Kick off!

July 14, 2022

by Assi Philosoph

It was a special day for Jerusalem. The atmosphere of the Maccabiah Games was palpable in the city full of history, with a huge number of sportspeople from different countries talking in different languages and waiting to compete in a range of sports. For us, it is a great pleasure to have the game of chess included in these extraordinary celebrations.

The city also had another important reason to be delighted – the visit of the American president Joe Biden to the Middle East. Biden will be a special guest in the official opening ceremony this evening, in the Teddy Stadium, located in the Malha neighborhood.

The playing hall waiting for the players. Great feeling | Photo: Dr. Mark Livshitz

The host for the tournament is Hotel Ramada, located a 5 minute walk from Heikhal HaSefer (Shrine of the Book), which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the “Knesset”, the Israeli Parliament with its 120 members. Moshe Slav, the director of the chess event since 1978, noted in the chess opening ceremony:

“This is the second biggest sports event in the world, and we are happy to provide the best for our athletes from all the participating countries”

I asked Slav how it feels to organize his 11th Maccabiah chess games: 

 “My role is to balance between the amateur players and the professionals, that’s why, since I started to be involved in the organization of the Maccabiah, it was essential to me to add a high-level closed tournament. Usually, we have 3 closed events at least, but I am happy that we have managed to have one strong tournament this year, despite the post-COVID difficulties. In summary, we have more than a hundred players, which is satisfying”

Moshe Slav (right) and Alon Cohen in the opening ceremony | Photo: Dr. Mark Livshitz.

After the round started, the various “Macabim” from worldwide delegations became captivated by the chess games, unable to even leave the hall. IA Alon Cohen, the tournament director, didn’t hide his excitement:

“Personally, I have come full circle today. I represented France 27 years ago as a player in the European Maccabiah Games, and today I have the opportunity to host the event here in Israel”.

The reluctant kibitzers | Photo: Dr. Mark Livshitz

A total of 107 players started the event: 10 in the invitational GM tournament, 67 in the open section, and 30 in the junior event (which will start on Friday). The leading players showed that they didn’t just come to celebrate, and 4 out of the games were decided!

The fascinating result of the round was, without a doubt, the win from the young  FM Yeshaayahu Tzidkiya over the strong GM Evgeny Alekseev, the strongest player of the tournament:

Tzidkiya,Yeshaayahu (2419) – Alekseev,Evgeny (2601)                               

 GM Maccabiah 2022 Jerusalem, 13.07.2022

20.Qf3 Here, the game started to warm up 20…Qd8 21.Nh5 Nxh5 22.Qxh5 g6 23.Qg4 Bc8 24.Qg3 Nxa4 Black is seeking for counterplay [24…Bg7 is the solid option, since now 25.f4 exf4 26.Bxf4 g5 is possible]

25.f4! Bg7 26.Rf1 Both players were in time trouble at this point 26…Nxb2 27.Ra2 [27.Nxg6!?] 27…Nd3 28.Bxd3 cxd3 29.f5 [29.Raf2!] 29…g5 30.f6 Bxf6 31.Raf2 Bg7 32.Rxf7 Rb7 33.Rxb7 Bxb7 34.Nf5 Bc8! Great defensive move 35.h4 Bxf5 Now Black should be OK 36.hxg5 [36.Rxf5 gxh4 37.Qg4 a5 38.Bxh6 Ra7] 36…Bxe4 37.gxh6 Qd7 38.Rf6

After a lot of pressure from White, and mutual time trouble for more than 10 moves, the game reached the following position:

38… Rc8? Unfortunately for Alekseev, this mistake decided the game [38…Ra7; 38…a5] 39.Rxd6! Qb7 40.Qg4 d2 41.Bxd2 1-0

Tzidkiya was definitely satisfied after the game, since this was one of his best victories. What a great way to start the tournament!

FM Yeshaayahu Tzidkiya. A great start  | Photo: Dr Mark Livshitz.

On the next board, GM Evgeny Postny, playing with black pieces, managed to convert a dry position into a win.

Yarmonov,Igor (2372) – Postny,Evgeny (2564)      

GM Maccabiah Jerusalem, Israel 13.07.2022

32.bxc5 Not forced, but still OK Qh4+ Black is trying to mix things up 33.Ke3 Probably an unnecessary risk [33.Kg1 Qxf4 34.cxd6 =] 33…dxc5

 34.Qf5? [34.Bf3 Bxf3 35.Kxf3 Qxh2 36.Qf5 is a draw] 34…Bxg2 35.Qd7 [35.Qc8+? Kf7 36.Qc7+ Qe7+ is a worse version compared to the game] 35…Qh3+ 36.Qxh3 Bxh3 and Black won the endgame after 22 moves.

GM Evgeny Postny. Water from the well   | Photo: Dr. Mark Livshitz.

Strangely enough, both Gruenfeld and Kobo got a worse position with black pieces, each one in his respective game, after moving a pawn to f6.

Parkhov,Yair (2468) – Gruenfeld,Yehuda (2418)    

GM Maccabiah 2022 Jerusalem, Israel 13.07.2022

Position after 9…f6

 [9…Nd4 first is the computer’s choice]

10.Bd3! Ngxe5 [10…h6 11.0-0-0 Qe7 12.exf6 Nxf6 13.Rhe1+-] 11.Nxe5 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 fxe5 13.Bxh7+ Kh8 14.0-0 and White was on top.

IM Yair Parkhov. First round, first smile. | Photo: Dr. Mark Livshitz.

Smirin,Ilia (2601) – Kobo,Ori (2534) 

GM Maccabiah 2022 Jerusalem, Israel 13.07.2022

 12…f6 was played here as well.

[12…0-0 13.Qe2 f6 14.a3 Nc6 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Bxc6 Rb8 17.Nd2 f5!? and Black has counterplay]

 13.a3 Bxe5 [13…Nc6 here is not possible, since 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Bxc6 is a check]

14.Bxe5 Nc6 15.Bf4 Nf7 16.Nc3 Nfe5 17.Ne4 now it’s not possible to hold the queenside b6 18.Bxe5 Nxe5 19.Nxf6+ Qxf6 20.Bxa8+- and White converted his advantage.

GM Ilia Smirin. It´s never easy to play against him. | Photo: Dr Mark Livshitz.

In the open tournament, which is played in a Swiss format, Gleizer surprised the experienced WFM Dotan Valeria on board 13, and, in “the battle of generations”, the 13-year-old Eyal Friedlich won against the 86-year-old Semion Gofshtein on board number 21.

The 2nd round will start at 10 am, and, as mentioned at the start of the article, the official opening will take place in the evening. You can follow the games online on one of the following chess websites:!maccabiah-open-2022

And don’t forget to check out our photo gallery:

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