Israel’s next world champion

MEET Israel’s next world champion.

Or Shatil won’t be practicing on the tennis court like Dudi Sela or sailing in the ocean like Olympic gold-medalist Gal Fridman, instead she’ll be brushing up on her knights, pawns and bishops on the chess board.

The eight-year-old prodigy finished second at the European School Chess Championships in Romania on the weekend against competitors several years older than her.

While Shatil is on the path to a future world championship, like all Israelis it will not be easy.

In April, Iranian chess champion 15-year-old Alireza Firouzja refused to play against his Israeli opponent Or Bronstein during the Grenke Chess Open being held in Germany.

And earlier this year another Iranian player Aryan Gholami forfeited his chance of winning $10,000 because he refused to play Israeli Ariel Erenberg at a tournament in Sweden.

Gholami was treated as a hero when he returned home and met with Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Playing chess against Israelis could have major consequences for Iranian players, as was the case for Borna Derakhshani in 2017.

The 14-year old Iranian chess player, was banned by the Iran Chess Federation for life for playing against an Israeli.

If banned by the Iranian Chess Federation, one cannot participate or play in any international chess games.