Jews might not dominate when it comes to hockey, rugby, or other contact sports, but they've always kicked butt at the intellectual ones - especially chess. The ages-old board game, wildly popular over the last century and a half among the Jews of Europe and one of the few secular pursuits widely embraced by Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodoxy, boasts a roster of all-time champions that's fully 45% Semitic - including the late, awkwardly Jew-hating wackjob Bobby Fischer.
it's only fitting that the Jewish capital should play host to yet another international chess competition this summer, with Jerusalem-based organization Jeru-Chess getting involved once again with the planning. Chess felps to foment good qualities among its players, insists Alon Cohen-Revivo, 2008’s Jerusalem Chess Champion and Jeru-Chess's head. "I
listen for the unmet needs of my pupils, what they need to improve. I
also try to give a feeling of self-confidence, ability to contain and
understand complexity, and, of course, pure chess knowledge," he explained to The Jerusalem Post in recent months.
This week, at 17:00 on July 15th, under the mantle of the 18th Maccabiah (the "Jewish Olympics"), competition kicks off inside City Hall at Safra Square. International Israeli chess sensation Boris Gelfand is set to face off against 31 other participants. These include local champions from many age brackets, as well as VIPs like Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital Deputy Director General Yossi Granot and celebrated kibbutznik-poet Yoram Taharlev.
If you'd like to witness, or even go up against, Israel's reigning shachmat masters - or you just want to to get your kids into more intellectual pursuits - check out the full schedule of the competition (unfortunately only available in Hebrew). It's cerebral fun for the whole family.