Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

7-Year-Old Chess Prodigy Banned From World Championships Because She’s Israeli

A seven-year-old Israeli chess prodigy will not be able to participate in the World Chess Championship because the host country, Tunisia, will not allow Israelis to compete, the Times of Israel reported Saturday.

Schoolgirl Liel Levitan will instead participate in the World Alternative Championship, which is currently being crowdfunded via a campaign led by fellow Israeli chess player Lior Aizenberg.

Levitan, who has only been playing for three years, had qualified for the tournament by winning her category at the European School Chess Championship in Poland earlier this month, proving victorious in six of her seven matches.

“It was very moving,” Levitan said about standing on the winner’s podium as “Hatikvah” played. “I love chess. I think it’s a game for all ages, not only for grown-ups. My dream is to be the champion of the world.”

Israeli athletes are frequently subjected to discrimination at tournaments held in Arab countries, which refuse to display the Israeli flag or play Israel’s national anthem, if they let the athletes in the country at all. The International Judo Federation announced Friday that it was cancelling two upcoming tournaments in Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates for not ensuring “free and equal participation of all nations” — a veiled reference to past unfairness against Israeli athletes.

Israeli chess players were also banned from the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Saudi Arabia last year.

Top-ranking female chess players at that tournament and another one last month in Iran pulled out because they refused to wear mandatory headscarves.

Contact Aiden Pink at [email protected] or on Twitter, @aidenpink

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.