Album 61

by André Schulz
9/29/2014 – In 2012 Boris Gelfand reached the peak of his career by playing against Anand for the World Championship. He narrowly lost the match in the rapid-tie-break. Gelfand's father has meticulously recorded the career of his son in 61 photo albums. These pictures inspired the documentary "Album 61" which now is shown at the Filmfest Hamburg in Germany.

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Boris Gelfand, born in 1968, entered the stage of international top chess in the beginning of the 80s and quickly rose to the very top. In 1989 he became International Grandmaster and in 1990 he won the Interzonal in Manila, together with Vassily Ivanchuk. Since then he has often qualified for the candidates but had to wait till 2012 before he could challenge the World Champion. But 2011 he won the Candidates and one year later he played for the World Championship in Moscow against Vishy Anand.

A lot of chess fans were surprised that Gelfand, and not one of the favorites Carlsen, Aronian or Kramnik played against Anand. But Gelfand was definitely not yet past his best. In 2009 he had won the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk and qualified for the Candidate Matches. In Kasan 2011 he eliminated Mamedyarov and Kamsky and won the final against Grischuk.

In the World Championship match 2012 Anand was the huge favorite but Gelfand fought back on eye level. The Israeli even took the lead by winning the seventh game but lost it immediately by playing the next game too aggressively. But these were the only decisive games of the match which after twelve games ended in a 6:6 tie. In the tie-break Gelfand failed to use his chances and narrowly lost. Though Gelfand had only been an inch away from the title Anand kept it.

Gelfand was born in Belorussia but later emigrated to Israel where he triggered a real chess boom. Despite his loss against Anand he was celebrated like a national hero when returning from Moscow.

The documentary "Album 61" by director Halil Efrat from Israel uses the World Championship match between Anand and Gelfand in Moscow as a point of departure to depict Gelfand's chess career. It began in the early 70s in the Soviet Republic of Belorussia with the dream of a father who hoped that chess would allow his son one day to live a better life at a better place.

Up to World Championship match against Anand Gelfand's father meticulously recorded the development of his son in 61 photo albums.




Album 61
Israel 2013, Documentary, 70 min
Directed by Halil Efrat
Produced by Lee Yardeni and Aviram Buhris
Cinematography by Vitali Karivich
Sound Design by Aviv Aldema
Original Music by Lemez Lovas and Yaniv Fridel

Prizes and Festivals

Prize for the best director of a documentary at the Jerusalem International Film Festival, July 2012


Beldocs International Film Festival 2014

Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2014

Washington Jewish Film Festival, March 2014

Jerusalem International Film Festival, July 2013

31st Milano International FICTS Festival - Special Award 2013 nominee


"Album 61" in the International Movie Database (imdb)

Filmfest Hamburg

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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