Israelis play chess in Dubai on the sly
Youths attending world championship in Gulf state said to represent World Chess Federation, not Israeli
BY YIFA YAAKOV
December 26, 2013, 3:25 pm
Rather than ruffle feathers by flying the blue and white, Israeli youths are castling and checkmating anonymously at the World Youth Chess Championships in Dubai.
The members of the Israeli delegation, comprised of youths aged 10-18, are not identified on the under-18 championship’s official website as Israeli.
The only information provided on the site is that the youths represent FIDE — the World Chess Federation. No mention of a country is made, and the Israeli flag does not appear anywhere on the site.
The youths were allowed to compete — albeit anonymously — after Israeli Chess Federation head Moshe Shalev, backed by Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, warned the organizers that if they refused to host the Israeli team, FIDE would nullify the tournament.
As a result, the organizers agreed to host the delegation, but took steps to cover up its identity. The Israeli flags and uniforms were stashed away and the name of the country was removed from the tournament’s website.
As a result, this week, the five young Israeli chess players on the team — Omer Reshef, Alon Mindlin, Michal Lahav and Shoam Cohen along with Anastasia Vuller, who placed first in the under-10 European chess championship that took place in October — were able to compete in an Arab country for the first time in history.