Midwest Queen's Gambit: 200 chess players compete in solidarity with Israel

Inspired by the Netflix adaptation to the 1983 novel The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, the Saturday evening match is supported by chess expert Bruce Pandolfini, who consults the show.

Chess (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Chess
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Chess lovers from Israel and the Midwest competed on Saturday evening during an online competition organized by Chess for All and Israel in Chicago. The first is a chess club with a network of schools across the country, the second is the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest. 
With the support of Bruce Pandolfini, America’s famous chess coach, the virtual match included roughly 200 lovers of the game of kings who competed over the title. The winner was Grand Master Nitzan Steinberg with the best female participant being Grand Master Marsel Efroimski. Efroimski also won the Queen’s Gambit award. 
The show gained a great deal of praise among chess lovers for being accurate and realistic. Sales of chess sets, likely due to the show being aired during a time in which many people are at home because of COVID-19, increased by over 1000%, NPR reported. 
Pandolfini, considered to be America’s most experienced chess teacher, served as a consultant for the hit Netflix series Queen’s Gambit which made chess more popular than ever. Based on the 1983 novel The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, the show follows a young woman, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, on her path to master the game and overcome addiction.  

As a coach and trainer, he has possibly conducted more chess sessions than anyone in the world.
He said, “The game of chess has a glorious history. It goes back at least 1500 years and its appeal is universal. Its journey has taken it across the globe, to all countries, languages, and cultures. Indeed, its challenge, art and joys unite us all. It is the perfect game for our difficult time.” 
MK Evgeny Soya [Yisrael Beytenu], himself an amateur chess player, called the event “inspiring” during an official video of the competition and lauded the game for connecting nations and people.  
A National Chess Master and President of the University of Chicago Chess Club William Graif  who has played in many World Youth Chess Championships put it this way, “No matter who you are, what you look like, or where you are from it doesn’t matter in the game of chess. Chess is a game that brings people together. There are 16 pieces with 64 squares. We all play the same.”
   
Israeli Diplomat Daniel Aschheim added, “The greatest element of the competition is that though it is based on a one-on-one exchange between champions, it also serves as a perfect way to bring cultures and nations together in a positive environment of mutual understanding and acceptance.”
Grandmaster Dimitry Gurevich of Chicago, played in the event on Sunday, though readily admitted that it was a tournament for younger people. In 1986, the World Chess Olympics took place in Dubai. 
Israelis were not allowed to take part, and as a result, held a demonstrational chess competition in Israel which was attended by only a few. One of them was Gurevich, who came as a protest. He was a US Open winner in 1988 and 2009.
As Gurevich said, we are fortunate today to be in the midst of a total change as relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel were normalized as a part of the Abraham Accords. He would welcome the chance to play in the next match in Dubai, Chicago or Jerusalem.


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