Israel beats Iran - in chess war

2010-10-22 14:10

Tel Aviv - An Israeli chess grandmaster took the Guinness record for simultaneous chess games from the Jewish state's arch-foe Iran on Friday after a marathon 19-hour match against 520 players.

A Guinness representative confirmed the new record on Israeli army radio.

Alik Gershon, 30, won 86% of the games he played against amateurs in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. He needed to win at least 80% to seal the record, which previously stood at 500 simultaneous games.

The tournament began under the blazing midday sun on Thursday with Gershon shaking hands with every single player as he walked along rows of tables lined with chess boards.

Training for the event, which continued through the night and into Friday morning, was purely physical and included a lot of jogging and swimming, the former Israeli champion said.

"There are a lot of kilometres to walk and you have to stay focused," he said, noting that his Iranian rival Morteza Mahjoob walked 40km to secure his record.

‘Make all wars on chess board’

Mahjoob set the current record in August 2009 in a feat which took him 18 hours and with less than five seconds for each move.

"Hopefully all our wars against Iran will be on the chess board," said a smiling Gershon. "For such wars, I am prepared."

In the real world of geo-politics, Iran and Israel are arch-enemies.

Along with the United States and other powers, Israel accuses Iran of using its nuclear energy programme to hide efforts to produce an atomic bomb, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

And Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is notorious for his oft-repeated denials of the Nazi Holocaust and for saying that the Jewish state will one day be wiped off the map.