Isaac Rice’s Gambits

Isaac Rice, a music teacher, innovator in the game of chess, and businessman who developed the U.S. Navy’s first modern submarines and helped found the company today known as General Dynamics, was born in Bavaria on this date in 1850. He emigrated to the U.S. at age 6, studied music in Paris, returned to America as […]

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November 11: Brother Theodore

Comedian, monologuist, and chess sharp Theodore Gottlieb, who made his mark as “Brother Theodore” in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, was born in Dusseldorf, Germany on this date in 1906. The Nazis imprisoned him in Dachau until he signed over his family’s wealth (his father was a fashion-magazine mogul), and Albert Einstein, a family friend […]

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November 26: The Orthodox Chess Grandmaster

Samuel Reshevsky, a famous child chess prodigy and an American grandmaster who won the U.S. Chess Championship eight times, was born in Lodz, Poland on this date in 1911. Reshevsky learned to play at age 4, and by 8 he was beating expert players with ease and giving exhibitions in which he played numerous opponents simultaneously […]

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The Wide World of Schwartz

A Pantheon of Jewish Boxers, Ballplayers, and even Bullfighters by Mikhail Horowitz Reviewed in this essay: Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, edited by Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy. TWELVE Books, 2012, 285 pages. True, the Book of Kings intimates that Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, was either a passionate golfer or NASCAR racer […]

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May 17: The First Chess Champion

Wilhelm Steinitz, the first undisputed world chess champion (from 1886 to 1894) and the inventor of the positional style of play, was born in the Jewish ghetto of Prague on this date in 1836. Steinitz went professional in the 1860s and defeated most of the world’s leading players at international tournaments held in London. In […]

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July 23: Judit Polgar

Judit Polgar, the world’s greatest woman chess player and the 8th-ranked player in the world in 2005, was born on this date in Budapest in 1976. She and her two sisters, Susan (a Grandmaster) and Sofia (an International Master) were trained in chess from an early age in what she calls “an educational experiment” by […]

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