Liel Levitan is 7. She lives in Haifa with her parents and her three siblings. She recently graduated from the first grade. In her spare time, she likes to play chess. And this week, she won the European championship for schoolchildren her age, defeating 12 other girls in a grueling competition that lasted eight days.
Levitan has been playing chess since she was 4. Her older brother, Tal, taught her the game and served as her coach until recently, when he turned 18 and had to join the Israel Defense Forces. Her sister Ronit, 14, and her brother Yaron, 10, are also chess prodigies; both competed in the same championship, held in Krakow, though neither won the top prize.
After her victory—she played seven games and scored six points, earning her the top spot—Levitan, wrapped in a large Israeli flag, climbed the large podium and beamed as besuited representatives of the European Chess Union shook her hand and placed a gold medal, almost as large as her head, around her neck. Then, Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, was played, completing Levitan’s moment of glory.
“It was very moving,” said Levitan. “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.”