World Cup final: Gelfand beats Ponomariov to win the Cup

by ChessBase
12/14/2009 – After drawing the regular games Ruslan Ponomariov and Boris Gelfand and into the tiebreaks. They won a rapid chess game each and drew two to proceed to the blitz, where again each won a game. Game three and four went to the Israeli, who thus won the World Cup. Gelfand is now part of the eight-player tournament to find a challenger for the World Champion. Final report and interview.

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The FIDE World Chess Cup took place in Khanty-Mansiysk from November 20th to December 15th 2009. It was a seven-round knockout event with six rounds of matches comprising two games per round, with the winners progressing to the next round. The final seventh round consisted of four games. The time control was 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move from move one. The World Chess Cup is an integral part of the World Championship Cycle 2009-2011.

Final, tiebreak

The three weeks marathon of the 2009 World Cup finished with 41-year-old Boris Gelfand of Israel beating Ruslan Ponomariov in the tiebreak on Monday. The organiser, FIDE, feel vindicated that the top seed won the event. "Who would dare to call the knock out format a lottery?" the official bulletin says. “Boris is the only participant of the World Cup who could avoid the obvious failures, the only one to play with quality and stability. Bravo, Boris!"

The start of the tiebreak round of the FIDE World Cup in Khanty Mansiysk

Gelfand vs Ponomariov – experience vs fighting spirit

Boris Gelfand, 41-year-old Israeli grandmaster

Ruslan Ponomariov: former FIDE knockout world champion

In the end the top see prevailed...

... while the former prodigy from Ukraine drops out in the final round

All photos from Khanty-Mansiysk are by Galina Popova for FIDE

Results of the final

 Players  G1  G2
 R1  R2
 Ponomariov, Ruslan (UKR)
 Gelfand, Boris (ISR)

Boris Gelfand: "I made a good present to my mom on her birthday!"

Gelfand: I managed to win in the tiebreaks, though it was very hard. I think I could have showed good result already in the second rapid game. But the stress and tension did the work and I started blundering. Ruslan was also making mistakes and we ended in a draw. I had a bit advantage in the fourth game. The only thing I should have done is to shoot the ball into the empty goal. But I blundered again. Ruslan started a counter game and I resigned. Then we started playing blitz games. Here everything depended on the coolness and ability to keep the nerves together.

Did you have a feeling that you will win the tie breaks?

I realized that a tough match is ahead. I expected that I needed to fight. Today is my mom's birthday and I cannot leave her without a present. She has done a lot for me. I am very grateful to her for all. I also thank my father, may his memory live forever. I am also very thankful to my wife and daughter who miss me a lot. I am also grateful to all who was helping and training with me. We have been working with Alexander Huzman for already 20 years together. Also, during this tournament my second Maxim Rodshtein was helping me. He did not seem to sleep at all, he was preparing for my opponents. My friends were calling and writing to me. Thank you all for your support. My victory is your merit as well.

Can you call the World Cup 2009 the best tournament in your career?

I think the World Cup 2009 can be only compared with the second place in the World Chess Championship 2007 in Mexico .

You are the oldest participant of the World Cup. Are you happy that could manage to show your strength to the young players?

Undoubtedly age influences performance. The older a grandmaster is, the more experienced his games are. Starting from 1997 I participated in almost every knockout tournament. I have gained a great deal of experience since then, especially in the tiebreaks. There were so many strong and young chess players who fell apart after their first defeats. They lacked the moral strength; they could not forget about one failure to continue the fight in the further games. I think it comes with experience.

The situation when the top seeded player wins a tournament is rare.

I was not impressed by the fact that I was top seeded. There were about 20 chess players who had every reason to expect to win the Cup.

Do you have something to say to your opponent?

Ruslan does not need consolation. He did well during the whole tournament and managed many tiebreaks. My opponent is very good at knock-out tournaments; it is confirmed by his results during last two years. Ponomariov once again proved that he is a great chess player.

Where do you take the energy to participate in such long tournaments?

I just like to play chess. Therefore I work much; I try to improve my results.

Do you feel compassion to your opponent when you win?

It is not a battle of gladiators. We play chess. Someone wins, someone loses. This is sport.

For many years the chess community is interested to know what you have in this special bottle which you bring to the games?

It is not a doping… (laughing). I was checked at the last World Championship, so, everything is legal.

Is it important for you to have an audience when you play?

Yes, that would be more pleasant if the hall would be crowded. But it is obvious that our main spectators are in Internet. Whenever a tournament takes place, about 90-95% of spectators watch the games via the Internet.

People said in the 80s, that it doesn't matter if you walk around the hall or look around, you used to make the strongest moves…

The position is always with you, in your head. No matter where you look: around or at the chess board.

What do you do in your free time?

I like to read classics: Pushkin, Bulgakov, Maugham. I regularly watch soccer and tennis. I like sport.

Would you share your impressions about Khanty Mansiysk?

I would like to thank the city for this wonderful tournament. I had no problems here at all. Every year it is better and better in Khanty Mansiysk. The only thing which complicated my staying here was the temperature drop: from -30 to 0. It is harder to stand this with age. There are many cultural and sport institutions here: library, picture gallery, hockey palace, tennis center. The Art Center for talented children of North – the playing venue – is just fantastic building. I would come back here next year with pleasure. I just hope that the weather would be milder. I hope we will have a chance to walk around the city.

You were playing chess for almost a month without any rest. How are you going to recover?

More than a month. Two weeks before the start of the World Cup I took part in Tal Memorial and World Blitz Chess Championship, two of the toughest tournaments. Now I will relax, make up for lost sleep, walk with my daughter. So I will be back to “normal” life.

Did you choose any souvenir from Ugra land?

The World Cup is the best souvenir!

Schedule of the World Cup 2009

Friday 20 November Opening Ceremony
Saturday 21 November Round 1- Game 1
Sunday 22 November Round 1 - Game 2
Monday 23 November Tiebreaks
Tuesday 24 November Round 2 - Game 1
Wednesday 25 November Round 2 - Game 2
Thursday 26 November Tiebreaks
Friday 27 November Round 3 - Game 1
Saturday 28 November Round 3 - Game 2
Sunday 29 November Tiebreaks
Monday 30 November Round 4 - Game 1
Tuesday 01 December Round 4 - Game 2
Wednesday 02 December Tiebreaks
Thursday 03 December Round 5 - Game 1
Friday 04 December Round 5 - Game 2
Saturday 05 December Tiebreaks
Sunday 06 December Round 6 - Game 1
Monday 07 December Round 6 - Game 2
Tuesday 08 December Tiebreaks
Wednesday 09 December Free Day
Thursday 10 December Round 7 - Game 1
Friday 11 December Round 7 - Game 2
Saturday 12 December Round 7 - Game 3
Sunday 13 December Round 7 - Game 4
Monday 14 December Tiebreaks / Closing
Tuesday 15 December Departures


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