20th Maccabiah Games Print
Friday, 23 June 2017 08:14

The international arena is back to Jerusalem, with yet another major event. The chess games of the 20th Maccabiah will be held on July 4-14, in Dan Hotel in the Israeli capital, comprising 4 closed Invitational groups and one open tournament. An additional open youth competition will be hosted by the town of Nesher nearby Haifa on July 9-14. Here is the line up after the drawing of lots in the Invitational groups:

Grandmasters A: 1.IM Gabriel Battaglini (France) 2475 2. GM Ilya Smirin 2669 3. GM Alexander Moisienko (Ukraine) 2657 4. GM Georg Meier (Germany) 2630 5. IM Eyal Deutsch 2334 6. GM Semen Dvoirys (Russia) 2534 7. Yair Farkhov 2400 8. GM Alexander Huzman 2557 9. GM Eduardas Rozenthalis (Lithuania) 2577 10. GM David Klein (Netherlands) 2504.

Grandmasters B: 1. IM Alon Mindlin 2436 2.GM Tal Baron 2540 3. GM Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) 2458 4. GM Maxim Novik (Russia) 2482 5. IM Anthony Bellaiche (France) 2463 6.GM Yaacov Zilberman 2407 7.FM Saar Drori 2359 8.GM Gennady Ginsburg 2454 9.IM Ariel Ehrenberg 2370 10.GM Victor Mikhalevsky 2540

Masters tournament A: 1. FM Gleb Kagansky (Russia) 2294 2. Nisim Iliaguev 2301 3. FM Shaked Tifferet 2236 4. IM Michael Pasman 2355 5.FM Nathan Alfred (England) 2227 6. FM Nimrod Weinberg 2381 7. IM Alexander Alexikov (Ukraine) 2315 8. Shoham Cohen Revivo 2249 9. IM Igor Bitensky 2358 10.PP Philip Kumic (Serbia) 2304

Masters tournament B: 1. FM Or Bronstein 2324 2. WGM Maria Manakova (Serbia) 2291 3.IM Alexander Caspi 2433 4. FM Dan Poleg 2241 5. FM Anna-Maja Kazarian (Netherlands) 2259 6. Or Globus 2210 7. IM Roman Bar 2489 8. FM Arie Axelrod 2262 9.IM Salomea Zaksayte (Lithuania) 2274 10. David Kudischevich 2364 (Russia) The chief director of the tournament is International arbiter Alon Cohen Revivo.

Maccabia 2009- Polgar Vs. Airforce
Judith Polgar in a simultaneous game at the air force base at the 18th Maccabiah

The Maccabiah is the Jewish Olympics held every four years in Israel. It began in 1932, and in its second edition in 1935, a master tournament was organized by the Eretz Israel (Palestine) Chess Federation that had been founded earlier that year. Some of the European guests took advantage of the opportunity to escape the rising anti-Semitism in Central Europe following the rise of Nazism to power in Germany. In this historic event, the Master Moshe Blass scored 7.5 points from nine rounds and became the first unofficial Israeli champion. Runners up were Yosef Porat and David Enoch with 7 points each. Based on the results of this tournament, the first Olympic team was selected for the first Israeli Olympic appearance in Warsaw 1935: 1. Yosef Porat 2. David Enoch 3. Yosef Dobkin 4. Victor Winz 5. Moshe Czerniak.

And what about the tournament winner? Well, Moshe Blass, who had emigrated from Poland already in 1931 (where he had been the Warsaw champion in 1928 and represented Poland in two Olympiads), was still regarded by the British Mandate as an illegal immigrant and as such was not allowed to travel to Warsaw. The Maccabiah Games in 1935 were undoubtedly the main drive behind the efforts to create an orderly chess life in Israel. The following year already witnessed the first official national championship won by Moshe Czerniak. World War II interrupted the Maccabiah Games until 1950 but the chess competitions were not renewed until 42 years later at the initiative of Almog Burstein in the tenth edition in 1977 with a 10 teams competition in Tel Aviv, won by Israel (with Shimon Kagan, Avraham Kaldor, Yitzhak Radashkovich, Amikam Blechin, Malkiel Peretz and Yehuda Gruenfeld) ahead of Britain, Israel B and the Netherlands.

Maccabia 2009- Pavel Elianov in Netanya
Pavel Elyanov in a simul in the 18th Maccabiah (2009)

Starting from the 13th Maccabiah, the organizing committee of the chess games in the Maccabiah has been chaired by Moshe Slav. Over the years, many of the world’s leading Jewish players were among the participants, including Boris Gelfand, Alexander Khalifman, Judith Polgar, Yuri Averbakh, Evgeny Najer, Alexander Beliavsky, Pavel Elianov, Daniel Friedman and Ian Nepomniachtchi among others took part alongside the entire Israeli top.

Maccabia 2013- Nepomnianchi  Belyavsky
Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Beliavsky

The detailed story of the chess games in the Maccabiah may be be seen on the official website.

Maccabiah 13 Saharansky vs. Efroimski
Natan Sharansky in a friendly match against Marcel Efroimsky during his visit to the 19th Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem

Jerusalem has become the International chess centre of Israel. In 2015 the European individual championship was held in Jerusalem and last year, like every second summer – the third Japhet festival. This year the Jeruchess club celebrated its comeback to the top division  and the first grandmaster title of a city born young player – Ori Kobo.


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