UN Watch to bestow Kasparov with human rights accolade

Garry Kasparov,  a former Russian chess grandmaster who became a political activist, will receive a human rights award from UN Watch.

The group, which monitors the United Nations, named Kasparov the recipient of its Morris B. Abram Human Rights Award on Monday for his “long and nonviolent struggle for human rights in Russia.”

“Mr. Kasparov is not only one of the world's smartest men, he is also among its bravest,” said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.

Kasparov, a native of Azerbaijan, won the world championship in 1985 at 22, the youngest person ever to win the crown. After retiring in 2005, he became involved in human rights activism in Russia and is a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.

He will receive the award in Geneva at a dinner on June 5.

Kasparov is the son of a Jewish father and an Armenian mother.

Gelfand meets Netanyahu, calls for support for chess

Israeli chess grandmaster Boris Gelfand called on the Israeli government to invest in chess in the country, during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gelfand met Sunday with Netanyahu and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat a day after returning from Moscow, where he was runner-up at the World Chess Championship 2012.

Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand of India defeated Gelfand, 2 1/2 to 1 1/2, in the four-game rapid chess tiebreaker on May 30. They had finished the 12-game championship match in a stalemate.

“I am certain that many Israelis are proud of your achievements and many more Israelis now love the game of chess. The State of Israel is a brain power and chess is game of the brain. Thanks to people like you, we will turn Israel into a chess power,” Netanyahu told Gelfand during their meeting.

Livnat announced that her ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office planned to invest more than $250,000 in dozens of chess clubs in Israeli cities. The culture and sports ministry and the Sports Betting Council already spend nearly $308,000 per year on support for chess in Israel.

Israeli chess grandmaster achieves world record

An Israeli chess grandmaster bested an Iranian’s world record by playing 527 ranked chess players simultaneously in Tel Aviv and winning 87 percent of the games.

Alik Gershon began playing the concurrent matches on Thursday morning in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in an attempt to break the Guinness simultaneous chess world record set in 2009 by the Iranian grandmaster Morteza Mahjoub. Gershon completed the games by early Friday.

The event is sponsored by the Jewish Agency and the Israel Chess Federation to mark the 20th anniversary of the mass aliyah from the former Soviet Union. Natan Sharansky, a former prisoner of Zion and now the chairman of the Jewish Agency, attended.

Many of Gershon’s opponents, who are registered and ranked by the Israel Chess Federation, as per the requirements of the Guinness Book of Records, are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Gershon, 30, is a native of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, who immigrated to Israel in 1990.

Public figures are among those watching the matches, which are under the close scrutiny of a judge representing the Guinness Book of Records. To set the world record, Gershon must win at least 80 percent of the games. Mahjoub’s record is 500 games.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky played a match with Gershon at the beginning of the event.

Gershon began to learn chess at age 2 and by 5 was competing. He became an Israeli youth champion, won the world championship in 1994 for youth up to age 14, and became Israeli champion in 2000.

Chess grandmaster Andor Lilienthal dies

Chess grandmaster Andor Lilienthal has died in Budapest at the age of 99.

The Hungarian Chess Federation said Lilienthal, who was the oldest living grandmaster—a title awarded to the world’s top players by the International Chess Federation—died Saturday following a long illness.

Lilienthal, the son of Hungarian Jewish parents, competed against many of the world’s leading chess players. In 1950 he was included on the International Chess Federation’s first list of grandmasters.

Born in Moscow, Lilienthal moved to Budapest as a child before returning to Moscow in 1935 and becoming a Soviet citizen. He moved back to Budapest in 1976.