Sunday, November 1, 2015

Chess in Palestine

    Prior to 1948, chess was often played in Jewish clubs. In April 1927, Palestine Bulletin brought news about an increasing and exciting night that was spent at the Maccabee Hall when thirty-six persons played chess against Skiba Rubenstein the world famous chess player. The play began with thirty-six of the best players of Jerusalem. Those who witnessed the play were excited and showed extraordinary interest. They now and then gave advise to the opponents of Rubenstein. This however did not disturb Rubenstein who beat most of his opponents.[1] The Bulletin also brought news about the Jerusalem chess tournament which lasted for two months and consisted of 18 rounds.  Mr. Marmorosh, who won the first prize with 18 points. Next to him come in order: Mr. S. Gordon (16 points) who was the winner of the 1927 tournament. And Messrs. Fogel, Volovelsky, Erlich, Rafetzer , Rubinstein, Hamburger and Schutz. Most of the players were Jewish. [2]
Palestine Chess Federation was established in 1935, however, Arabs did not take part in this federation. Palestine took part in the Chess Olympiad in 1937 and 1939.
Some Arab clubs practiced chess such as Islamic SC. In April 1946, Al-Difa’ reported a chess competition between members of Islamic SC in Jaffa and a team of the British Institute in Jaffa. The former won all the matches. [3] ISC organized few contests in chess in 1946 and 1947.
In 1968, a decision was made by the PLO to form the Palestine Supreme Council for Youth Care.  In 1969, few branch committees were established in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.  After 1970, the headquarters of this committee was moved from Amman to Lebanon.  New clubs were founded in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Athletic and scouts activities started to rise.  At its  first conference at Suq al-Gharb in Beirut in 1974, the Supreme Council made a decision  to change the name to Supreme Council of Youth and Sports. 
Palestine Chess Federation was established in 1981. In the same year it became an observer member in the Arab Chess Federation.  In 1985, it became affiliated with the Asian CF. The headquarters of PCF was in Beirut, it was headed by Muhamed Zo'rub.
  A number of Palestinian chess players from Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, UAE and USA represented Palestine and achieved good results in  Pan Arab and International competitions. Palestine took part in the Chess Olympiad in Greece in 1984 where 88 countries took part. Palestine got twelve points. It also took part in the Chess Olympiad in Dubai. The delegation included Ala' Musa (Lebanon), Hanna Bouja (Honduras), Riyadh Abu Shamala and Nazih Qasim (Kuwait). The Palestinian team came in the eighth place among 18 competing teams. Palestine also took part in the Pan Arab Tournament in 1989 and 1993 where women also took part. But the best result achieved by the Palestinian team was at World Cup for Youth under-20 in 1987 in the Philippines.  In 1992 Palestine took part in Chess Olympiad in the Philippines, Ala’ Musa got the highest result after the Russian Garri Kasparov and the British Michael Adams. Palestine got the bronze medal, and Ala' Musa  won the title "master international". [4] This was the best result made by a Palestinian chess champion  throughout Palestinian history.
Currently, Dr. Muhamad Shtayyeh heads the PCF. and Dr. Wael al-Masri is the vice president. While Khalid Izzedin is the General Secretary. Today, this federation includes international referees such as Hani Tleib, Ahmad Samudi, Dia’ al-Faqih, Nabil Faza’ and Abdel- Rahman Majd. 

[1]Palestin Bulletin, 27 April 1931.

[2]Palestine Bulletin, 28 February , 1928.

[3] Al-Difa, 8 April 1946.

[4] Khalid Ijjawi, al-Haraka al-Riyadiyya al-Falstiniyya fil-Shatat, (Palestine Sports Movement in the Diaspora) 523.




  1. Hello!
    Did title "muster international" is rewarded by National Sport association? I find this information here:
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    Please give me understanding of it.

  2. Hi, I'm retired and play chess regularly on the Internet. I would really like to play a Palestinian (or two) and I wondered if you could give me the Email address of someone who would like to play or pass this on to the Palestine Chess Foundation. Many thanks. Joe Froggatt West Yorkshire England...........