Despite a courageous effort, Boris Gelfand’s dream of winning the World Chess
Championship ended in heartbreak on Wednesday following a 2.5-1.5 defeat to
defending-champion Viswanathan Anand in a four-game rapid chess tiebreaker in
After the 12-classical game series ended in a 6-6 draw on Monday,
Gelfand and Anand returned to the Tretyakov Gallery to determine the champion in
a tiebreak on Wednesday and the Indian held on to his crown by winning the
second game of the day, with the other three ending in draws.
“It was an
equal match,” said the 44- year-old Gelfand, who failed to become just the 16th
undisputed world champion since 1886, but can console himself with a $1.149
million loser’s check.
“In the second game I had good chances, but the
problem for me was going behind in time.
“Sometimes when you are in a
time deficit it is difficult to make the right moves, which is what happened in
games 2, 3 and 4.”
The Rishon Lezion resident, who moved to Israel from
Minsk in 1998, said he hoped his achievement will prove to be a watershed moment
for chess in Israel.
“It’s always nice when people in your country are
supporting you,” said Gelfand when asked about the local interest created by his
“What’s important is that momentum will be kept and chess will
be upgraded to a better position in society.
“For many years, chess was
in a lower position in Israel. We had many promising stars but society was
telling them that they should get a real job.
“I do hope that momentum
will be kept and that hundreds of thousands of children will learn to play chess
and that chess professionals will be able to exist in Israel.”
playing with the black pieces in the first game of the day, the 42-yearold
Anand, who has held the world title since 2007, found himself in control in the
opener, only for Gelfand to hold out for a draw.
Game 2, which went on
for 77 moves, seemed to be heading for another tie, but Gelfand found himself
short on time, resulting in a late mistake which allowed Anand to claim a
The Israeli reached a great position in the third game, but
the Indian neutralized his advantage to draw and Gelfand, playing with the
black, never really threatened in the final encounter.
“I think my nerves
held out better,” explained a modest Anand, who claimed just over $1.4 million
for his victory.
“I was simply hanging on for dear life. It just
comes down to nerves in the end.
“You hang in there and do the best you
can. In all fairness this match could have simply gone either way.
showed that he was really motivated so personally I never felt like a favorite.
Maybe a tiebreak was the only thing that could separate us and things went my
President Shimon Peres called Gelfand to congratulate him on his
“It was important for me to call you to tell you that we
are proud of you for bringing so much honor to the state of Israel,” Peres
“Winning is a technical detail while the effort is an intellectual
one and you put on an impressive intellectual effort.”
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