Medal in reach for Israeli chess team
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
The Israeli men’s national chess team, making a bid for its first-ever medal in the Chess Olympiad, lost in the penultimate round to No. 2-ranked Ukraine in Dresden on Sunday night, 21⁄2 to 11⁄2.
Israel, which The Associated Press reported “played the role of David,” defeated reigning champion Armenia 21⁄2-11⁄2. on Saturday, catapulting itself into the lead position.
The relatively young Israeli team, seeded eighth in the world ranking, stunned the top-seeded Armenians, with Israeli Grandmaster Boris Gelfand upsetting the world’s seventh-ranked player, Levon Aronian of Armenia.
Gelfand, 40, a former world champion, is currently ranked 20 in the world. His junior teammate, Maxim Rodshtein, a 19-year-old grandmaster himself, provided the second Israeli victory by defeating Tigran L. Petrosian (no relation to the late world champion Tigran V. Petrosian).
The Israeli team had previously defeated Germany in Round 8, the home team’s first loss in the competition.
A total of 156 teams are competing, and 152 countries are represented at the Olympiad, which opened on November 12, including a who’s who of the grandmaster chess world.
Some of the internationally famous chess players playing are Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Nigel D. Short of Britain, and American Gata Kamsky.
A women’s chess competition involving 119 teams is running parallel to the men’s matches.
The Israeli women’s team, which is seeded 21, scored a stellar number of victories, defeating the seventh-ranked US squad, and beating the Bosnian team 3-1.
According to the Olympiad chess Web site, the Israeli women’s team has advanced in the course of the games to a No. 17 ranking, and decisively defeated Montenegro on Sunday. During the matches, Olga Vasiliev and Bella Igla accumulated a series of impressive victories for the Israeli team.
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– GM Susan Polgar