Chess grandmaster 'insanely satisfied' by world record of 527 simultaneous games


AN ISRAELI grandmaster entered the Guinness Book of World Recordsyesterday, playing 527 games of chess simultaneously.

It took Alik Gershon (30), an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, 19 hours to break the previous record, set last year by an Iranian.

A representative from Guinness in Britain was on hand to ensure that Mr Gershon won at least 80 per cent of the games and that his opponents were playing chess at a sufficiently high level. The new record holder won 454 games (86 per cent) and lost 11. Fifty-eight ended in a draw and two were disqualified.

Mr Gershon, a former national chess champion, spent months in tough physical training ahead of the challenge at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

He said he felt “tired but insanely satisfied” after clinching the record.

The event received particular attention in the Israeli media due to the existing record having been set in Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy in the region. “Breaking a record and vanquishing the Iranians is a wonderful feeling,” Mr Gershon said. “Hopefully all our wars against Iran will be on the chessboard.”

The chess challenge was organised by the Jewish Agency to commemorate 20 years since the massive wave of immigration to Israel by Jews from the former Soviet Union. The one million Russian-speakers in Israel make up 15 per cent of the population.

Nick Kopaloff, director of the Netanya chess club, said Soviet immigrants had made a dramatic impact on the local chess scene, helping Israel to finish third and second respectively in the last two chess Olympiads. He said “they have raised the local game to new levels of excellence”.