It’s only been about six weeks since Israel and Bhutan agreed to formal diplomatic relations, and the two countries are already engaged in chess tournaments.
There were more than 170 participants in the first-ever, online friendship chess competition played between the countries last Thursday, with 29 chess players from Bhutan.
“Chess is a communication tool between people of our countries,” said Russian-born Israeli chess player Boris Gelfand, just ahead of the Bhutan-Israel match.
The online chess tournament was organized by Israeli chess club Chess4All as part of the Chess4Solidarity initiative, which has seen 2,500 chess players from around the globe competing in 13 tournaments in the last year.
Another recent online chess competition was held between Morocco and Israel, after the two signed diplomatic relations on December 10, 2020. Bhutan and Israel signed diplomatic relations just two days later, on December 12, 2020.
This most recent tournament was held to strengthen the new diplomatic relations between the two countries, said Lior Aizenberg, who runs chess clubs around Israel. Only Israelis and Bhutanese players could play in the most recent event.
The match was organized by the Israeli embassy in India, which is currently handling Israel’s diplomatic relations with Bhutan, and the US organization Lawfare Project, an American think tank and litigation fund that works to protect the human and civil rights of Jewish and pro-Israel communities worldwide.