Israel’s Gelfand begins quest to topple India’s Anand

Israel’s Gelfand will come up against chess world champion Anand of India in the first game of their battle to decide the world title.

Boris Gelfand 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Boris Gelfand 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
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 needed.
Gelfand booked his place in the final by winning the World Chess Championship 2012 Candidates tournament in Kazan, Russia, last May.
The 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 Israel.
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 Israel.
“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 respect.”
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.
“This match 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 to win.”