Israel’s Boris Gelfand put up a great battle of wits against Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand at the Chess World Championship in Moscow. And though Gelfand came in second place in the contest, Israeli chess fans see him as their newest hero.
Gelfand is ranked just 20th in the world and was considered the underdog against the five-time world champion. Still, he showed that at 43 his mind is still young enough to take on the best.
Anand won his fourth-consecutive world title by beating Gelfand 2.5-1.5 in the four-match tie breaker at Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery.
“Gelfand has brought great honour to the state of Israel,” said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Anand took home $1.4 million in prize money while Gelfand won $1.15 million.
Gelfand was born in Minsk, Belarus, and started playing chess at the age of five. He holds over 30 international titles including winner of the Chess World Cup, the third most prestigious title in the chess world.
The Israeli Chess Association saw interest in the game skyrocket throughout the Moscow tournament and its website even crashed due to the unexpected volume of surfers.
“It’s always nice when people in your country support you, but what’s important is to keep up the momentum and that chess earns a higher status in [our] society,” Gelfand said.