Harold Israel

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Simon Spivack
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Re: Harold Israel

Post by Simon Spivack » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:42 am

I expect the grading system, then or now, means little to Helen. Instead, to illustrate James's contention that Harold Israel was a little below master level, here are a couple of match results, sourced from the unpublished Wade biography. To help Helen get her bearings: RG Wade was an International Master; furthermore, in the 1950s Middlesex had won the county championship more times than all other counties combined. It should be apparent that Harold Israel was more than useful.

Unfortunately this forum does not support tables, hence the messy layout.

18 December 1948
Amboyna Shield Match — Middlesex versus Hertfordshire

Bd. Middlesex Score Hertfordshire

1 Dr. O Friedmann 1–0 default
2 RG Wade 1–0 HC Lewis
3 EG Sergeant 1–0 M Rumney
4 J Stone 1–0 H Warren
5 W Veitch 0–1 WEB Pryer
6 H Israel 1–0 default
7 SH Crockett 1–0 SW Dickens
8 M Blaine 1–0 J Hakannson
9 JM Bee 1–0 Mrs. Wheelwright
10 Dr. SP Schotz 1–0 H Jacobson
11 L Derby 1–0 W Walker
12 R Speirs ½–½ CA Bunce
13 SON Hawes 1–0 C Hardman
14 C Jahn ½–½ FW Daniel
15 Default 0–1 E Michalowicz
16 JE Redon 1–0 F Hart
17 TI Casswell 0–1 H Palmer
18 A Philpott 1–0 HG Arnold
19 D Leslie ½–½ HE Hills
20 L Walls 0–1 P Shapiro
21 TDS Nichols 0–1 RPF Rickard
22 WS Wallis 0–1 K Cohn
23 FA Richardson 1–0 Major Oliver
24 M Henley 1–0 Peter Bunce
25 W Whitaker 1–0 H Green
26 CE Williams 1–0 PW Chapman
27 GP Kitchener 1–0 HJ Bee
28 KGP Gunnell 1–0 default
29 W Henderson 0–1 TD Hyde
30 SJ Steer 0–1 AE Webb
31 AF Stammwitz 0–1 Eric Leyns
32 LWebster 1–0 JA Jepps
33 RHC Chamberlain 0–1 Spencer Palmer
34 Leo Stephens 1–0 I Falkin
35 HR Holmes 1–0 EJ Leyns
36 AC Sutton 1–0 default
37 Dr. AS Thorley 1–0 default
38 JR Hammond 1–0 A de Feu
39 HD Hancock ½–½ H Bellamy
40 GH Slater 1–0 F Koert
41 G Schindler (sub) 0–1 W Perceval
42 WG McAlpine 1–0 PL Page
43 DES Romer 1–0 TH Jarratt
44 JA MacAlpine ½–½ EH Davis
45 Miss M Henniker-Heaton 1–0 RH Owen
46 TAR Ayers 1–0 default
47 TWS Sheldrake 1–0 HD France
48 D Besso 1–0 default
49 WJ Charters 1–0 default
50 S/Ldr NC Jacobs 1–0 H Dobson


16 June 1955
BCF Counties Championship (final)
Middlesex — Yorkshire

Bd. Middlesex Grade Col. Score Yorkshire Grade Opening

1 JA Fuller 2b B 1–0 MJ Haygarth 3b Sicilian Defence
2 RG Wade 2a W ½–½ D Paffley 3a Nimzo Indian Def.
3 H Israel 3a B 1–0 JE Povey 4a Sicilian Defence
4 E Brown 3a W ½–½ DM Andrew 3b Ruy Lopez
5 NA Perkins 3b B 1–0 JH Beaty 4a Slav Defence
6 N Honan W ½–½ JE Littlewood Nimzo Indian Def.
7 JM Bee 4a B 1–0 HM Ewans Reti Opening
8 R Speirs W ½–½ DG Tranter 4b English Opening
9 J Poole 5a B 0–1 EG Berg 4a French Defence
10 DJ Collins 5b W ½–½ GW Moses Nimzo Indian Def.
11 JE Redon B ½–½ D Smith 5a King’s Indian Def.
12 FE Tinworth W 1–0 A Rivlin 4b Nimzo Indian Def.
13 M Sobkowski B ½–½ I Goldberg 3b King’s Indian Def.
14 AF Stammwitz W ½–½ B Petkevich Colle System


There are some games that appear to be played by Harold Israel available on http://www.chesslab.com/PositionSearch.html . To judge from them, Harold Israel liked tactical slugfests, but was no opening theoretician: he played the Ruy Lopez Exchange Deferred, the Closed Sicilian and the Kings Gambit when White. Sometimes he essayed 1.d4 too.

More games can be found on http://www.365chess.com/players/H._Israel . Taking care to select the right Israel. There is a draw against a former British Champion that can be viewed on http://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=2518824 .

In addition to what is available there, I also have the end fragment of another game against RG Wade.

Gordon Cadden
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Re: Harold Israel

Post by Gordon Cadden » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:37 pm

In answer to your query Helen. Harold Israel was one of the strongest players at Hampstead during the 1950's and 60's. He won the D.C. Griffith Championship Trophy outright on 6 occasions, and shared first place with Martin Blaine in 1959. This is a record surpassed only by R.C. Griffith. Harold also played for the Middlesex County Team, and entered the Middlesex Individual Championship.
Harry Golombek published his game against D.G. Ellison (Lancashire) No.13,316 in the 1963 BCM. Harold continued to play for Hampstead and Middlesex, until the mid-seventies. Former Hampstead players likely to have known Harold, would be Dr.Jonathan Penrose, Jonathan Speelman, David Rumens, Martin Leanse, Bernard Haase, and Fay Ainscow. Sadly, I could not find his obituary in the 1984 BCM.
Harold would not have played in the Estonian Championship of 1943. This would probably have been Heinrich Israel.

Helen Gerald
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Re: Harold Israel

Post by Helen Gerald » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:27 pm

Thank you so very much for taking the time to pass on this information - as you correctly surmise I am no chess expert but this does give some insight. I have yet to find out more about his war service, but my grandmother (his younger sister) took great pride in the war records of her five brothers, all of whom survived and lived to good ages. She was also very proud of Harold's academic record and would have greatly enjoyed this debate.

I think that anyone who delves into family history reaches a point where they wish for a time machine; so thank you again for providing these memories. I will keep watching this topic so if anyone has anything else, it will be much appreciated.

best wishes

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Harold Israel

Post by Carl Hibbard » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:43 pm

Simon Spivack wrote:Unfortunately this forum does not support tables, hence the messy layout.
Only so many hours in a day I am afraid, so not everything is possible :o
Carl Hibbard

Simon Spivack
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Re: Harold Israel

Post by Simon Spivack » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:26 pm

James Pratt wrote:2nd= place in the Over the board British Championship of 1952 - at Chester won by Bob Wade
Bernard Cafferty has been kind enough to be in touch over this matter.

Notwithstanding what I have previously written about Wikipedia, this page will provide Helen with a good description of Bernard. I have quickly reread it, and haven't noticed anything untoward; moreover, this page has a guardian angel. Those who appreciate irony will enjoy noting that the aforesaid angel is none other than John Saunders the acting editor of CHESS magazine, whereas Bernard is indelibly associated with the rival British Chess Magazine.

Bernard has quickly read through some bound volumes of BCM. Harold Israel was one of five who tied for second at Chester, a minor addition to what James has mentioned. In the finals of the 1950 County Championship held in Manchester, Harold Israel played board two for Middlesex and defeated the redoubtable William Fairhurst, who was awarded the IM title in 1951 (FIDE the international chess federation only started to award these titles in the 1950s, otherwise, Fairhurst would have been recognised earlier).

The main items missing from what has been provided are the details of Harold Israel's performances in the British Championships. Some, although not all, can be found at http://www.saund.co.uk/britbase/index.html . I don't know whether a complete record is available. If Helen is based in London, there may be copies of both BCM and CHESS magazines for the 1950s at the British Library, possibly at Colindale, rather than Euston Road. This would help her fill out details of appearances. Possibly Harold Israel's grades, too. Bernard has speculated that Harold Israel at his best may have been in the top ten to fifteen players in the country, a considerable achievement for an amateur.

The indefatigable Richard Haddrell has put on the Internet a selection of bulletins from the archives of the Southern Counties Chess Union. They can be found here. A few of Harold Israel's match results for Middlesex are given in the 1958-9 bulletins.

Hampstead, an affiliate of the Middlesex County Chess Association, was a very strong chess club in its day. A point underlined by this page.

Ordinarily I am reluctant to supply names of persons to contact, unless I know both parties. It may seem over cautious, but, for instance, one individual mentioned in this thread discourages communication on chess matters. Anyhow, in the 1990s Mike Pennell assembled materials to write a history of Hampstead Chess Club. I don't know how far he got. He certainly did something as he was good enough to send a letter to me. Possibly he would be the ideal person to supply more information. He was an active organiser at Hampstead.

I have emailed a former London League Secretary who was also a key actor at Hampstead. He is in his seventies now, but in good health. We belong to the same club and are on cordial terms.

Tim Harding
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Re: Harold Israel

Post by Tim Harding » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:52 pm

I don't think the British library is a good option for researching Harold Israel's career.
The BL moved all its chess magazines (and many other periodicals) last year to its Boston Spa storage outfit in Yorkshire.
To see them you must first obtain a reader pass in person at the St Pancras HQ of the BL and then order the volumes you want several days in advance. And you are limited to how many you can get at one time so it's unsuitable for browsing; you really need to be chasing precise references to be worth ordering.
(Without any guarantee you'll get them.)
The only libraries I know of with British Chess Magazine and Chess on open shelves are the English Chess Library in Hastings (which I've not visited yet) and the Royal Dutch Library (KB) in The Hague which I highly recommend to anyone who can get there.
The KB is a splendid modern building two minutes from the central station at the Hague (half an hour on the train from Schiphol airport) and has all major chess journals from every country easily available.
And practically any chess book you could want is available within an hour or two.
It is simply the number one public resource for chess research in Europe.
Your reader's ticket can be preordered online.

Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'

Paul Buswell
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Re: Harold Israel

Post by Paul Buswell » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:28 am

Tim Harding wrote:........ The only libraries I know of with British Chess Magazine and Chess on open shelves are the English Chess Library in Hastings (which I've not visited yet) and the Royal Dutch Library (KB) in The Hague which I highly recommend to anyone who can get there......
fwiw, Hastings & St. Leonards Chess Club has a complete run of BCMs (bar, I believe, 1900 - anyone got a spare?) accessible at short notice.


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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Harold Israel

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:54 pm

I have had some information sent to me externally to post in:
In 1968 in the middle of student revolt our college Board 2 was missing and I was hauled out of a political meeting to substitute in the match against Hampstead Chess Club in the London League. Mr Israel was Board 2 for Hampstead. I lost 3/4 hour automatically on the clock under the anti-ambush etc rules. At the time I was under the impression that Mr Israel, who I vaguely now think looked to be in his late sixties, was an IM but I could have been wrong. Board 1 for Hampstead was Dr J Penrose and the then England Ladies Champion was Board 3 so we were entitled to be well overawed. Anyway this was the only decent game of my life as I managed a draw by swapping every piece at every opportunity. I was also I think helped by two factors: one was a police raid during the game complete with sirens etc on the basement bar in the building where we were playing (I think we were on the 2nd or 3rd floor) and the second was the fact that I was a social player definitely an underdog and was possibly just registered at the time for the game by agreement with Hampstead. Mr Israel was a very polite gentleman (particularly under the trying circumstances) and I remember afterwards he played through the game from memory whereas I was more than a bit shell-shocked by that time. He also kindly chatted to me for few mintes afterwards.

Unfortunately I lost my paper record of the game a few years later.

Regards Steve Cawley
Carl Hibbard

Simon Spivack
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Re: Harold Israel

Post by Simon Spivack » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:00 pm

Simon Spivack wrote:Bernard has speculated that Harold Israel at his best may have been in the top ten to fifteen players in the country
I have received the following from Bernard:
Bernard Cafferty wrote:Looking in BCM bound vol. for 1954, I see the first two grading lists are given, in the March and December issues. I see Harold Israel was in slight decline. He was in grade 2b in the first, but in 3a in the next.

The 2b group puts him in the group 17-33 in the company of such prominent players as Abrahams, Barden, Hooper, List, Oliver Penrose, Phillips, P N Wallis and BHW.
My patience, at the moment, does not extend to providing mini-biographies, or even checking Wikipedia for errors before referring Helen there. There was an "editor" active on Wikipedia who made many questionable contributions. One leading British player was a victim of his. A brave soul battled against this, however, one requires considerable fortitude to endlessly correct repeated nonsense.

"BHW", of course, was Barry Wood. Strictly speaking the "Barry" should be "Baruch", which means "blessed". "BH", another common abbreviation, notwithstanding his forename, was not Jewish. He was the founder and first editor of CHESS magazine, which he also owned. To provide Helen with a name she will have heard of, BH was mentioned enigmatically by that eccentric American genius, Bobby Fischer, in his book My Sixty Memorable Games.

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