13 April 2010

Mikhail Tal in Italy

I've mentioned eBay seller bulkcover several times on this blog (for example World Championship Etiquette) and was delighted to receive the following message from him, referring to the photograph below.

Subject: Mikhail Tal in Italy, late 1950s early 60s
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 2010 04:48:35

I have a question, probably you know what event it is and/or who are these people? (of course I know which is Mikhail Tal!) Photo is made Fotografia Ferruzzi in Venezia Ntr. 66299/9. In the 2nd row, there is a gap between the standing people, and one man by unknown reason is retouched away (censored! by Soviets? by Italian? PI)

Here is the image:

Thanks a lot, J.D. (eBayer bulkcover)

After admitting I couldn't help, I received a follow-up message with detailed info about the photo.

Bulkcover: 'I have posted the question also to Chess Society of Italy and received their reply with comments (will be in bold), I think the comments by the man who was there! (not on the picture) are very interesting:'

The Italian Chess Federation sent to me your e-mail. I am a Venetian chessplayer interested in Chess History: I wrote with Adriano Chicco the book "Storia degli scacchi in Italia" (The History of Chess in Italy).

I was fifteen years old when in 1957 the Riga team was invited by Earl Gian Carlo dal Verme, to play some matches in Italy. All results were published in an article written by master Giovanni Ferrantes in "L'Italia Scacchistica" (November 1957, p. 250-251), the Italian Chess Review of which he was the editor.

I was the only one person who was seeing all games of the match played in Venice the 4th and 5th of November 1957 and I have some other photos. I have 12 games played during the tournée in Italy, but I am also very much interested to all games played in Italy by Riga chessplayers. The match was played in Hotel Bonvecchiati (100 meters from San Marco Square!) and the original photo was published by L'Italia Scacchistica in December 1957 (p. 289).

Sitting: Gian Carlo dal Verme (Italian FIDE Delegate), Zifgrid Solmanis (Chairman of the Riga delegation), im Eugenio Szabados (president of Italian Chess Federation), Alexander Alexandrov, m Giuseppe Stalda (he was also a famous correspondence player).

Standing: Aivars Gipslis, m Giorgio Miliani (son of master Luigi Miliani, first President of FSI, the Italian Chess Federation and one of FIDE founders), cm Alfredo Gattoni, Michail Tal (In 1981 in Meran, during the world championship match Karpov - Korchnoi, I spoke with him about his stay in Venice and he remembered the boy sitting near his table during the match!), m Gino Fletzer, Janis Kliavins (we were together in last senior championships), Valdemars Mednis (the man missing in your photo. Probably he emigrated to the West? Perhaps he was the American grandmaster?), international arbiter Paolo Szabados (son of Eugenio and arbiter of the match).

I send some other photos and the games I have. I remember that the game Tal - Szabados was a Sicilian, but I don't have the moves and the game Gipslis - Fletzer was an open Spanish, Moskva attack (Qe2, Rd1 etc). If you may found other games I will be very interested. Thank you in advance!

Cordialissimi saluti, Antonio Rosino

(Also I have spoken to Jorge Niegovich in Argentina, he is in opinion that the man standing at very right is Francesco Scafarelli)

Is the missing person indeed future-GM Edmar Mednis? If so, why is he missing?


Robert Pearson said...

Very interesting question regarding Mednis--I have several of his books, but had not realized he was born in Riga approximately five months after M. Tal. He apparently came to the USA at after years in dispaced persons camps after WWII and I don't have any indication they knew each other as children.

I don't know what Mednis would be doing in Italy in November 1957--he and Tal were at Reykjavik for the World Student Team in July, 1957, but my impression is that Mednis was attending college at that time. And would the Soviets have airbrushed him out of a photo at that late date?

All good questions, perhaps other readers have more information.


Mark Weeks said...

Tal mentions the trip to Italy in 'Life and Games' (p.62), including an anecdote about 'the master Sabadosh'. I guess this is the same person as 'Szabados (president of Italian Chess Federation)' identified in the photo. - Mark