A Summer Chess Festivity in Jerusalem

by Yochanan Afek
7/11/2016 – The National Cup games in Israel are a traditional one-day rapid team competition. For the first time this popular event was hosted by the Israeli capital, Jerusalem. Alongside this massive team competition with 38 teams was a series of parallel activities for aficionados and children, with balloons, chess, arts and craft, chess, actors, and more chess! An illustrated report.

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Photos and videos by Dorit and Gady Ritvo

Jerusalem has enjoyed a vivid chess life for already nearly a century starting with the establishment of the International Chess Club by the first British military governor, Sir Ronald Stross, back in 1918. In the last decade the capital on its vast periphery has witnessed an unprecedented chess boom highlighted last year by the European Championship for individuals. 

The venue chosen for the cup games was the historic first railway station of the city located in the neighbourhood of Baka, which was inaugurated in 1892 as part of the country’s first railway Jerusalem-Jaffa. The line was operated almost continuously (with the exception of the Independence war in 1948) for more than a century until its closure in 1998. With the resumption of the railway from Jerusalem in 2005, a new station was inaugurated elsewhere in town while this historic complex has become a cultural, leisure and catering centre for the whole family.

Youth prevails

The 38 participating teams representing the country’s top clubs with more than 200 players including 22 grandmasters, played five Swiss rounds on five boards for the prestigious title as well as for a prize fund of 16,000 NS.  Hot favorites for the top honours were the champion club of Beer Sheva and the reigning cup holder Ashdod Ilit.

At the end of the day two teams scored five wins: Beer Sheva (with such experienced GMs as Maxim Rodshtein, Michael Roiz, Evgeny Postny, Alex Huzman and Alon Greenfeld) and the young and highly talented team of Kfar Saba Club (with GMs Tamir Nabaty, Avital Boruchovsky and Alex Finkel as well as IMs Alon Mindlin and Asaf Givon. The title was eventually decided by just half a board point in favour of Kfar- Saba.

Postny in the last moments with a crowd awaiting the result

Ashdod (with GMs Ilya Smirin, Emil Sutovsky, Vitaly Golod, Yehuda Gruenfeld and Boris Kantsler) suffered from a rather slow start and still managed to close the gap and settle for the bronze medals. A surprising young team from the city of Rechovot, led by its devoted trainer IM Alex Mikhalevski finished fourth, ahead of several favourite and heavily titled teams.

Ori Kobo - Emil Sutovsky

In a great attack that ultimately failed, the brilliant tactician Emil sutovsky
missed a fine finish. Can you do better? Black to play and win.

[Event "Israel Cup 2016 "] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.07.01"] [Round "2"] [White "Kobo, Ori"] [Black "Sutovsky, Emil"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2496"] [BlackElo "2622"] [Annotator "Cohen-Revivo,Alon"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "2016.07.02"] [SourceDate "2016.07.02"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. e3 O-O 5. Be2 d5 6. cxd5 Nxd5 7. O-O c5 8. dxc5 Nc6 9. Nbd2 Ndb4 10. a3 Nd3 11. Qc2 Bf5 12. e4 Nf4 13. Bb5 Bg4 14. h3 Bxh3 (14... Qc8 $1 15. hxg4 Qxg4 16. g3 Nd4 17. Nxd4 Qh3 18. gxf4 Qg4+ $11) 15. gxh3 Qc8 16. Nb3 Nxh3+ 17. Kh1 Qg4 18. Qe2 $6 {[#]} (18. Nh2 Qh4 19. Qe2) 18... f5 ( {Black misses the chance to finish in beauty with} 18... Bxb2 $3 19. Qxb2 (19. Ng5 Qxe2 20. Bxe2 Bxa1 21. Nxa1 Nxg5 22. Bxg5 Rfd8 $11) (19. Bxb2 Nf4) 19... Qxf3+ 20. Kh2 Nf4 21. Bxf4 Qxf4+ $11) 19. e5 f4 20. Nh2 Qh4 21. Bxc6 bxc6 22. Nd4 Rad8 23. Ndf3 Qh5 24. Qc4+ Kh8 25. Qe6 Rd3 26. Qxc6 g5 27. Qe4 $2 (27. Ne1 Rd1 28. Qf3) 27... Rfd8 $2 (27... Rd1 28. Kg2 Rdd8 $5 (28... Rxf1 29. Kxf1 g4 30. Nxg4 Qxg4 31. Bd2)) 28. c6 Rd1 29. Kg2 g4 30. c7 gxf3+ 31. Qxf3 Qg6+ 32. Ng4 Ng5 33. cxd8=Q+ Rxd8 34. Qxf4 Rf8 35. Qxg5 Qe4+ 36. f3 Qc6 37. Be3 {...} 1-0

The event’s best player was GM Maxim Rodshtein who was the only one to beat all his five opponents including GMs Smirin and Alterman. 

The prize ceremony

Full results and detailed statistics of the cup games may be seen here: 

Rk
SNo
Team
Matches
 TB 
1
4
Hapoel Kfar Saba
5
5
0
0
18.0
2
1
Beer Sheva Chess Club A.
5
5
0
0
17.5
3
2
Club Ashdod Illit
5
3
1
1
17.0
4
12
Marshmallow blocks A
5
3
0
2
16.5
5
3
"Fldkliin" Rishon Lezion
5
3
0
2
16.0
6
5
Club Chess Beer Sheva Alef
5
3
1
1
16.0
7
9
Chess club Hapoel Petah Tikva A
5
2
2
1
16.0
8
10
Elizur Petah Tikva A
5
3
1
1
15.5
9
15
Haifa Club A.
5
3
1
1
15.5
10
23
Club Chess Beer Sheva Gimel
5
2
2
1
15.5

Click here for complete standings

A colourful and popular event

The Cup games were very different this time from their usual traditional pattern. While indoors the serious event was on, outside a mass cheerful event attracted many amateurs of all ages who were offered diverse activities and fun throughout the complex: giant chess sets; Craft and creativity area, make-up corner, acrobatics and colourful balloons. And there was also serious chess: A simultaneous exhibition given by IM Sasha Kaplan which ended in a convincing victory of the master 31.5: 0.5.The single draw was scored by the Israeli Minister Zeev Elkin.

Video footage of the simul with the day's activities in the background

Chess on the stage

There's nothing quite like wearing a large balloon on one's head

Needless to say, the children had a ball...

... as did the adults, enjoying here a game of chess with some fresh watermelon.

The entire highly enjoyable day was organized by the Israel Chess Federation in cooperation with the Jerusalem Development Authority and was operated by a big skillful team led by Alon Cohen Revivo, the energetic and tireless engine behind the rich chess life in Jerusalem.

On Sunday, July 10, the third Gideon Japhet Memorial ACP Tournament starts in the Hebrew University secondary school in four categories. Top seeds are GMs Arkadij Naiditsch (AZE), Tamir Nabaty (ISR), Olexandr Bortnyk (UKR), Mikhail Antipov (RUS) and Alex Huzman (ISR). Among the other participants the former world champion and the current European women champion Anna Ushenina (UKR) also takes part.



Yochanan was born (1952) and grew up in Tel-Aviv, and now lives in Amsterdam. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of chess, both as a professional and a volunteer, for the last 48 years, and remains an active player, composer, writer, organizer, trainer and commentator. He is an International Master and International Arbiter for chess as well as International Grandmaster for chess composition.
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