JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli chess grandmaster bested an Iranian’s world record by playing 527 ranked chess players simultaneously in Tel Aviv and winning 87 percent of the games.
Alik Gershon began playing the concurrent matches on Thursday morning in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in an attempt to break the Guinness simultaneous chess world record set in 2009 by the Iranian grandmaster Morteza Mahjoub. Gershon completed the games by early Friday.
The event is sponsored by the Jewish Agency and the Israel Chess Federation to mark the 20th anniversary of the mass aliyah from the former Soviet Union. Natan Sharansky, a former prisoner of Zion and now the chairman of the Jewish Agency, attended.
Many of Gershon’s opponents, who are registered and ranked by the Israel Chess Federation, as per the requirements of the Guinness Book of Records, are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Gershon, 30, is a native of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, who immigrated to Israel in 1990.
Public figures are among those watching the matches, which are under the close scrutiny of a judge representing the Guinness Book of Records. To set the world record, Gershon must win at least 80 percent of the games. Mahjoub’s record is 500 games.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky played a match with Gershon at the beginning of the event.
Gershon began to learn chess at age 2 and by 5 was competing. He became an Israeli youth champion, won the world championship in 1994 for youth up to age 14, and became Israeli champion in 2000.