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Israel yesterday scored its first-ever medal in the Chess Olympiad, beating the Netherlands in the 11th round in Dresden to finish in second place.

Topping the Dutch 2.5-1.5, the Israelis earned 18 points, one less than gold medalist Armenia, which beat China 2.5-1.5 to retain the title. The United States came in third after beating Ukraine. Israel's showing put it two points ahead of chess superpower Russia, which ended in fifth place in the event, which takes place every two years.

"It's an unprecedented achievement, the greatest ever in Israeli chess," Israel Chess Federation president Aviv Bushinsky told Haaretz. "Such a performance does justice to Israel's position at the top of international chess and brings great honor to the country."

In their final confrontation with the Netherlands, Grandmaster Boris Gelfand, Boris Avrukh and Maxim Rodshtein ended their games with a draw, but Michael Roiz prevailed over Jam Smeets on board 2, clinching the silver.

Israel's senior chess statesman, Gelfand, and the team's most junior member, 19-year-old Rodshtein, were the standouts. Gelfand, in a rare appearance at board 1, ended with 7.5 out of 10 points (five wins, five draws, no losses). Rodshtein earned seven points out of nine (five wins, four draws).

"I hope that certain elements in Israeli will not only glorify themselves with this achievement but will also take real measures to ensure that this Olympic achievement will be more than a passing episode," Bushinsky said.

Israel was the only national team victorious over champion Armenia. The Israelis ended the games with eight wins, two draws and only one loss - to Ukraine's strong team.