2015 Euro Ch: Covered in mud and floating chess

by Yochanan Afek
3/1/2015 – The participants of the European Championship taking place in Jerusalem enjoyed a free Saturday. Most of the foreign guests took advantage of the great weather to join a magnificent excursion to Masada, a famous fortification built by Herod the Great, and the Dead Sea, where they immersed themselves in ancient history, mud baths and floating chess.

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Buying tickets and getting ready to visit Masada

A small history lesson precedes the excursion

The tour guide explains what is next

Masada is an ancient fortification in the south of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. The Siege of Masada by the Roman army towards the end of the Jewish-Roman war ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Sicari rebels and their families hiding there.

Reaching the Roman excavation site requires a small hike uphill

The view from above is nonetheless spectacular

The Dead Sea (in Hebrew called Yam Hamelach – the Salt Sea) is a salt lake on the Jordanian border, 429 meters below sea level.

There is nothing quite as democratic as having everyone covered head to toe in mud

Still, the mud is reputed to have therapeutic properties on the skin. True or not, it is still fun.

While the men go play in the mud, the ladies enjoy the mild sunbathing. In Feburary and March
the average high is only about 20-25 C., but in July and August he average high is around 40 C.!

Enjoying the extreme buoyancy of the salty sea, some just rest afloat, while others...

... such as Dany Raznikov and Vladimir Potkin enjoy a game of floating chess.

Back in Jerusalem a Chess and Beer blitz tournament was organized in the local pub Hataklit (Hebrew for "The Record"). It was a mandatory to consume at least five beers during the nine rounds of the tournament. The winner was the Russian IM Sergey Chekhov with 7.5/9, ahead of Peter Michalik (Slovakia) and Luka Draškovich (Montenegro) 6.5/9 each; Aviv Bar (Israel) with 6.0/9, and Alexei Slavin (Russia), Peter Gokhvat (Israel) and Ralph Schnabel (Germany) with 5.5/9, etc.

Aviv Bar vs. Peter Gokhvat at the Chess and Beer Blitz event

Photos by Yoav Nis

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 50 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, and the author of Extreme Chess Tactics (Gambit 2017) and Practical Chess Beauty (Quality Chess 2018).


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