Rich As A King

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The largest chess club in the World in Sharjah (UAE)

The largest chess club in the World in Sharjah (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates have many landmarks famous all around the world, including the tallest man-made structure Burj Khalifa, the world’s biggest mall, the Dubai Mall, the JW Marriott Marquis, the world’s tallest hotel, and show the remarkable growth of a country as a business hub and tourist destination.

It’s not surprising that the largest chess club in the world is also placed in the UAE.

The Sharjah Cultural and Chess Club was established by Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, the ruler of Sharjah, more than one year ago and was officially opened on March 28, 2013.

The Sharjah Chess Club covers an area of 34,000 cubic feet, including the main hall which can accommodate up to 500 players.

Besides two huge playing areas there are many class rooms, library, VIP room, regional FIDE office etc. One can find here all possible modern equipment and devises invented in the chess world.

Sergey Tiviakov wins Canadian Open on tie-break over Van Kampen

The 2014 Canadian Open (Championnat ouvert du Canada) was held on 19-26th July in the “Grand Salon” of the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, in Montreal.

The 9-round Swiss tournament was organized by the Quebec Chess Federation and merged with the Quebec Open.

The total prize fund is $25,000, with $20,000 guaranteed. 42 players competed in the main section.

Dutch Grandmasters Sergey Tiviakov, Robin Van Kampen, and GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran have shared the first place with 6,5/9 points each. Tiviakov took the winner’s trophy and top prize of $4000 on best tie-break score.

Tournament website

Final standings (top finishers):

1 GM Tiviakov Sergey NED 2656 – 6.5
2 GM Van Kampen Robin NED 2636 – 6.5
3 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan IRI 2586 – 6.5

4 GM Kovalyov Anton CAN 2636 – 6
5 GM Moradiabadi Elshan IRI 2593 – 6
6 GM De Firmian Nick USA 2509 – 6

7 GM Hansen Eric CAN 2596 – 5.5
8 GM Fedorowicz John Peter USA 2422 – 5.5
9 GM Sambuev Bator CAN 2526 – 5.5
10 IM Xiong Jeffery USA 2441 – 5.5
11 IM Sevian Samuel USA 2464 – 5.5

12 FM Preotu Razvan CAN 2341 – 5
13 IM Gerzhoy Leonid CAN 2481 – 5
14 FM Taborsky Rostislav CZE 2193 – 5
15 FM Cao Jason CAN 2177 – 5
16 IM Wang Richard CAN 2365 – 5
17 IM Cheng Bindi CAN 2410 – 5
18 FM Humphreys Michael CAN 2129 – 5
19 GM Vera Gonzalez-Quevedo Reynaldo CUB 2468 – 5
20 Rodriguez Adrien FRA 2203 – 5

21 IM Panjwani Raja CAN 2432 – 4.5
22 FM Gentes Kevin CAN 2261 – 4.5
23 IM Perez Garcia Rodney Oscar CUB 2357 – 4.5
24 IM Ruiz Sanchez Orlen CUB 2465 – 4.5
25 FM Leveille Francois CAN 2281 – 4

CEO of MyHeritage Gilad Japhet: Steinitz was related to Lasker

Mr Gilad Japhet, the organizer of the 2nd Gideon Japhet Memorial Chess Tournament, son of Gideon Japhet, founder and CEO of – one of the most popular websites connecting people using genealogy, agreed on an exclusive interview for Chessdom.

It reveals much about the great festival in Yerusalem, including chess stars Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler. Find out interesting facts about the life of Gideon Japhet and the relation between the first and second World Chess Champions Wilhelm Steinitz and Emanuel Lasker!

Chessdom: Dear Mr. Gilad Japhet, you organized the “Gideon Japhet Memorial Chess Tournament” in honor of your father Gideon Japhet for the second consecutive year. Are you happy with the turnout this year and do you feel that the tournament is growing?

Gilad Japhet: First I would like mention that this chess tournament is not organized by me alone. It is the fruit of my cooperation with the Jeruchess club of Jerusalem led by Alon Cohen-Revivo.

I am providing ideas, funding and organizational capabilities and Jeruchess are responsible for all the professional chess aspects. Many other people are helping out. In this tournament I am trying to bring approaches from the Israeli hi-tech industry into the chess world.

Yes, I am very happy with the turnout this year, and the tournament is indeed growing well, and we are learning a great deal in the process. Last year my father Gideon passed away in March and we decided to have a chess tournament in his memory just two months later, and made it happen in less than 3 months.

The idea was not just to have an open chess tournament with several categories, but to initiate a new tradition of an annual chess festival which will be host to many chess activities, a celebration for chess fans. I insisted on doing this in Jerusalem because my father was born in Jerusalem and lived there all his life.

In the first year the chess festival included a simultaneous exhibition with grandmaster Alexander Khuzman and it also hosted the finals of Israel’s chess problem solving championship.

As an anecdote, I’ll mention that grandmaster Khuzman played a simultaneous exhibition about a decade ago in Jerusalem not long after beating world champion Kasparov in 2003, and my father Gideon was invited as one of the oldest players in Jerusalem (76). To everyone’s surprise my father scored a draw against Khuzman (everyone else lost) and this was my father’s best achievement in chess ever of which he was very proud. So I approached grandmaster Khuzman and asked him if he would honor my father by playing a simultaneous in a tournament in his memory to which Khuzman, who remembered my father, immediately agreed.

Other innovations we added were beauty prizes for each round of the tournament, flowers that were decorating the playing hall throughout the tournament, and generous refreshments served free throughout all days of the tournament. When it comes to the memory of my father, I wanted everything to be perfect.

102 players participated in the first event and feedback was remarkably positive. Hence we decided on the spot to continue this in 2014. This year we had much more time for preparations and our goal was to double the tournament in all respects, to not go back on anything we had in the first year, simply add more. Our goal was to double the number of players, extend the main tournament from 5 to 9 rounds, and double the prize fund too.

Due to the war in Israel these days we’ve had some cancellations and some players were unable to attend, so we didn’t fully meet the doubling of the tournament to 200 players, but we came extremely close at 192, and we consider this a great achievement given the unfortunate circumstances. I didn’t for a moment consider cancelling the tournament, as I think chess and sports should stand above conflict. In chess the battles take place only on the board and opponents respect each other, this is a great inspiration for real life.

The highlight of the tournament this year was the Gelfand-Svidler duel which was added to elevate the event nationally and internationally. But we also added an Amateurs category to the open tournaments to attract unrated players, true to my father’s philosophy that chess is an excellent educational tool.

To create champions one has to first create a wide foundation by making chess a popular activity, so a tournament should also attract first-timers and young chess players not only veteran players who are already deep into the game.

This year we added a website in 3 languages (English, Hebrew and Russian), live video broadcasts, interviews and game commentaries, thousands of photos taken daily and uploaded to Facebook same day, we provided a game analysis room for the players and took care of even small aspects like ensuring that every player had his name and rating printed next to the board, not just for the leading players but even for complete beginners – to give everyone a sense of pride. All this on top of all the features and activities we had in the chess festival in its first year, to make this year’s event even better than the first.

Once again feedback has been remarkable and this is very rewarding for the efforts and funds I invested, fueling my desire to continue this tradition.

Chessdom: The highlight of the event – the Rapid Duel between two top chess players: Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler definitely increased international recognition of the “Gideon Japhet Memorial”. Do you plan to invite the players next year as well?

Gilad Japhet: Yes. We now feel that we have the capability to invite super GMs and give them the best possible conditions, and so we see this as something we should repeat in the future as well.

Maybe even grow from the 1:1 duel we had this year, to a mini-tournament of 3 super GMs playing each other, etc. The concept of inviting 2 or 3 of the world’s elite players and having them play each other in rapid chess in front of a live appreciating audience and broadcasted live to the Internet has proven to create a healthy interest and buzz and we would be happy to repeat it.

We’ll be happy to have Gelfand and Svidler again if their schedules allow it, and we will consider inviting additional top players as well.

Chessdom: The video interviews with the match participants at the press conferences were quite entertaining and it seems like the players were more relaxed than at the usual post-mortems at top-level tournaments. How did you manage to make Boris and Peter feel at ease after obviously stressful games? (VIDEO INTERVIEW 1, 2, 3 and 4; VIDEO INTERVIEW 5 and 6; VIDEO INTERVIEW 7 and 8)

Gilad Japhet: This is thanks to the pleasant personalities of Gelfand and Svidler. These are not only great minds at the chess board but also great people beyond the chess board.

I met Gelfand prior to this tournament at his initiative, he had heard about me from his trainer, grandmaster Khuzman and asked for us to meet. My chemistry with Gelfand was immediate. Gelfand is amazingly humble and is such a good man. We found that we share the same vision of advancing chess in Israel.

Having a rapid chess duel in the Gideon Japhet Memorial was Gelfand’s idea which I embraced. We brainstormed who would be a good candidate to invite to play against Gelfand, and Svidler was his recommendation, which I also accepted. Svidler was invited and agreed and the details were worked out.

Thank you for describing the interviews as entertaining and refreshing. I think this is because I decided to conduct these interviews myself, and I am inexperienced in this – I’ve never conducted any chess interviews in my life or any other interview for that matter. So I didn’t follow any rules or protocols , which is why they came out different.

I also applied some typical Israeli “Chutzpah” – figuring that as I am the host of this tournament, they will really do their best to answer my questions – so why not ask them some non-conventional questions that many people are curious about but no one else would dare ask such revered players?

The end result are a series of 8 interviews which not only include a detailed analysis of their games but also expose an interesting window into the personal worlds of these great players, something lovers of chess may appreciate.

Chessdom: A lot of side events, such as a public lecture by Gelfand and Svidler and a simultaneous exhibition delivered by GM Alexander Huzman, were provided during the chess festival in Jerusalem. Do you think it inspired young chess players? Did you get any feedback from the participants?

Gilad Japhet: Almost all 192 players who participated in the tournament in all its categories, plus grandmasters Gelfand and Svidler, wrote and signed a dedication in a special album that was given to me as a surprise at the closing ceremony.

This is a gift I will treasure for the rest of my life and the feedback there was amazing. Reading all the inscriptions, It would be going too far to say we have changed peoples’ lives, but we have certainly touched them and inspired them, and provided a very meaningful experience for many.

A large number of the players were young children – and it is clear that the tournament has been an inspiring event for many of them. Hopefully we also raised the bar in Israel as to what a chess tournament should be like.

We have already summarized the tournament and created a long list of improvements we wish to make in the future based on lessons learned, and new features that we are thinking of adding in subsequent years of this tournament.

Chessdom: Did “Gideon Japhet Memorial” have a media and/or social impact in Israel beyond the chess circles?

Gilad Japhet: In the first year of the tournament we invited the Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, and were happy when he sent us a video greeting for the opening and also visited in person during the tournament.

This year we invited him again, and even invited the Israeli prime minister and 2 other members of parliament whom we know are interested in chess. Unfortunately the tournament took place at a time of war and none of these invitees visited the tournament.

Nevertheless this year we received some nice media coverage in Israel and even nicer coverage in international chess websites such as

We have created some new connections which we hope will allow us to expand media exposure even more in the years ahead. Part of our vision is to make chess more mainstream so media coverage is vital in making this happen.

Next year we will be looking to have more players coming from other countries. The tournament has caused some amateur players to come closer to appreciate chess as a more serious pastime and for some it has caused a return to chess after many years of departure.

Since I believe that chess is positive for the mind and soul, activities that promote chess are beneficial and so this festival has fully served its purpose in my mind.

Chessdom: Could you tell us about your father and his devotion to chess?

Gilad Japhet: My father Gideon Japhet was a lifelong chess player and a great lover of chess. He was not a grandmaster or master. He was pretty good, but there were stronger players. He simply loved the game and played it for several hours a day, most of his life and very heavily in the last 25 years.

He learned chess from his own father at a relatively young age. There are pictures of him as a child, learning from chess books. His father believed greatly in the combination of body and brain development and therefore taught him chess, and quickly the apprentice outdid his master.

Gideon Japhet – a lover of chess and sports

Chess was very substantial in his life and the way he looked at people. He considered the game as developing the intellect and patience. My father would divide the world into two: those who played chess and those who did not. Every person who came to our house, he was immediately interested in whether or not he played chess. For example, friends and potential boyfriends of my older sisters were measured according to whether they played chess and were treated by my father accordingly!

Indeed, his great love for chess may have even affected his choice of marrying my mother, Prof. Sara Japhet, who several years ago has won the prestigious Israel Prize for her achievements in biblical research. Though she did not play chess herself, her uncle (mother’s brother), was Dr. Menachem Oren. In 1951 Dr. Oren won Israel’s first chess championship and my father really admired him for it. And that was the uncle of the girl he was seeing, so it won my mother special points in his eyes.

In his profession, my father was a lawyer. He studied law at the Sorbonne in Paris and when he returned to Israel he established an independent law office that flourished for more than 50 years, and focused on the niche clientele of the Arabs in East Jerusalem. He spoke fluent Arabic and became the first Jewish lawyer who represented this population. During the years he was a very famous attorney in Jerusalem.

When he was 60+ years old, and with his career more established, he increased the volume of playing chess and spent several hours each day with chess. He played everyone – relatives, friends, neighbors and professional chess players. He regularly visited Jerusalem chess clubs, where he met and became friends with Dr. Aryeh Leib Mohilever, one of the founders of chess in Israel.

My father pushed me to become a chess player too. I was sent to learn chess with an instructor and played in youth tournaments. But at some point I disappointed my father severely at about age 13 when I stopped playing. Although he thought I should become a champion and it should be the direction of my life, I thought otherwise and chose computers instead. I told him that chess is a game and computers are an occupation. He argued with me but I stopped playing for 30 years. I returned to the game to my father’s great joy in the last year of his life, when he was very sick, and I did this to make him happy. He encouraged all his grandchildren to learn chess. Any time they would come to his home to visit, the chessboard would be pulled out and he would coach them. No one would get away… All his grandchildren learned chess and some of them became quite accomplished. Even today there is another rising star in the family, the fruit of my father’s training, when one of his grandsons, Eyal Bialik, is very successful in chess tournaments.

The success of this chess festival in memory of my father is very important to me. I would like people to participate, play chess, enjoy, and remember my father. Too bad that only he was missing, because I have no doubt that he would have been delighted to participate in such an event.

Gideon Japhet playing chess with his grandchildren

Chessdom: You are the CEO of one of the most popular websites in the world – MyHeritage. We are very interested to know how you came up with the idea of connecting people using genealogy and whether you were surprised with the popularity that the website obtained over the years.

Gilad Japhet: Yes, I am the founder and CEO of MyHeritage, an online family history network, since I started it from my home in 2003.

Now more than 11 years since, MyHeritage has grown to 165 employees, and more than 70 million registered users, who have collectively built 27 million family trees with more than 1.5 billion profiles in them.

The website is available in 40 languages and is helping people discover their ancestry and share it with their family and friends all over the world. Genealogy has been a passionate hobby of mine, along with chess, since a very young age.

The idea to create a startup company around genealogy came to my mind after I was unable to find a sufficiently good online system for family trees that would handle my own family. There was no good online service then for family history that was multilingual, and no website offered face recognition for historical photos, which is something I wanted to have.

So I started programming my own as a hobby, and within a year I decided to make my hobby into my job and start a company around it. My vision was to connect the world into a single family tree and create technologies that could make automatic discoveries for the users and resolve mysteries from the past thanks to technology and big data.

Fast forward 11 years and plenty of very hard work, I have been blessed to assemble a fantastic team to fulfill this vision, and MyHeritage has been growing wonderfully and helping people enjoy the passion of family history, and bring their families closer together.

I am pleased that this is successful, but the popularity of genealogy is not surprising. This is something very core to the human experience, family connections have always been important in human society, and will probably forever remain so.

Chessdom: Do you know of any strong chess players (contemporary or from the past) that are related to each other? Perhaps MyHeritage could help in discovering if such links exist? :)

Gilad Japhet: Yes. In fact, all people are related to each other (via blood and marriage) and it’s only a matter of finding the connections. Perhaps if we knew all these connections we would treat each other a little better. For example, for this article I have a scoop for you.

I studied whether Wilhelm Steinitz, the world’s first chess champion, was related to Emanuel Lasker who was the second world chess champion and took over Steinitz. Both of them were Jewish so I figured they might actually be closely related, something that was never realized until now. The answer is affirmative! The two of them are related although I don’t think they realized it themselves back then!

Here is the precise connection between Lasker and Steinitz:

This was discovered through, a family history service owned and operated by MyHeritage.

It would be fun to continue this and trace whether Magnus Carlsen is related to Viswanathan Anand or Boris Gelfand. Anyone can join and, add his own family tree and try to find whether those chess champions and all other people are related to him or her.

There are obviously many other good reasons for studying one’s family history, and associating oneself with celebrity chess players is only one motivation…

In general I do see a link that connects between my two passions of hi-tech and chess. They both require study, dedication, innovation and attention to detail, and success comes from careful strategic planning followed by perfect execution.

GM Adhiban tops 47th Biel Master

The 47th Biel Chess Festival 2014 included a 11-round Swiss Master Tournament that was taking part on 14-25th July 2014.

Indian GM Adhiban emerged a clear winner with 8,5/11 points, defeating Turkish GM Dragan Solak with black pieces in the last round and deservedly grabbed the first prize of 7.000 CHF.

Second place was shared in a seven-way tie by GM Victor Mikhalevski (ISR), GM Mateusz Bartel (POL), GM Aleksandr Rakhmanov (RUS), GM Samuel Shankland(USA), GM Benjamin Bok (NED), GM Dariusz Swiercz (POL) and GM Viktor Erdos (HUN) on 7,5 points each, but Mikhalevski and Bartel took the silver and bronze on superior tie-break score.

The Swiss championship U18 was a part of the Master Tournament.

FM Studer Noel lifted the trophy among youth with 6.5/11 points and 21st place in the Master Tournament.

Second place was shared by FM Lars Rindlisbacher, Grandadam Patrik and Hoang,Harry on 6 points each, but Rindlisbacher claimed second on superior tie-break score.

Official website

Top standings after 11 rounds:

1. GM Adhiban,B 2610 IND 8.5
2. GM Mikhalevski,Victor 2539 ISR 7.5
3. GM Bartel,Mateusz 2644 POL 7.5
4. GM Rakhmanov,Aleksandr 2626 RUS 7.5
5. GM Shankland,Samuel L 2632 USA 7.5
6. GM Bok,Benjamin 2586 NED 7.5
7. GM Swiercz,Dariusz 2617 POL 7.5
8. GM Erdos,Viktor 2648 HUN 7.5
9. GM Sebenik,Matej 2516 SLO 7.0
10. GM Roiz,Michael 2572 ISR 7.0
11. GM Molner,Mackenzie 2504 USA 7.0
12. GM Hera,Imre Jr 2561 HUN 7.0
13. GM Solak,Dragan 2639 TUR 7.0
14. GM Cvitan,Ognjen 2535 CRO 7.0
15. GM Ganguly,Surya Shekhar 2619 IND 7.0
16. GM Banusz,Tamas 2595 HUN 7.0
17. IM Donchenko,Alexander 2499 GER 6.5
18. Antipov,Mikhail Al GM 2502 RUS 6.5
19. Lampert,Jonas 2421 GER 6.5
20. GM Cherniaev,Alexander 2434 RUS 6.5
21. FM Studer,Noel 2375 SUI 6.5
22. FM Rambaldi,Francesco 2444 ITA 6.5
23. WGM Bartel,Marta 2328 POL 6.5
24. GM Gallagher,Joseph G 2484 SUI 6.5
25. Hasenohr,Benedict 2232 SUI 6.5

GM Julio Granda Zuniga claims Andorra Open 2014

Peruvian Grandmaster Julio Granda Zuniga took a clear first place in the 32nd Andorra International Chess Openthat was held on 19-27th July at the Sant Gothard Hotel in Erts (La Massana).

The 9-round Swiss event was organized by the Federació d’Escacs Valls d’Andorra.

Granda Zuniga completed the tournament with 7,5/9 points, half a point ahead of the chasing pack. He took the top prize of 2100 EUR. Full standings below.

Replay games with analysis

The organizers provided many side activities, such as Grand Prix (Blitz tournament) in “Plaça del Poble” (Andorra la Vella), Football tournament, Visit to Caldea – the largest SPA and leisure center in the south of Europe, Argentinian Dinner, BBQ in the pool, etc.

Official website

Final standings (top finishers):

1. Granda Zuniga Julio E GM PER 2674 – 7.5
2. Demuth Adrien IM FRA 2488 – 7
3. Gozzoli Yannick GM FRA 2529 – 7
4. Gretarsson Hjorvar Steinn GM ISL 2535 – 7
5. Tkachiev Vladislav GM FRA 2625 – 7
6. Almeida Quintana Omar GM CUB 2492 – 7
7. Vovk Andrey GM UKR 2616 – 6.5
8. Riff Jean-Noel IM FRA 2482 – 6.5
9. Jerez Perez Alfonso IM ESP 2374 – 6.5
10. Kogan Artur GM ISR 2548 – 6.5
11. Berkovich Mark A IM ISR 2339 – 6.5
12. Glud Jakob Vang IM DEN 2538 – 6.5
13. Arizmendi Martinez Julen Luis GM ESP 2553 – 6.5
14. Comas Fabrego Lluis GM ESP 2512 – 6.5
15. Zumsande Martin IM GER 2430 – 6.5

Sports, Empowerment and War

Sports, Empowerment and War
by Shelby Lyman

The idea of sports as a form of manly empowerment is an old one.

Teddy Roosevelt, a future American president of Rough Riders fame, declared inProfessionalism in Sports (1890): “There is a certain tendency … to underestimate or overlook the need and virile qualities of the heart and mind.”

Three years later, in an essay in Harper’s Weekly titled “The Value of an Athletic Training,” he argued that “manly out-of-door sports” could contribute to the growing role of the U.S. as a world power. Vigorous athletics would help build “courage, resolution and endurance.”

Curiously, the sedentary and minimally physical game of chess also was seen as a form of empowerment by leaders of the revolutionary Soviet society of the 1920s.

In 1963, Rodion Yakovlevich Malinovsky, a Soviet military commander in World War II and minister of defense in the 1950s and 1960s, wrote in Chess in the USSR, “We in the Armed Forces value chess highly because it disciplines a man, helps to increase strength of will and powers of endurance, develops memory and quick-wittedness, and teaches logical thinking.”

Two decades earlier, after months of excruciating and deadly face-to-face combat, Soviet armed forces drove Hitler’s powerful legions back from the gates of Stalingrad, Leningrad and Moscow.

Was training in chess a factor in their victory?


Tromsø Chess Olympiad Video

Relentless, gradually overpowering opponents and never giving up

Chess by Shelby Lyman
on July 26, 2014 - 12:01 AM

Like many great players, Magnus Carlsen has few explicit secrets. In part, because his manner at the chessboard, his play and the games themselves are transparent. There is not much to hide.

In interviews he is ready to talk about his overall approach to the game, perhaps because he feels doing so is likely to intimidate at least as much as help his opponents.

Carlsen’s faith in his powers drives the discourse.

“I’m definitely the best in the world,” he told Shortlist magazine in a May interview. “My approach is based on that confidence. You should be cocky.”

Before he became the world classical champion, Carlsen’s play was raised to a new level by training for most of a year (2009-2010) with the former champion Garry Kasparov.

“The way he understands the dynamics of chess is incredible,” says Carlsen.

Carlsen likes to compare himself to the tennis player Rafael Nadal, “We’re relentless, gradually overpowering our opponent and never giving up.”

Drawing a game with Levon Aronian of Armenia in the recent World Rapid tournament, he commented:

“A very good, interesting game and I had to use all my powers to stay alive.”

Carlsen described another game with Alexander Grischuk as having been “completely in ruins” in the early stages. After “somehow surviving,” Carlsen managed a win.

The win against Grischuk earned Carlsen the World Rapid title.


5th Iberoamerican Individual Chess Championship 2014 LIVE!

British Chess Championship 2014 LIVE!

Politiken Cup Live!

Dutch Open Chess Championship 2014 LIVE!