Checkmate: Boris Gelfand Ties for Second

Israeli chess grand master Boris Gelfand finished tied for second at the World Chess Championship in Mexico City, which ended Saturday.

Gelfand and outgoing champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia - who could not defend his title at Mexico City because of the rules - both finished with eight out of a possible 14 points at the double round-robin tournament. A win earns one point, while a tie earns half a point. The 39-year-old Israeli, who tied Alexander Morozevich in the final game, won three of his 14 matches and lost only once, to Alexander Grischuk, another Russian.

The world's highest-ranked chess player, Indian grand master Vishwanatan Anand, won the championship with four wins and 10 ties - undefeated - for a total of nine points. According to the regulations, the outgoing champion, Kramnik, has the right to challenge the 38-year-old Anand for the title of world champion.

Gelfand, who was born in Belarus and immigrated to Israel about a decade ago, helped bring Israel's national chess team two achievements - second place and a silver medal at the 2003 European championships in Plovdiv and the 2005 Euros in Goteborg.

"No question, this was one of the most successful tournaments of my career - based on the results and also the quality of the game," Gelfand told Haaretz yesterday. "As far as theoretical preparation is concerned, I was probably the best prepared of anyone [at the Mexico City championship] - and for that I have to thank my two assistants - Alexander Huzman and Pavel Eljanov.

"There is no doubt I missed a few opportunities - in the only match I lost, there were times when I could have put myself in position for a draw. In three other matches [against Anand, Peter Leko and Alexander Morozevich], I could not take advantage of favorable positions. However, I am certainly satisfied overall - it has been a long time since I played at such a strong competition. At the beginning of the tournament, I felt that I was in reasonable condition and after my first two victories, I became confident that I could come out with a good result."

Gelfand voiced support for the new world champion.

"Anand absolutely deserves the title. He displayed, as usual, a very practical style of play, getting draws that he needed and he did not get agitated when he did not win from a advantageous position," Gelfand said. "Anand was very theoretically prepared, and his nerves of steel also helped him stay calm when the world title was approaching. Because of that, he was able to salvage a very difficult position against Grischuk in the next-to-last round."

On a personal level, four of Gelfand's matches stand out - his three victories and the tie with outgoing-champion Kramnik - when he displayed a tremendous ability to improvise and almost entered the Guiness Book of World Records when he made a castling move in the 33rd move.

At this point, though, after one of the greatest results of his career, Gelfand cries out for rest. "Sure I am tired - chess is an exhausting game, requiring a lot of energy, physically and mentally.

"This year, I will compete in just one tournament, the memorial tournament for former world champion Michael Tal, which will be held in Moscow in November."