Chess World Championship Gelfand Draws Black to Start Tournament

World champion Viswanathan Anand of India and Gelfand, the challenger, traded mostly pleasantries at yesterday's press conference.

Israeli Boris Gelfand drew black yesterday at the official opening ceremony of the World Chess Championship at Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery. Playing black will put Gelfand at a disadvantage for the first of 12 planned matches.

World champion Viswanathan Anand of India and Gelfand, the challenger, traded mostly pleasantries at yesterday's press conference. The first match of the three-week tournament is scheduled for today.

Boris Gelfand Tomer Appelbaum

Some 300 journalists crammed into yesterday's press conference at the gallery, where Anand discussed his preparations for the final. He said he spent a lot of time improving his physical fitness and also played chess with his assistants.

Anand also acknowledged that he and Gelfand are good friends, but said that during the match itself one is focused on the board and not on the person sitting opposite.

Gelfand earlier said Anand is simply a wonderful player.

The ceremony was attended by former Soviet premier Mikhael Gorbachev.