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Political problems at the 15th Corsican Circuit

10/25/2011 – The event is fifteen years old and thriving – this year it has a record number of participants (over 800) and a great prize fund (95,000 Euros). Everything went smoothly until round four, when GM Ghaem Maghami from Iran refused to play against Israeli FM Ehud Shachar, demanding a re-pairing. The organisers refused, the game was forfeited. Video reports and background.
 

The circuit started in 1997, with just a fistful of amateurs. Today Corsica is staging the 15th edition, on an island that breaks the world record per capita chess players (5375 active members in a population of 300,000). In a difficult economic environment the organisers have managed to maintain the same level of prizes (95,000 €), having mobilised a total of 124 sponsors! Hundreds of young people participate in the festive event, which this year welcomes over 800 friends from the five continents. Here the promo video for the event:


There are a number of additional video reports here (all in French)

The tournament lasts from October 22 to 29, 2011. The rate of play is ninety minutes for the game + 30s increment per move. In round four there was a political incident when Iranian GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami refused to play against FM Ehud Shachar from Israel, against whom he was paired. At the end of the round the official live broadcast showed a 0-1 result for the game, and no moves on the board.

At the same time the organisers sent us the following video statement:

In the above video chief organiser and sponsor Léonard Battesti says the following:

Iranian grandmaster Ehsan Gahem Maghami informed me of his refusal to play against his fourth round opponent, Israeli Fide Master Ehud Shachar. I told Mr. Gahem Maghami that as an organizer of a international sporting competition I could not accede to his request to change the pairings, so that he could play against another player. The presence of five Israeli players in this tournament was known to all participants since Saturday, October 22. It honors our competition, as does the presence of Iranian players and those from about thirty other nationalities. The motto of our Federation is gens una sumus, we are developing in Corsica an awareness of the positive aspects of the chess sport on our youth. Being complicit to any form of segregation would be unworthy, and in total contradiction with the foundations of our sporting activities. So regretfully I have to exclude the player who unfortunately has stuck to his choice, in spite of my entreaties. I regret it, but I could not shirk our responsabilities.


Iranian GM Ehsan Gahem Maghami

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


The Iran-Israel simultaneous chess conflict

Apart from the political situation in the Middle East there has been a direct chess rivalry between Iran and Israel during the past two years. It began with a simultaneous chess world record set by GM Morteza Mahjoob in a sport saloon in the "Engelab Sport Complex" in Tehran.

The 29-year-old Iranian GM spent months preparing for his record attempt, which until then stood at 360 simultaneous games, set earlier that year by Bulgarian GM Kiril Georgiev. Mahjoob broke it by taking on 500 opponents and scoring 397 wins, 90 draws, 13 loses (= 88.4%). The effort lasted over 18 hours and was closely followed by the Iranian TV. Big illustrated report with videos.

Last October Israeli GM Alik Gershon broke Mahjoob world record by taking on 523 opponents with a 86% result, and got his name into the Guinness World Records book. This led to international headlines on the lines of "Israel destroys Iran – on the chess board".


Alik Gershon plays 523 opponents in Tel Aviv, where the temperature was 30°+ (85°+F)

The record was subsequently cast in doubt (in the Israeli media!), but then validated by IM Yochanan Afek, who sent us a forceful repudiation. But the Iranian chess community were clearly irked. In February this year GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, nine-time Iran national champion, played a mass simul on 604 boards.


The simul by Ghaem Maghami was recorded with video cameras, while arbiters
(in vests) supervised players as the GM approached the boards.

The simultaneous exhibition at the sports stadium of the Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran took 25 hours to complete and lasted from 8th to 9th February 2011. Ghaem Maghami broke Gershon's record with 580 wins, 16 draws and 8 losses for a total score of 588 out of 604 or 97.35 percent (ten more boards were added which he won but which were not counted for the record).

For those of you who did not follow the simultaneous rivalry between Tehran and Tel Aviv here are the relevant reports:

Georgiev breaks Guinness Simul Record
25.02.2009 – After a month of training – mainly walking and saunas – Kiril Georgiev was ready to take the challenge and play a simultaneous exhibition against 360 opponents. For every move the Bulgarian GM had to walk half a kilometer, and after six hours of play had made only eight moves. After 14 hours it was over, he had scored 88% with 284 wins, 70 draws and 6 losses. The record was broken!
Antic wins Plovdiv, Georgiev set to break record
12.02.2009 – Serbian GM Dejan Antic won the jubilee 30th edition of the Bulgarian Open Championship in Plovdiv this year. The prize fund was not the greatest, but using some very imaginative trick the organisers persuaded 237 players –64 from foreign countries – to attend. During the evnt GM Kiril Georgiev trained for his Guinness Book attempt to break the World Simul record.
Guinness Simultaneous Chess World Record attempt – in Tehran!
10.08.2009 The Swedish GM Ulf Andersson played 310 opponents in 1996, then Andrew Martin took on 321 in 2004. His record was broken in 2005 by Susan Polgar (350 opponents). Currently the record stands at 360, set earlier this year by Kiril Georgiev. Now the 29-year-old Iranian GM Morteza Mahjoob intends to get his name in the Guinness Book next Thursday by taking on 500 opponents.
Iranian GM smashes Guinness simultaneous chess world record
30.08.2009 – 29-year-old Iranian GM Morteza Mahjoob spent months preparing for the record attempt, which until then stood at 360 simultaneous games, set earlier this year by Bulgarian GM Kiril Georgiev. Mahjoob broke it by taking on 500 opponents and scoring 397 wins, 90 draws, 13 loses (= 88.4%). The effort lasted over 18 hours and was closely followed by the Iranian TV. Big illustrated report with videos.
New simultaneous world record attempt in Israel
15.10.2010 – Next Thursday (October 21st) the Guinness record for simultaneous display will be challenged once again in the heart of the city of Tel-Aviv. GM Alik Gershon is going to face more than 500 opponents in Rabin Square, next to the town hall of the Israeli cultural capital, trying to defeat the official record set just 14 months ago in Teheran. Details.
Israeli GM Alik Gershon breaks simul world record
25.10.2010 – "Israel destroys Iran – on the chess board". This was the gleeful headline of countless news reports. Last year Iranian GM Morteza Mahjoob had played against 500 opponents with a 88.4% score. Now Gershon hast topped that by taking on 523 opponents with a 86% result, and got his name into the Guinness World Records book. We bring you a big pictorial report and videos.
The last checkmate – simul record in doubt?
12.11.2010 – "Israel destroys Iran – on the chess board" – the blaring headlines that accompanied GM Alik Gershon's simultaneous chess world record, set up recently in Tel Aviv, have been replaced by skeptical tones. "Chess victory over Iran rigged?" asked in the Israeli newspaper "Yediot Aharonot" and published a list of doubts. We asked the organisers and received a forceful reply.
New world record for 604-board simul by Iranian GM Maghami
14.02.2011 – GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, 9-time Iran national champion, set a new world record of 604 boards for an individual simul. The simultaneous exhibition took 25 hours from 8th to 9th February 2011 at the sports stadium of the Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. He broke last year's record set by Israeli GM Alik Gershon who took on 523 opponents. Pictorial report.

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