Saturday, January 14, 2012

It was Bound to Happen

It has been recorded that players have fallen asleep during a tournament game. In Rishon Le'Tziyon's chess club's web site (link in Hebrew) it is noted that in the 1954 "Ha'poel" championship (where Shmuel "Dugo" Friedman was one of the participants), both players fell asleep during the game due to the heat.

I wonder what the rules are in such a case: is the tournament director allowed to intervene, or does the game end abruptly when the player who fell asleep as it was his turn to move oversteps the time limit?  Would that mean the other player won the game while sleeping?

In theory, it is not legal to "disturb" a player, and waking one up is surely disturbing him. On the other hand if the player snores he is disturbing others, in which case it is theoretically legal for the tournament director to wake him up. So apparently if one does fall asleep during a game, one should hope one snores, since otherwise one would lose on time.

R. I. P. Shmuel "Dugo" Friedman

Photo credit: Rishon Le'Tziyon Chess Club
I have mentioned on this blog Rishon Le`Tziyon's chess activist and player, Shmuel "Dugo" Friedman. He had passed away on 12.1.2012, aged 93. He was active in Rishon Le`Tziyon's chess club ever since arriving in Palestine in 1940 -- more than 70 years -- and organized, as well as played, in hundreds of events and tournaments.

For Hebrew-speaking readers, a good and accessible idea of his importance to Rishon Le`Tziyon's chess can be seen at the club's web site. For the non-Hebrew speakers it can be noted that Friedman appears -- either as a player or as an organizer -- in almost all the pictures in the historical section of the web site, from the first (1945) where he is the middle of the front row, to the last (2001) where he is third from left (next fo Boris Gelfand).

The picture above shows "Dugo" standing on the extreme right. The occassion is the first championship of the club, in 1946. The web site notes that he came in fourth, and that the young man in the front row, Abraham Feldklein, was killed a year later by Arab terrorists during the "troubles" of the end of the British Mandate of Palestine leading up to the 1948 war.

Edited to add: the comment below, which adds a lot of information about the people in the photograph, was authored by our regular reader, Yochanan Afek.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Koblenz in "Doar Hayom"

Source: Doar Hayom (see below)
Moshe Roytman informs me that he had found -- under the sub-title "a letter from Amsterdam" -- a report in Doar Hayom (Jerusalem), on 19.12.1935, concerning the 25th game of the Euwe - Alekhine. In this very famous game, Euwe, who had been trailing for most of the match up to that point, finally took the lead -- defeating Alekhine with the black pieces -- and never gave it up.

The match was (of course) reported extensively in the chess press in Mandatory Palestine at time, and this was by no means the only report on it. The interesting point, however, is that this report is a letter from no other than Alexander Koblenz -- the Latvian Jewish player who was later Mikhail Tal's trainer, among many other achievements.

Some interesting issues about this article are that Koblentz was only 19 when he wrote it, and that -- based on the title -- it was possibly written specifically for the Jewish press (although whether this is in fact the case needs needs further research).

Apart from this, his report is particularly relevant to the famous accusations of Alekhine being drunk during the match. He reports (my translation):
The reporters were greatly intrigued by rumors about a conflict that erupted in Armilla during the 21st game ... when the organizing committee that it will not pay his salary if he continued to drink vodka [יין שרוף]  before every game. 
It cannot be denied that Alekhine is a 100% genuine fonya [Russian -- A. P.],  and likes to have a drink of vodka before every important game, and would play, perhaps, even better than usual afterwards. After the 21st game Euwe explicitly said that he values that game more highly than all the previous ones of the match.
Why, then, you may ask, was Alekhine condemned to give up the drink he so loves?
The answer is: the members of the club where the two masters played the 21st game are supporters of prohibition, and they pressured the members of the match's committee to come out, in a high-handed way, against Alekhine's glass of vodka. 
Koblenz believes, then, that the fight had nothing to do with Alekhine losing the game, or being late for it (as he was), but with "political" pressure.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Death at the Board, Part II

Photo Credit:
Yochanan Afek alerts me to the fact that Vitaly Tsehkovsky, the Russian GM, had also died at the board just a few weeks ago as chessvibes reports. . He had beaten, inter alia, the young Kasparov, Geller, Bronstein, Tal, Smyslov, etc. The obituary in the link has quite a few exciting games.