Round 1 Recap

Netanya chess festival is underway

Netanya international chess festival was opened in the reception hall of the city’s municipal soccer stadium with public figures and 154 players from ten countries. The opening ceremony was attended by the lady mayor of the city, Mrs. Miriam Feiberg-Ikar; minister Zeev Elkin; Maj. Gen. (Res.) Uzi Dayan MK; Moshe Slav, Chairman of the Israeli Chess Federation and Gil Boruchovsky, CEO of the Chess Federation.
Veterans Yoel Aloni and IMs Shimon Kagan, Leon Lederman, Avraham Kaldor and Nathan Birnboim, received special awards for their achievements in Netanya’s past festivals. You may read about those memorable events here:

Netanya Chess Tournament History

A single win in the ‘Masters’

The festival consists of 2 main categories, the strongest of their kind in the history of Israeli chess. In the main section, the Masters, 10 GMs take part – five of the world’s elite players alongside the top five Israeli players. Their average rating of 2677 forms a super tournament of category 18 tournament, the strongest classical chess individual event ever held in the country.  More details about them may be found here:

Participants – Masters


The first and only victory to be scored in the first round was scored by Englishman Luke McShane who took advantage of a fatal error in an equal yet tricky position committed by his opponent Maxim Rodshtein.  The other four games, Gelfand-Dubov; Svidler-Dominguez; Eljanov-Postny and Nabaty-Smirin, ended in a draw.

Nabaty was actually the only one to miss a real winning chance. Even deep in the final rook ending he could still force a study- like win:



The witty win remained behind the scenes 66.g5! Rh4+ 67.Kf3 Rxh5 68.Rxe3+ Kd4 69.Re4+ Kd5 70.Ra4! Ke5 (70…Rxh5 71. Ra5+) 71.Kg4+-

66…e2 67.g5 Kd2 68.Kf5 Re3 69.Rxe3 Kxe3 70.h7 e1Q 71.h8Q Qb1+ 72.Ke6 Qb6+ 73.Kf7 Qb7+ 74.Kg6 Qe4+ 75.Kf7 Qd5+ 76.Kg6 Qe4+  Draw


The top rated players met already in the first round: Linier Dominguez  Perez  (right) vs. Peter Svidler

A typical first round in the open

Photo: The open section- general view

144 players from 9 countries compete in the powerful open section of the festival  including 22 GMs and 14 IMs. The leading players are

Grandmasters 1.Anton Korobov ( 2687); 2. Yuri Kozubov (2671); 3. Alexander Moiseenko (2642), all three Ukrainians and  4. Mircea-Emilian Perlegras 2638 (Romania) 5. Zachar  Efimenko 2632 (Ukraine again). The 3 leading Israelis in the early rankings are all Beer Sheva Club players: Michael Roiz 2603; Alexander Khuzman 2588 and Victor Mikhalevsky 2579. Two other prominent players, also from the Beer Sheva Club, are the current Israeli champions Alon Greenfeld and Yuliya Shvaiger. The oldest participant is Vladimir Lomkin (86);

The youngest is the girl Evelina Kaharova( 8).

Photo: The youngest participant in the open, Evelina Kaharova,

As expected most of the favourites were victorious in the first round of the open The most prominent  upset them was the loss of the IM Nimrod Weinberg to Daniel Leib, some 500 points lower in the starting rankings . IMs David Gorodetsky, Roman Bar and Alex Krayz dropped half a point each against significantly inferior opponents

The preliminary ranking of all the participants in the Open Competition can be seen here:

As is often the case in many open tournaments all players in one group, there were huge gaps between the opponents in the first round and the number of surprises was thus pretty small. The next game between Elad Cohen and the Moldovan GM Dmitry Svetushkin  reached the following rook ending

After 56…Rg3+ White had 4 retreating options for his king. 3 of them secured a fairly simple draw yet White went for the fourth most aggressive one:

  1. Kd4?? Rf3 58.Rf7

White seemed to successfully protect all his weaknesses however a common ending theme- exchanges to win the pawn ending- frustrated his efforts.

58…Rxf4+! 59.Rxf4 e5+ 60. Ke3 exf4+ White resigned .

Following 61. Kxf4 Kc5 62.Ke3 Kc4 63.Kd2 Kd4! Black seizes the opposition and white, on move, is in a deadly Zugzwang.


Surprising guests Many guests attended the opening round. Particularly surprising was the presence of the veteran American GM Boris Golko and his wife WGM Anna Akhashromova. He was the champion of the Soviet Union in 1977 and the champion of the United States in 1994 and 1999. She was the women’s champion in the USSR in 1976 and 1984 and the American women champion 1987. Three months ago they immigrated to Israel and settled in Jerusalem!  In the photo: Your correspondent in Netanya with the new immigrants Boris Gulko and Anna Akhsharumova with your correspondent in Netanya

All festival results may be seen here:


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