“I realized that chess can be played without a hand and I progressed”

by time news

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Andrei Gorbanov

Andrei Gorbanov

(Omri Stein)

One of the leading chess players in Israel is Andrei Gorbanov The 35-year-old, a resident of Haifa who immigrated to Israel nine years ago from Belarus, and won the title of World Chess Champion for the disabled. He is married to Oksana, who competes in the world of weightlifting, and is the father of Alex (11), who is still considering which sport to join. Andrei was born without a left hand and fell in love with chess at the age of six. As a child he gave up quite a few competitions due to financial difficulties, and also suffered from children who mocked the limitation with which he was born. He is sure: “Chess in Israel is booming, but we must invest more.”

The sport of chess in Israel is gaining momentum. After many years in which chess was the lot of immigrants from the Soviet Union only, in recent years the understanding that chess is an area that develops thinking, strategy and improves the abilities of the younger generation, led to a real revolution and with it penetration of educational institutions, collaborations between the Israeli Chess Association and the factory Lottery and footsteps are much more significant.

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chess boardchess board

chess board

(Omri Stein)

According to the Israeli Chess Association, there are currently more than 10,000 active chess players nationwide in Israel, with 75% of the active players being children and youth. In addition, today about a thousand educational institutions in 140 authorities, which constitute about 60% of all authorities in the State of Israel, have enrolled in a class chess program. At the beginning of December, 8-16.12, the Israeli Chess Championship will be held in Safed with the aim of making the thinking game accessible to other populations in the Galilee periphery.

Andrei, how did you even get into the world of chess?

“My dad started teaching me to play chess around the time I was six, I went to competitions in the Belarus area and won titles. We realized I could be a good player and I was very connected to it. It also boosted my self-confidence.”

Did you need that boost? Because a child without a hand is not something that children see every day.

“True, it was difficult for me, I was born without a left hand and it was not routine, but I was a good student, I had very good grades in school and the achievements in chess also contributed.”

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Andrei GorbanovAndrei Gorbanov

Andrei Gorbanov

(Omri Stein)

How did the children treat you?

“Look, by and large it was okay, it was not that there were no events at all, there were kids who laughed at me sometimes, but by and large they accepted my limitation and I dealt with it. I did not experience a boycott or things like that, they learned to accept it. “

What does it mean to be a child without a hand?

“It means giving up a lot of things the friends did and I could not do, there are all kinds of sports that other children could take part in and I could not. But I handled it well, I even had a good grade in sports at school. “

The choice of chess stemmed from the fact that you could better deal with the disability in this sport?

“Look, I realized that I will be able to play chess without a hand, although the limitation is difficult and not only are there separate competitions for the disabled, but it is less significant, say basketball.”

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Andrei GorbanovAndrei Gorbanov

Andrei Gorbanov

(Omri Stein)

And then came the achievements?

“It was a long process, but when the achievements came it was fun, as a child participating in competitions and meeting quite a few friends is very significant.”

How did you come into this world? Your father was a chess player?

“My father taught me chess, he knew how to play but did not compete in competitions, etc., he was a chess coach and gave me the basis, and from here I promoted it.”

It’s a very common sport in Belarus isn’t it?

“Yes, definitely, much more significant than in Israel, but it is not that everyone learns chess in Belarus. There are clubs, it’s much more than the country, and also in schools taught chess. It is starting to be like this in Israel only in recent years. “

11 View the gallery

Andrei GorbanovAndrei Gorbanov

Andrei Gorbanov

(Omri Stein)

What percentage of children play chess in Belarus?

“At least 20 percent of the children play chess at the club level, etc. In my opinion, over 40% -45% know how to play chess. Understand, play it everywhere, but at a less high level. The city of Grodno where I was born has 260,000 inhabitants and there is not even one rabbi – in the country we have several rabbis and you can continue to make great progress here. “

When was your first significant competition?

“As a kid every game was important and meaningful to me, I realized it was part of the process. I participated in the Belarus championship at the age of nine and I was very excited, I finished in sixth place and it was an amazing achievement for me. ”

And what about the European Championships?

“At the age of 15, I was second in the World Championships for the disabled. The parents managed to raise money so that I could go and participate and it was very exciting. ”

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chess boardchess board

chess board

(Omri Stein)

It costs quite a bit to participate in these competitions, right?

“Yes, you see, after two years I wanted to compete for the world championship until the age of 17. I was supposed to go to the championship but my parents had no money and I did not travel. It was very disappointing, without it I knew it would be difficult to move forward. “Unfortunately, we did not have the money to hire a coach and become a professional.”

When did you decide to immigrate to Israel?

I participated in Maccabiah in 2009, saw Israel and just fell in love with the country and decided I wanted to come here. I immigrated to Israel in 2012, alone, without my parents, they immigrated only two years ago. I decided to immigrate because I really wanted to live in Israel, I thought it was better for my family. I believed that I could also advance more in chess in Israel, but unfortunately chess was not something serious here. “

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Andrei GorbanovAndrei Gorbanov

Andrei Gorbanov

(Omri Stein)

So what did you make a living from in Israel?

“At first I did not have a job, I lived in Merhavia for half a year and did not work. Then we moved to Haifa, I found a number of children who wanted to learn chess and I started to progress and make a living from it. “Chess slowly developed, I received a scholarship from the Ministry of Absorption to help athletes and then I started to travel to competitions and also train significantly, and the achievements began to come.”

So when was the significant leap for you in chess?

“In 2015 when I went to the World Championships for the disabled in Slovakia and won first place.”

This is a very big achievement. There were quite a few senior contenders there weren’t there?

“Yes, it was very exciting, an amazing achievement, it was important for me to travel to this competition because I felt I was at the top, you will understand that I faced 15 players from Russia who get money, and it is a real profession for them, and come with a coach. I came alone and I managed to do it. “

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Andrei GorbanovAndrei Gorbanov

Andrei Gorbanov

(Omri Stein)

How does Lady express the meaning of disability in chess?

“There is no big difference between playing for the disabled and those who are not disabled. Chess is a very complex game that combines mind, strength, tricks, great thinking, games last 4-5 hours and need the ability to deal with it. There is also physical exertion and for the disabled perhaps this is the main difficulty, someone who is in a wheelchair or with a disability that interferes with concentration is very difficult. “Chess is a significant sport and requires a combination of many means, and there is great mental interest.”

How is the level of chess in Israel?

“Chess has made tremendous progress in Israel, within a decade we have jumped amazingly today and there are a lot of players and clubs, starting to teach in educational institutions and it is very important and promotes the profession even in small places. There are a lot of projects with the lottery and chess is very advanced in the country, the more they invest, the more advanced it will be. “

There is a lot of talk about developing thinking through chess, how significant is that?

“It is very important for development and contributes perhaps in the most significant way there is today. It’s an amazing game for young and old because it opens the mind, the child learns to see ahead and look broadly, and not just on one move. It enters the opponent’s head and it gives meaningful means to life. “

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Andrei GorbanovAndrei Gorbanov

Andrei Gorbanov

(Omri Stein)

Tell me a little about life in Israel?

“We are very satisfied, it’s fine there are many more options, also in the field of chess really good for me, I was also captain of Israel at the Paralympics, I train about 40 children and boys in chess today and I think the level here is very high and can bring degrees to Israel in the coming years.”

Is it possible to make a living from chess?

This is a difficult question. I think it very much depends on where in the world. There are people who can, but only if you are a very high level player or a combination with chess training. It is different from other sports because it has not caught on enough, all over the world there are gaps between Olympic sports and what is not Olympic, Olympic sports have more supports and money and so does team sports. To make a living as a chess player, there are maybe five or six players in Israel who can do it without training children, etc., and it’s a shame. “

Do you think chess should be supported more?

“Obviously. I think it contributes greatly to society, to tolerance for thinking, to strategy, to mutual respect between candidates and competitors and to development. There are a lot of strong players in the country and it will bring tremendous achievements to Israel if they invest more. “

11 View the gallery

chess boardchess board

chess board

(Omri Stein)

Tell me about your difficulties in everyday life.

“Look, learning to live with it, I do not know what it is to be with two hands. But for example when I went to the World Championships I had a very hard time. You have to take a bag and a suitcase and with one hand it is very difficult, but in my daily routine I learned to live with it and deal with it. I understand that there are many things I can not do, but I have learned to live with it, this is life. “

Your son at 11, at this age has already competed in quite a few competitions, is he also playing?

“I let him choose what to do and why to connect, yes it was very important to me that he knows how to play chess and he plays today, he knows the game, but does not compete at the professional level, he likes ping pong more. There is competition at home because my wife is an athlete who competes in weightlifting, we are a sports house and whatever he chooses I will be happy and I will support him ”.

You also compete in non-disabled championships like the Israeli championship that will be held in Safed on December 8, right?

“Yes, most of my competitions were not in front of the disabled. Dealing with the disabled is another niche I face. In Israel, too, I play in the regular leagues, I suggest to anyone who wants to develop thinking and enjoy an intelligent game to join it. “

11 View the gallery

chess boardchess board

chess board

(Omri Stein)

What are the expectations from the championship in Safed, to be the Israeli champion?

“I do not know if I will finish in first place, everyone wants to win and it will be difficult. I hope to make a good result and see this championship as a kind of good preparation for the world championship for the disabled which will be on May 8 in Ashdod. This is the first time that the world championship is coming to Israel and it is both exciting and requires us to give our best. “

As stated, the Israeli Chess Championship will be held in Safed on December 8-16, led by Mifal Hapayis, the Safed Municipality and the Israeli Chess Association. Registration for the competition is still open and costs NIS 200 only through the Israeli Chess Association’s website. Prizes in the amount of NIS 80,000 will be awarded in the competition.

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