Israel’s Boris Gelfand faces chess world champion Viswanathan Anand of India in
Moscow on Friday in the first game of their battle to decide the world title and
$1.5 million in prize money.
The winner will be decided over a 12-game
series scheduled to last three weeks, with a tiebreak to be played on May 30, if
Gelfand booked his place in the final by winning the World Chess
Championship 2012 Candidates tournament in Kazan, Russia, last May.
44-year-old, who moved to Israel from Minsk in 1998, spent much of the last
month in the Swiss Alps, where he shut himself off from distractions back in
Gelfand is hoping that by becoming just the 16th undisputed world
champion since 1886 he will be able to gain his sport the respect it so craves
“In the USSR if you tell people you are a chess player they
tell you way to go, ‘bravo.’ Here, you tell people and they say, OK, but where
do you work, what do you do?,” said the Rishon Lezion resident before leaving
for the Alps.
“I hope that in the coming years, there will be respect for
the profession in Israel, and kids who study chess will get
Gelfand, who led Israel to the bronze medal at the 2010
Olympiads and also won the World Chess Cup in 2009, will be a clear underdog
against Anand, who has been world champion since 2007.
Ranked just No. 20
in the world, Gelfand is a lightweight compared to Anand’s previous opponents,
with the 42-year-old from Chennai, currently ranked No. 4, beating top-ranked
Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 and Veselin Topalov two years later in his two title
defenses to date.
“He is a tough opponent for me and defeated me in our
first four encounters,” said Anand, who holds a 6-5 edge in head-to-head
meetings against the Israeli, last losing to Gelfand in 1993.
will be a very tough challenge chess-wise as you are playing one of the best
prepared players in the world. Boris will definitely be very motivated and keen