was, by the way, Czerniak's one "off" tournament in Palestine in the 1930s, between winning the 1934 Jerusalem championship and the 1936 Palestine championship. (Source: Haaretz's chess column, ed. Moshe Marmorosh, April 12th, 1935.)

Again: the whole purpose of this blog is to tell people things they are not likely to otherwise know. Blass had already been a player in the Olympiad (representing Poland) in 1928. But his 1928 games are easier to find, as opposed to the obscure Maccabiah seven years later.

Blass, Moshe – Czerniak, Moshe [D30]
2nd Maccabiah, Tel Aviv, April 1935
[Analysis: Deep Fritz 8 (30s)]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bd3 Be7 6.0–0 Nbd7 7.b3 0–0 8.Nbd2 Re8 9.Bb2 Bd6 10.Ne5 c5 11.f4 b6 12.Rf3 Bb7 13.Rg3 Nf8 14.cxd5 exd5 15.Ndf3 [Fritz prefers 15.Ng4 immediately] h6!? 16.dxc5 Bxc5 17.Nd4 Bxd4 18.Bxd4 Ne6 19.Bb2

19… d4 [19...Kf8!?] 20.Ng4 [Now White is winning -- Fritz] Ne4 [‘??’ – Fritz.] 21.Nxh6+ Kf8 22.Bxe4 Bxe4 23.Ba3+ Nc5 24.exd4 gxh6 25.dxc5 Qe7 26.Qd4 1–0

Black's 19th and 20th move are typical "Czerniak moves": possibly objectively bad, even losing, but Czerniak as usual does everything to gain counterplay and activity. Didn't work this time.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Death at the Board

Image credit: Bergman's The Seventh Seal
There are many stories of chess players dying at  the board, but not too many confirmed instances. Raphael (who asked his last name be withheld) had emailed me that his grandfather, the Jewish player Benno Puder, had died playing chess. From his email (my translation): 
My grandfather, Benno Puder, was a chess enthusiast and player. My mother believes he was the senior champion of Switzerland, but I have found no formal proof. Here is a link to a tournament in his memory [a junior blitz tournament -- A. P.] in Basel. 
In Passover 1995 family and friends, as usual, rented an hotel in the French Alps for the holiday. That year it was in Aix Le Bains. One day my grandfather played with a grandchild -- not actually a grandchild, but the grandson of a couple he saved during the [second world] war and smuggled from France to Switzerland, and since then the family histories are intertwined. After he hasn't moved for a while, Samuel said, "grandpa -- your turn!", and then noticed his head is slumped on the board..."
I emailed the Swiss Chess Federation to see if they know anything about Puder's senior championship, and will also check Jeremy Gaige's indispensable sources when I get home. But if any reader knows anything I would be grateful. I add that the in passim note in Raphael's email about how Puder saved people from near-certain death, risking his own life, during WWII tells us more about the man than his chess career does!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Karff, Marmorosh, and the two Menchiks

Menchik - Graf, Stockholm 1937. Source: Davar 5.9.1937
Moshe Roytman notifies me that I was wrong to say the Palestinian chess establishment ignored Karff's participation in Stockholm 1937. On 20.8.1937 Marmorosh, in his Davar chess column, reports she had won two games (one over the Austrian women's champion, Salome Reischer); and on 27.8.1937 that she finished the tournament in fifth place (sic -- actually joint 6-7th; Marmorosh forgot Milda Lauberte of Latvia who was joint 3rd).

In the the next column, on 5.9.1937,  Marmorosh once again returns to the tournament -- this time presents a brilliancy by Vera Menchik in her victory over Sonja Graf. Menchik sacrificed a rook and a queen to win instantly. in a game that is, for some reason, not found in the "standard" online or computer databases. Correction: a chess friend from Munich noted the game was played in Semmering (and not in the Stockholm tournament, as I wrote). This is my, not Marmorosh's, mistake: Marmorosh himself notes explicitly that the game was played in Semmeing, which I have overlooked. What's more Indeed, the game is indeed found in databases, for example in That said, I still think Edward Winter's quote below is justified...

Yet more reason to look at, as Edward Winter says, the "treasures found in old magazines". Can you find the win?

The tournament is notable for two other (at least) points: first, Vera Menchik's clean score (+14 =0 -0) which, despite the relatively weak opposition, is quite an achievement in a serious tournament. Second, Menchik's sister Olga Menchik also took part, doing quite respectfully -- 6.5 / 14.

Solution to Menchik's combination (Marmorosh's punctuation and annotations; highlight to view):

1). Rd7! Qxd7 (1. Qxh5? Qxh2+! followed by Bxg5)
2). Qxh5!! gxh5
3). Bh7# (1-0)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The first Israeli(?) World Chess Championship Candidate

Photo from: edochess., not Boris Gelfand. Rather, Mona Ray Karff, known as the queen of American chess in the 1940s and 50s (winning the US women's chess championship seven times, inter alia), and, perhaps even more, as Edward Lasker's long-time partner. What is the relationship to chess in Israel and Palestine? Born in Basserabia, she and her family fled to Palestine after the revolution. In 1937, she took a very respectable joint 6th place in the women's world championship which took place in Stockholm, representing Palestine. From there she moved, apparently, directly to the USA. The next time a Palestinian, or Israeli, player of either sex took part in the world chess championship, it was in the 21st century.

It is surprising that she was, to the best of my knowledge, not mentioned in either contemporary or in later accounts about Israeli or Palestinian chess history she was -- see post from June 7th, 2014 on this blog -- despite the fact that at the time any sort of achievement in the international scene of someone representing Palestine was usually shouted from the rooftops (such as, for instance, the participation of the Palestinian team in the 1935 Olympics). Perhaps she had no connections with the Israeli/Palestinian chess "scene", seeing Palestine as a mere stop on the road to the USA.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday, Ms. Piatigorsky!

Photo credit:
Ms. Jacqueline Piatigorsky, of the Rothschild family, had turned 100 on Nov. 6th this year. She is best known to most chess players as the co-sponsor of the Piatigorsky cup tournaments and the Fischer - Reshevsky aborted match. It is easy to think she and her husband, Gregor Piatigorsky, the famous cellist (both Jews, of course), were just "dabblers" -- rich patrons who threw money at strong players for their own amusement.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Ms. Piatigorsky is not only a life-long chess enthusiast, but she was one of the strongest women players  in the USA (highest-rated female player in California and 2nd-highest in the USA in the 1960s, according to Wikipedia) and represented the USA in the 1957 Women's Chess Olympiad, scoring a very respectable 7.5/11 and winning a bronze medal on the 2nd board.

Here, from, is a cute game she won (with quite a lot of help from her opponent, Willa Owens, women chess champion of Ohio), in the 1951 USA women's chess championship in New York (annotations by Owens, who explains how "the roof caved in":)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Nc6 5.exd5 Nxd4?? 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Bb5+! Bd7 8.dxe6 Bxb5?? 9.Qh5! Qf6 10.Qxb5+ ("Boing!" -- Owens) 1-0 

Chess in the Warsaw Ghetto

Mark Szapiro, pre-WWII. Photo credit: Yakov Zusmanovich.

My Chess Life by Szapiro [Polish]. Photo credit: Yakov Zusmanovich.
O thou whose cynic sneers express,
The censure of our favorite chess,
Know that its skill is Science' self,
Its play distraction from distress... 

-- Abdullah ibn al-Mu'tazz, 861-908, trans. Daniel W. Fiske (Morhpy's friend and a chess player in his own right).

If there was ever a place where chess was needed to "distract from distress", it surely was the Warsaw ghetto. The Polish-Swedish player Marek Szapiro (1917-2002) was one of those who survived the ghetto. Yakov Zusmanovich, who specializes in collecting chess biographies, kindly informs me of Szapiro's book, My Chess Life (Penelopa publishing, Poland, 2005, ed.: Tomasz Lissowski). The book contains, among other things, over 100 games -- including some played in the ghetto.

Here is one such game -- from p. 59 of the book, with the author's punctuations and diagrams but without the rather deep annotations that are found in the book.

Szapiro,J. - Szapiro,Marek
Warsaw Ghetto, 10.1942
[Annotations: Marek Szapiro]
Source: M. Szapiro’s My Chess Life
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.exf5? Nc6 4.Bc4!? d5 5.Bb5 Bxf5 6.Nxe5 Qf6 7.d4 0–0–0!? 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Ba6+ Kd7 10.Be3 Qg6 11.Bd3 Bb4+ 12.Nc3 Ne7 13.0–0 Rhf8 14.Ne2 Bd6 15.Ng3 Rde8 16.Nxf5 Nxf5 17.Bxf5+ Rxf5 18.Qd3

 18... Re4! 19.g3 Rf3 20.Kg2 Rg4! 21.Rae1 h5! 22.Qe2 h4! 23.h3 Rgxg3+!

 ...and White resigned (0–1).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Lewis Chessmen

Photo: A. P.

On a recent trip to London, I have visited the London museum -- and the Lewis chessmen. It is an extremely impressive set -- as it would be, being made for a king -- and well worth visiting, as is, of course, the London museum itself for many other reasons.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Antisemitism in Chess, Part II

An addition to the story of the Maghami - Shahar game in Corsica, which the Iranian GM (Maghami forfeited rather than play an Israeli, is found in the following chessvibe analysis, which I encourage all to read. It turns out that Maghami played all other Jewish players and even openly declared he had nothing personal against Israeli players (an act of courage on his part), but that he had no choice but not to play. Often, such excuses -- "I have nothing personal against Jews, but..." -- are just antisemitism in a flimsy disguise (much like "I have nothing against blacks, but...", etc.). In Maghami's case, however, knowing the character of the Iranian regime, it is clear he really did have no choice but not to play and really has no personal animus against Jews or even Israelis. This is not an uncommon situation: as Geurt Gijssen notes (quoted in the chessvibe article), usually such restrictions on playing come from the governments involved, not from the players.

Again, there is antisemitism here, but it is (as noted in the chessvibe column) it is usually by the governments, not by the players. It is a no-win situation, both for the players and for FIDE. If FIDE keeps the pairing and forces players to forfeit, they are punished through no fault of their own. If FIDE changes the pairings, one is encouraging such behavior (by the governments, not the players) and undermines FIDE's motto of Gens Una Sumus. My own view is that FIDE should never allow such re-pairings. If a country wishes to boycott another country, it should know it is violating FIDE's motto and that there should be consequences to this action. (Then again, perhaps it actually enhances FIDE's motto, which means in Latin "we are one family". Everybody knows of families where siblings hate each other's guts and won't talk to each other...)

It is true, of course, that not all political boycotts are morally equal. It is one thing for two countries in war to refuse to play each other, as sometimes happens. It is quite another thing to boycott Israel because one refuses to recognize its existence and as part of a plan to wipe it off the face of the Earth, as Iran's government does. However, it should not be FIDE's role to be a moral arbiter and declare which country is good and which country is bad. Quite apart from the very real risk of such "moral" declarations by FIDE bureaucrats becoming just another political tool, the simple fact is that FIDE exists, as Edward Winter pointed out in C. N. 1712, 'to organize chess, not court-martials against those with objectionable opinions'. Certainly boycotting, say, Nazi Germany in 1939 was justifiable; but it would be petty and unmanly for those who did it to demand that, since their boycott is morally right, they should not suffer the forfeit of a chess game as a consequence.

Milu Milescu's 100th Anniversary

Photo credit: IUPUI

Yochanan Afek had kindly informed me of a special composing tourney he is arranging to commemorate Milu Milescu's 100th anniversary.  His announcement follows:

"EG" announces a special composing tourney for human studies to commemorate the 100 anniversary of Milu Milescu (11.11.1911- 6.11.1981) a Rumanian originated Israeli promoter of the art of the endgame study and International judge for chess composition. In Rumania he was for many years the editor-in –chief of the Revista Română de Șah  and later he  ran in leading magazines (such as Europe Echecs , Deutsche Scachzeitung and the Israeli monthly Shahmat)  popular and highly instructive columns regarding the  linkage between chess composition and the realm of over the board chess. In 1962 he published the book Sigmund Herland: Problèmes Choisis  and with Dr. Hans-Hilmar Staudte he wrote the best seller Das 1x1 des Endspiels.

The judge is Amatzia Avni. Book prizes, honourable mentions and commendations will be awarded. No set theme.

Original human studies (not more than three per composer) should be sent (preferably by e-mail) on diagrams with full solutions and postal address before March 31st 2012 to the tourney director:

René Olthof
Achter't Schaapshoofd 7
5211 MC's- Hertogenbosch
The Netherlands

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More about the 1935 Maccabiah -- so much for the "Mystery"...

In a previous post concerning the 1935 Maccabiah, I mentioned that it seems the two players from Luxemburg mentioned there were brothers and that it seems their only point was in the game between themselves. Czerniak's Israel Be'Olympiadot Ha'Sachmat [Israel in the Chess Olympiads] (Tel Aviv: Rotem Press, 1979) notes (p. 7) that, indeed, the two players named Wilberzeitz [ph. spelling] were indeed brothers and did indeed gain their only point in the "family meeting".

But Czerniak mentions nothing about them either staying in Palestine or escaping from the Nazis. This, compared to his noting of similar material about the personal history of other players in his book: he notes, for example, on the same page, that the winner ,of the tournament, Moshe Blass, was not on the Palestinian team for the 1935 Olympiad because he was considered an illegal immigrant by the British authorities in Palestine.)

Either he knew nothing of their fate (Czerniak, like many stronger players, sometimes seems to have had a bit of a "blind spot" toward the fate, or even existence, of that subhuman species, "weak/non-players") or else they simply did not illegally remain in Palestine at all.

So much for my research of the original papers from the period discovering an "unknown scoop"! Ah well, at least, if not new, this story is "old enough to be new" (to quote Napier) -- even "old timers" I have asked in the Israeli chess "scene" had never heard of it. But still, the mystery remains: who were these brothers and what was their fate?

It should be noted that, while two brother being notable chess players is not common, it is not unknown, e.g., the Steiners (Endre and Lajos), or the Laskers (Emmanuel and Berthold). (As usual, Edward Winter has the goods -- see e.g. Chess Notes 4808 or 4515). So, it's certainly possible that the brothers, if not strong players, were indeed the two strongest Jewish players in Luxemburg, there being only about 1000 Jews in the country at the time (according to Wikipedia).

Merely being from a country that is very small, or weak in the chess field, is hardly a sign of fraud or ulterior motives of the players who come to play representing that country; many countries whose chess level is, objectively, terribly low, legitimately take place in the Chess Olympiad and play the world's best players -- even if they are crushed. After all, as Wittgenstein noted in a different context, the weak chess player plays chess no less than the strong one does.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

11.11.11 and Jewish Chess

Photo credit: Shachmat, vol. 20 no. 11-12 (Nov.-Dec. 1981), p. 201.
Yesterday was a once-in-a-century date: 11.11.11. This point is of no particular importance (after all, calendars are arbitrary) but it has a curious Jewish chess connection. As it happens there was an Israeli chess personality born on 11.11.11 -- that is, of course, 11.11.1911. He was Milu Milescu (link in German), the Romanian-Israeli composer.

He was, inter alia, as this post on the forum notes (in Hebrew), an international judge of chess compositions, edited a Romanian and a German chess magazine, and after coming to Israel in the 1960s wrote extensively for Shachmat. The post has other links about his chess exploits, in various languages.

His obituary in Shachmat (from which this picture is taken) notes that, among many other contributions to the magazine, he edited the section "Play and Compositions" (הקרב והקומפוזיציה) from the early 60s until his untimely death in 1981. The section dealt in similar ideas found both in actual games and in composed studies.

Ironically, the difference in time between his sending of his last column to Shachmat and its actual publication made it possible for his obituary to appear in the "Play and Composition" section which he wrote. So we have a section by Milu Milescu noting that Milu Milescu had died. Talk about ghost writing.


I suppose that explains how Moses, who allegedly received the entire Torah (first five books of the OT) on Mt. Sinai and wrote them all down, also wrote (Deut. 34:5) "And Moses died...": publishing backlog, that's how.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Antisemitism in Chess is reporting that an Iranian player, GM Ehsan Gahem Maghamirefused to play the Israeli FM Ehud Shachar, in the 2011 Corsican Circuit tournament. The organizers forfeited him, adding that this is against the spirit of FIDE's motto, gens una sumus, and they would not allow this sort of segregation. I fully support the organizer's decision, and the claim by many who reponded that this is a case of antisemitism. But I am hesitant to say, as many did, that the player in this case is antisemitic. It is easy to imagine what would happen to him, or, worse, his family, if he agreed to play an Israeli player. So his refusal might well have been forced, not due to any hatred towards the Israeli player.

Still, the organizers did the correct thing. They have not accused the Iranian player of antisemitism -- only of unsportmanlike behavior (which, however forced, it was). What's more, the organizers are done the correct thing in not being complicit with the Iranians' desire to not play Israelis. Yes, as Steve Giddins says on his blog, the organizers could have avoided the pairing in advance. But where does this end? Suppose some country refuses to have its players meet Black chess players? Or women? Must they be accommodated, too?

It is true that if possible warring countries are not paired during olympiads. As Moshe Czerniak notes in Israel Be'Olympiadot Ha'Sachmat [Israel in the Chess Olympiads] (Rotem Press: Tel Aviv, 1979, pp. 14-15), after Sept. 1st, 1939, the teams from the now-warring countries were forbidden by their governments to play each other (their matches were formally declared drawn). But in war there is symmetry: neither warring country's team has any willingness to play the other. Here, we have only one side -- the Iranians -- refusing to play.

Ironically, adds Czerniak, the team representing Nazi Germany demanded to play with the Jewish Palestinian team, instead of agreeing to a formal draw, claiming Germany isn't at war with Palestine! The real reason was that Germany and Argentina were competing for first place, and if Argentina were to score a high victory, it might pass Germany. (In the event it was agreed that Palestine's matches with both Germany and Argentina would be declared a formal draw.) Also, he notes, just because a player represents an antisemitic government doesn't mean they themselves support it: all five German players, the winning team in the 1939 Olympiad, asked for asylum in Argentina!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jerusalem Chess -- Some Things don't Change?

Logo Credit: Jeruchess

The first chess club in Palestine was established in Jerusalem in 1918 by Col. Ronald Storrs, the British military governor of Jerusalem. It was called the "International Chess Club". This was not false advertisement, but an expression of the hope that it would be a chess club that would unite the different nations -- local Arabs and Jews, and European Christians of various nations who were then stationed in the city -- and help promote peace and understanding. Unfortunately the club closed within a year of its founding, due to the increasing tensions between the Arabs and Jews. 

But hope springs eternal, and today Jerusalem's most active chess club -- Jeruchess (link partially in Hebrew and partially in English) -- has, as its motto, its Hebrew name (ירו-שחמט, Yeru-Sachmat) with the word שחמט (chess) incorporating the Muslim crescent, Jewish star of David, and Christian cross into the typography. What's more, the club is located in the Tarbut Ha-Amim center -- literally, the "international civilizations" center -- whose goal is (according to their English language web page and the Hebrew wikipedia page about them) to serve as a center for the meeting of the different cultures in Jerusalem and to promote pluralism. 

Will it work this time? Who knows?

Source for information about the 1918 chess club: The editors, “Ha’moadon Ha’sachmati Be’yerushaliaim ‘Emanuel Lasker’” [The Emanuel Lasker Chess Club in Jerusalem], Ha’shachmat, vol. 1 no. 1-2, Tishey-Heshvan 5684 (Sept.-Oct. 1923), pp. 20-22;  Moshe Czerniak, Toldot Ha’sachmat Me’reshito Ve’ad Yameynu [History of Chess from its Beginnings to Today], p. 155 (Tel Aviv: “Mofet” Press, 1963.)

Reuben Fine Playing the Violin

OK, OK, I'm cheating -- that's actually a picture of Yehudi Menuhin. But am I the only one who sees a resemblance?

By the way -- this shows up when one searches for "Reuben Fine" in google images. Not that I'm complaining, but -- seriously -- it makes one think about how accurate learning about the world through google really is.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Two "Firsts" and Some Musings

In July 1922, Doar Ha'yom ("Daily Mail"), a local Jerusalem paper, started to published a weekly chess column edited by Aryeh Leob Mohilever, of the newly-established Lasker Chess Club in the city (Source: 'The Jerusalem Chess Club is 35' [Ha'Moadon Ha'Yerushalmi ben 35], 64 Mishbatzot, no. 5-6 [May-June 1957], pp. 233-235.) 

This column was the first chess column published in a daily newspaper (as opposed to the previous column in the weekly The Palestine News which started in 1918, as seen elsewhere in this blog). On 13.8.22, it featured the first locally-played game ever to be published (to my knowledge) in Palestine or Israel, between Mohilever himself (black) and Dr. A. Tauber. (0-1). Above is the column as it appeared in the paper (click for a larger version); below is the game, with annotations by Mohilever and my colleague and strong player Shahar Gindi (in Italics). Below, a picture of Mohilever (standing top left) and others in the Lasker club from the same period (1924) (source: 64 Mishbatzot, May-June 1957, p. 233).

A few comments, if I may...

1). Bizzarely, while the date -- 13.8.1922 -- was a Sunday (a regular working day for a Herbew-language newspaper in Palestine or Israel), the column was actually published the previous Friday, 11.8.1922, in the enlarged (six pages!) weekend edition. It was only dated 13.8. Yes, Doar Ha'yom was a daily newspaper which was "pre-dated" one issue: that is, one bought on Monday a paper with Tuesday's date, and on Friday a paper with the following Sunday's date (no paper was published on Saturday). Ever heard the contemptous expression, 'this newspaper can't even get the date right'? In Doar Ha'yom's case, it was literally true.

2). Naturally Gindi's analysis (as checked by a computer) is much more accurate, but as he told me, it was certainly a publishable game even with the oversights in the game itself or in the analysis.

3). I must add that to me, as a weak player, Mohilever's analysis made more sense: it looked like a case of "crime and punishment", with White being punished for losing tempos with his queen for no good reason. Gindi (as well as the computer) saw deeper, and disabused me of this notion. Once more we see that actual variations and moves are far more important than general strategic considerations in most situation: in particular, white could have won by playing e6 at the right moment, despite all his "lost tempos".

As Tartakower allegedly said, 'strategy, schamttegy -- checkmate ends the game'; or, as Tarrasch actually did say (to Napier -- as usual, Edward Winter has the goods, see quote #72 in the link), '[I]t is never enough to be a connoisseur of chess; one must also play well'. All this is not said to tell amateurs not to study strategy, but to not think it is more important on their level than it actually is.

What knowing chess strategy does help the amateur a lot with is in organising his thoughts: trying to have some idea of what a "plan" is, an idea of "what should I do?" in a position instead of just checking random moves, etc. This is necessary if the amateur is ever to improve. But the improvement itself has a lot more to do with knowing tactics, basic endings and openings, etc., well, not with knowing strategy more deeply. Strategy can guide tactical thought, not replace it. This is what is meant by the old saying (not actually Capablanca's, as C.N. 4209 in this link to Winter's Chess Notes notes) that chess books should be used to "assist" and not "confer" sight.

4). We see the influence of the European, as opposed to the British, influence when translating chess terms into Hebrew. The queen is called a gvira [גבירה] -- "dame" (as in French or German); and White's resignation is translated as Lavan mevater [לבן מותר] -- "White gives up", literally from the German term from resignation, gibt auf. Today in Hebrew the terms used are from the English: malka [מלכה] -- queen, and Lavan nichna [לבן נכנע] -- "White resigns" (lit. "surrenders"). There is, by the way, a web page with chess terms in 73 languages -- although I cannot vouch for its accuracy, it is at least correct in the languages I know...

(13) Tauber,A - Mohilever,Aryeh [C55]
Lasker Club, 29.07.1922
Annotations: Mohilever and Shahar Gindi (Italics).
Source: Doar Hayom, 13.8.1922
C55: Two Knights and Max Lange Attack

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d3 d5 5.exd5 5...Na5? 

Better and simpler was Nxd5. 


Losing a tempo. There is no need to fear NxB since dxN will strengthen the d5 pawn. 

6...Bd6 7.Bg5 Bg4 8.0–0 

Fortifying the d5 pawn with Nc3 was better. 

8...h6 9.Bh4? 

White can maintain the material advantage by playing Bxf6 or Ba4+. 

9...Nxb3 10.axb3 g5 11.Bg3 Nxd5 12.h3 Bh5 13.Nbd2 Nf4 14.Bxf4 gxf4 

Opening the g-file for the rook. 


Nice maneuver to bring the queen to the center.  

15...f6 16.Qe4 

Good centralizing move. 


Now White gets the edge again [Gindi].
Protects b7 and prepares and attack on h3 [Mohilever]. 

17.d4 f5 18.Qd5 Bf7 19.Qb5+ c6 20.Qa4 e4 21.Rfe1 Rg8 22.Ne5? 

Inappropriate in this situation. A defensive move was called for, like Kh2; only after black moves the king should white have moved the knight. 

22...Bxe5 23.dxe5 f3 

A very natural move, but there is a better one: 23...Qd8! 24.Nc4 Qg5 and there is no good way to defend g2. 

24.g3 f4 25.g4? 

25. e6! and the tables are turned. 


A trivial sacrifice.  

26.Kh1 Rg1+! 

If 26. ...Rg2 27. e6! Followed by Rxe4. 

27.Kxg1 Qxh3 28.Nxf3 exf3 0–1

Saturday, October 1, 2011

47 Books

Source: Doar Ha'Yom,  May 14th, 1922, p. 2.
To those who want to get an idea just how small the chess world was in the early history of chess in Israel or Palestine, the following notice from a 1922 newspaper will give an idea.

It notes with satisfaction under the headline 'Chess Library in the Jewish National Library [Beit Ha'Spharim Ha'Leumi]' that the chess publishing house [Schachverlang] in Berlin headed by H. B. Cohen had donated a 'complete library' of 47 volumes' about chess to it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

"A Difficult Position for Both Sides", Part II

Image credit:

A quick note about the "difficult position for both sides" quip discussed on this blog before. It turns out that C. H. O'D. Alexander, in his book about the Fischer - Spassky match, used a similar phrase (p. 93 of the paperback edition in the photo).

Annotating game 4 of the match, after 26. Qxh4 g5, Alexander writes this is "[a] very  difficult position for both sides". Apparently this expression is used more often than one would think, meaning a complex position where both sides have significant problems to solve.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Morphy Mania

Photo credit: A.P.
Occasionally, as readers of this blog know, I comment on chess matters unrelted to Jews. By sheer chance, I found -- thrown away from a public library -- a copy of The Chess Players by Frances Parkinson Keyes, a prolific American author. It is an historical novel with the main male character being Paul Morphy as a Confederate spy in Europe. Keyes actually purchased Morphy's old house in the 1950s (see link above).

Apparently some authors relied on this novel for factual information about Morphy, e.g., relaying as fact the novel's claim that he was rejected as a suitor because he was "a mere chess player". Keyes is hardly to be faulted for this -- her book is openly historical fiction, not fact. This is the equivalent of relying on Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code when writing the history of the Catholic Church. (H'm -- on second thought, some people do that, too...)

Another more recent novel which deals with the same theme is Paul Morphy: Confederate Spy by Stan Vaughan, whose home page makes some rather odd claims, presuming he is serious and not pulling our collective leg.

What is it about Morphy that attracts such oddness?

Chess and Politics, Continued

Photo credit: A.P.
To add to the "politics and chess" file: the front cover of Shachmat Vol. 37 No. 6 (Dec. 1997) shows Garry Kasparov in a conversation with then-president of Israel, Ezer Weizman

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

King-on-Wrong-Square Mafia

Perhaps you've heard of an obscure corporation named "google". Well, here is how its "crystal chess board" theme looks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chess Statue, Part II

In a previous post, I have noted there is a chess statue of an overturned chess king in Haifa which is probably the largest statue of its type in the Middle East. I took some more photos of it recently. It turns out the statue -- titled "Mate", of course -- is by Guy Zagursky, a contemporary Israeli artist. The statue is one of many statues -- all related to games in some way -- which are part of a "statue park" along a major thoroughfare in Haifa.

I checked, but apparently Mr. Zagurksy isn't a chess player -- at any rate, he doesn't have an Israeli Chess Federation rating. That isn't quite the same thing, of course, but if he does play, he doesn't do so in tournaments.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Najdorf Interview, part II

The inerview with Najdorf mentioned two posts ago was, as said, published in Shachmat, Nov. 1996. It was conducted by the well-known Israeli player and problemist Yochanan Afek  and published on pp. 24-30. Here are some interesting bits (the context makes clear whether Najdorf or Afek are speaking):

His cousin, Ester Salzman, the last scion of his Polish family, joins us. 'His mother never agreed with his occupation. Like every Jewish mother she wanted him to be a physician and would often throw his chess set out the window'.

Clearly he would prefer the interview to be conducted in Spanish or, preferably, Polish. He would also accept Yiddish. But his overflowing stories show contempt to linguistic limitations.
Miczyslaw [...] is his polish name, as a Jew he is Moshe Mendel and as an Argentinian Miguel. His cousin calls him Munik. All in 'M'.

Q: Try to remember the most piquant event in your career.
A: Maybe my meeting with the pope. In my [chess] column in Clarin I published the chess problems of Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II's original Polish name, but some strongly claim that he never composed the problems, which were published under his name as a joke - Afek). I send the publication to the Vatican, and got as a reply an invitation to meet the pope when I am in Rome. Imagine, I, the Jew Moshe Mendel Najdorf spoke to Karol Wojtyla for an hour and a half only about chess... and in Polish!

I may be the only person in the world who played all the world champions except for Steinitz and Lasker. On second thought, I played with Lasker in Warsaw in 1935... Bridge!

During the [1972 world championship] match, a Jewish reporter from United Press asked me to summarize in two minutes the difference between Spassky and Fischer. Spassky, I answered in Yiddish, is a living person who sometimes plays chess. Fischer is a chess player who sometimes lives.

If we must choose, Capablanca was [the greatest chess player ever], because he came from a chess 'nowhere' and reached the top.

Finally, two games were given (Ibid, p. 30). A quick search found them both in online datacases -- in the web site. The first is known as the "rights of minors" game (for reasons obvious in the game score) and was even that web site's "game of the day" in the past. The second is also well worth looking at.

Andor Lilienthal had, perhaps, a better claim for playing the most world champions than Najdorf, but only by a short margin (he played Lasker; both also played the world's women chmapion, Vera Menchik).

Also, it is considered established today that John Paul II's "chess problems" were, indeed, a hoax, as Tomasz Lissowski conclusively proved. This does not mean Najdorf was concsciously lying: as Lissowski noted, many players, from amateurs to GMs, accepted the problems as genuine for a long time, and Najdorf might well have been one of them.

What seems more doubtful is whether Najdorf actually spoke "only about chess" with the pope for an hour and a half...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Only in Israel

Ad for the Novag chess computer. Shachmat, Nov. 1996 (inside front cover)
For the "only in Israel" file: Traveling chess sets and, later, computers existed (and were advertised) for decades, if not centuries, all over the world. But probably only in Israel does the advertisement say proudly (inside the grey-colored banner above the computer's image): "portable computers for travel and reserve army duty".

Najdorf Interview, "Shachmat" 1996

Najdorf and Lakser, Lasker chess club, 1996. Source: Shachmat, Nov. 1996.
After the Groningen memorial tournament in 1996, Najdorf, who participated in it, visited Israel. The Nov. 1996 Shachmat (the Israeli chess assoc. magazine) put him, naturally, on the cover -- and has an interesting interview with him inside. The photographs above and below were taken during his visit to the Lasker chess club in Tel Aviv. Details will follow in a coming post, but in the meantime note the garish wallpaper under Lasker's bust -- a sign of the decline of a once-proud chess club...

Najdorf In the Lasker chess club, playing blitz. Source: ibid.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Alekhine and Antisemitism -- and its Unexpected Results

The controversy about Alekhine's anti-semitic articles is well-known. In short, did he jump or was he pushed -- was he truly a Nazi sympathizer, or did he write his infamous antisemitic articles under pressure? Alekhine claimed after the war he never wrote the articles, and that his name was signed to them without him being able to protest. There is good evidence the articles themselves were written by him, but to what degree he believed what he wrote is still an open question; as per usual, Edward Winter has a very good article on the matter here, and also in his book Kings, Commoners, and Knaves.

Today, Edward Winter's invaluable Chess Notes web site has a photo from AVRO 1938 (scroll down to note # 7191) where Alekhine is seen chatting with Flohr during the tournament. Flohr, of course, was Jewish, and we see here that as late as 1938, at least, Alekhine not only had no problem playing with Jews, but obviously was friendly with them.

Another unexpected story of how Alekhine's antisemitic articles in fact helped at least one person survive during the holocaust has been given in Forward magazine in the article "Encounter with Alekhine" by Michael Feuer. The author's father, Otto Feuer, had found an article by Alekhine discarded in the camp's latrine:
One day, in the Buchenwald latrine, Otto came upon what he thought was a miracle of sorts: There on the ground was a page from a recent German chess magazine, undoubtedly discarded by an SS guard, with an article by, of all people, Alekhine. Otto’s mood soared — until he began reading. Then he discovered that Alekhine had become a rabid anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer. The article was all about the evils of “Jewish chess.” Otto sank into an especially low depression. But then there was another uplift, because it occurred to him that if he was still capable of experiencing both joy and sorrow, it must mean that not even the Nazis could destroy his humanity. And this awareness, that he was still human, gave him hope and the will to continue. 
The article is worth reading also for the excellent photo of Alekhine later in his career.

Does the AVRO photograph prove Alekhine was not an antisemite "in his heart" (whether or not he wrote the  infamous antisemitic articles)? Not necessarily. Foward also has another article about the other great antisemite in chess, Bobby Fischer. They argue the solution to the mystery of Fischer's rabid antisemitism coexisting with his friendship with many individual Jews is that for him "Jew" was just a name for "enemy". Being paranoid, anybody he suspected of having slighted him in the most trivial way instantly became an "enemy", and thus a "Jew", and thus part of the worldwide "Jewish conspiracy" against him.

Fischer's case is extreme, but we all know bigots who say 'some of my best friends are Jews' despite the fact that they despise Jews. They are not lying about their friendships; their mistake is to think this proves they are not bigots. It is possible that Alekhine's friendship with, and public praise of, Jewish players he knew were genuine, and that his belief that "Jewish chess" is a menace was equally honest. Jeremy Spinard's Anti-Semitism in Chess gives the example of Emil Diemer, of Blackmar-Diemer gambit fame, who was a Nazi party member and an antisemite, yet was a close friend of the Latvian Jew Nimzowitsch.

So Alekhine's defenders cannot use this "contradiction" as proof that he didn't mean what he say in his antisemitic articles. Does this condemn Alekhine? In my view, no.

1). First, if his friendship with Jewish players is no proof his antisemitic articles did not reflect his actual view, it of course does not prove his articles did reflect his views. That he might have believed what he wrote is no proof that he did.

2). Second, suppose it is conclusively proven -- say, by the discovery of a personal letter to a friend where Alekhine declares he hates "Jewish chess" -- that Alekhine meant what he said in those articles. If this were a contradiction with his friendhip with, and published praise of, Jewish players, we would be forced to conclude he was an enormous hypocrite, praising and being on friendly terms with many people he actually despised! This would be a worse condemnation of Alekhine's character than any belief, however foolish or mean-spirited, he held about the evils of "Jewish chess". But, I argue, it is quite possible that his friendship with Jewish players is genuine even if he was an antisemite about Jews "in general".

Monday, July 25, 2011

How many can you Identify?

Here are more candid photos by Itzhak Bar-Ziv of the 1964 olympiad. For non-Hebrew speaking readers: how many of the players can you identify ? For the answer highlight the area below.

Top left photo, 1st to 4th board, left team (FRG): Unziker, Darga, Schmid, Pfleger. 1st to 4th board, right team (NED): Kuijpers, Bouwmeester, Langeweg, Zuidema. Top right photo, left team (NED), 1st to 4th board: Kuijpers, Langeweg, Prins, vs. (HUN) Portisch, Szabo, Bilek. Bottom photo, left team (YUG), 1st to 4th board: Gligoric, Ivkov, Matanovic, Parma vs. (HUN) Portisch. 

Candid Camera

Itzhak Bar-Ziv was a young chess player in 1964, and he was one of the staff in the chess Olympiad held in Israel that year. He shot quite a few candid photographs of the players. Above is one such photo, showing (l. to r.): Keres, Eshel (Israeli Chess Assoc.), Botvinnik, Smyslov (back to camera), Ben Gurion (Israel's prime until 1963, holding a scroll and the cup), Darga, Petrosian.

(Thanks to the reader J. K. for correcting two mistakes in the original post.)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Czerniak Ending

According to Ha'aretz (18.3.38, chess column editor Moshe Marmorosh), Moshe Czerniak won the Jerusalem championship of 37/38 (Jewish year 5698) -- for the fourth time -- with a clean score (10/10). On 11.3.38 Marmorosh, in the same newspaper, gives an interesting pawn-and-knight ending which Czerniak won against Zilberman (ph. spelling):

This position is, objectively, better for Black: not only is he a pawn up but the White king is not in the best position to stop his pawns.  On  the other hand White's most advanced pawn is already on the sixth rank. 1. Ke2 [Fritz] is best, leaving Black better. But Czerniak always preferred to play actively, and probably didn't cherish his chances of holding the ending with defensive attempts of this sort. So he set a practical trap with...

1. Kd4! [Marmorosh's annotation] h5?? [Fritz]. 

Very natural -- and losing! Now White is winning despite the three advanced outside connected passed pawns. 

2. b5 h4 3. c5 h3 4. b6 cxb6 5. cxb6 h2 6. a7+ Kb7 7. Nc7 h1=Q 

Black even queens first, but...

8. a8=Q+ Kxb6 9. Nd5 Kb5 10. Qb7+ 1-0

 It is mate next move.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Incorrect Array Mafia Strikes Again

My photo of a board found in a store's display window. How many mistakes can you spot? (Click on the image for a larger view).
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chess Dreams

The position at the start of the most famous chess dream, Thought the Looking Glass.

Chess players often dream about chess positions or tournaments, but sometimes they take a weird turn.

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, is a strong player. He told me the other day he is thinking of taking a break from chess for a while. He had a dream where he went on a bicycle trip with Vassily Ivanchuk. They were solving geography puzzles.

Even Freud wouldn't have been able to make to make heads or tails of that one.


The diagram above got me thinking. For some reason this has not been mentioned anywhere (to my knowledge), but Alice being the d-pawn -- that is, on the same column as the queen -- as well on (eventually) queening on d8, is significant.

It seems to be an emphasis by Lewis Carroll of her fate of being "born to the purple". In certain times and places, a pawn could only promote to the piece found in the array (the starting position) on the file on which it started, or else on the file on which it was promoted.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Math and Chess -- and Euwe Mystery

Occasionally, I used this blog for something that is not, strictly speaking, related to Jewish chess history. This time we make a foray into mathematics and chess, in the person of Dr. Euwe, who was, as is well known, not Jewish -- but a mathematician as well as the world champion 1935-1937. He was also a good friend of Israel and of Jews, as this blog (among many other places) shows.

In Martin Gardner's The Magical Numbers of Dr. Matrix (New York: Dorset, 1985), a collection of essays on recreational mathematical subjects, the following appears (p. 242-3, bracketed comments mine):
Max Euwe, a former world chess champion, was among the first to recognize that the Thue sequence [a sequence of 0s and 1s discovered by the mathematician Thue in 1912] provides a method of playing an infinitely long game of chess. The so-called German rule for preventing such games declares a game drawn if a player plays any finite sequence of moves three times in succession in the same position. Two players need only create a position in which each can move either of two pieces back and forth, regardless of how the other player moves his two pieces. If each now plays his two pieces in a Thue sequence, neither will ever repeat a pattern of moves three times consecutively.
On the internet I found the following:

In 1929 [Euwe] published a mathematics paper in which he constructed [sic] an infinite sequence of 0's and 1's with no three identical consecutive sub-sequences of any length. He then used this to show that, under the rules of chess that then were in force, an infinite game of chess was possible. It had always been the intention of the rules that this should not be possible, but the rule that a game is a draw if the same sequence of moves occurs three times in succession was not, as Euwe showed, sufficient. (
This implies that the so-called 'three-fold repetition' rule was in 1929 written in the 'same sequence of moves occurs three times in succession' language, and that the 50-move rule is ignored. The reason is that if the threefold repetition (as today) no longer has to be in succession, but  merely having to occur, or else the 50-move rule applies, both trivially make chess a finite game, the first because there is a limited number of captures and/or pawn moves, the second because there is a limited number of legal (or for that matter illegal) chess positions that can be repeated.

But don't the 50-move rule and the "modern" (i.e., not in succession) threefold repetition rule go back, at least, to the beginning of the 20th century? Surely Euwe of all people would not make a mistake about the rules of the game in a published work! Can any reader resolve the inconsistency? Perhaps the original paper would clarify matters. 


Sorry about the crazy character breaks. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Benoni Defense + Opening Names

Image credit: hairulovchessmaniac [sic]

Just a quick note -- a few years ago Edward Winter kindly published an email from me in Chess Notes 4435 about the origin of the name 'Benoni' in Hebrew chess literature.

To add a bit to the issue of opening names in Hebrew, it should be noted that -- not surpirsingly, considering so many of the "original" Palestinian players came from eastern Europe -- the names of openings in Hebrew usually use the "eastern" convention of naming the openings after locations, unlike the "western" one of naming them after people. So in Hebew we have:

The Spanish opening instead of the Ruy Lopez
The Italian opening instead of the Giucco Piano
The Volga gambit instead of the Benko gambit
The Yugoslav opening instead of the Pirc opening
The Latvian gambit for the Greco counter gambit
The Russian opening (sometimes) instead of the Petrov defense

Of course some openings have no equivalent geographical name, and remain named after people (Alekhine's defense, Bird's opening) in Hebrew as well.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chess in the 1935 Maccabiah -- two "Mystery Players"?

Credit: wikipedia 
The 1935 Maccabiah's chess tournament was, in fact, finished, giving the winner -- Moshe Blass -- the first prize. Davar reported on the tournament on 4/4 and 12/4/35. Perhaps surprisingly, no other paper from Palestine seems have noticed the Maccabiah's chess contest, despite many papers (e.g., the Palestine Post) devoting a lot of space to detailed examination of all other events in the Maccabiah. This report combines both sources.

Blass got 7.5 points (out of 10, since there were 11 participants altogehter). After him came David Enoch and Yosef Porat (then Foerder) with 7 pts., Yosef Dobkin and Esra Glass (Jeremy Gaige's spelling from Chess Personalia: a Biobibliography) 6.5, Victor Winz, Moshe Czerniak, and Sigmund Beutum (Gaige's spelling) with 5, and Weil (no first name given) with 4.5.

From the 4/4 and 12/4 reports all that can be concluded about the crosstable is that in the first round (colors not given; first player might have been Black) were:

Beutum - A. Wilberseitz 1-0
Blass - Enoch 1-0
Glass - Czerniak 1-0
Dobkin - Weil 1-0
Porat - Winz 1-0

Also, we are told on 12/4 that in the last round Blass defeated Glass, 'his most dangerous opponent': both had 6.5 points after nine rounds, in that case, and the game decided the winner. We are also told Czerniak 'lost many games where he had the advantage' and that Winz was the only player to defeat Blass.

The Jewish writer, Akim Lewit, from the Weiner Schach-Zeitung, came to cover the tournament; perhaps more information about it can be found in that periodical. 

It is interesting that there were two players, presumably brothers -- Aryeh and Yaakov Zilbershats (preferred English spelling of Yaakov's grandson, Boaz Zilbershats, from the original Polish name Zylberszac) from the Luxemburg team. Their participation is noted on 4/4, but their scores are not given on 12/4. If the scores of the other participants are correct, it is easy to show that they lost all their games to all the other players: In a round robin tournament of 10 rounds (11 players), there are 55 points (11*10 / 2) to be divided among all the players. All the other players together gained 54 points. Which leaves the brothers a single, solitary point between them -- which is the absolute minimum they could have gotten, since they had to play one game between themselves!

As there is no mention of them as chess players anywhere else to my knowledge, perhaps these "players" -- a modern version of were in fact amateurs who, fearing Hitler's growing power, used the Maccabiah as a "cover" to gain entry to Palestine. With their scores, it is not surprising Davar and others kept silent about them, and their defeat could only be detected "between the lines"; but perhaps Davar was trying to save them from a fate far worse than mere embarrassment, as Hitler's plans towards the Jews and towards Europe in general, though nobody could have yet imagined the nadir they will eventually reach, were already very ominous.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Maccabiah and the first Palestinian Chess Championship: 1932?

A ticket for the Levant Fair, 1932. Photo credit: Alma7's blog on

Okay, I am cheating. There was no chess in the first (1932) Maccabiah held in Tel Aviv. There was, however, a whole lot of chess activity in the concurrently-held Levant Fair [Yarid ha'Mizrach] , also held in Tel Aviv at the same time, and opened by the same personality -- Tel Aviv's mayor, Meir Dizengoff.

There was a chess building in the exhibition. Moshe Marmorosh, the editor of Davar's chess column, promised on 31/3/32 that, after the opening on April 9th, we shall see the following:
The fair's exhibition's management began to build a building for chess in the exhibition. Every mail brings with it letters from masters in other countries asking about details and wishing to take part. The Champions Hans Kmoch from Vienna and Louis Steiner from Budapest wish to take part, giving blind simuls against 15 opponents, and do not ask for payment, but only expenses.
There will be a special competition under the sponsorship of mayor Meir Dizengoff for the Palestinian championship. Ten of the best players in the country will participate. For this tournament special chess clocks were installed, with a special buzzer that informs the player when he must move (not moving on time allows the opponent to demand a draw). 
There are arrangements made for blitz games (without time for thought) and simultaneous exhibitions.
The tournament did in fact take place -- sort of. On April 10th, Davar reported:
The Palestinian Champion
Is the title to be contested in the first national championship, which opened yesterday in the chess building in the Levant Fair. The tournament was opened by Meir Dizengoff ... the players are: from Tel Aviv: Marmorosh, Sambeski [ph. spelling], Dobkin, Weisbohr [ph.], Nevtigel [ph.], Levonski Abraham; from Haifa - Kniazer; from Jerusalem -- Fussni [ph.], Pappo. The tenth contestant has not yet been chosen. 

Our frequent coresspondent Moshe Roytman notes that I have significantly mistranslated the names above. As he notes in this link, from Davar 10.4.1932, it is clear that the correct names are Weissbord (ph.), not Weisbohr, Nachtigel (not Nevtigel), and Polani (not "Fussni"). My error! The mistakes are due to the similarity in the appearance of certain words in Hebrew, or the same letter having two different sounds. 

After this, however, Davar, and Marmorosh, had been silent, saying nothing more about chess in the fair, or the championship, or about Kmoch or Steiner, so far as I can tell. No games from the tournament had -- to my knowledge -- ever appeared in any publication (does any reader know otherwise?) What's more, the first recognized "Palestinian Champion" is Moshe Czerniak, in 1936.

Presumably, the tournament fell through and was not finished; the fact that four of the players -- those spelled phonetically -- are unknown (at least to me) even in the small world of Palestinian chess publications of the time, and that a tenth player is "yet to be chosen", makes one suspect as much.