Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chess World Championship in Israel, 1967

Credit: Davar, Aug. 29th, 1967.

OK, OK, I am cheating: in August 1967, the World Junior Chess Championship took place in Jerusalem. It is notable for this blog not only due to its location, but due to the fact that the winner, Julio Kaplan, is Jewish... and (as the link shows) later in life a significant force in computer chess.

It is also notable that the list of participants included, in 2nd to 4th place respectively, no other than Raymond Keene, Jan Timman (the youngest contestant), and Robert Hubner. -- yes, of course, those Keene, Timman, and Hubner.

Above is a report from Davar about the tournament, with (low quality) pictures of Kaplan and the 15-year-old Timman.

Credit: I found this information in a post on the forum by a frequent poster there, who had also contributed to this blog in the past. As he posts there anonymously I presume no public credit is wanted, but of course he can contact me if he does want to be named.

A Nice Gelfand Interview

Boris Gelfnad. Credit:

Checking my own links in this blog, I have discovered that the "Why Chess" link has a very nice interview with Boris Gelfand. It is in Russian, but Google translate helps a lot. Very interesting -- Gelfand is his usual humorous and courteous self.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Losing no Time

Source: Doar Ha'Yom, 14.12.34

Quick note: we have often commented that Moshe Czerniak, Israel's "Mr. Chess", was noted for his enormous energy and output, his love of teaching chess, and his opening expertise.

Arriving in Palestine in 1934, he showed this almost immediately: he became the editor Doar Ha'Yom's revived chess column that year, practically the moment he settled in Jerusalem. And what did some of his first columns do? Teach the basics of chess -- for example [on 14.12.34], an essay on what the French defense, first of all noting that it begins 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5.

Czerniak in 1934 already showed that he was no different Czerniak in 1984, the last year of his life. For fifty years he did just what he loved -- an enviable faith, it might be said.

First Original Problem in a Palestinian / Israeli Chess Publication -- but Mistakes will Happen...

Mate in .. ? Source: Doar Ha'Yom, 27.11.22

We have previously published various "firsts" about chess problems in Palestine: we believe the first original chess problem published in a Palestinian chess magazine by a Palestinian composer were those by Mohilever, which were published in Ha'Sachmat [Chess], the first Palestinian chess magazine. We also reported that the first problem of any sort published in a Palestinian paper was in 1918, a famous Loyd problem. Finally, we noted that, currently, we think the first chess problem published in a Hebrew (not necessarily Palestinian) source was "L. M."'s mate in three (can any reader with an access to a problem database find the author?)

All this leave open the question: which was the first original problem, not published elsewhere before,  published by any composer, including a foreign one, in a Palestinian chess publication -- or, for that matter, a Hebrew-language one? Assuming L. M.'s problem is not an original publication, the latter question remains open for the moment. Our candidate for the Palestinian chess publication first original problem is one is from Doar Ha'Yom, by Jacob Kopel Speiser of Zawierci, Poland -- as so often, the exact name was found using Jeremy Gaige's Chess Personalia -- on 27.11.1922, i.e., about a year before the first issue of Ha'Sachmat was published.

On 29.10.22 Doar Ha'Yom notes they received two original and two previously-published problems from Speiser, who notes in his letter [which they published] that he by chance saw a copy of Doar Ha'Yom and wants to support it with his problems.

The problem with all this, as it was published, it was not mentioned a mate in how many moves it was supposed to be; and there was a rather brutal "cook" -- 1. Bxd6 with mate on the next move. In the next column, 4.12.1922, there was a correction printed... which was itself, due to a printer's error, unclear: a line was printed twice, so all the correction tells us is that a piece should be added on f8. But the only two pieces that prevent the cook -- a bishop or a queen -- make it into a rather pointless mate in 4, or highly unlikely mate in 8, in both cases starting with the crude 1. d5+. Surely this was not the composer's intention.

Can any reader attempt to reconstruct the original problem or improve it?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Congratulations to Gelfand

As the final standings [above] in the 2013 candidates' tournament shows, Boris Gelfand had a very decent tournament. Scoring a respectable 6.5/14 against -- literally -- the world's strongest opposition, he had tied for 5th/6th place.

What's more, his performance was 50% or better against everybody except for Magnus Carlsen, which is hardly a shame, considering that Carlsen is very likely the greatest natural chess genius since Robert "Bobby" Fischer.

Congratulations, Boris -- and good luck in the future.