Israel in Pole Position at Chess Olympiad

The Israeli team secured victories over Germany and current Olympic champions, Armenia.

A successful weekend for the Israeli team at the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany has placed it in first place. With only two rounds remaining, the Israelis are in an excellent position to bring back an historic Olympic medal.

On Friday, Israel beat Germany - whose team is considered one of the strongest in the competition - 2.5 to 1.5. Last night, the Israeli team secured a victory by the same score over the Armenian team, the current Olympic champions.

Chess grandmaster Boris Gelfand, Israel's senior chess player, beat Levon Aronian in the first match. In the fourth match, Maxim Rodshtein, 19, beat Tigran Petrosian. But the Armenian team demonstrated a strong game before encountering the Israelis, and had registered no losses before losing to Rodshtein and Gelfand. Now, however, the Armenians are second, with one point behind Israel.

The Ukrainian team is third after beating Russia 2.5 to 1.5, leaving the Russians virtually out of the race for an Olympic medal. Israel is slated to play against Ukraine today.

Israel Chess Federation president Aviv Bushinsky said the federation was "very proud of the team, which is now at a position that almost guarantees its victory." He added that Rodshtein's performance in his first Olympic appearance has been "phenomenal."

Rodshtein has so far won five games out of seven. The two games he did not win ended in draws. Gelfand so far accumulated 6.5 points of eight, by achieving five wins and three draws.