Gelfand’s hopes end in chess tiebreaker

Three of four games between Israel’s Boris Gelfand and defending-champion Viswanathan Anand end in a draw.

May 30, 2012 13:52
2 minute read.
Anand, Gelfand in 12th game

Anand, Gelfand in 12th game 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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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 Moscow.

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.

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“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 success.

“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.”

Despite 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 crucial win.

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.

“Boris 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 way.”

President Shimon Peres called Gelfand to congratulate him on his accomplishment.

“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 said.

“Winning is a technical detail while the effort is an intellectual one and you put on an impressive intellectual effort.”

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