Chess general 311 AP.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
After Israeli and Lebanese groups tried to outdo each other by making
the world’s largest bowl of humous, now come the chess wars.
Israeli grandmaster Alik Gershon will attempt next Thursday to break the world record
currently held by Iranian chess champ Morteza Mahjoob for playing the
largest number of opponents simultaneously when he takes on hundreds of
chess enthusiasts at Tel Aviv’s Kikar Rabin.
Israel wins silver at Chess Olympiad
Gershon’s gambit to bring chess glory to Israel will begin at 11:30 a.m and was expected to end in the early hours of Friday morning.
currently holds the record by taking on 500 challengers and scoring 397
wins, 90 draws and 13 losses. To clench the title of world-record
holder, Gershon must defeat at least 80 percent of his opponents who are
all veteran players ranked by the Israel Chess Federation, as per the
Sponsored by the Jewish Agency and the
Israel Chess Federation, the challenge is part of an event to celebrate
the contributions of olim from the former Soviet Union to Israel.
Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who is himself a keen chess player and
once famously defeated the great Gary Kasparov, said the event was
“The aliya from the former Soviet Union greatly
contributed to the robustness of the State of Israel and the empowerment
of Israeli society in the fields of finance, education, science,
culture, and of course, sports,” he said. “There’s no better expression
of that contribution than Israel winning the third place in the world
Gershon, 30, was born in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, to a Jewish family who
immigrated to Israel in 1990. He was a young chess prodigy and took
first prize in the international youth chess tournament in 1994. In
2000, he won the Israeli chess championship.
The art of
simultaneous chess is not merely a test of mental agility for the
champion, but also one of basic endurance. Current record-holder Mahjoob
underwent two weeks of rigorous physical training in order to compete
effectively with 500 players. The Iranian’s match lasted 18 hours and
covered a distance of 40 kilometers traversing between chessboards. This
is not a game for the faint of heart.
According to Yigal Lotam,
managing director of the Israeli Chess Federation, chess has been
growing in popularity in Israel as of late. “Four times more children
are playing chess, than the amount that was playing three, four years
He hopes to bring knowledge about chess to every home in
Israel through the upcoming tournament. Chairman Aviv Bushinsky added,
“This is a special opportunity to give chess more exposure among the
public and to prove that chess is a national sport in Israel. It will
also prove that Israel is a superpower, at least in chess.”