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Arab team beats Israelis in online chess tournament

An international blitz chess tournament has been held online during which a team made up of Arab players competed against Israelis, the Jerusalem Post has reported.

While the coronavirus outbreak has forced most sports around the world to shut down, including the Tokyo Olympics which have been postponed until next year, chess remains one of the few games able to continue online.

Lior Aizenberg organised the event on Wednesday together with Alon Cohen of the Jeruchess Club.

During the competition, an Israeli team named chess4all played against other teams including players from Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan, as well Lebanon.

Although registered to participate, a team from Iran eventually did not take part due to technical reasons. These countries normally boycott Israel as a result of the ongoing military occupation of Palestinian land.

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"Sport is a wonderful thing to get people together and build ties," said Aizenberg. "We plan to continue to connect people through chess and we hope that through this initiative we will continue to succeed in doing so."

In 2017, the Israel Chess Federation spokesman fought a Saudi ban on the Israeli national team taking part in the World Blitz and Rapid Championship in Riyadh. The ban led eventually to the championship being relocated to Russia.

Moreover, last year, two Iranian chess champions refused to play against Israelis at the 2019 World Youth and Junior Chess Championships.

According to the Times of Israel, the Arab countries put out a strong team at the online tournament, including top ranked players who Aizenberg requested not to be named in order to protect their identity in case of any repercussions. They beat Israel 371-311.

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