Young generation triumphs in Israeli Championships

by Yochanan Afek
12/20/2016 – The Israeli Championships took place in the ancient city of Tiberias but at the board youth triumphed over experience: 25-year old Tamir Nabaty won the Open section and 17-year old Michal Lahav became new Women's Champion of Israel. Report and results...

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Tiberias (Photo: Ores Pelen, Wikipedia)

The young guard topped the Israeli championships

The Israeli individual championships were concluded last Tuesday in the ancient city of Tiberias after tense battles in both the men’s and the women’s section. 30 players were invited directly or qualified from the semi-finals including five former champions: 66-year old IM Nathan Birnboim (champion in 1976, 1981 &1986) and GMs Yehuda Gruenfeld (1982, 1990), Vitali Golod (2010), Victor Mikhalevski (2014) and Tamir Nabaty (2012).

IM Nathan Birnboim - The senior champion is still fighting

The venue was the Hotel Rimonim mineral at the shore of the Lake of Galilee.

Hotel Rimonim Mineral

The regrettable absence of several top players gave the young guard a good opportunity to demonstrate their skills and talents. With no significant rating gaps among the top seed there was no clear favourite storming forward.

From round four on there was always a group of players at the top and in the end no less than five players shared first place with 6.0/9. This fairly low score was the result of many hard fought draws, which, however, were by no means short or uneventful – draw offers before move 30 were strictly forbidden.

A tiebreak brought the decision about the title and this tiebreak was was won by GM Tamir Nabaty (25) – it was his second national title in his young career and it continued his impressive tournament victories he has scored in 2016 both at home and abroad.

The champions slice through the celebration cake

Second place went to IM Omer Reshef (19), the most pleasant surprise of the tournament. He suffered his only defeat in round four but then came back in grand style and in the second half of the tournament scored 4.0/5 against a strong field that included, among others, two former champions, GM Mikhalevski and GM Golod.

GM Avital Boruchovsky (18), currently Israel’s youngest grandmaster finished third – followed by GM Mikhael Roiz and IM Nitzan Shteinberg.

Other surprising players were FM Ehud Shachar, who at the age of 47 scored his third and last IM norm.

Never too late to become an IM: Ehud Shachar

15-year old FM Saar Drori faced no less than 5 GMs and 3 IMs and in the end had 4.5/9 and scored his first IM norm.

Final standings after 9 rounds

Rk. SNo   Name FED Rtg  TB1   TB2 
1 1 GM Nabaty Tamir ISR 2649 6,0 42,5
2 14 IM Reshef Omer ISR 2435 6,0 42,0
3 7 GM Boruchovsky Avital ISR 2530 6,0 42,0
4 3 GM Roiz Michael ISR 2608 6,0 41,0
5 11 IM Steinberg Nitzan ISR 2476 6,0 37,5
6 5 GM Baron Tal ISR 2536 5,5 41,5
7 6 GM Dvoirys Semen I. ISR 2534 5,5 40,5
8 4 GM Golod Vitali ISR 2549 5,5 40,0
9 2 GM Postny Evgeny ISR 2620 5,0 45,0
10 8 GM Mikhalevski Victor ISR 2503 5,0 44,5
11 10 IM Kobo Ori ISR 2480 5,0 43,0
12 19 FM Shachar Ehud ISR 2356 5,0 40,5
13 17 FM Bakalchuk Johnatan ISR 2389 5,0 35,5
14 12 IM Givon Asaf ISR 2471 4,5 45,5
15 22 FM Drori Saar ISR 2318 4,5 44,0
16 9 GM Soffer Ram ISR 2488 4,5 40,0
17 18 IM Birnboim Nathan ISR 2365 4,5 35,0
18 16 IM Mindlin Alon ISR 2428 4,5 34,0
19 13 GM Gruenfeld Yehuda ISR 2436 4,5 32,5
20 20   Kraus Ohad ISR 2340 4,5 31,0

The women’s championship saw a completely different scenario. Right from the beginning two young stars stood out among the 18 participants. The battle turned out to be a race between Michal Lahav (17) who finished with 8.5/9 and Limor Altshul (18) had 8.0/9 in the end!

Limor Altshul (right, with White) vs Michal Lahav

The game between the two girls eventually gave the title to Michal, who is also the national junior champion (boys too!), won the bronze medal in the world championship for U18 girls this year and was a member of the successful Israeli female Olympic team in Baku. Limor had to settle for a magnificent second while young Adi Federovsky finished third with 6.0/9, half a point ahead of her mother Shlomit Vardi, herself former national champion.

Final standings after 9 rounds

Rk. SNo   Name Rtg  TB1   TB2 
1 2 WFM Lahav Michal 2178 8,5 42,0
2 5   Altshul Limor 2022 8,0 43,5
3 8   Federovski Adi 1947 6,0 45,0
4 10   Vardi Shlomit 1926 5,5 46,0
5 1 WIM Gutmakher Olga 2247 5,0 45,0
6 6   Haitovich Avital 1979 5,0 39,5
7 4 WFM Len Irina 2140 4,5 45,0
8 12   Brusilovski Lena 1851 4,5 43,0
9 3 WFM Nesterovskaya Anzhelika 2173 4,5 40,5
10 11   Ovechkin Lilia 1857 4,5 38,5
11 7   Reprun Nadejda 1959 4,5 37,5
12 9 WFM Dotan Valeria 1928 4,0 37,0
13 13 WCM Levitan Ronit 1712 4,0 32,5
14 18   Gitin Yuliya 0 3,5 32,0
15 17   Zach Asif 1632 3,5 31,5
16 16   Katkov Michelle 1652 2,5 31,0
17 14   Levi Shoval 1688 2,0 32,5
18 15   Bejashvili Irma 1656 1,0 30,0

The championships were the crown events in an eventful Tiberian chess week highlighted by the opening of the city chess club and a string of popular happenings and tournaments for all. The engine and spirit behind the rising chess boom in the city and the popular events was Asaf Soffer, the local chess tutor and organizer.

Asaf Soffer - A dedicated tutor and his pupils

All this was possible thanks to the successful collaboration between the city hall, the Hotel Rimonim Mineral and the Israel chess federation, under the auspices of Mifal Hapayis - the national lottery.

Winners and officials

Chess and championships in the periphery seems a successful Israeli trend for the years to come!

Chess moments

A nice tactical shot...


A perpetual...


Opening catastrophe...


Photos: Rotem Almoz

Tournament page...

See also: Modern Chess in Ancient City, part 1 of the report about the Israeli Championships

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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