The Israeli Embassy in Canberra, together with the Israeli chess club, Chess4All Club, Director Lior Eisenberg and in partnership with the Eitan Neishlos Family, held a first-of-its-kind international chess tournament to celebrate the warm relations and friendship between Israel and Australia while strengthening ties between people from such geographically distant countries.
Two hundred and twenty-one participants took part in this event including over a dozen Grand Masters and International Masters from both countries.
This unique event is part of the Chess4Solidarity initiative, established with the objective of connecting people from different countries, building bridges and enhancing solidarity through the game of chess.
In times of social distancing and growing isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online chess platforms gained unexpected popularity and attracted numerous new and existing aficionadas, also thanks to the immense success of the Netflix series Gambit Queen.
The Australian event was the 16th in a series of very successful events that have taken place in various different countries, in collaboration with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli missions across the globe. Finland, Russia, Ecuador, Chile and the USA to name a few, but also Bhutan, Sudan and Morocco who have recently established diplomatic ties with Israel.
The people-to-people connection in those tournaments were especially moving.
This complex event, also due to the time difference between the countries, was certainly one of the most successful in the Chess4Solidarity series.
Participants from Israel and Australia competed together in 3 levels, according to their ranks with live commentary by Israeli GM Nitzan Steinberg and Australian IM Leonid Sandler, Vice president of the Australian Chess Association.
The event was broadcast live on the Embassy’s and the Chess4All Facebook pages and was opened with official greetings by Jonathan Peled, the Israeli interim Ambassador to Australia and his counterpart Paul Griffiths, the Australian Ambassador to Israel.
Warm greetings were also posted on social media during the week leading to the tournament on behalf of Australian MP Josh Burns and actress and model Lee Levi.
Among the participants were the new Israeli champion, GM Victor Mikhalevsky and Moulthun Ly, one of the nine biggest Masters in Australia today.
Another Australian participant was David Adler, President of the Australian Jewish Association, who had the pleasure to get back to one of his favourite old hobbies and play the tournament.
The event lasted about 2.5 hours, including the opening and closing ceremonies and since the main goal of the tournament is to build solidarity and strengthen the friendship between the countries, six prizes were awarded to the three best Australian players three best Israeli players.
A special prize, named the Queen’s Gambit Award, was given to the best preforming female player and awarded to Israeli Marsel Efroimski, and Israeli champion and member of the National chess team.
The tournament was broadcast live on various Facebook pages, including that of the Embassy in Canberra receiving thousands of views.