(1921 - 1981)

Moss Kolnik in 1956 (photo courtesy Alan Kolnik)

Moss Kolnik won the Durban championship on no fewer than ten occasions, his first win being in 1945 and his final win being in 1971. He would probably have won the title on even more occasions, had he not been living in New Zealand from 1961 to 1967. He marked his return to Durban in 1968 with an emphatic 8½ points from 9 victory in the Championship, no less than 2 points ahead of runner-up Blackburn.

Moss Kolnik was born on 2 February 1921 in Kozanhorodok, Belarus (Poland). He died on 9 August 1981 in Durban. Belarus only became an independent republic in 1991, and was dominated in the past by its neighbours Russia, Poland and Lithuania. It is known that his father was from Belarus and that his mother was Polish. Sometime before WW2 his family emigrated to South Africa, when Moss was still a child, and they settled in Cape Town, possibly in the late 1930's. There is a famous game against Schurr played in Cape Town in 1940, and his sister married into the Sachar family, who were Lithuanian Jews, in Cape Town in 1943. Moss was married in 1947 in Johannesburg and had 3 children and several grand children.

After obtaining a degree in Civil Engineering, Moss joined the South African Railways and Harbours, where he was responsible for much work on Durban harbour. In his later years he was the Engineer in charge of Roads in the Natal coastal area - which is why you will find that there is a road named after him, namely Moss Kolnik Drive in Amanzimtoti.

Other Results

Moss captured the Natal Closed title on 4 occasions, and in 1970 he succeeded in winning the Open title as well.

For many years Moss was an automatic choice for the South African Closed championship. He played in the Closed on 7 occasions, with his best placings being 4th in 1951 and again in 1957.


At his peak Moss had a sharp tactical eye, and Kenneth Kirby described the combination in the first game as "one of the most daring and inspired combinations in South African chess history". Irving Chernev liked the second game so much that he published it as game 136 in his book "1000 Best Short Games Of Chess":

[Event "RSA-ch"] [Site "East London"] [Date "1951.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Kolnik, Moss"] [Black "Dreyer, Kurt"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] 1.d4 f5 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 d5 5.Nf3 c6 6.b3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Nc3 Bd7 9.Ne5 Be8 10.e3 Nbd7 11.Bb2 Bh5 12.f3 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Nd7 14.Ne2 Qa5 15.cxd5 cxd5 16.Nf4 Bf7 17.e4 g5 18.Nh3 Nc5 19.exd5 exd5 20.f4 g4 21.Nf2 Rad8 22.Nxg4 $1 Be6 (22...fxg4 23.Qxg4+ Bg6 24.f5) 23.Nh6+ (23.Nf6+ Bxf6 24.exf6 Ne4 25.Re1 {was also good}) 23...Kg7 24.Qh5 Ne4 25.g4 $5 {a bold exchange sacrifice} 25...Qc5+ 26.Kh1 Nf2+ 27.Rxf2 Qxf2 {Diagram [#]} 28.Ba3 $5 {originally given !! as it is a problem-like decoy of the B on e7} (28.gxf5 $1 Qxb2 29.Rg1 $1 $18 {is the engine's choice}) 28...Qh4 $2 {Dreyer accepts a lost ending, but he should have tried 28...Bxa3} (28...Bxa3 29.Rf1 $1 {Moss had this zwischenzug up his sleeve} (29.Qg5+ Kh8 30.gxf5 {and now the natural 30...Bc8 loses, but} 30...Rd7 $1 {is good for Black}) 29...Qb6 {not best} 30.gxf5 Bc8 (30...Rd7 {loses to} 31.dxe6 Qxe6 32.Bh3) 31.f6+ $1 {is winning for White, as his central passed pawns give him a deadly attack}) 29.Qxh4 Bxh4 30.Bxf8+ Rxf8 31.Nxf5+ Bxf5 32.gxf5 Rxf5 33.Rf1 d4 34.Be4 {and Black resigned on the 49th move} 1-0 [Event "Cape Town"] [Site "?"] [Date "1940.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Kolnik, Moss"] [Black "Schurr"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 d6 6.d4 b5 7.dxe5 Nxe4 8.Qd5 Bb7 9.Bb3 Nxe5 10.Qxb7 Nc5 {Diagram [#]} 11.Nxe5 $1 Nxb7 12.Bxf7+ (12.Bxf7+ Ke7 13.Bg5#) 1-0

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