Chess tournament strengthens ties between Israel-West African countries

Over 180 people from West African countries competed in the event, including the countries of Niger and Algeria who do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Chess pieces (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Chess pieces
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A solidarity chess event took place between Israeli and West African chess teams on Wednesday night as part of the Chess4Solidarity initiative.
The Chess4Solidarity initiative was set up in memory of of the late Shlomo Hillel, who served as Israel's first ambassador to Guinea and Ivory Coast in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Hillel passed away 4 months ago.
Over 180 people from West African countries competed in the event, including the countries of Niger and Algeria who do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
 Participants in the long distance chess tournament between Israeli and West-African chess players.(Credit:  Participants in the long distance chess tournament between Israeli and West-African chess players.) Participants in the long distance chess tournament between Israeli and West-African chess players.(Credit: Participants in the long distance chess tournament between Israeli and West-African chess players.)
Among the guests at the opening ceremony of the event were Ciando Popano, Ivory Coast Tourism Minister; Natan Sharansky; Eli Etzion, chairman of Elitzur Israel; the African Magic System band;  Leo Vinovsky, Israeli Ambassador to Ivory Coast; and Lior Aizenberg, Director of chess4all.
The event was held in collaboration with the Elitzur Israel Center and the Israeli Embassies in Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Senegal, and "chess4all."
This was the 21st event run by the Chess4Solidarity project in the past year, and they have hosted tournaments between 90 different countries featuring 4,500 participants so far. 
One of the judges of the competition of the long-distance event was Jonas Ben Jalon from Morocco.
A $2,000 prize fund was awarded to outstanding students from the participating countries, and the event was broadcast through Facebook pages in Senegal, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Israel.
The first place winner of the competition was 17-year-old Guy Levin from Rishon Lezion, Israel, who finished with 7.5 points out of 9 possible in the main category at the event.