We are waiting for you, come to play with us!

April 25, 2022

by Assi Philosoph

Finally, we are back! After more than two years of suffering caused by multiple waves of COVID-19, it is a great pleasure for an event as big as the Maccabiah games to be taking place, at last. So, it’s time to take a seat and… play chess!

Although chess is not an Olympic game, it does meet the Maccabiah criteria for a sport. And we all know that it’s not every day that a sportsperson has the opportunity to represent their country in a worldwide competition, travelling and meeting in Israel, walking in uniform in the opening ceremony, and, in our case, playing with the flag on the table.

The chess competitions come in different categories: GM and IM closed tournaments, open tournaments, and junior sections. Combining closed and open tournaments is a fabulous and versatile format. On one hand, it gives us access to “big names” in the sport who appear in closed tournaments, like those who have played in past Maccabiahs:

Yuri Averbakh, Boris Gelfand, Judit Polgar, Ian Nepomniachi, Alexander Khalifman, Evgeniy Najer, Pavel Eljanov, Ilya Smirin, Boris Avrukh, Emil Sutovsky, Daniel Fridman, Konstantin Lerner, and more.

Boris vs Boris in 2009

On the other hand, the open tournament offers an opportunity for every player to compete in the Maccabiah Games and fight for a medal. In fact, the games may well be an unrivalled opportunity to fight for a medal on a big stage, without preliminary and qualifying stages.

And, of course, we cannot forget the junior tournament, which is, in many cases, a stage for youngsters who go on to become future stars, many of them representing their national team. Personally, I played the Junior Maccabiah in 1997 (representing Brazil) when I was 14, only one year after I learned to play chess.

I remember just how exciting the preparations for the trip were. Raising money for the flight, training some openings, and the great expectations of visiting Jerusalem. Independently of the results on the board, this was a win-win situation for me, as it is for all young players: a big tournament and an exciting trip.

In 1997, players like GM Ruben Felgaer (a former member of the Argentinian team), GM Evgeny Postny (a member of the Israeli team), and GM Tal Abergel (FRA) took part in the event, all as promising youngsters.

Felgaer in 2005 against Boris Kantsler

And, as you can see below in the final ranking, the results in the junior section don’t lie – the leaders of the Junior Maccabiah became great players as adults.


So, we invite you to join us and create your own experiences and memories to treasure. Whether you are a Grandmaster, an amateur, or a youngster, you have the chance to be part of one of the biggest sports events in the world, and to combine a strong chess tournament with a once in a lifetime journey around Israel, a country as unique as our beautiful game.

But, until the games start, let’s warm things up with some great finishes from past editions: 

Polgar,Sofia (2430) – Averbakh,Yuri L (2445)

Maccabiah Netanya (6), 1993

diagram 1

46…Qd2+! This check prevents the king from hiding 47.Kh4 g5+ 48.Kh5 Qf4 49.Qd8+ Kg7 50.Qxb6 Qh2+ 51.Kxg5


Stisis,Yaacov (2350) – Manor,Ilan (2465)

Maccabiah Netanya (6), 1993

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0–0–0 0–0 9.f4 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 Qa5 11.e5 dxe5 12.Qxe5 Qb6

diagram 2

 13.Na4! Great move! Now the queen is in trouble Qc6 [13…Qb4 14.Rd4; 13…Qf2 14.Rd2]

14.Bb5 [14.Bb5 Qxg2 (14…Qe4 15.Qxe4 Nxe4 16.Bxe7) 15.Rhg1 Qh3 16.Bxf6]


Rinberg, Alexander (2328) – Bar,Roman (2412)

Maccabiah IM 16th Tel Aviv (2), 16.07.2001

diagram 3

Re8 30.Rd1? A better option would have been to exchange rooks and suffer a bit. Now it’s impossible to hold everything Qd6 31.Rf1 Re4 32.Qg5 h6


Grunberg, Mihai Lucian (2411) – Raznikov,Danny (2489)

Maccabiah GM1 Jerusalem (7), 25.07.2013

Diagram 4

57.d6? Re6 Simple but presents a good technique 58.d7 Rd6


Erenberg,Ariel (1931) – Petrovski,Igor (2185)

Maccabiah op Jerusalem (8), 26.07.2013

Diagram 5

 27.Qf8+! Beautiful stuff. The young medalist was only 12 years old here. Today he is a strong IM  Kf6 28.Qh8#


The cream of the crop is the great miniature of George Meir against Yair Parkhov from 2017, presented by our writer Yochanan Afek. Click here to see the analysis of the game and we hope to see you very soon!

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