Ramat Gan’s Yair Lieberthal continued his impressive comeback and claimed a third successive trophy, at the recent National Max Spitz Singles competition in Ramat Gan last weekend. The win follows victories at Israel’s National Singles and Masters competitions.


For international star Ruthie Gilor, however, it was an unusual reversal when she had to concede top honors to Haifa’s Irit Grencel, who won her fourth Max Spitz title in the tournament’s nine-year history.


Both games ended in dramatic style.


Lieberthal was up against Ra’anana’s Raymond Sher. Lieberthal led 6-5 after nine ends, but Lieberthal’s consistent drawing skill and ability with vital saving shots saw him win the following five ends to lead 13-5. Sher had a winner when, with Lieberthal holding two shots, he trailed the jack to collect three to bring the score to 13-8.


But his success was short-lived. His opponent gave no leeway, surging ahead to 19-8 at the 19th end. Sher battled through the next three heads to close the gap to 19-13.


Successive bowls on the following, dramatic end, changed the position at the head and Sher, fighting for survival, laid three critical shots. The unyielding Lieberthal, however, trailed the jack to lie the shot, and Sher then obliged with his final bowl to slice one of Lieberthal’s bowls to the jack for a two count and an outstanding 21-13 win for his opponent.


In his semifinal, Lieberthal had beaten top ranking player Zvika Hadar 21-14, while Sher had a walkover against George Kaminsky.


On the women’s side, Gilor found herself up against a resisting Grencel − always a leading challenger with many single titles to her name, and also one of Israel’s most highly-selected international stars.


The score was tied 9-9 after 10 ends and 11-all after 14 ends. But Gilor’s usual magic touch was not there. Grencel won four of the next five ends to lead 19-12. A fighting Gilor then lay two shots, with Grencel then delicately trailing the jack for her own two count − not the end, though, for Gilor. A full-out drive took the jack meters away and in a measure Gilor collected two to start the last end 19-14 down.

Grencel, however, had two winning draws for her well earned win.


Grencel had won her semifinal 21-17 against Riri Merav, while Gilor had beaten Tzila Gavish 21-10.


The tournament, held annually, commemorates South Africa-born Max Spitz, who introduced the game to Israel 60 years ago.