Het is gebleken dat sommigen onder u wel eens willen weten met wie men van doen heeft en wie er achter Fidelity Electronics, Oosterhout zit.
Welnu, hieronder volgt eerst een inleiding betreffende Fidelity Electronics waarna een uitgebreide beschrijving van mijn familieachtergrond volgt. Aangezien deze helemaal niet voor deze website geschreven werd en ik geen tijd heb om hem aan te passen en te vertalen, laat ik hem maar zoals hij is op het gevaar af dat veel van deze details u helemaal niet interesseren.
In 1977 kwam ik voor het eerst in aanraking met een schaakcomputer toen Fidelity Electronics (behalve de naam verder geen andere bindingen) uit Chicago er een op de markt bracht. Oorspronkelijk fabriceerde men daar kunstledematen voor het Amerikaanse leger en door de oorlog in Vietnam was de vraag hoog en werd er fortuin gemaakt.
Een medewerker had in z'n vrije tijd een schaakprogramma geschreven en de baas zag er wel wat in. Hij vond echter dat de benaming van de velden niet logisch was en dacht dat hij de schaakwereld kon verbeteren door de letters en cijfers langs de rand van het bord te verwisselen! Het programma deugde van geen kanten en accepteerde alle geldige en ongeldige zetten. Van alle kanten werd Fidelity erop attent gemaakt dat ze niet zo maar de letters en cijfers konden verwisselen en na een productierun van rond de 250 computers (het was een van die apparaten dat ik indertijd kocht en nog steeds in mijn bezit heb) paste Fidelity zich aan de geldende normen aan!
Opnieuw maakte Fidelity Electronics fortuin en verkocht honderdduizenden schaakcomputers per jaar. Aangezien er in Chicago niet genoeg productiecapaciteit was en uitbreiding aldaar te duur zou worden, besloot men naar het prettige kli'maat in Miami, Florida, te verhuizen.
Eind jaren '80 was de storm geluwd en vond een zekere verzadiging van de markt plaats. Toen Fidelity's naaste concurrent, Mephisto (de firma Hegener & Glaser uit München) een vriendschappelijk overnamebod uitbracht, ging Fidelity over in andere handen.
Wat er toen gebeurde is onduidelijk aangezien er twee diametraal tegenover elkaar staande versies in omloop zijn, afhankelijk van met wie men spreekt; Fidelity of Hegener & Glaser. Feit is dat Fidelity Electronics enkele jaren na de overname failliet ging en Fidelity Electronics uit Oosterhout de enige nog bestaande firma met die naam was.
In 1985 hield de toenmalige importeur van Fidelity schaakcomputers ermee op en werd ik door Miami gevraagd of ik er geen zin in had. Aangezien ik in die tijd niets speciaals om handen had, besloot ik op dat voorstel in te gaan en richtte Fidelity Electronics op, met dien verstande dat ik ook nog andere merken schaakcomputers verkocht. Bij een Rotterdamse klant maakte ik kennis met degene die verantwoordelijk was voor aan- en verkoop van schaakcomputers aldaar. Hij bleek nogal handig met electronica en aangezien ik een reparateur zocht, besloot ik op zijn voorstel in te gaan om hem in dienst te nemen. Dat heb ik geweten!
Laat ik echter niet op de feiten vooruit lopen. In eerste instantie werkte hij van huis uit, maar al gauw bleek de noodzaak voor een showroom annex voorraadruimte en werd er in de Almondestraat een geschikt pand gevonden. Aangezien er meer en meer schaakprogrammas voor de PC werden geschreven besloot ik op aanraden van mijn medewerker ook PCs en laptop computers te gaan verkopen en adverteerde Fidelity aldus. Na dit zo'n klein jaar te hebben gedaan, waren de verkopen van computers teleurstellend; om de paar maanden een computer of een laptop.
De verkoop van schaakcomputers liep goed maar de winstgevendheid van Fidelity liet te wensen over. Door steekproeven kwam ik er achter dat mijn medewerker vaak afwezig was tijdens de uren dat hij er had moeten zijn. Dit leidde begin december 1992 tot zijn ontslag op staande voet.
Toen begon Fidelity aanmaningen te krijgen, van een kennelijk toonaangevende firma in computers te Rotterdam, om nog openstaande fakturen te betalen voor bestellingen en leveringen welke Fidelity nooit had gedaan resp. ontvangen. Zodoende kwam ik er achter dat mijn medewerker (tegenwerker is een betere uitdrukking in dit geval!) een handeltje had opgezet binnen het kader van Fidelity en bestellingen voor PCs en laptops voor eigen rekening uitvoerde! Af en toe liet hij een bestelling via Fidelity lopen om geen argwaan te wekken.
Hij had de brutaliteit om z'n bestellingen aan Fidelity te laten factureren aangezien hij meende als particulier niet in aanmerking te kunnen komen voor groothandelsprijzen. Hij onderschepte deze fakturen en betaalde ze uit eigen zak. Na zijn ontslag op staande voet had mijn ex-medewerker geen trek meer om zijn fakturen voor aankoop van computers te betalen en vond hij dat Fidelity daar maar voor moest opdraaien. Het ging om duizenden guldens en tot op de dag van heden heb ik die, ondanks een vonnis van de rechter, uiteraard niet betaald.
Verder ontdekte ik dat mijn ex-medewerker ook nog eens schaakcomputers uit de voorraad van Fidelity voor eigen rekening had verkocht! Om deze diefstal en fraude voor zijn vrouw te verbergen had hij zelfs een aparte girorekening geopend! De geschatte schade heb ik begroot op een halve ton, maar het zou mij niets verbazen als het meer was. Vanzelfsprekend heb ik mijn ex-medewerker onmiddellijk een proces aangedaan.
Ofschoon de computer leverancier heel goed begrepen had hoe de vork in de steel zat, hebben ze zich van de domme gehouden en het spel met mijn ex-medewerker meegespeeld. Ze hebben meerdere malen tevergeefs getracht Fidelity failliet te laten verklaren om te bereiken dat mijn proces tegen deze ex-medewerker stopgezet zou worden. Dat is hen gelukkig niet gelukt en na 6 jaar procederen heb ik het proces in december 1998 gewonnen. Onze wederzijdse advocaten hebben het afgemaakt op de helft van de door mij verlangde, en door de rechtbank toegewezen, schadevergoeding. Dat was juist voldoende om mijn advocaat te kunnen betalen, maar uiteindelijk ging het mij niet zozeer om het geld dan wel het principe.
Vanaf het moment dat ik geen technische service meer kon verlenen, heb ik mijn gehele voorraad schaakcomputers in de uitverkoop gedaan en ben ik helemaal overgeschakeld op schaaksoftware.
Part 1:My Mother's Family
Part 2: My Father's Family
Part 3: Our Family
Part 4: The War
Part 5: After the War
Part 6: To school abroad
Part 7: Early career 1954-1965
Part 8: Chess
Part 9: Samsonite 1966-1972
Part 10: Flying
Part 11. Our own businesses
Part 12: Semya and Adoption
Part 13: My Grandchildren
My grandfather from my mother’s side, Salomon Smoszewksi was married to
Pauline Pincus. He was a banker and their ancestors were landowners and the
My grandparents with my sister and me, Amsterdam 1939.
Salomon and Pauline had three children. My mother, Käthe (1913), was the youngest. She had a sister, Elsbeth (1903) 10 years her senior and a brother, Siegfried (1899), 14 years older. They lived in Posen - now a part of Poland, but then it was German. Salomon was a director of the Dresdner Bank, although for political reasons it did not carry that name.
My mother and Lily Peiser, Posen, 1929
My mother went to school there when she was six years old together with the daughter of their neighbour, doctor Peiser who was also their physician. Lily Peiser was the same age as my mother and they became friends for life until Lily died in Hollywood on Monday 27th January 1986 of cancer under the name of Lily Palmer.
My mother and Lily Palmer, Goldingen, Switzerland, 1960
The Smoszewski family lived in Posen until 1921 when they had to choose either to take the Polish nationality or leave. They decided to leave and move to Berlin where Salomon started a bank with his partner, Smoszewski & Oelsner. They were very successful.
My mother became an accomplished silversmith and we still have several examples of her work. One of her works, a heavy solid golden bracelet, she gave to my first wife when our son, Thomas Alexander Furstenberg was born September 3, 1968.
My grandfather from my father’s side, Egon Furstenberg, was from less affluent origins, but he had the Midas Touch. As an 18-year-old he worked in a stationery store as an apprentice. There was a staff of two: the owner Albert Rosenhain (his future father-in-law) and a bookkeeper. But there was little to apprentice as business was not very good and my grandfather usually played Skat (a German card game played by three players) with the other two men. Rosa Rosenhain, his future wife, joined ‘the staff’ as a salesclerk at the age of 15. She minded the store and helped the occasional customer.
Egon with my sister and me, Amsterdam, 1940.
Then my grandfather had enough of doing nothing and got the idea of selling gifts besides the normal line of stationery. Within a very short time, he had created a very elegant gift shop in the Leipziger Strasse in Berlin and branched out to the Kurfürstendamm (comparable to Knightsbridge and Regent Street in London, or Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue in New York). Both shops each grew to the size of a department store. At one stage my grandfather employed over 300 people, issued catalogues twice a year and had the wealthy and the famous as his customers.
The first 14 years of their married life (they married in 1886), my grandfather Egon (1860) and grandmother Rosa (1868) remained without children. They only became parents after Rosa had an operation. There was a lot of upheaval in the family as such an operation ‘was not done’. My father, his name was Fritz (born in 1903), had three brothers: Paul (1900), Ullrich (1906) and Hellmuth (1909).
When he was just 19 years old my father went to Japan, by boat of course, stayed there for several months and, satisfying his artistic side, learned Japanese calligraphy. When he came back, with his knack for languages, he spoke and wrote Japanese reasonably well.
When Hitler came to power in 1933, my father decided to leave Germany and he chose Holland as the place to go as this country’s neutrality was respected by Germany during WW1 and there was no reason to believe that during WW2 (yes, my father, already in 1933, foresaw that war was inevitable) it would be different.
He met my mother on the platform of Amsterdam's main train station when a mutual friend introduced them to each other. My mother was passing through on her way to England. On her trip back to Berlin she made another stopover in Amsterdam and got to know my father much better. She decided to emigrate, via Palestine, to Amsterdam. By the time she had reached Egypt my father was there and that is where they got married. They traveled to Amsterdam together where they settled down. They felt right at home there, quickly learned to speak Dutch (my father spoke it without any accent) and integrated into the ex-patriate community. The shop in Amsterdam soon thrived, became well known and my parents were able to build their own house in 1937, just south of Amsterdam on the Amstel river.
I was born in Amsterdam, September 2, 1936 as Michael Thomas Furstenberg and three weeks after my birth we flew to Berlin when my parents decided to show their first born to their parents. I was then the youngest passenger ever to have flown on Lufthansa and a photograph with a story was published in several Berlin newspapers. My sister was born one year later as Madeleine (Mady) Rose, October 2, 1937.
Our parents decided to take in their parents (with the exception of Rosa who had died in 1925) in their new house when it was no longer possible for them to stay in Berlin. Salomon and Egon died of natural causes in 1939 and 1942 respectively.
By August 1942 my parents decided to leave Holland and flee to Switzerland. They had to leave Pauline, Mady and myself behind. It was just too risky to take them on the planned journey to Switzerland. Besides, the Dutch resistance movement wouldn’t hear of it. My parents never considered that Pauline would come to harm because of her age and they were convinced that the Germans would decide to let nature take its course. How wrong they were! Pauline was deported to Auschwitz where she was killed on 26 January 1943 at the age of 66. She was the only close family member we lost in this way. There were many more relatives who lived in Poland who suffered the same fate, but their existence we only knew from the family tree.
A Dutch Nazi collaborator immediately occupied our house. Mady and myself went to our grandmother Pauline for a few days until the Dutch resistance had found a suitable place for us to hide. It turned out to be the van der Vlugt family in Haarlem. Again we spent several weeks there until they decided to move us to their country home in a village in the middle of Holland in an area named De Veluwe.
This was the small village of Tongeren and it consisted of just a few farms and a school. Pupils for this school came from farms as far as three to four kilometers away and those children walked this distance twice a day! Luckily for us the country house was only a few hundred metres away. Initially I went alone, but later my sister joined me, as she could not stand being alone. On our way to school we always passed the house where the headmaster, Mr Kuijlenburg lived and, without our knowledge, his wife went to see the family we stayed with. They were a very young couple, not yet married then, Ypo Kranenburg and Hertha van der Vlugt. They got married while my sister and I stayed with them in 1942. Mrs. Kuijlenburg suggested that she and her husband would take us in their home as the Kranenburg’s were too young to have children of 5 and 6 and it would be suspicious.
In the autumn of 1944 the Germans requisitioned the school and the headmaster's house and we had to move. A summer bungalow, hidden in the woods, belonging to people who lived in The Hague and used it as a second residence, was ‘broken into’ and we stayed there until the war was over.
Although we experienced several scary moments there, we were never hungry. Food from farmers in the village was always available. For that reason Mrs. Kuijlenburg’s parents came also to stay with us for a while when food shortages in Amsterdam started to become chronically. It was from her father that I learnt to play chess at that time. Being able to play a reasonable game of chess influenced my later life to a great extent.
A perilous event occurred when, in broad daylight, about fifteen German soldiers and two SS officers suddenly surrounded the house. Everybody was ordered out and the place was thoroughly searched by the two officers. The soldiers formed an impenetrable ring around the house and the children, four of the headmaster’s own, the ‘maid’, Mady and myself had to stand in this circle between the German soldiers.
Mrs. Kuijlenburg had to show the officers around. Then one of them climbed, by means of a small ladder, through a trap door above the living room, searching the attic. He found nothing and when he tried to come down his feet could not find the ladder. He yelled: "Helf mr; ich komme ja hier nicht mehr runter!" (Help me, I cannot get down). The other officer grabbed his legs and put them on the ladder. However, the German soldier next to me was disgusted with his superior and said under his breath to himself: "Siehe dir das Schweinehund mal an!" (Look at that pig!)
As I had learned to speak German before Dutch I understood all of what was said but, and I would have liked to grab his hand or give him a hug or something similar as I fully realised that this was not a bad German. However, I knew perfectly well that I had to remain totally indifferent and ignorant and had to pretend that I had understood nothing.
Shortly afterwards we learned that we had been betrayed but somehow the Germans hadn't understood that it concerned Jewish children and they had been looking for adults. When the Germans left through the woods they stumbled on two men who were running away. They thoroughly searched the nearby woods and found an underground hut were the two Jewish men had been hiding. One of them was the father of a well-known Dutch actor Jack Horn.
Another dangerous moment came when, during the night, we saw an aircraft, very low and burning. We were awakened about half a minute before the aircraft actually flew over the house, by the approaching horrendous noise of all four engines turning presumably at full power. It flew so low and slow that we could clearly see the silhouettes and faces of the crew in the cockpit with flames all around them.
It was a British bomber, not going to make it home from a raid on Germany. We could not go to sleep anymore after that and at the break of dawn we went to look for the aircraft. When we left we found, on the path leading to the house, a piece of a wing about ten meters long. It had missed the house by five meters! The aircraft itself had crashed in the woods, just about one kilometer away.
Mr and Mrs Kuijlenburg celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary in 1995.
Besides my sister and myself, Mr and Mrs Kuijlenburg have saved many other Jewish lives and in 1973 they received the highest award by Yad Vashem at a ceremony in Jerusalem specially arranged for them. Mr Kuijlenburg died on 26 May 2000, aged 92. Mrs Kuijlenburg still enjoy reasonably good health and wants, at age 92, to have a new knee fitted to be able to walk better.
My parents had an arduous journey to Switzerland. They traveled with forged papers by train, tram, bus, car, what have you and also a lot on foot, especially the last few days. They usually slept in brothels and convents, generally considered the safest places to hide.
They made it into Switzerland, but were to be sent back immediately into Germany, as the Swiss frequently did, to face a certain death. Luckily they escaped this fate only because my father could prove that they were financially independent and would be no burden to the Swiss Authorities.
After the war, my parents found out about our whereabouts through the Dutch resistance and the Red Cross and we were reunited in October 1945. We moved immediately back into our old house, which we had found completely intact. Even most of the furniture was still there while we got back most of the valuables that were hidden by our neighbours.
My parents in 1963.
My father took back his shop (not an easy thing to accomplish) and started ‘business as usual’. Luckily he had bought a bicycle for his wife and himself in Switzerland and, as there were no cars, he rode every day to the shop on his bike, twelve kilometers each way - we lived well outside Amsterdam. After a while he bought a car from his brother Ulli who, still in British uniform, had bartered this Fiat Balila in Germany for 5 kilo’s of coffee!
In those years my parents traveled twice a year between Holland and Egypt and stayed in Egypt for several months each time. Once they made this trip by car, quite an undertaking in those days and a 5-page article with 18 photopgraphs about this trip appeared in De Auto of 12th July 1951 nr. 28, vol. 46. This magazine was published by the Royal Dutch Automobile Club (KNAC).
Then, in 1948, my parents got this idea to send my sister and me to different boarding schools. I was to leave for the autumn term in 1948 to England, while my sister would go with them to Egypt around the same time. They thought that a boarding school in Egypt would be beneficial for her and that it would be possible to see each other regularly
In England I quickly adapted myself to the new situation and after a few weeks, when I could make myself understood, I even began to like the school. It only dawned upon me much later, when I my own son was twelve years old, how wrong it was to send a child away from home at such an early age.
Of course I could not cope in the beginning and it was the most unhappy time of my life, but it is amazing how quickly a child of my age then picks up a language and certainly an easy language such as English. It took me all of six to eight weeks to be able to follow tuition normally, and to speak and write the language fluently!
I was destined to follow in my father’s footsteps, just as he had done with his father. However, he didn't force me in any way, but as I had no other ambitions I agreed. From 1954 until 1959 I worked in a well-known department store in Amsterdam called De Bijenkorf (The Beehive). My apprenticeship there was interrupted when I was drafted to fulfil my patriotic duty in the Military in 1956 and 1957.
In 1959, 1960 and 1961 my father arranged for me to work in Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris and America (New York and Oakland) to gather experience and increase my knowledge of languages. Those were happy times as this time I was mature enough to be away from home again and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Then, in 1961, I started work in
my father's shop. However, after a year and wanted to put my experience into
practice, but he refused to make any changes. After all, business had thrived
since 1933 and there was no reason to alter course. Finally my father decided I
could implement my ideas in the smaller, boutique style, shop which was opened
in 1960 in The Hague and which was not doing very well.
My father's shop in Kalverstraat 48-52, Amsterdam.
Within a year I had turned this shop around. Even Holland’s Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard came there regularly from then on, something they had not done before. In spite of the fact that my father saw how successful the shop in The Hague had become, he still did not want to make any changes in the shop in Amsterdam.
While running the shop in The Hague, I met my first wife in The Hague, and we got married in 1963. The day we returned from our honeymoon was the day that president Kennedy was killed. To our great delight, our son Thomas Alexander was born September 3rd, 1968.
My wife saw how much I suffered from the strained relationship with my father and encouraged me to look for another job and December 31, 1965 was the last day I worked for/with my father. It became clear to me that he had kept the shop for me, when I found out that he was actively searching for a buyer. He finally found one in 1969, a developer by the name of Caransa. As soon as he owned the business, Caransa liquidated the shop and tore down the old building and sold the land for five times the price that it had cost him to buy - including the shop!
My father committed suicide in February 1971 when he found life boring after he had sold his shop. As we were never really close, I was surprised to feel a sense of loss, even some guilt as I realised that he had sold the shop because I did no longer want to work with him, and was indirectly the reason for his death.
I realised what kind of sensitive character he had had and that he was a victim of his upbringing in the wrong family at the wrong time. As a child, he had suffered greatly from the fact that he was the second child. As in most Jewish families, the first born is very important. On a photograph which I still have where he is depicted with his elder brother - I guess they must have been about 8 and 5years old - one sees him as a melancholic little boy.
My sister Mady resembled my father very much character-wise; also very sensitive and inhibited. Besides she was very upset when the Dutch Minister of Justice, Mr van Agt, wanted to set free three German war criminals and she committed suicide in March 1972.
It was a pleasant surprise for me to find out after the war that my father also played chess. When he came home in the evening, he would pour himself a large glass of whisky and we would sit down to play a few games. He was much better at it than me, but I learnt quickly and slowly but surely the tables were turned.
After I came back from school in England I required extensive private tuition, as the school programs between England and Holland are quite different. However, I no longer had any motivation to do my best. It seemed an overwhelmingly hopeless task trying to catch up. The school programs were that much different. Instead I became a fanatic at chess, which I thought was more important than school!
In 1951 a Russian Grandmaster named David Bronstein, 27 years old, played a match for the World Championship against the almighty World Champion at that time, Grandmaster Mikhail Botvinnik. Nobody gave little David any chance against this mighty Goliath but, surprisingly, David held his own.
My father and I followed this match closely and played every game on the board as soon as we got hold of it. I remember clearly that I used to sit glued to the radio and would ride my bike to meet the newspaper deliveryman in order to get news about the progress in this chess match as quickly as possible. Two games from the end of the 24 game match Bronstein was leading by one point and my father and I were mightily disappointed when Botvinnik won the next game and the last game ended in a draw. This meant that, although the match was drawn, the reigning World Champion would keep his title, without any further play-off.
David Bronstein and myself at the AEGON Human v. Computer tournament in Den Haag, 1991. This game was to become the most mind-boggling game ever played by a human against a computer (David won of course).
In 1954 I met Grandmaster Bronstein for the first time in person when he came to Amsterdam with the Soviet team to play in the Olympiad. Little could I foresee then that he would become one of my best friends and that I would write a book about him. I found the title The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, David being the Sorcerer (on the chessboard) and the reader his Apprentice. As I had never written a book before, let alone a chess book, I structured in a way that I felt would show every aspect of David Bronstein's chess. When I asked his wife Tatiana Boleslavskaya (daughter of the famous Grandmaster Isaac Boleslavsky from Minsk, Belarus) to contribute, she wrote a chapter in the form of a moving testimonial about her husband.
Cadogan Books in London published the book at the end of 1995. In October 1996 it was awarded The best Book of theYear 1996 prize by the British Chess Federation!
Well-know chess journalists have written rave reviews such as:
IM* Gert Ligterink in De Volkskrant: '...People who know Bronstein know that a book written together with him would never see the light of day without an endlessly patient editor. In this case it was Tom Furstenberg who managed to show such patience. He has had an extremely difficult time with the perfection seeking Grandmaster. The effort has not been in vain and the final result deserves, as far as I am concerned, to be proclaimed book of the year.'
IM Lex Jongsma in De Telegraaf: '...The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a lively book written with youthful enthusiasm. It has many commentaries interlarded with wisdom and resigning pain. It took a very long time to complete. Tom Furstenberg worked painstakingly with attention to detail and loving care. His consultations with Bronstein resulted in a monument for the man whose painted portrait adorns the cover.'
IM Herman Grooten in Trouw: ' ...We would like to mention the wonderful book The Sorcerer'sApprentice by David Bronstein and Tom Furstenberg. It is a justified homage to the great Russian grandmaster. Beautiful combinations pass before our eyes mixed with anecdotes and photographs. Furstenberg has gathered a lot of material and made it, together with Bronstein, into a passionate, compelling account.'
Europe Echecs: '...The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Tim Krabbé in Kijk: '...The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a monumental book about Bronstein's life and chess, compiled by Tom Furstenberg.'
Richard Meulders in Gazet van Antwerpen: '...The Sorcerer's Apprentice has become a staggering, fascinating and highly original book. With this book under the Christmas tree your year is made!'
Max Pam in Het Parool: '...Created by Bronstein, compiled by Tom Furstenberg. That's Bronstein! He does not play chess, does not calculate, does not win, but Bronstein creates. His games are creations, like Beethoven's Fifth Symphony or Dante's Hell are creations. Because of this particular view, some find Bronstein a pedantic chatterbox, others believe he is the last true romantic. Whatever your opinion is about Bronstein, it cannot be denied that The Sorcerer's Apprentice contains fantastic material. It does Bronstein fully justice, the great chess player he used to be. The Sorcerer's Apprentice is an exceptional book, which will undoubtedly become a rarity.'
Wouter Janssens in De Morgen: '...Finally a heart's desire has been fulfilled for many of us. Last month Cadogan published The Sorcerer's Apprentice, a non-conventional but magnificent book about David Bronstein. It is inspiring and very instructive and has been written in simple to understand English. Bronstein's original, intuitive-artistic-creative approach to chess has always remained unique.'
Dirk-Jan ten Geuzendam in Vrij Nederland: '...Apart from a few minor points which are not even worth mentioning, I can only raise one point of criticism: I find it sad that such a valuable book as TheSorcerer's Apprentice is not (also) published in a hard cover version.'
IM Paul Boersma in Het Algemeen Dagblad: '...Tom Furstenberg made it his task to assemble, select and compile the abundant material into a fascinating book The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Due to the limited space of my column, I cannot really do justice to this book and I suffice to heartily recommend this book to anyone.'
Jules Welling in Schaaknieuws: '...An extraordinary book, which I read from start to finish without putting the book down; it reads as a novel. Bronstein is a colourful man with a romantic soul, but first and foremost an Artist with a capital letter A.'
Klaas Steijn in De Schager Courant: ... Tom Furstenberg, together with the great Russian Grandmaster David Bronstein wrote a fascinating book The Sorcerer's Apprentice. In all respects a fantastic book which gives us many chess delicacies and an insight into the not so rosy life in the former Soviet-Union.'
G. van Perlo in his column: '...Amateur chess player Tom Furstenberg invested several years of his time to write, with Bronstein, a biography and the final result has become more than that. It paints a beautiful picture of this GRANDmaster. A beautiful book.'
Drs. B.H. Wilders in his column: '...Tom Furstenberg writes about the chess career of the great David Bronstein. This book is a true jewel with many fantastic and unique games and many interesting photographs. Bronstein is probably the most original chess player of all times.'
Ken Neat in his column: '...Last summer I had the pleasure of spending a few days with David Bronstein, one of the legendary figures in the history of chess. It was a stimulating experience. To those who would like to know the man better I can heartily recommend The Sorcerer's Apprentice, a compilation by Bronstein's friend Tom Furstenberg, of games, combinations, anecdotes and photographs. It shows Bronstein displaying his special kind of chess magic.'
GM Leonard Barden in the Financial Times: '...This book is a fine collection of creative games.'
IM Malcolm Pein in The Guardian: '...Tom Furstenberg persuaded David Bronstein to celebrate his 70th birthday by compiling a feast of chess. There are photographs, personal history, anecdotes and advice. Above all it is a wonderful record of Bronstein's great achievements. A splendid addition to any chess library.'
Book review in CHESS: '...A fabulous book about a fabulous player.'
IM William Hartston in The Independent: '...The Sorcerer's Apprentice is one of the most original and delightful chess books to appear in recent years.'
IM Kevin O'Connell in the East Anglian Daily Times: '...Pride of place goes to The Sorcerer's Apprentice by David Bronstein and Tom Furstenberg. Players of any level can enjoy it.'
IM Bernard Cafferty in the Sunday Times: '...A fine crop of books has come out recently but the best by far is the extensive summary of the legendary David Bronstein's contribution to our noble game for more than 50 years: The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Bronstein and Furstenberg. I have little doubt that it is one of the great books of recent decades, illuminated by the humanity that shines out from Bronstein's portrait on the front cover.'
Ken Bloodworth in the Western Morning News: '...The Sorcerer's Apprentice is probably the most unusual chess book I have come across in more than 70 years. It is about the strongest chess player never to hold the world title. It is a book I can recommend for any player.'
Book review in The British Chess Magazine: '...The re-emergence in international chess of that legendary figure David Bronstein has had many happy consequences. The book The Sorcerer's Apprentice, written with Tom Furstenberg, is one of them. This is a marvellous book and one which guarantees many months of great enjoyment. Compared to many modern books, its price makes it a bargain as well as a cultural treat.
B. Milligan in The Southern Reporter: '...Unlike most books on top players, it is not simply a well-annotated games collection. Written with amateurs in mind, it has easily understood commentaries. The book is made even more interesting by Bronstein's fascinating stories. It is indeed a book of pure magic that will appeal to a broad range of players.'
Joe Sparks in his column: '...The Sorcerer's Apprentice has everything a good chess book should have: human interest stories, biographical data, grandmaster annotations and advice, photographs, good layout and production.'
IM John Littlewood in his column: '...Your initial reactions of "What an attractive book! What a labour of love!" never leaves you as you explore its absorbing contents. In celebration of Bronstein's 70th birthday we are offered a feast of 222 of his games. Every reader beyond the novice stage should buy The Sorcerer's Apprentice, who is an inexhaustible fund of chess ideas and delights. We must be grateful to David Bronstein and Tom Furstenberg for this splendid production. I leave the last word to Tom: "To a man with a kind heart and a brilliant mind, always generous to others..."
IM Angus Donnington in Chess: '...Now everyone has an opportunity to learn from the game's most romantic player, thanks to the 300-page book The Sorcerer's Apprentice by David Bronstein and Tom Furstenberg. There are many tips for the non-genius and it is a very useful book for those who want to improve. Bronstein's chess philosophy and his opinions about players and politics from past and present make fascinating reading.'
Stefan Bücker in Schach-Report: '...Every reader will become the apprentice of the sorcerer that Bronstein is by reading this highly recommended book.'
Markus Domanski in Europa Rochade: '...On the occasion of David Bronstein's 70th birthday, Tom Furstenberg paid homage to the great man by writing The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Those who wish to go back in time and enjoy the timeless beauty of Bronstein's chess combinations will most certainly not be disappointed.'
Ivor Annets in En Passant: '...The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a marvellous collection of Bronstein's games. The explanation of the title is simple. As you go through the games of this genius you will see that a sorcerer has been at work and you have become his apprentice. From the first moment of picking it up you can sense the care with which it has been constructed. A wonderful gift for yourself for the New Year.'
* IM= International Master, GM=Grandmaster
I am also proud of the fact that The Sorcerer's Apprentice has become the fastest selling chess book of all times (so people who ought to know have told me). To date is has been reprinted several times and has been translated into Spanish, German and French. However, it will never break the record of having sold most copies as David Bronstein's book about the Candidates Tournament in Zurich 1953, has sold more than 300.000 worldwide and more than 100.000 copies in the former Soviet Union alone. It is still in print today in several languages!
Around October of 1965, Mr Alfredo Vorshirm, who was Samsonite's Director of Marketing and Sales, visited my father's shop and asked if I knew somebody suitable to take the job as Sales Representative for the Benelux Countries. I said, half jokingly, that I would take the job myself. Alfredo immediately started summing up salary, benefits, conditions, etc. and over lunch I was hired!
On January 2, 1966 I started with Samsonite Europe. I was the fifth person to join and was their salesman for the Benelux countries. Within a year I was asked to open and develop the Scandinavian market and I traveled extensively to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
My dear daughter Bettina was born on December 17, 1967.
In 1970 I was made Director of Marketing and Sales for Europe and succeeded Alfredo Vorshirm when he decided to return to his adoptive home country The Dominican Republic.
Anneke van der Vliet.
When my first marriage ended in an amicable divorce in 1969, I got married for the second time on August 4th, 1973, this time to my secretary, Anneke (Anne) van der Vliet, (1939) also Dutch and also from Amsterdam.
Piper Cherokee Arrow.
I had always wanted to take flying lessons and finally did it. I got my pilot’s license in 1969. Then I decided to buy a plane, a single engine Piper Cherokee Arrow, with retractable landing gear.
Now that I had my license I thought I had a license to fly, but in fact it is a license to kill. One becomes quickly overconfident without realising that there is still a lot to learn. I am very, very lucky to be still alive today as I went through some hair-raising experiences, like emerging from within clouds upside down, almost running out of fuel over the Mediterranean Sea with no land in sight, trying to land at Düsseldorf in thick fog with the compass not working correctly, and a few more like that!
I had meanwhile ventured into other activities, mainly selling aircraft and wheeling-dealing in whatever the demand was at the time. Business was good and in 1981 I bought a new plane, a twin-engined Piper Seneca. Some more adventures followed, like calculating fuel for one engine, as I was not yet used to having a second engine. The consequence was that I ran out of fuel 20 kilometres from Geneva. Luckily I was high enough to come in as a glider!
Having arrived safely in Corsica after a forced fuel stop at Geneva.
On another trip, to Italy, one engine stopped over the Alps at 18.000 feet altitude. At that height the plane could not maintain that altitude on one engine, but again I was very lucky that the weather was clear and I could descend between the mountain peaks and make a safe single-engine landing at Genoa airport.
I sold the plane in 1987 after I had experienced a very short blackout on take-off from Brussels airport and have not flown, as a pilot, since. My license has of course expired.
In 1973 we decided to set up a business of our own, a business center by the name of Dynamic Office Service. We only had two or three competitors then and we expanded rapidly. In 1982 an English company by the name of AirCall took a minority interest in Dynamic, and suggested to change the name to Dynamic Communications. A close co-operation started and with their know-how, manpower and investment the company prospered and in 1984 we moved to a larger building.
Anne was by now running this business with the help of managers from AirCall who would come over regularly.
In 1989 AirCall was taken over by Bell South who had no use for Dynamic Communications in Brussels. We bought the shares back and in 1995 we sold the business center business to a former employee of AirCall, who managed to drive the business into bankruptcy by with two years by paying himself a royal salary and allowing himself a huge expense account and in the beginning of 1997 the company which Anne and I had founded in 1973 went out of business.
At the end of the 70's I got very interested in computer chess and chess computers and in 1977 I bought the first chess computer that became available commercially. I traveled a lot from one such tournament to another and made many new friends and in 1986 I actually started a business selling chess computers. We were selling a lot of computers but not really making any profit. When I started investigating closely, I found out that my only employee had been stealing computers from me and was selling them for his own benefit. I fired him on the spot in 1992 and a legal battle started which I finally won end of 1998. We settled for half what he was condemned to pay. It was just enough to cover my legal fees but for it had become a matter of principle.
As I had no longer the possibility to give adequate after-sales-service without my technical man and as the market became saturated anyway, I discontinued selling chess computers. I now only sell chess playing programs and chess database programs for the PC by mail order. The main advantage is that floppies and CD-ROMs don’t require any after-sales service and if there is something wrong a simple exchange will cure that.
Since 1994 Anne has been the treasurer of Semya, an association in Belgium which works in close co-operation with the International Peace Fund in Moscow, of which another chess-playing friend, Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, world champion, is president. Semya is dedicated to help Russian orphans between the age of eight and thirteen to spend a holiday in a Belgian family for either three weeks in summer and/or two weeks around Christmas.
In the summer of 1995 we decided to take two children ourselves, two sisters aged seven and nine, from an orphanage in Ivanovo, about 200 miles north-east of Moscow. Originally they are from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We invited them again for Christmas. Obviously Saipira and Sagdiana Imamkhodjaeva liked to stay with us because it was then that they asked us for the first time if we could adopt them. We told them that we are too old to do that but that they would always be welcome in our home. However, they did not take 'no' for an answer and asked us again on their next visit!
Saipira and Sagdiana came again in the summer of 1996 and they stayed for two months and we got to know them quite well. They were both eager to learn French and with our few words of Russian we could communicate reasonably well. After they had left we have been giving serious thought to an adoption, in spite of our age. According to Dutch law it would not be possible, as we were both over the age of 55 - the limiting factor. Fortunately Belgian law does not have such a restraint, but it would mean that one of us (or both) would have to become Belgian. No problem and Anne applied for Belgian citizenship. When they came again for Christmas 1996, we told Saipira and Sagdiana that next time they could stay forever! We have that memorable event on video.
Initially we had thought it best that they finish their school year in Russia and come to us in July. They would be able to learn French during the summer holidays and go to school here in September. However, when it became obvious to us that they were anxious to leave, we decided that they should come earlier and I went to Russia on March 22, 1997 to bring the girls to their new home here in Lasne a week later.
Unfortunately, totally unexpected, the Belgian Consulate refused to issue visas for the girls. They found it suspicious that they were allowed to leave before the Russian school year was finished.
However, my time in, Russia was not wasted as I spent a lot of time with my friend Grandmaster David Bronstein and his friend Dr. Sergey Rosenberg. They both came to the airport with Sergey's Lada to pick me up as I had about 150 kilo's of David Bronstein's belongings with me which had been stored in my house in Belgium for quite a number of years. They consisted mostly of books and I was able to bring them by courtesy of Aeroflot.
In David's kitchen in his flat in Moscow with Dr. Rosenberg.
David insisted that I stay in his apartment and that I should I sleep in his bed. He moved to a small room where he slept between the cardboard boxes, which I had just brought with me from Belgium. I had a chance to admire his many books and realised that not even half of them are about chess!
Of course I also traveled to Ivanovo and am very grateful to Anatoly Karpov for putting his car, his driver Sergey and an employee from the peace Fund, Victor, who acted as my interpreter, at my disposal. Normally the only way to travel to Ivanovo is by night train, not a pleasant journey. The train is constantly overheated and it is not possible to open a window of turn the heating off.
With Anatoly Karpov.
The girls finally arrived on May 25, 1997. They settled in with us really well and now attend the local village school here and are meanwhile fluent in French apart from some rare grammatical and spelling difficulties.
The adoption procedure was
complicated, but we had a lot of help from our resourceful friend Grandmaster
Alexei Barsov, a professional chess player from Uzbekistan. He had studied law
at the University of Samarkand and that came in helpful. Slowly but surely the
procedure progressed and finally, on December 21 1998, the Court decided in our
favour and the adoption became final.
Sagdiana playing 'chess' with Alexei Barsov under the watchful eye of David Bronstein.
Tom Jr married Annet Veen on
August 7th, 1993 and on November 22, 1995 I became a proud
grandfather for the first time! Floris David is turning into a charming, clever
little boy, who is the spitting image of his mother. Their daughter Merel Ruth
was born on February 24, 1998 and is growing fast into a lovely little girl,
and she is the spitting image of her father!
Part 1:My Mother's Family
Part 2: My Father's Family
Part 3: Our Family
Part 4: The War
Part 5: After the War
Part 6: To school abroad
Part 7: Early career 1954-1965
Part 8: Chess
Part 9: Samsonite 1966-1972
Part 10: Flying
Part 11. Our own businesses
Part 12: Semya and Adoption
Part 13: My Grandchildren