Be'er Sheva wins the Israeli Cup

by Assi Philosoph
12/1/2021 – The State Cup for Teams is the biggest annual event in Israel. In 2020, Corona forced it to take a break, but this year it was played again, on Friday, 26 November 2021. The venue was the beautiful Educational Campus Beit Shmuel (pictured) in Jerusalem and the team of Be'er Sheva won the event. | Photos: Ofri Barnea

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The Educational Campus Beit Shmuel, the spectacular and spacious venue, is located a few hundred meters from the Old City of Jerusalem, and serves as a beautiful and unique complex for education, culture and hospitality. It is also located less than a kilometer from Notre Dame Center, where Nepomniachtchi made a great step towards the World Championship match against Carlsen.

The players were able to get some fresh air and inspiration between the rounds, surrounded by so many historical and religious sites. The closest was The Tower of David, which used to be a strategic point to defend the Western side (Queenside?!) of the city from invaders. The city that has felt the feet of so many empires across generations was happy to have its next battle on the board.

The atmosphere of the trophy is unique in Israeli chess, as it is usually the largest chess event in Israel, bringing together almost 200 Israeli players for a dynamic and interesting one-day competition, in which only teams from the first and second league are allowed to take part.

In addition, it was both a pleasant and strange feeling to return to such a festive and intense activity, with so many players, due to the fact that the COVID-19 restrictions came into force in 2020 and the event could not take place until now.

Kibitzers. We missed them.

32 teams registered for the competition, competing in 5 Swiss rounds, in 5 boards per team, with time control of 15 minutes plus 5 seconds per move.

The turnout was particularly impressive: a total of 22 GMs, five of which were part of the Israeli National Team squad just back from the European Championships: Tamir Nabaty, Victor Mikhalevski and Evgeny Postny (Be’er Sheva), Ilia Smirin (Ashdod) and Avital Boruchovsky (Kfar Saba). 25 IMs and 41 FMs also took part in the event.

Be’er Sheva, who are also the champions of the 2021 league season, did not have much trouble winning the cup, and won all their matches. Tamir Nabaty, the first board, had an excellent day, collecting 4.5 out of 5 points and a performance of 2722. This included a black victory over his national teammate Ilia Smirin, in a duel in the fourth round in which Be’er Sheva defeated their regular rival, Ashdod, by an unusual score of 4.5-0.5.

The team of Be'er Sheva (from left to right): Nitzan Steinberg, Tamir Nabaty, Ilana David (Be’er Sheva director), Alexander Huzman, Victor Mikhalevsky, Evgeny Postny and Michal Roiz.

Therefore, the Israeli champions completed a convincing double, and continue to prove that they are the chess capital of Israel, with a squad that contains the best players in the country. The team won a prize of 8,000 NIS.

Be’er Sheva Team:

GM Tamir Nabaty
GM Victor Mikhalevski
GM Michael Roiz
GM Evgeny Postny
GM Nitzan Steinberg
GM Alexander Huzman

Victor Mikhalevski, the current national individual champion, published the photo above on his Facebook page and wrote: "Double for the Be’er Sheva Chess Club and triple for myself."

Mikhalevski in action

The 2nd-5th places were divided between 4 teams, with 4 wins and a single loss:

Kfar Saba finished 2nd, definitely a pleasing result for the club, winning a 5,000 NIS price. GM Avital Borochovsky and IM Ido Gorshtein with 4 out of 5 each.

The next position is from round 2 between Gorshtein (Kfar Saba) and Levin (Ramat Gan). Should White play 1…Nxf4? Find the answer at the end of this article.


From left: Gil Borochovsky (ICF CEO), Ilana David, Alex Finkel, Danny Raznikov, Dan Kaliski (vice chairman of ICF), Ido Gorshtein, Avital Boruchovsky, Alon Mindlin, Ariel Erenberg and Amiram Kaplan (director of the club).

Rishon Lezion finished in 3rd place, after a decisive victory in the last round 3.5-1.5 against the strong Ashdod, with victories of IM Or Bronstein against GM Arthur Kogan and IM Alex Kundin against FM Lior Musyuk. The team reached the podium and won 3,000 NIS.

GM Smirin against GM Zanan. This year Ashdod finished empty-handed.

An interesting position took place in the Guz (Rishon LeZion) - Kochavi (Ramat Gan) game from the 4th round:

Here, Guz played 19.Nf5!? which was answered with Bc4? (better was 19 ...exf5 20.Bxf6 Be6 with only a slight advantage for White). Kochavi seemed to be winning a piece but after 20.Qf3 exf5 21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.Bxf5 Black could not hold everything. For example, 22…Rc5 23.Qg4+. The game continued 22…Be6 23.Txc8+ Qxc8 24.Bxe6 fxe6 25.Rxd6 and White had a decisive advantage, mainly thanks to the weakness of Black’s king.

From left: Dan Kaliski, Gil Boruchovski, Alex Kundin, Ilana David, Or Bronstein, Adi Lahav (club director), Evgeny Zanan, Marsel Efroimsky and Ari Guz.

The pleasant surprise of the competition was undoubtedly the Ramat Gan Club. The team, which had just had their first historical promotion to the first league, finished 6th, including an impressive result with a victory 4-1 against Kfar Saba in the second round.

Globus, Levin, Hanan, Kochavi and Uritsky defeated Boruchovsky, Gorshtein, Raznikov, Mindlin and Finkel in 4 out of 5 boards.

Uritsky (Ramat Gan, 13y) – GM Finkel (Kfar Sava) after 13.Nxd5

Black took some risks in the opening, and in the position shown above it was necessary to play 13…Rf8, which could lead to interesting complications after 14.Nf6+! exf6 and 15.Qxb7. But Black played 13...Qa5+? , and after 14.b4 had to go back home Qd8 15.0-0 Nc6 (now 15…Rf8 was too late - 16.Qe4 and there were too many threats. Black could not develop the knight without being attacked). 16.Qf7+ Kd7 17.Rf6! The rook joining was deadly Qe8 18.Rd6+ Kc8 19.Qe6+ Kb8 20.Rd7 The rook completed its trajectory. The threat was 21. Ba6 among others. The game continued 20...Nd8 21.Qxe7, and Black surrendered after a few moves.

The Ramat Gan Club, which celebrated a historic rise to the national league this year, will certainly get a lot of energy and motivation from the result. Dan Drori, the club director said:

"We have young players with an appetite and this is important in a competition like a Cup. We hope they will continue to surprise in the first season of Ramat Gan in the first division"

Running alongside the Cup Games was a chess event with activities for children and amateurs. The main event in the festive activity was the Guinness World Record holder Gm Alik Gershon’s simultaneous display. Gershon, who played in 2010 against 523 competitors in Tel Aviv, faced a "mere" 37 competitors this time, losing only one game.

Before the simultaneous start, Gershon had a special guest, the Minister Zeev Elkin, who had been supporting chess for many years. Minister Elkin played against Gershon in a friendly game on a big board, and even managed to gain an advantage with white, but was forced to surrender to the experienced GM later.

Minister Elkin developing his pieces.

We congratulate all the players who came to take part in the biggest chess event in Israel this year, hoping to continue playing on the board.

The players were excited to play face-to-face again

Answer to the position above: In the game Black took the pawn, and after 2. Nxf4 Rxf4 3.Re2+ Kd3 4.Kxf4 he surrendered (4.Re3 would win a clean rook). It would have been better to play 1…b5 5 or 1…Rb7 with enough compensation for the pawn.


Results and stats

Assi Philosoph has a Bachelor in Philosophy and a Master in Cinema from Tel Aviv University. He likes to explore chess from many different angles, such as writing, filming and of course playing. He is also a former deputy director of the Israeli Chess Federation. His favorite player is Tigran Petrosian.


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