A 14-year-old chess prodigy from Israel forfeited the opportunity to travel for free to India and Slovakia and compete in championships held there because they are scheduled to take place on Jewish fast days.
Yair Hoffman, who attends the Tzvia yeshiva, a religious high school in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv this week declined the invitation to play at this month’s European Youth Championship in Bratislava In August because it includes games that fall on Tisha b’Av, a day of fasting and mourning over the destruction of the Temple and the exile of Israel.
And he turned down October’s World Youth Under 14, 16 and 18 Chess Championship in India because that match has games on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, arguably the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
Hoffman, who won the Israel chess championship in his age category and achieved a draw in a game against former world champion Viswanathan Anand, explored with the organizers the possibility of giving him and his rivals a technical draw in the matches scheduled for Shabbat (Sabbath). Hoffman pulled out when this solution proved out to be impossible.
Israel Zeira, the CEO of Be’emunah, a real-estate firm servicing many religious communities in Israel, has sponsored Hoffman’s participation in another international chess tournament scheduled to take place this month in Poland, the International Irena Warakomska Memorial tournament, which does not fall on Shabbat or any other day when observant Jews refrain from work and other activities permissible on regular days.