Harold Israel

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Helen Gerald
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Harold Israel

Postby Helen Gerald » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:22 pm

I am researching my family history; Harold Israel (1909 - 1984) was one of my great uncles. I have already searched this forum and followed the links - and was delighted with the Pathe newsreel taken at the Gambit Club in which he appears.

I am informed that he was joint British Postal chess champion in 1948/9, but that is about all I know at the moment. Clearly this is all rather a long time ago, but I am posting this in the hope that someone here knows more about him, or maybe just possibly met or played against him. He was a member of the Middlesex club and lived in Willesden apart from his war service.

I did 'overlap' with him, but don't recall ever meeting him myself.

If anyone can help I would be very pleased to hear from you.

many thanks
Helen Gerald

James Pratt
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby James Pratt » Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:46 pm

Known as Harry, heavy smoker, lifelong Hampstead Chess Club Member, tall but looked unhealthy, schooled at Owen's which was run by the Brewer's Association now at Potter's Bar, well dressed. The above is from Ken Harman who played him. He suggests other players who might shed light would be Dave Rumens, the Penrose Brothers Jonathan and Oliver. Both are retired, the latter to Edinburgh.

Postal Chess: Harry won the British Championship after the war having represented England internationally on board 3 in the Olympiad (World Team Tournament). In the individual championship he came 2nd= in 1949/50, 5th in 1950-1 and a rather distant 7th= in 1951/2.

He preferred evening play - he was a London League regular - to weekend tournaments but his 2nd= place in the Over the board British Championship of 1952 - at Chester won by Bob Wade - suggests his potential was never reached. He was a county player but no master, a very strong amateur. It may be that he realised that business and chess don't mix and chose the latter!

James Pratt
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby James Pratt » Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:58 pm

Harry played in the Estonian Championship in 1943 and visited England as early as 1932 for chess, where he played the Lady World Champion, Vera Menchik

Major Open 1932
H Israel
V Menchik
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. Qg4 Nc6 5. Nf3 Nxd4 6. Nxd4 cxd4 7. Bd3 Qc7 8.
Bf4 Ne7 9. Nd2 Ng6 10. Bxg6 hxg6 11. Rc1 d3 12. Qf3 dxc2 13. Qb3 Bd7 14. Rxc2
Qb6 15. Qxb6 axb6 16. a3 f6 17. O-O g5 18. Bg3 f5 19. f3 Bc5+ 20. Bf2 Bxf2+ 21.
Rxf2 Bc6 22. Nf1 Ra4 23. h3 Kf7 24. Nh2 b5 25. Rfd2 Rha8 26. Kf2 b4 27. axb4
Rxb4 28. Rc1 Ra2 29. Rb1 Rb3 30. Nf1 Bb5 31. Ne3 Bd3 32. Rc1 Rbxb2 33. Rxb2
Rxb2+ 0-1

Leonard Barden
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Leonard Barden » Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:54 am

James Pratt wrote:Harry played in the Estonian Championship in 1943


I think this claim is rubbish. I know it appeared in print somewhere a long time ago and I recall thinking then that it must be impossible. Estonia was Nazi-occupied in 1943, and the first post in this thread refers to Harold Israel's war service. Maybe there was confusion with another player with the same name.

Richard James
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Richard James » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:06 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:
James Pratt wrote:Harry played in the Estonian Championship in 1943


I think this claim is rubbish. I know it appeared in print somewhere a long time ago and I recall thinking then that it must be impossible. Estonia was Nazi-occupied in 1943, and the first post in this thread refers to Harold Israel's war service. Maybe there was confusion with another player with the same name.


Looks like a Chessbase error. Bigbase 2010 (I haven't got round to getting 2011 yet) gives two games between Harold Israel and Paul Keres, a training game in 1936 and a 1943 game from the Estonian championship. I presume the Harold we want is the one whose birth was registered in Hendon in April 1909. It seems highly likely that Leonard's (or, according to Chessbase, Leonhard's) suggestion of confusion with another player is correct.

Helen Gerald
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Helen Gerald » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:10 pm

just to confirm that my great-uncle was indeed born in Hendon in April 1909 - I am intrigued how that links into your data source!

were there two chess-playing Harold Israels?

Richard James
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Richard James » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:26 pm

Helen Gerald wrote:just to confirm that my great-uncle was indeed born in Hendon in April 1909 - I am intrigued how that links into your data source!

were there two chess-playing Harold Israels?


Hi Helen

I'm researching my family history as well as chess history so I could quickly find your great-uncle's details on ancestry.com. It looks like there was an Estonian chess player called Israel, whose initial may or may not have been H, but who was probably not called Harold, and someone in Germany mistakenly jumped to the conclusion that this was the same person as your great-uncle.

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John Saunders
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby John Saunders » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:37 pm

Yes, Richard is surely right: a classic case of ChessBase finding two similar names and deciding that they must be one and the same, based on no evidence whatsoever. Another example was Belgian GM Alberic O'Kelly being credited with games in the British Championship when in fact it was Rory O'Kelly who played them.

I checked Gaige's Chess Personalia and it gave the following two entries:

Gaige, Item 1 wrote:Harold Israel - 1949 British Correspondence Champion [no birth or death info]


Gaige Item 2 wrote:Heinrich Israel URS
born 02-10-1883
died 1964
Eesti Male, 1938, p. 121+


There is no evidence of any connection between the two. 'Eesti Male' looks as if it could be the name of an Estonian chess publication, or perhaps a newspaper. My Estonian is, er, a bit rusty but I discovered that "Eesti Maleliidu foorum" means "Estonian Chess Forum" so it looks like 'Eesti Male' could mean "Estonian Chess".
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Richard James
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Richard James » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:44 pm

You're quite right, John. Male is Estonian for chess: http://reocities.com/TimesSquare/metro/9154/nap-pieces.htm. You really don't want to know the Estonian for rook. Some of the other Estonian pieces sound a bit dodgy as well.

I would have looked up Gaige myself: I keep my copy on my desk, but all my books are in boxes at present while the Chess Palace is being rebuilt.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Christopher Kreuzer » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:50 pm

John Saunders wrote:Yes, Richard is surely right: a classic case of ChessBase finding two similar names and deciding that they must be one and the same, based on no evidence whatsoever.


Someone should make a list of these errors, or at least really have a go at Chessbase for being sloppy about this. Unless there is some pushback against it, it will only get worse. Do they make corrections from edition to edition or not? If not, what are the more reliable databases out there (i.e. the ones with more rigorous checking of names and other data)?

Richard Bates
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Richard Bates » Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:16 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
John Saunders wrote:Yes, Richard is surely right: a classic case of ChessBase finding two similar names and deciding that they must be one and the same, based on no evidence whatsoever.


Someone should make a list of these errors, or at least really have a go at Chessbase for being sloppy about this. Unless there is some pushback against it, it will only get worse. Do they make corrections from edition to edition or not? If not, what are the more reliable databases out there (i.e. the ones with more rigorous checking of names and other data)?


My Bigbase (2-3 yrs old) reckons i played games in both the Glorney and Faber (!) Cups in the 90s - I did neither. Still, if my opponents prepare for the outside possibility of facing a Tromp or 1...g6 ... :wink: ;)

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John Saunders
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby John Saunders » Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:18 pm

It would be a monumental task to ferret out all the errors, given the scale of the database. If it's to be done at all, it would best be done country by country. If you go to BritBase (http://www.saund.co.uk/britbase/), and click on the 'Corrections' tab, you can see a few examples of errors I have found over the years. ChessBase do make some corrections - I suspect they visit my website periodically and pick up the errors I have identified.

But there must be tens of thousands more errors to root out - I don't have time to devote to this Sisyphean task. I suspect the majority of the naming errors might stem from a name standardisation project undertaken by a ChessBase worker about 10-12 years ago, when they made a change in their naming standard - it used to be initial(s) for the forename(s) rather than full forename(s). But I wouldn't be too hard on ChessBase as it would have been a stupendous task, as well as very costly, to get the job done with a high degree of accuracy in the first place. It conforms to the general rule that chess gets the quality of service that it can afford.
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Simon Spivack
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Simon Spivack » Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:37 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:
James Pratt wrote:Harry played in the Estonian Championship in 1943


I think this claim is rubbish. I know it appeared in print somewhere a long time ago and I recall thinking then that it must be impossible. Estonia was Nazi-occupied in 1943, and the first post in this thread refers to Harold Israel's war service. Maybe there was confusion with another player with the same name.

I have my doubts that anyone of that name would have played in Tallin, where the Estonian Championship was held, in 1943. Even if the ethnicity was not the obvious one, such a person would almost certainly have changed his name in the interests of self-preservation. At the Wannsee Conference of 20th January 1942, Heydrich listed Estonia as "Judenfrei".

This tournament is mentioned on page 161 of the book Paul Keres, ISBN 9985-60-122-X. The publisher was the Tallin based DEMERLEN. The book came out in 1995. The game is given as number 536, played on 22nd July 1943. The Championship itself ran from 20th July to the 28th.


As an aside, there is a none too useful photograph of Harold Israel, amongst others, on:

http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/prodigies.html

The same picture can also be viewed on http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter12.html .

Incidentally, many websites covering chess are unreliable, particularly Wikipedia. Chess history, which hosts Edward Winter's work, is an exception.

Ian Thompson
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Ian Thompson » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:55 pm

John Saunders wrote:I suspect the majority of the naming errors might stem from a name standardisation project undertaken by a ChessBase worker about 10-12 years ago, when they made a change in their naming standard - it used to be initial(s) for the forename(s) rather than full forename(s). But I wouldn't be too hard on ChessBase as it would have been a stupendous task, as well as very costly, to get the job done with a high degree of accuracy in the first place. It conforms to the general rule that chess gets the quality of service that it can afford.

You may well be right for older games, but I struggle to think of reasonable explanations for more recent errors. For example, my game in the 4NCL last season against Jeff Smith has become Lucy Smith in ChessBase's database, even though it was right in the 4NCL game file. My guess - they thought its an English event (even though it isn't), so the players must be English. Jeff Smith is Welsh, so they changed it to a random English Smith.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Harold Israel

Postby Roger de Coverly » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:15 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:You may well be right for older games, but I struggle to think of reasonable explanations for more recent errors. For example, my game in the 4NCL last season against Jeff Smith has become Lucy Smith in ChessBase's database, even though it was right in the 4NCL game file. My guess - they thought its an English event (even though it isn't), so the players must be English. Jeff Smith is Welsh, so they changed it to a random English Smith.


That does seem a particularly dumb thing to do, given that they can look up the results on the FIDE rating site. Perhaps PGN files should start to include FIDE rating codes.

Looking it up using ChessBase Light 9 as a portal to chessbase.de, they seem to have corrected it for the online database.


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