Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat met Israel’s World Chess Championship runner-up Boris Gelfand on Sunday and announced a new initiative to support the opening of chess clubs in local authorities in the periphery.

Gelfand came tantalizingly close to winning the world title last week, eventually losing to defending-champion Viswanathan Anand in a tiebreaker in Moscow after the 12-classical game series ended in a 6-6 draw.

Despite the defeat, Gelfand’s achievement attracted unprecedented attention to the game in Israel and resulted in Sunday’s announcement to start a two-year project that should see dozens of new chess clubs opening across the country.

"This new initiative is intended to strengthen chess in Israel and encourage the public to take part in the game from a young age,’ said Livnat.

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