The World Chess Championship 2012 was staged in the Tretyakov Gallery
in Moscow, between the current World Champion Viswanathan Anand of India and
the winner of the Candidates tournament Boris Gelfand of Israel. The match was
over twelve games plus tiebreak, and lasted from May 11 to 30. It was won by
Anand in the tiebreak. The prize fund was US $2.55 million, the winner getting
$1.53 million (60%), the loser $1.02 million (40%).
Boris Gelfand returns from Moscow
By Shay Bushinsky – photos Shulamit Bushinsky
An unprecedented homecoming celebration surprised Boris Gelfand when entered
Ben-Gurion airport's reception hall. Dozens of chess enthusiasts, shouted in
unison “Bo-ris! Bo-ris!” as he was wending his way out.
Soon, the chanting was replaced by more polite and rhythmic hand-clapping.
Video report of Boris Gelfand's triumphal return to Israel
An anxious crowd awaiting the superstar to appear
Children from Gelfand’s hometown raising a sign saying “Gelfand,
which is Hebrew slang for “Gelfand, you are awesome!”
And he emerges pushing the famous cart soon to disappear… (see below)
A battery of cameramen waiting for the hero – his arrival opened Friday’s
Holding little Avner whom he didn’t see for a long time
Explaining to the press why he lost: “It was simply a matter of luck.”
Boris Alterman smiling in the crowd. [Yes, they have the Galaxy Note in Israel]
Grandmaster Boris Alterman with his younger son Ben, who is
wearing a costume of a chess king for the occasion
Generations: Boris' mother Nella and his daughter Avital
Hey he’s MY dad! Protecting Boris from the young fans reach
Briefly comparing notes on game 12’s with the author, Shay Bushinsky,
one of the
fathers of the computer program Deep Junior (which Boris Gelfand uses intensely)
A warm hug from GM Alon Greenfeld, Israeli National team captain and Deep
All the while, the fans blended with casual people who were expecting their
loved ones to return from abroad. A few of them were curious to know the identity
of the mega-celeb who was about to arrive. In previous instances, it was difficult
to answer such a question – Boris Gelfand was not yet a household name
in Israel. But not this time: Gelfand had gained celebrity status game by game
if not to say draw by draw as the likelihood of a first Israeli world chess
champion began to capture the imagination of the Israeli media.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu following the
progress of a game
Here's a video clip from a couple years ago from when Netanyahu met Gelfand
and started with a double challenge chess match – Gelfand was going to
play against Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky, an Israeli politician, human rights
activist and author – and a strong chess playere. Netanyahu bowed out
and decided to be a backseat driver for Sharansky's match against Gelfand.
The climax, as could be expected, occurred on Playoffs day. Unprecedented
match coverage engulfed Israel. Anchor-men struggled to explain concepts such
as “Ten second increments”, “Pawn sacrifice” and “Armageddon”
over the radio. TV newsreels, usually opened with breaking Middle East stories,
were led instead by the current score from Moscow. Mediocre politicians flooded
talk shows, attempting to show off childhood memories playing chess. Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu took time out to be photographed on the background of a huge
board position projected from Moscow and to be quoted approving of Boris’
latest moves. Psychologists attempted to explain what was going on in Boris’
mind while he was experiencing time trouble in Moscow. Top political analysts
adapted their jargon so that they could use terms taken from chess to explain
recent developments in the talks on nuclear Iran held in Baghdad.
Videos of chess classrooms appeared in Israel’s leading news websites,
usually including interviews with children saying, “When I grow up I want
to be Boris Gelfand.“ And for the first time in the history of local commercial
TV, the games were broadcast live with Peter Svidler’s commentary being
translated simultaneously into Hebrew.
The whole country had become chess-crazed, a phenomenon perhaps observed only
in Iceland 40 years ago….
Surrounded by representatives of the press, Boris reiterated his Moscow press
conference rhetoric, saying that it is time for the governmental authorities
to take chess seriously, acknowledge chess professionalism and stop neglecting
the local talent. “For too long, chess has been regarded as a pastime
for elderly people in the park” he exclaimed. “My success should
be translated for young successors, who will emerge from the generations to
come” he explained.
The tired-looking challenger said he had been sleepless for several nights
in a row and that he was eager to sleep for a couple of days…. Exhausted
but by no means down-hearted, Boris promised to continue competing in the chess
circuit, saying he can’t imagine his life without the game. He said he
will probably play for Israel in the coming Istanbul Olympiad and surely will
take part in the European club championships which are scheduled to be held
in Eilat, Israel. He confirmed that he has his eyes on the coming candidate
cycle in an attempt to have another shot at the title.
Boris Gelfand with Maya, his wife, Moshe Slav (head of the Israeli Chess federation)
and Nella Gelfand, Boris’ mother in the background. Boris is pushing his
... which subsequently disappeared for some tense minutes
A nerve-racking incident occurred during the commotion around Boris’
arrival when a cart holding his personal luggage and laptop disappeared. After
long and extremely tense moments, the luggage was discovered intact near the
bomb disposal area outside the terminal. “I couldn’t care less about
this entire luggage” he said excitedly. “As long as my laptop and
disk on key, including lifetime analysis and the world championship preparation,
wouldn’t have been blown to pieces by security,” he said.
Boris will be greeted by top Israeli officials and after taking a good rest
he promises to reflect on his year’s formidable effort to become the world’s
chess champion, a title he only missed by a whisker.