Israel takes on Iran - in chess

2010-10-21 22:13

Tel Aviv - An Israeli chess grand master on Thursday began a marathon chess match against 520 players in an attempt to beat the Guinness record for simultaneous chess games, currently held by Iran.

The tournament began under a blazing midday sun in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square with grand master Alik Gershon shaking hands with every single player as he walked along rows of tables lined with chess boards.

In order to set the world record, the Ukrainian-born Gershon has to win at least 80% of the games.

"I'm going to be breaking the Guinness world record for the biggest simultaneous chess game. The record today belongs to an Iranian grand master on 500 boards," Gershon told AFP.

"I'm going to make it 520 and hopefully I will win over 80% of the games."

Training for the event, which is likely to continue through the night and into Friday morning, was purely physical and included a lot of jogging and swimming, the 30-year-old 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.

Mahjoob set the current record of 500 games in August 2009 in a feat which took him 18 hours 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."