Grandmaster Gelfand No Flash in the Pan

It's not really sport and he's not really Israeli, but when Boris Gelfand won the most prestigious chess tournament in the world last month, it was a blue and white flag that fluttered next to his name.

Born in Minsk in 1968, Gelfand immigrated to Israel at the age of 30. With the European Youth Championship and a host of other tournaments already under his belt, he had Israeli chess aficionados drooling with excitement when he moved here and immediately became the country's top player. Since then, he has not disappointed.

He has appeared in a total of eight Chess Olympiads, representing the Soviet Union, Belarus and Israel, and has won gold and silver medals for two different countries. His crowning achievement was victory last month in the World Chess Cup at the relatively advanced age of 41.

While there is no shortage of Jewish grandmasters, Israel has never had a world chess champion. If Gelfand continues to surprise, however, we may yet be able to add that to our growing list of national kvells.