• Issue: November 1964
  • Designer: M. & G. Shamir
  • Plate no.: 122 - 123
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

The origin of chess is lost in ancient history, though it has been established beyond any doubt that the game was first played in the East. According to our best sources, chess was played in the eighth century or even somewhat earlier in India, though the invention of the game was also attributed to many other oriental nations, among them to the Jews - and specifically to King Solomon.

The game slowly spread over the entire Middle East and the Arabic world and was probably brought by the Arabs to Europe. There, in the early sixteenth century it received its final form. The queen for instance, was originally the weakest piece on the board, being limited to one single diagonal step, and could not meet its adversary which always moved on the squares of opposite color. The king also had a different field of movement and in ancient times could be taken without ending the game. Castling and taking en passant are very recent developments.

The great interest of the Jews in the game could be quoted as an argument in favor of the otherwise unprovable theory that King Solomon invented the game.

Despite the estimated tens of thousands of chess players in Israel, organized chess has made only slow progress; this of course could not be otherwise, for in a developing nation other more practical problems have taken priority. Nevertheless, a chess tournament was held in Jerusalem as early as 1924. The first country-wide chess competition was arranged in 1929, when international masters such as Akiva Rubinstein visited the country. In 1935 Israel's team took part in the Chess Olympics (then held in Warsaw) for the first time.

In Israel at present regular competitions for men, women and young people are held. Other branches of the game such as problem-chess, chess by correspondence, and chess for the blind are also not neglected.

The 16th Chess Olympics, held in November 1964 and hosted by the City of Tel Aviv, Israel, was a gathering of unique significance for lovers of the game. Leading masters from 50 countries and 5 continents competed and afforded a tremendous upsurge of the game in Israel.

top top

16th Chess Olympic Games in Tel Aviv