Report by Yochanan Afek
The Israeli 41st Chess Championship and the 34th Women national championship were held on December 5-13 in the southern city of Arad with a prize fund of 110 thousands NIS. Arad (not to confuse with the Romanian city Arad) is located on the border of the Negev and the Judean Deserts, 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of the Dead Sea and 45 kilometers (28 miles) east of the city of Beer Sheba.
32 players, including 7 GMs, 9 IMs and 11 FMs competed in a 9 Swiss rounds open category, which saw an impressive success of the young guard. The surprising winner was IM Ido Gorshtein (20) with 7.5 points, a point ahead of runners-up FM Ori Kochavi (18) and GM Avital Boruchovsky (25) 6.5 points each. All three medalists emerged unbeaten, leaving behind, among others, five experienced GMs who, despite leading the starting list, failed to challenge the run of the leader to a first title. A GM norm was scored by Ido Gorshtein (final) and Ori Kochavi.
10 ladies took part in the all play all women championship. Two players were well ahead of the field in the starting list. The reigning champion Yuliya Shvayger managed to defend her title unbeaten with 7.5 / 9, half a point ahead of her main rival IM Marsel Efroimski. Marsel, the highest rated Israeli woman was seeking a first title, however unexpectedly lost her penultimate round game. Consequently, she had to settle for the second place on 7 points, ahead of WFM Ronit Levitan 6.5 etc.
The one visually impaired player in the field. FM Alexey Streltsov scored 4 points and won the brilliancy prize for his magnificent sacrificial win against FM Benny Aizenberg in round eight.
The championships were organized by Israel Chess Federation, with the support of Mifal Hapais (the national lottery) and the municipality of Arad. Chief arbiter was IA Alon Shulman.
Photos by: Dr. Mark Livshitz