Modern chess in an ancient city

by Yochanan Afek
12/12/2016 – Tiberias is an ancient city with a rich history. Founded by the Romans it is mentioned in the New Testament and considered to be one of the four holy Cities of Judaism. Currently, chess is also an attraction of Tiberias. The city is host to the Championships of Israel and used the opportunity to show how much it supports chess.

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Chess Fever in Tiberias

By Yochanan Afek

The 38th championship and the 31st women championship of Israel take place in Tiberias, the only city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Tiberias (or in Hebrew Tveria) was built around 20 BCE by the Roman king Herod Antipas and named after the Roman emperor Tiberius. It is considered to be one of the Four Holy Cities of Judaism, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed. It has been also popular destination for for Christian pilgrims because according to the New Testament Christ was active in the region. After centuries of foreign occupation the city has been almost entirely Jewish since the foundation of independent Israel in 1948. The 42,000 inhabitants of the city live mainly from tourism - the historical and religious background of the city and Tiberias' hot springs and Spa attract a lot of tourists.  

The Israeli Chess Championships opened with an exciting ceremony at the city arts centre. Before the ceremony the city's first chess club was opened under the eyes of the city mayor and dignitaries and participants of the championships. The club offers a venue for about 2,000 school children who attend chess lessons as part of the municipal education system and also invites chess enthusiasts of all ages.

Chess happening in the local shopping center. IM Mark Berkovich gives a simul.

The venue of the Championship is the Hotel Rimonim Mineral at the shore of the Sea of Galilee and the event is organized by the City of Tiberias and the Israel Chess Federation under the auspices of Mifal Hapayis, the official national lottery that supports the establishment of sport halls and education and cultural centres. There is chess fever these days in Tiberias and the engine behind the rapidly evolving activity is Asaf Soffer (45). A municipal Dancing group performed  a dance based on the melody of the song “Shahmat “ (Hebrew for Chess) written by the late playwright Hanoch Levin ("White pawn beats a black pawn"), sung in three different melodies by leading Israeli singers Chava Albershtein, Avi Toledano and Yehuda Poliker.

Chess Dance

The Chairman of the National Lottery, Major General (ret.) Uzi Dayan, himself a keen chess enthusiast, stressed his commitment to the development of chess and announced his support of countrywide weekly chess classes for pupils in their second and third year in elementary school. He said his company would sponsor the finals of the Israeli championships provided that they will continue to be organized in the periphery (the last editions of the Championships took place in Acre and Beer-Sheba).         

30 players take part in the 9 round open (men) section of the championship, including reigning champion GM Victor Mikhalevski and past champions IM Nathan Birnboim (3 times!) and GMs Yehuda Gruenfeld, Vitali Golod and  Tamir Nabaty (who won the Championship one time each).

  15-year old FM Saar Drori has already played 5 GMs,
including his own trainer GM Vitali Golod, and has 3.5/7.

Tal Baron leads with 5.0/7

Avital Borukhovky is Israel's youngest grandmaster

Standings after 7 rounds

Rk. SNo   Name Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2 
1 5 GM Baron Tal 2536 5,0 23,5 3
2 12 IM Givon Asaf 2471 4,5 26,5 4
3 2 GM Postny Evgeny 2620 4,5 26,0 4
4 1 GM Nabaty Tamir 2649 4,5 25,5 3
5 7 GM Boruchovsky Avital 2530 4,5 25,0 3
6 3 GM Roiz Michael 2608 4,5 23,5 3
7 4 GM Golod Vitali 2549 4,5 20,0 4
8 14 IM Reshef Omer 2435 4,0 26,0 3
9 6 GM Dvoirys Semen I. 2534 4,0 25,0 4
10 8 GM Mikhalevski Victor 2503 4,0 24,5 4
11 10 IM Kobo Ori 2480 4,0 24,5 4
12 11 IM Steinberg Nitzan 2476 4,0 24,5 3
13 9 GM Soffer Ram 2488 4,0 24,0 3
14 17 FM Bakalchuk Johnatan 2389 4,0 22,0 3
15 16 IM Mindlin Alon 2428 4,0 19,5 3
16 22 FM Drori Saar 2318 3,5 25,5 4
17 19 FM Shachar Ehud 2356 3,5 25,0 3
18 24 FM Chernomordik Pavel 2254 3,5 21,5 4
19 26   Gamayev Oleg 2238 3,0 21,5 4
20 18 IM Birnboim Nathan 2365 3,0 21,0 4

Source: Chess-results.com...

Games

 

Tournament director is IA Alon Cohen Revivo, chief arbiter is IA Almog Burstein.  

18 ladies compete in the women section, including the reigning champion WIM Olga Gutmakher and past champion Shlomit Vardi.

Standings after 7 rounds

Rk. SNo   Name Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2 
1 2 WFM Lahav Michal 2178 6,5 27,5 18,5
2 5   Altshul Limor 2022 6,0 27,5 20,0
3 4 WFM Len Irina 2140 4,5 24,0 17,0
4 10   Vardi Shlomit 1926 4,0 31,5 22,0
5 8   Federovski Adi 1947 4,0 30,5 21,5
6 1 WIM Gutmakher Olga 2247 4,0 26,0 18,5
7 6   Haitovich Avital 1979 4,0 23,5 16,5
8 12   Brusilovski Lena 1851 3,5 27,5 18,5
9 3 WFM Nesterovskaya Anzhelika 2173 3,5 25,0 18,0
10 11   Ovechkin Lilia 1857 3,5 23,0 15,5
11 18   Gitin Yuliya 0 3,5 19,0 14,5
12 7   Reprun Nadejda 1959 3,0 26,0 17,0
13 9 WFM Dotan Valeria 1928 3,0 25,0 17,5
14 13 WCM Levitan Ronit 1712 3,0 22,0 16,5
15 17   Zach Asif 1632 2,5 20,5 15,5
16 16   Katkov Michelle 1652 2,5 18,5 13,5
17 14   Levi Shoval 1688 1,0 23,0 16,0
18 15   Bejashvili Irma 1656 1,0 21,0 15,5

Source: chess-results.com...

Games

 

Live Games

 

Michal Lahav leads with 6.5/7

Various events accompany the championship. The city rapid chess championship (won by your author), a championship for gifted pupils of the northern centres (won by the Oranim centre) but the highlight was a chess event in the local mall where hundreds of kids took part in various chess activities and simultaneous exhibitions.

Chess queens celebrate the game

Yochanan Afek is an International Master and a Grandmaster of chess composition.
Now he is also rapid chess champion of Tiberias 2016.

Photos: Rotem Almoz & Alon Cohen-Revivo



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 48 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.
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erikerik erikerik 12/14/2016 10:10
"After centuries of foreign occupation the city has been almost entirely Jewish since the foundation of independent Israel in 1948". Apperently the race of the inhabitants is important. Well, many Arabs lived there, but they were driven away during the Nakba.
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