Chess in the 20th Maccabiah – Final report

July 18, 2017

Dan hotel

Dan Hotel Jerusalem

At the magnificent Dan Hotel on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, the chess competitions of the 20th Maccabiah ended last Friday. Every four years since 1932, Israel has hosted the Maccabiah Games, considered one of the world’s largest sports events. The 20th edition, be concluded last Tuesday, was the largest in the history of the event. Over 10,000 athletes from over 80 countries competed in over 3,000 competitions in 46 sports.Chess was introduced to the Maccabiah in the second 1935 edition but then, due to the rise of the Nazism and the Second World War it was not before 1950 that the Maccabiah games were resumed .Chess games, however, were back to the program only in 1977. Ever since it has become an integral part of the big sport event seeing quite a few of the world’s top Jewish players such as Hermann Pilnik, Julio Bolbochan,Yuri Averbach, Jon Spielman, Jonathan Mestel, Judith Polgar, Boris Gelfand, Pavel Eljanov, Alexander Khalifman, Alexander Beliavsky, Jan Nepomiachtchi  and  Daniel Friedman  to name a few alongside the Israeli top. . For the last 3 decades the chief organizer of the chess events in the Maccabiah has been Moshe Slav. The Israeli capital hosted the games for the second time in a row. The dynamic manager of the local chess scene IA Alon Cohen-Revivo acted as the chief arbiter of the entire festival.  This year’s program included 7 categories: 4 invitational groups -2 grandmaster and 2 Master tournaments alongside an open, youth and blitz competitions.


Macc Georg Meier and the medal

GM Georg Meier receiving the gold medal from organizer Moshe Slav and chief arbiter Alon Cohen

The grandmaster group saw clear superiority of the German GM Georg Meier, who dominated the field on 7.5 points out of nine games, taking the gold medal with a whole point ahead of the runner up, the Ukrainian GM Alexander Moisieenko 6.5 and the tireless Lithuanian GM Eduard Rozentalis 5.5. The French-Israeli IM Gabriel Bataglini-Flom, who stunningly beat GMs Moisieenko, Smirin and Dvoirys, was pretty close to the desired GM norm, but scored just a single point in the last 3 rounds and had to settle for a respectable fourth place (together with the disappointed GM Ilya Smirin),yet with neither a medal nor a norm. The rest of the field: Alex Huzman 4.5, GM Semen Dvoirys (Rus) and IM Eyal Deutsch 3 each, David Klein (Netherlands) and FM Yair Farkhov 2.5 each.

Macc Tal Baron


GM Tal Baron

Solid and confident performance gave the gold medal in the second GM group to the Israeli GM Tal Baron on 7 / 9 undefeated. The silver went to  former world female champion (and the current European one), Ukrainian GM Anna Oshenina on 6 while young IM Alon Mindlin who was a serious candidate for the desired GM norm lost his  final round game to 15 years old IM Ariel Ehrenberg. His fine 5.5 points score still earned him the bronze medal as well as a nice collection of five GM scalps! He was  followed by the French IM Anthony Bellaiche (France) and former Israel champion GM Victor Mikhalevski on 5 each, GMs Yakov Zilberman and Gennady Ginsburg (Germany) 4 each, IM Ariel Erenberg and FM Sa’ar Drori 3 each, and GM Maxim Novik (Russia) 2.5.

Here is a nice decisive combination from the 8th round in this group:

Baron-Drori Macc


Baron,Tal (2547) – Drori,Saar (2359)

Maccabiah20 Dan Hotel (8.8), 13.07.2017

26.Bg5!  fxg5 27.Nxg5 Bg7 28.Nf7+ Kh7 29.Bxg6+! 1–0 

This group saw in round 7 what might be considered as the blunder of the event at least in its grandmaster level:

Novik- Mikhalevski Macc

Novik, Maxim (2482) – Mikhalevski, Victor (2540)

Maccabiah20 Dan Hotel (7.6), 12.07.2017

31… Ne4! 32. Bxe8 Qg4+ 33.Kf1 Qh3+ 34.Ke1 Qh4+ 35.Ke2 Qg4+ 36.Ke1 Qh4+ 37.Kf1??  Qf2#

The current Maccabiah format, which also included two Master tournaments, provided an opportunity for talented young players to meet older masters, gain experience and, if lucky enough, to score a Master norm. Unfortunately, none of the candidates in all four invitational groups managed to do so, although some of them were very pretty close to fulfilling the dream.

Michael Pasman (9)


IM Michael Pasman

Master group A saw a convincing “comeback” by veteran IM Michael Pasman, who for quite long had been away of the competitive scene. A strenuous  3 / 3 start  followed by  a single loss in the fourth round and a dizzying finish of 4 from 5 led him right to a well deserved  gold medal. With 7 points he was a point ahead of the surprising youngster Shaked Tifferet who, with 6 points, was on the verge of achieving his first IM norm, finally settling for a silver medal and a large bag of Elo points. Third was the Israeli-Russian section, FM Gleb Kagansky on 5.5 and the bronze.

Macc Roman Bar


IM Roman Bar

In IM group B IM Roman Bar was unstoppable on 7 points before the last round. His first and only defeat in the final round could not deprive him from a well deserved gold medal. At the same time it led his opponent IM Alex Kaspi, a veteran of 7 Maccabiah editions, right to the silver medal with 6.5 points after otherwise a rather mediocre competition. A similar score gave the Israeli-Russian David Kudishevich the bronze medal.

Here is the decisive game:


Bar, Roman (2471) – Kaspi,Alexander (2435)

Maccabiah 20 Dan Hotel (9.18), 14.07.2017

  1. e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.0–0 Ngf6 5.Re1 a6 6.Bd3 e5 7.c3 Be7 8.Bc2 0–0 9.d4 Re8 10.a4 b6 11.Nbd2 cxd4 12.cxd4 exd4 13.Nxd4 Bb7 14.Nf5 Bf8 15.b3 [15.Nc4!?] 15…g6 16.Ng3 d5 17.Bb2 h5!? 18. exd5 Rxe1+ 19.Qxe1 Bxd5 20.Nge4 Bg7 21.Rc1 Qf8 22.Nxf6+ Nxf6 23.Bd3 Re8 24.Qd1 Ng4! 25.Bxg7 Qxg7 26.Nf1?

Bar- Kaspi Maccabia IM 2

26…Nxf2! 27.Qd2 [27.Kxf2 Qd4+ 28.Kg3 h4+ 29.Kh3 Be6+ 30.g4 hxg3+ 31.Kxg3 Qg1+ 32.Kf4 Qf2+ 33.Qf3 g5+–+] 27…Nh3+! 28. gxh3 [28.Kh1 Qd4!–+] 28…Qd4+ 29.Qf2 Qxd3 30.Re1 Rxe1 31.Qxe1 Qd4+ 32.Ne3 Bxb3 0–1



Macc Moshe Gal and the medal


Moshe Gal, winner of the open tournament

The open section (98 participants ) was dominated by Moshe Gal ,  a retired judge (former general manager of the Israeli courts)  on 8/9 ahead of 13 years old Yoav Milikov 7 (both undefeated). Third was 21 years old girl Ady Federovsky on 7 too.  The Open Youth Competition (20 players) was won by American Joseph Zlatsan on 6.5 /7.

Macc. Youth Tournament


The youth tournament in Haifa

The chairman of the Maccabiah Chess Committee, Moshe Slav led the organizing work;  International Judge Alon Cohen, was the tournament director, with the help of arbiters Yoel Levy, Moshe Dermer, Ami Kaiser, Philip Zisman and  Idan Lavi and of Shaul Weinstein, who was in charge of the official website and live transmissions. The chairman of the appeal committee was international judge Shlomo Kandelshine. The youth competition in Haifa was organized by Nesher Club headed by Vladimir Weinstein and IM Andrey Gurbanov. Ritvo family-Dorit,Gadi and the sons Dan and Oz have documented the events with countless beautiful photographs including the ones in this article.

Macc Afek & Milikov


Your author with the young and talented Milikow brothers: Yoav, 13 (Silver medal in the open!), Elie and Shira.




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