Israel Rabinovich-Barav's Chess Page

Once back in Palestine, Barav had started to play chess again, first in Haifa (where he was one of the strongest players, together with Kniazer and the veteran Wolf), and , from the 1940s, in the "Lasker" Chess Club in Tel Aviv, as this collection of him playing various opponents in the club shows (in the top right-- playing  Blass, 1935 Maccabiah champion).

In is capacity as a player he was known (as can be seen in the games and testimonials section) as an excellent tactician, and played many brilliancies. 

He played in many important tournaments at the time -- in particular the first (1951) Israeli championship, which he also helped organize, which (he told his son) surely hurt his performance. But he finished with a respectable 6/13, losing to none of the "big names" of Israeli chess (apart from Czerniak) and, for example, beating Porat and Smiltiner. He also played and won second place in the 1944 "Yovel" Lasker club championship (10/14), second only to Porat and winning against, e.g., Dobkin, Kniazer, and others, and 3rd place (8/13) in the 1945 Palestine championship, defeating Aloni (who won), Kniazer, Smilitiner and more.

When the Reti club was founded (1953; pointed out to us by Moshe Roytman) he joined it, and since then played in  its league and championship. In the league, notes Barav's son Ami, he usually played third board for Reti, behind Smiltiner and Blass. He won joint 1st (with Smiltiner and Rauch) in the 1956 Reti club championsip, and 3rd place (behind Kraidman and Smiltiner) in 1958.

When the official ratings of the Israeli chess federation were made, Barav was justifiably recognized as a master, as the following complete list (from Czerniak's "64 Squares", 1956) shows (with the error of Macht named "Ze'ev" instead of the correct Alexander Zisel Macht): 

(Left) Barav in 2nd/3rd place;  Schachwart,  June 1929, 1st page. (Right) Barav ("Rabinowich") in 1st place, qualifying group, 1931/1932 Winter Berliner Schachgesellschaft; handwritten crosstable written by B. Koch. See notes below for credits.

in the beginning...

The 1960s

Barav continued to play chess in (and for) the Reti club until his retirement from active league play.

He won, for example, against Domnitz in the Lasker / Reti league match in 1960 (Al Ha'Mishamr​  3/7/21960 p. 5) being part of the team that year (La'Merchav  ​12/2/1960 p. 8).

He also played in the 1964 "Yovel" championship (signifying 40 years of Moshe Marmorosh's chess activity in Palestine) in 1964; see the game section for two victories from this tournament. Davar​ reported on the tournament having 26 players including four masters: Kraidman, Smiltiner, Blass, and Barav. it added that  Barav's "appearance after a long hiatus raises much interest" (Davar​  26/3/1964 p. 4).

In this tournament, Barav started out very well -- with  5 points after 7 rounds (Hatzophe​ 8/6/1964 p. 8)​, but later lost to Bobis (the eventual winner) in the 8th round (Davar ​14/5/1964 p. 4) and to Pergerman in the 10th (Ha'Tzophe ​ 22/5/1964 p. 8), ending  with ca. 6/11, about 8th place out of 26 players. Barav's style, even when he lost, made for exciting games: his games against Bobis and Pergerman were published in the papers mentioned. 

A Final Word

All his career, from its beginning in the 1920s to the 1964 championship, Barav was a risk-taking, tactical player; he could win brilliantly, or lose excitingly. As the crosstables show, and as he himself used to say, he would sometimes lose to relatively weaker players despite beating the masters (e.g., in the Reti championship, he lost to the newcomer Pergerman, but beat the master Smiltiner). A "safer" player might not have lost such games -- but would not have won brilliantly, either. 

Barav playing in the Lasker Chess Club, Tel Aviv, ca. 1945. 

Israel Rabinovich-Barav was born in Karapchiev in the Ukraine (then in the Russian Empire) on Oct. 2nd, 1907, and died in Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 10th, 1979.

His interesting life included much chess, starting (seriously) as a student in Germany (1926-1933), and continuing as an activist , organizer, and player in numerous chess tournaments in Palestine and Israel in the 1940s and 50s, as well as later. A very detailed information about his tournament record is found on Here, we add more information -- especially photographs.

The 1940s and 1950s

"Match: Chrurgin - Rabinovich [Barav], 6 Games, 1926". From Barav's game notebook of the match.

chess in germany, 1926-1933

Palestine Championship of 1945, held in tel Aviv. Standing, r. to l. (based on the list of participants): Barav, Gruengard, Dobkin(?), Yosha, Smiltiner, Hon, Unknown, Vogel(?), Wolfinger. Sitting, r. to l.: Aloni, Blass, Macht, Mendelbaum(?), Porat, Unknown. The identities of some persons still not certain.

Barav emigrated to Palestine in 1921, and was a student in the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium. Before his move to Germany, he had already played matches with Churgin and Nachum Labounsky, his cousin, and one of the founders of the original Palestine chess federation in the 1930s. and a before the 19-year-old Barav went to study in Europe.

Only one game survives of the Labounsky match (a draw), but the Churgin match is of interest: as Barav himself notes about the match, it ended 4-2 in his favor. The games are hard-fought (long games, no draws), with Barav winning the match despite losing the first two games. See game section. 

Chess Biography

​​​​​​​​​​​​Once he arrived in Germany for his studies, Barav also played chess, He participated, for example, in he Berliner Verbandmeisterschaft (Berlin [chess] association championship), coming out joint 2nd/3rd (7 out of 11 pts.) He became a recognized master when he participated in the had some of his games published in newspapers, e.g., his brilliancy against Wächster in the same tournament, or his win against Braun in the 1931 Berlin Chess Association Summer Tournament. He also played in the "Springer" [i.e., Chess Knight] chess club in Berlin and elsewhere, as surviving game-scores show. See the game section for more details, both of the games themselves and -- if published -- where and when.

His results included, among others (source in parentesis): "Springer" Club Winter tournament, 6th, 9/15 (SW, 1928, p. 161); Berlin Chess Assication championship, 2nd/3rd, 7/11 (SW, June 1929, p. 1); it added that "Rabinowitsch [i.e., Barav, who] belongs to the [Springer Berlin] club, is a new talent of whom we expect far more already in the next tournament. His game against Wächter is very good". He also won the Berlin Chess Assocation Summer tournament, 1st section, joint 1st (SW, 1931), with 6.5/9;  and more. 

He was also a strong blitz player. For example, in the 1928 "Springer" Blitz championship he came first, with 10 points, 1.5 points ahead of the 2nd place finisher (SW 1928 p. 203) -- as well as playing in a tournament made famous by a notorious incident. 

A well-known chess anecdote says that Nimzowitsch, losing to Sämisch in a blitz torunament, screamed, 'Why must I lose to this idiot?!'. The 'idiot' told the story to Kmoch who published it in Grandmasters I have Known​. Barav had played in this very tournament! 

It was a tournament where a smokers' group and a non-smoker's group played among themselves, Sämisch (well known as a heavy smoker) winning the 'smoking' group's tournament, Nimzowitsch the non-smokers', and lost to Saemisch in the play-off between the two. In this tournament, which took place in the Koening Chess Cafe on Aug. 9th, 1928, Barav, playing in the smokers' section,  came 4th (8 pts.) after Saemisch, Ahues, and Kagan (SW,  sept. 1928, pp. 168-169; quoted in an article by Wilfried Krebbers, of

In the 1931/1932 winter tournament finals, Barav did not play. However, he finished first in his qualifying group,  as the chess researcher Alan McGowan discovered in Berthold Koch's notebooks. He drew with Saemisch, winning against Helling, Moser, and Elstner (the latter two games are in the game section), and losing only one game (to Gumprich). He did not play, however, in the finals, since (as McGowan found out in the Deutsche Schachzeitung of March 1932, p. 68): Barav had by the final's time left the country.

He also played in matches: he qualified to play a match with K. Richter for the title of a "Berlin Master" in 1928, by winning in the tournament to determine Richter's opponent. Barav's son Ami adds that although first by the Berger score, Barav insisted on playing a match with Dr. Witte, which he won by the score of 2-1 (as the report indeed confirms). The match with Richter ended 1.5-0.5 in Richter's favor (more precisely, Richeter won the first game and the second was "left undecided due to lack of time"). The report of this tournament added that Barav was "by far the strongest player in his group".