Questionable record
Photo: Reuters

Israeli chess record bogus?

Officials bent rules to break Iranian Guinness record, investigative report reveals

Israeli officials bent the rules in order to ensure the breaking of a Guinness chess record, Yedioth Ahronoth revealed Friday in a special investigative report.


Last month, local chess grandmaster Alik Gershon was said to have broken a record previously held by Iran in a marathon 19-hour match against more than 500 players.


Yet as it turns out, many of the players who took part in the mega-event did not meet the standards dictated by Guinness World Records.


According to regulations, all players had to be registered members of the local chess association who reached a certain level of playing. However, Yedioth Ahronoth discovered that some 300 of the 525 players were school children, transported to the event on special buses.


Most of the children were not members of the chess association, and some supposedly learned the rules of chess only a day before the competition. Some of the students who were approached by Yedioth Ahronoth were unable to answer fundamental questions about chess.


On top of it, chess officials reportedly made sure that high-level chess players do not participate in the event. Notably, Gershon needed to win more than 80% of the games in order to break the record.


Moreover, the report reveals that the Guinness representative on hand to verify the breaking of the record, Jack Brockbank, only arrived at the site of the event – Tel Aviv's Rabin Square – some five hours after the chess marathon got underway. He later left to his hotel room, only returning to the site towards the end of the competition.


'All regulations were met'  

Israel's chess association, as well as the Jewish Agency – also involved in organizing the event – dismissed the report's findings. They said players in the event were not required to be members of the chess association, but merely, registered by it. They add that all regulations required by Guinness were met.


"The claim that players who don't know how to play chess took part in the game is puzzling, because all participants were players who received chess lessons from certified instructors," an official response read, adding that "according to Guinness rules, there is no obligation to invite their representative to the event, and declarations alone are enough, as other states did in the past."


Notably, the Yedioth Ahronoth report claimed that the previous Iranian chess record was also bogus, as nearly 300 participants in that event were amateurs, most of whom children, including a four-year-old.



פרסום ראשון: 11.05.10, 20:17
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