Trip to Israel

A few days after coming home from Cuba I left for Israel, to play in the Israeli League and have a session with GM Alex Huzman. The way that it worked out, I got to Israel before Alex did. Alex was on Team Gelfand for his Candidates Matches in Kazan, where Gelfand won three tough matches to earn the right to challenge Anand for the World Championship Title in 2012. Boris (Gelfand) played the best chess in Kazan, and showed to have the best nerves. I would recommend to watch his won games against Mamedyarov and Grischuk. His win on the Black side of the Najdorf was an incredibly eventful game, where White resigned while being completely dominated yet being up a rook! Congratulations to the whole Gelfand Team for a remarkable result.

Back to me now. I played a total of 4 games for Hapoel Kfar Saba. The team included GM Rozentalis, who often visits Canada. The only problem was that the two of us could not play together because only one foreign player was allowed in each team per match.

The League was different from anything else I have played this year, with games played on Friday and Saturday mornings at 10am. Each match is played at a different venue, which means that a commute before the game is very standard. I flew into Israel on May 26th, and was already playing games on the 27th and 28th in the early morning. I scored a total of 3 out of 4 in the games, winning against FM Pasman and GM Manor, while drawing games against GMs Khmelniker and Abergel.

The league is mainly an amateur one, with two professional teams. The Beer Sheva and Ashdod clubs acquired all of the professional players in Israel and compete for the title each year. This year, it was Beer Sheva’s year, as they won first place. Their lineup includes GMs Roiz, Rodshtein, Huzman, Postny, Nabaty, and Greenfeld. I was able to help Kfar Saba clinch third place.

The League was a nostalgic experience for me. I saw a lot of people that I have not seen in many years, like my former trainer, FM Mark Ruderfer, or people that I grew up with, like IM Kaplan and GM Rodshtein, who I competed with when I was still living in Israel. My team also included a lot of guys who I looked up to as I was growing up, like GM Gershon, and IMs Kundin and Gaby Livshits. I have always enjoyed my trips to Israel. I wouldn’t call it home, but I wouldn’t call it a foreign country either, having lived there for 6 years. I also got a rare opportunity to practice my Hebrew while I was over there.

The World Open is next for me. That starts in 10 days. Some exciting news are to come before that…