Brilliancies at the 20th Maccabiah

by Yochanan Afek
7/7/2017 – German Grandmaster Georg Meier is an early leader in Jerusalem after three rounds. Yochanan Afek sent us this report of early highlights, including a "Greek gift". Dutch GM David Klein (pictured in his Maccabiah t-shirt) is also in the top group. | Photo: Ritvo Photography

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Highlights from the early rounds of the chess event

The 20th Maccabiah was officially opened in the Israeli capital of Jerusalem and it is the greatest Maccabiah since the first edition held in 1932. Some ten thousand sportsmen from 80 countries are taking part in about 3000 competitions in 46 different sports all over the country, through July 18th. These figures make the Maccabiah the third biggest sportive event behind the Olympic Games and the world football cup. Chess games have been part of the Maccabiah games since 1935.

In the current edition of the Maccabiah games six different tournaments are being held with players from 16 different countries: Two GM groups, two IM groups (invitational tournaments with ten players each) and an open tournament with 100 players. These are being held in Dan hotel Jerusalem while a youth tournament is held in the town of Nesher nearby Haifa.

After three rounds, German GM Georg Meier is in the sole lead with 2½ points.

Georg Meier in Jerusalem
Georg Meier in Jerusalem | Photo: Ritvo Photography


Draw offers are forbidden before move 30. Here are 2 exciting moments from the first round:

The Greek Gift

The famous pattern of the Greek gift combination was already seen as early as in round one and in no other than in grandmaster group A:


Two minor pieces and a rook are sacrificed in just 15 moves!

Invisible Brilliant Moves

The following position was reached in GM group B. Each side missed one brilliant opportunity:

Bellaiche,Anthony (2463) – Zilberman,Yaacov (2388) [D35]


30.g4!? Qf6? [ 30…Rxe5! 31.Rc8+ Kh7 32.Qxe5 Qxg4+ 33.Kf2 Qh4+] 31.Rc8+ Rd8 32.g5 hxg5 33.fxg5 Qf8



 [ 34.Qh3!! Rxc8 35.Qxe6+ Kh7 36.g6+ Kh6 (36…Kh8 37.Qh3+ Kg8 38.Qh7#) 37.Nf7+ Kh5 38.Qf5++-]

34…Qe7 35.Rxd8+ Qxd8 36.Qxe6+ Kh8 37.Qh3+ Kg8 38.Qe6+ Kh8 39.Qh3+ Kg8 40.Qb3+ Kh8 41.Qh3+ ½–½

IM Gabriel Flom upset tournament favourite GM Ilia Smirin | Photo: Ritvo Photography

Anna Ushenina
Anna Ushenina is the only woman competing in the GM groups | Photo: Ritvo Photography


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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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