Israeli Chess Whiz Gelfand Beats U.S. Champion at Major World Tournament

Israeli chess grandmaster Boris Gelfand yesterday beat the U.S. champion, grandmaster Gata Kamsky, in the Candidates' Tournament of the World Chess Championship in Kazan, Russia. Beating the U.S. champion 6-4 has brought Gelfand one step closer to the battle for the title against the reigning world champion, Viswanathan Anand of India.

The win by the Russian-born Gelfand is expected to move him from 16th place in the world into the ranks of the top 10.

Boris Gelfand
Tomer Appelbaum

Gelfand, 42, has already led the Israeli chess team to two World Chess Olympiad medals, a silver medal in Leipzig, Germany in 2008 and a bronze in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia in 2010, but yesterday's win is doubtless a career high.

It came after four ties in his first four games and after losing the third of four speed games, limited to 25 minutes for each player. But he rallied for a win in the fourth game, and two more wins at blitz matches, where each player has five minutes, paved his way to the next stage.

There Gelfand will play the Russian grandmaster Alexander Grischuk, 15 years his junior.

Grischuk, ranked 10 in the world, is considered one of the world's best blitz players. He took the world title in the game in 2005, when the World Blitz Chess Championship was held in Rishon Letzion, after winning 10 games and tying one, out of a total of 15 games.

Grischuk and Gelfand will face off across the board starting Thursday for a series of six games in the final match of the Candidates' Tournament, which will determine who will go against Anand.

The chairman of the Israel Chess Federation, Aviv Bushinsky, said yesterday he hoped Gelfand's recent achievements, the greatest individual achievements by an Israeli chess player, will help raise awareness of the game among Israelis.