Ashdod win their seventh Israeli Team Championship

by Yochanan Afek
4/15/2019 – The 2019 season of the Israeli Team Championship finished last week in Ramat Aviv. Ashdod obtained their seventh national title, led by Emil Sutovsky and a host of international reinforcements, including Pavel Eljanov and Alexander Moiseenko. Beer-Sheva Levant, led by Maxim Rodshtein, finished in second place, while Kfar Saba A, with Israeli champion Tamir Nabaty on board one, took home the bronze medals. YOCHANAN AFEK sent a report from the Western Asian country. | Photos: Dr. Mark Livshitz

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A close fight for first

The chess team from the southern Israeli port city of Ashdod won its seventh national championship title last weekend. The eleventh and final round of the top division was held in Ramat Aviv, a neighbourhood in northwestern Tel-Aviv. A total of 72 players participated, representing the top 12 teams, out of which 32 were grandmasters and 20 international masters. The only female player present was IM Yuliya Shvayger, the current Israeli women's champion.

Ashdod drew their first round match against Kfar Saba A, but then won all their ten remaining encounters, including "the match of the season" against their main rivals for the crown — Beer-Sheva Levant. Ashdod won 4½:2½ (one bonus point is added for the team victory, which means they got the win by the smallest of margins) and did not let the lead slip away until the end of the season. The team was based on their long-time local line-up that includes GMs Emil Sutovsky, Ilya Smirin, Arthur Kogan, Vitaly Golod & Boris Kantsler and IM Roman Bar. The locals were aided by the occasional foreign reinforcement, which included Ukrainian GMs Pavel Eljanov & Alexander Moiseenko, Latvian Igor Kovalenko and German Daniel Friedman.  

Ashdod, Israeli Team Chess Championship

The champions celebrating

Ashdod scored 46 board points plus 10 bonus points for their ten victories, and with a total of 56 points took the gold for the seventh time, leaving the silver medals to Beer-Sheva Levant on 53. Beer-Sheva’s team composition included local GMs Maxim Rodshtein, Evgeny Postny, Michael Roiz, Alex Khuzman, Victor Mikhalevsky and Alon Greenfeld, plus some foreign reinforcements: Azeri Arkadij Naiditch, Ukrainian Anton Korobov and Russian Vladimir Malakhov. Bronze medals went to Kfar Saba A, a team that accumulated 51½ points and was led by GMs Tamir Nabaty, Avital Boruchovsky and Eduardas Rozentalis. 

Maxim Rodshtein, Pavel Eljanov

Rodshtein facing Eljanov on board one of the crucial Beer Sheva v Ashdod match-up

Rishon LeZion got fourth place (led by GM Boris Alterman) with 44 points, ahead of Zafrir Rehovot, a young team reinforced by former Soviet and Israeli champion GM Lev Psakhis that finished in a respectable fifth place with 38 points.

Final standings

Rk Team Pts Leader
1 Ashdod 56 Emil Sutovsky
2 Beer-Sheva Levant 53 Maxim Rodshtein
3 Kfar Saba A 51½ Tamir Nabaty
4 Rishon LeZion 44 Boris Alterman
5 Zafrir Rehovot  38 Lev Psakhis
6 Beer-Sheva Yud-Alef 37½ Ilya Khmelniker
7 Herzliya 36 Dan Zoler
8 Elitzur Petah-Tikva 30½ Alexander Zubov
9 Hapoel Petah-Tikva 30 Vitaly Sivuk
10 Hapoel Kfar Saba B 28½ Ariel Erenberg
11 Elitzur Netanya 26½ Thal Abergel
12 ASA Tel-Aviv 23½ Ram Soffer

Emil Sutovsky, the player of the season

The best player of the entire season was GM Emil Sutovsky (Ashdod), the current General Director of FIDE, who scored 9½ out of 11 points and ended up undefeated against a field that included eight grandmasters. Owing to his new public commitments, he hardly had the time to prepare properly, but his drive to get a well-fought game remained intact. Here is one of Emil’s finest efforts, played in the most important match of the season against Beer-Sheva Levant — a fine example of his reputed uncompromising combative style: 


Also had good runs GMs Ilya Smirin (Ashdod) and Eduardas Rozentalis (Kfar Saba A), who managed to score 8½/11 and concluded the event undefeated; GM Victor Mikhalevsky (Beer-Sheva Levant) finished on 8 out of 10 (+7 =2 -1); and undefeated with an 8/11 score were GM Maxim Rodshtein (Beer-Sheva Levant), IM Roman Bar & FM Jan Gelburd (Zafrir Rehovot) — Bar and Gelburd scored their first GM norms. 

Two players scored IM norms: Or Bronstein (Rishon LeZion), who finished on 5½/9, and Michael Lurie (Elitzur Netanya), on 5½/10. 

Avital Boruchovsky, Igor Kovalenko

Avital Boruchovsky (Kfar Saba A) versus Igor Kovalenko (Ashdod) during round one

Yulia Schvayger

Current Israeli women's champion Yuliya Shvayger

All games



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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