Uncompromising Chess Battles in Jerusalem

by Yochanan Afek
7/21/2016 – The third international tournament in memory of Gideon Japhet was concluded last weekend. It was the highlight of a spectacular summer chess festivity in Jerusalem throughout the first half of July, starting with the National Cup Games played in the first country’s railway station compound followed by a simul at the foot of the Tower of David. Pictures, videos, and great shots!

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Uncompromising Chess Battles in Jerusalem

By Yochanan Afek

Photos by Dorit and Gady Ritvo

Gideon Japhet

Attorney Gideon Japhet (1928-2013), was an avid chess and sports enthusiast. After graduating high school in Jerusalem, he was an active member of the Haganah and later fought in the battles for besieged Jerusalem during the War of Independence. After the war he studied law at the Sorbonne in Paris and established his office in Jerusalem. He was an active attorney for some fifty years, representing also the Arab community in the city starting from right after the Six Day War.

Chess was Gideon’s favourite hobby that also bequeathed his children and grandchildren. He also excelled in sports as a long distance and marathon runner, in the spirit of his life motto "a healthy mind in a healthy body".

The tournament is dedicated to preserving the memory of Gideon, aiming to promote chess culture in Israel. The sponsoring and organizing Japhet family, headed by his son Gilad, as well as the Jeruchess club, is proud to follow Gideon’s footsteps and continue his legacy.

The tournament

There were four categories in the tournament with a total of 227 participants, out of which 50 in the main section, playing seven Swiss rounds for a prize fund of 55,000 NS.

The playing hall where all the action took place, but there was much more to the event than a playing hall

Half of the participants at the top category were titled players: 12 GMs, 4 IMs, 1 WIM and 8 FMs. Top seed was GM Arkadij Naiditsch, currently representing Azerbaijan, who attended the event with his wife, Israel’s No.1 WIM Julia Shvaiger. Among the leading participants were also a host of world champions: the fresh European women champion and former world champion, Ukrainian Anna Ushenina, three time world senior champion Frenchman Anatoly Vaisser and rising stars GM Alexander Bortnyk (20) from Ukraine, former U18 world champion and Russian GM Mikhail Antipov (19), reigning U 20 world champion. The top10 ranking included two fresh members of the Israeli Olympic team, GMs Tamir Nabaty and Tal Baron, the youngest Israeli GM Avital Boruchovsky and Ori Kobo, the first Jerusalem born International Master.

All the participants received an 8 GB pendrive shaped like a knight!

The favourite Arkadij Naiditsch indeed lived up to the expectations, leading the field all the way through, drawing just a single game in round four (against second rated Nabaty), beating Antipov with black in the last round and winning the event outright with 1.5 (!) points ahead of the runners up. The only two female players, Anna Ushenina and Yulia Shvayger, had both a good start but eventually had to settle for a modest fifty percent each. Just like in any decent Swiss tournament there were a few upsets when GMs were defeated by talented youth players and even a couple of brilliant missed opportunities were not missing too.

Former top German player, now playing for his home nation Azerbaidjan, Arkadij Naiditsch dominated
the event with no mercy, conceding but a single draw in spite of many grandmasters in the field

Second-seed GM Nabaty came in third

Did I hear you say draw? I don't think so my bucko!

Father time

Decisions, decisions...

You have an opportunity to visit many streets some with Sombreros, some with Umbrellas, some
with Dragons and even Strawberries...

The top final standings after seven rounds of the main section were as follows:

Rk. Sd Title Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2 
1 1 GM Naiditsch Arkadij AZE 2667 6.5 22.5 30.5
2 10 IM Yuffa Daniil RUS 2502 5.0 23.0 32.0
3 2 GM Nabaty Tamir ISR 2622 5.0 22.5 32.5
4 6 GM Baron Tal ISR 2557 5.0 22.0 30.0
5 5 GM Huzman Alexander ISR 2572 5.0 21.0 29.5
6 3 GM Bortnyk Olexandr UKR 2585 5.0 20.5 29.0
7 7 GM Boruchovsky Avital ISR 2531 5.0 20.0 29.5
8 19 FM Veinberg Nimrod ISR 2372 5.0 20.0 27.0
9 4 GM Antipov Mikhail Al. RUS 2584 4.5 20.5 30.0
10 11 IM Kobo Ori ISR 2497 4.5 20.0 28.0
11 23 FM Arlinsky Uriel ISR 2281 4.5 19.0 25.0
12 31   Vaisberg Michael ISR 2182 4.5 17.0 24.0
13 18 FM Bakalchuk Johnatan ISR 2382 4.5 16.5 24.0
14 8 GM Dvoirys Semen I. RUS 2520 4.0 23.0 33.5
15 14 IM Kaspi Alexander ISR 2434 4.0 20.5 30.0
16 9 GM Vaisser Anatoly FRA 2509 4.0 20.5 27.5
17 16 IM Mindlin Alon ISR 2412 4.0 20.0 27.5
18 25   Malisov Boris ISR 2252 4.0 19.5 26.0
19 17 GM Zilberman Yaacov ISR 2404 4.0 18.5 25.5
20 33   Bronstein Or ISR 2134 4.0 17.5 24.5
21 20 FM Gorodetzky David ISR 2331 4.0 16.0 23.0
22 38   Globus Or ISR 2063 4.0 12.5 18.0
23 13 GM Ushenina Anna UKR 2458 3.5 22.0 30.0
24 15 WIM Shvayger Yuliya ISR 2416 3.5 19.5 26.5
25 12 GM Soffer Ram ISR 2485 3.5 18.0 25.5
26 24   Poleg Dan ISR 2274 3.5 17.0 23.0
27 28 FM Gershkowich David ISR 2219 3.5 15.5 22.5
28 30 FM Belytsky Alexandr RUS 2194 3.5 15.0 22.0
29 27   Iskhakov Michael ISR 2226 3.5 13.5 20.5

Complete results of all categories and statistics may be found here.

Gilad Japhet giving Arkadij Naiditsch the winner's trophy

GM Tamir Nabaty took third

Reigning European Woman Champion GM Anna Ushenina was the top female

The prize giving podium (click for high-res version)

Visiting the Knesset

At the side of the official competitions the players also enjoyed a number of accompanying events. Alex Khuzman played a simul against 30 players, beating 27 and drawing three. Here's a video of this event.

Alexander Khuzman starting his simul

The participants with organizer Gilad Japhet (standing left) and Alex Khuzman on his right


There were many fun events going on such as above Peter Gokhvat, world champ in blindfold
chess with hip hop or trance music in the background ... Imagine having to play blindfold over
such distractions and having to yell out your moves to be heard. Impressive.

A three-game friendly blitz match was held between the guests (Ushenina, Vaisser, Bortnyk and Yoffa) and the locals (Baron, Nabaty, Boruchobsky/Mindlin and Kobo) which ended inconclusively 6:6! (2: 2; 1.5; 2.5; 1.5; 2.5). A guest workshop was held by GM Vitaly Golod and even a seminar for judges by IA Almog Burshtein.


Here is a video of the blitz game between GM Bortnyk and GM Baron. Bear in mind that Bortnyk
is a notoriously strong blitz player and is rated 15 in the world in the FIDE Blitz ratings list.

The special cake for the last round

A special event was the visit of the titled guests, the Japhet family and the tournament officials in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. They were received by the Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelshtein and Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Ze'ev Elkin, who is himself a chess enthusiast (earlier this month he made the only draw in a simul against IM Sasha Kaplan during the National Cup games). Following a guided tour in the building, which also included a glimpse of the plenary discussions, the guests demonstrated their skills on the chequered board. Watch the video here:

The tournament was once again successfully directed by a skilful team led by IA Alon Cohen Revivo, the spirit and engine behind the chess boom in Jerusalem. Tradition is likely to be kept on.

A Daily Prize

The tournament was characterized by plenty of fighting chess with a fairly small number of draws. To encourage more combative games a special prize was awarded each round for an exceptionally creative game. Your author was appointed to select those games and offers you two games of the happy winners. (Ed: the fantastic line by Nabaty is strongly reminiscent of Khismatullin's Shot of the Year last year)


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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