Yorkshire Chess History



Dr. Isaac Berenblum











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



26/08/1903, Bialystok, Poland



18/04/2000, Rehovot, Israel



Berenblum cropped.jpg


Non-Chess Life


Isaac Berenblum was born to Polish Jewish parents on 26/08/1903, at Bialystok, Poland.  Bialystok is now the largest city in the north-eastern Polish province of Podlaskie.


At some time after his birth the Berenblum family moved to Belgium, and Isaac’s elementary education took place there, at Antwerp.


In 1914, Isaac moved to England, more specifically Bristol.  Presumably his parents and any siblings were with him.  During the second world war the Germans severely bombarded the Jewish ghetto of Isaac’s native Bialystok.


Isaac attended Bristol Grammar School from 1914 to 1920, and secured a place at Leeds university, which he attended as an undergraduate from 1920 to 1923.  He received a B.Sc. at Leeds, in Physiology and Biochemistry, in 1923.  He continued his studies at Leeds, going on to get an M.B. and Ch.B.in 1926.


Whilst Isaac Berenblum was variously described as a pathologist and a research biochemist, the course of his developing professional career might be described more lucidly as cancer research.


In 1926, Isaac became Riley-Smith Research Fellow, in the Leeds University’s Department of Experimental Biology & Cancer Research.


Isaac Berenblum’s marriage to Doris L. Bernstein (born 26/02/1904, Liverpool) was registered in the third quarter of 1928, at Salford, Lancashire.  The couple apparently had two children, both girls, namely Hanna Berenblum, born USA, and Tirtsa Brenblum, born Rehovot, Israel.


In 1930, Isaac received an M.D. – justifying the title “Dr.”


Isaac’s home address in Leeds, over the period 1932 (or before) to 1936, was 6 Kelso Road, Leeds (tel. Leeds 25305), which is given in contemporary telephone directories.  Kelso Road is a little over a quarter of a mile to the SW of the university campus on Woodhouse Lane.


In 1936, Isaac received an M.Sc., which completed his formal academic qualifications, and opened up doors to for development of his career.


In 1936, Isaac became Beit Memorial Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Dunn School of Pathology, which post he held to1940.  Alongside this, in 1938, he was put in charge of the Oxford University Research Centre of the British Empire Cancer Campaign, which responsibility he held to 1948.


His work at Oxford seems to have entailed some travel to foreign parts.  An outward passenger list recorded 35-year-old pathologist Isaac Berenblum as one of those departing from Liverpool, on 23/08/1939, aboard the Cunard White Star Limited’s ship Aquitania, destined for New York; his last place of permanent abode was given as Thomas Cook & Son, London W1, which could be a little misleading, his “intended country of future residence” was England, so this was just a brief trip abroad.  The corresponding arrival list recorded 35-year-old male pathologist, Isaac Berenblum, born in Bialystok, Poland, of Hebrew ethnicity, arriving at New York, on 29/08/1939, aboard the Aquitania, which started its trip at Southampton (travelling via Liverpool); his last permanent address was given as Oxford, England.


In 1940, his Beit Memorial Research Fellowship at Oxford came to an end, and he became Departmental demonstrator, and later University demonstrator, at the Dunn School of Pathology, the latter post continuing nominally to 1949.


On 23 Sep 1948, 45-year-old British Isaac Berenblum arrived at New York, U.S.A., from Frankfurt, Germany, via American Overseas Airlines.  His occupation was described as medicine, and cancer research.  His permanent residence was given as the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.  This Bethesda is about 8 miles to the NW of Washington, DC.  He was travelling to the U.S.A. on secondment (or something similar) from Oxford University, to be a Special Fellow at the National Cancer Institute which he’d given as his permanent address.  This post lasted to 1950.  It was presumably at some stage from 1948 to 1950, while he was resident in the U.S.A. that his first daughter was born.


In 1950, after wandering as an Ashkenazi round the western world, Isaac Berenblum moved to the Israel, to become head of the Department of Experimental Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel.  Revovot, about 15 miles south of Tel Aviv, became Isaac Berenblum’s final home, apart for a couple of brief stays in the U.S.A.


In 1951 he became part-time visiting Professor of Oncology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


In 1966 he spent about six months as a visiting professor at the University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Houston, Texas, USA.


In 1971 he spent another six months or so back at bethesda, as Scholar-in-Residence at the Fogarty International Center of the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.


He retired from work in 1971.


Isaac Berenblum’s wife, Doris L. Bernstein, died on 13/09/1985, at Rehovot.


Various awards made to him, and his memberships of learned body’s, are listed on a website relating to Bialystok and its natives [1].




Isaac Berenblum died on 18/04/2000, at Rehovot.




It seems unlikely Isaac Berenblum is recorded as playing chess before he lived in Leeds, which was from 1920 to 1936.


Records of any chess activity on his part prior to 1933 are not to hand, but thereafter “Dr. I. Berenblum” of Leeds was in evidence in the chess records.


He played in the 1933 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.


He played regularly for Leeds in the Woodhouse Cup of 1933-34.


He played in 1934 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.


He played regularly for Leeds in the Woodhouse Cup of 1934-35.


He played in 1936 Yorkshire v Lancashire match.


After moving to Oxford he started playing in county matches for Oxfordshire, such as Oxfordshire’s 6-10 loss to Leicestershire on 30/10/1937, at Oxford, and Oxfordshire’s 7½-8½ loss to Nottinghamshire on 20/11/1937, at Oxford. [2]


He became a vice-president of the Oxford Chess Association, and was recorded as such in 1938. [2]



Sources (apart from the usual ones) and references:

[1]  http://www.zchor.org/bialystok/berenblum.htm

[2]  The English Counties Chess Unions Combined Year Book 1938-39





Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information

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