The Chess Games of the 19th Maccabiah

8/18/2013 – The 19th Maccabiah, a sort of Jewish Olympics held in Israel every two years, was a resounding success, and to the envy of FIDE, reserves an important place for chess. Much like the Olympics, it is officially an amateur event, but despite a lack of monetary prizes, norms are regularly scored in hard-fought competition. Here is a large illustrated report by Ram Soffer.

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The Chess Games of the 19th Maccabiah

By Ram Soffer

A nice view of the playing hall by photographer Yana Rotner

Due to the persistent efforts of organizer Moshe Slav, the Maccabiah Games, held every four years, have become one of Israel's biggest chess festivals. This year, with the help of the Jeruchess club organizing team, headed by Alon Cohen-Revivo, we saw no less than four invitational norm events, plus an open with more than 100 players and a somewhat smaller junior tournament.

Main organizer Moshe Slav (right)

Leading Jerusalem organizer Alon Cohen-Revivo

The GM-groups featured some of Israel's top grandmasters. They could have been stronger had GM Michael Roiz not been injured in a friendly soccer game on the eve of the event. The Beer-Sheva GM had to be replaced at the last moment by Boris Kantsler.

Boris Avrukh, many times Israel national team member and acclaimed author and coach, took advantage and won the GM2 event outright with 6.0/9, losing only to Kantsler, for whom it was the only decisive game.

Three players shared 2nd place, but according to Sonnenborn-Berger tiebreaks the silver and bronze medals went to Vitali Golod and Avital Boruchovsky, while Russia's Maxim Novik was not awarded.

At this point we must emphasize that according to tradition, the Maccabiah games is an amateur event, without monetary prizes. Nevertheless many are eager to play, and according to another tradition there is always someone scoring a title norm.

Senior world champion Anatoly Vaisser (France)

It took Vitali Golod only 15 moves to defeat Maxim Novik

Boris Avrukh – gold

Avital Boruchovsky - bronze

In the parallel GM1 event, the lead changed hands many times, but the eventual winner was Russian Semion Dvoirys after an impressive finish of 3.0/3.

During the final round there was a lot of attention on Danny Raznikov's game against former Brazilian champion Andre Diamant.

Danny scored a couple of GM-norms back in 2012. Since then he has been regularly missing his final norm by a small margin. Here he started with a mediocre 3.0/6, but two Black wins left him within grasp of the title. Still he had to beat Diamant as well, but the Brazilian's intentions were far from submissive. In a sharp King's Indian he took over the initative.

However, in the time scramble phase Diamant played inaccurately and let his advantage go. Unfortunately Danny forced a repetition in a position where short analysis revealed that he had genuine winning chances. So he took the silver with 5.5/9. GM Alex Finkel took the bronze with the same number of points.

Semion Dvoirys - gold

Danny Raznikov (left) after narrowly missing his GM-title

IM Asaf Givon – GM1 tournament

In the IM1 event two norm hunters were successful, as three players shared top place with 6.5/9. The medal distribution was as follows: Gold – Marsel Efroimski; Silver – Ofir Aharon; Bronze – Gabriel Flum-Battaglini.

18-year-old Efroimski is a former world champion for girls under 12 and 14, currently a member of the Israel women's team. IM Flum-Battaglini has recently moved from France to Israel. He started brilliantly with 5.0/5, then somewhat faded.

Marsel Efroimski played brilliantly for an IM-norm

Ofir Aharon (left) drew with IM Igor Bitensky

Gabriel Flum-Battaglini

Israel's U16 champion Ori Kobo shakes hands with IM Igor Bitensky, who won in 95 moves

The IM2 event was more closely fought, without IM norms, but two players gave the norm a good try: 16-year-old Omer Reshef (silver) and the much older Shachar Gindi (bronze), a doctor of psychology, who played some nice games. Both finished half a point less than the winner, IM Alex Kaspi.

Alex Kaspi - gold

Omer Reshef - silver

Shachar Gindi beating Yuliya Shvayger in his first game

The Open event turned out to be almost a one-man show, or rather a one-kid show. Ariel Erenberg, who will be 12 on October, took apart his rivals, usually in nice tactical style, with a 7.5/8 start. He lost his final game, allowing Brazil's Davy D'Israel (who played two Maccabiahs in the 1990s before Ariel was born) to tie for first place with 7.5/9. Still Ariel won the gold due to better Buchholz.

The open medal winners grouping together for a photo

Ariel Erenberg has just played 1.d4 on the way to a crushing win against Arkadij Slonimskij (4th place)

A neat scoresheet from the open

Zuriko Chachashvili (Ashdod), one of many young participants in the open

Germany's Mark Kvetny was in a class of his own in the Junior tournament, where
he scored 6.5/7, taking the gold. One of Kvetny's wins against Israel's Guni Merom

South Africa's Olivia Bernstein

Bronze medalist Axel Zuchovicki (Mexico)

Tournament director IA Abraham Dorner with the junior medalists

The conditions at Jerusalem's prestigious Dan Hotel were excellent, including a nice view of the city from the balcony near the playing hall. The participants had a very good time. Let's hope we all meet again four years from now for the 20th Maccabiah.

Closing ceremony – medals about to be delivered

Honorary guest, former "prisoner of Zion" Mr. Nathan Sharansky, made an emotional
speech at the closing ceremony, emphasizing the special role of chess in his life.

Sharansky scored an honorable 1-1 in a friendly blitz match with gold medalist Marsel Efroimski

Then he posed for a photo with the youngest winner

A nice Jerusalem view from the hotel

Analyzing in the hotel lobby

Photos by Yana Rotner. Junior tournament photos by Haggai Frank.

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Topics maccabiah
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