(translation of Russian column above) By MICHAEL SPIVAK (Head of the Winnipeg children’s chess club, “Erudite”) The recent results of Canadian tournaments give an idea of which are the most successful chess centers in Canada.Many of them are concentrated in Toronto, Montreal and other major cities. However, there were times when the hayday of chess was in Manitoba.
The Winnipeg chess club was founded in 1895 and for many years remained one of the main centers of chess life in Canada. In those years, matches between the cities were held by telegraph. Chess quickly gained popularity, and in 1919 a Jewish chess club was founded, which continued the tradition of the preparation of the strongest chess players of the country.
Within a small gap in time two events at once enahnced Winnipeg’s image. In the mid-20s of the last century, the wonderful children’s book, “Winnie the Pooh” , featuring a bear named after Winnipeg became a worldwide bestseller. Then, in the mid-30s the first Canadian grandmaster Daniel Abraham Yanofsky. began his winning ways in the capital of Manitoba.
The Yanofsky family immigrated to Canada from the city of Brody in the Lvov region in 1925 when Abe was only eight months old. At the age of 12, Yanofsky won the championship of Manitoba, and began playing at the Canada Cup. At the age 14, he participated in the Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, where he became the most productive player on the second board. At the age 16, Abe Yanofsky won the Canadian chess championship
Subsequently, he maintained the title as the strongest chess player in Canada, from 1941 through 1965. One of the most outstanding of Yanofsky’s successes was his victory in 1946 over the USSR champion and future world champion, Mikhail Botvinnik, in the Dutch city of Groningen. Fifty years later in, 1996, Yanofsky came back to play in the tournament among players who had also participated in the first post-war tournament held in Groningen in 1946.
For several years Abe Yanofsky taught children to play chess at the Jewish community center in Winnipeg.
Irwin Lipnowsky, his former student, now international master and professor at the University of Manitoba, warmly recalls his being mentored by Yanofsky in the 1950s: “Thanks to Yanofsky, Winnipeg has a strong tradition of chess schools, training of new, strong players and a massive interest in this ancient game.”
In the 1980s the city chess club merged Jewish community chess club. Today chess is a major component of the sports and cultural program of many different communities in Winnipeg.
On the last Sunday in October at the Asper Campus, B’nai Brith Canada hosted what has become an annual chess tournament, which had some of the strongest players in the province. Even though the tournament was organized initially for adults, children took part in it, to prove the right to compete on equal terms with adults. The age of participants ranged from 14 to 88 years. After five difficult rounds, first place went Nilo Moncal, who received a prize of $ 150; Boris Waissbluth finished second with a prize of $ 75 dollars. Participants represented many communities: Filipino, Russian, Macedonian, Israeli, Argentine, Chilean and others. Director of the tournament, as in previous years, remained Tony Boron.