Reports | June 06, 2012 18:28

Boris Gelfand: "I was by no means inferior in this match" | Interview, part 1 of 2

Boris Gelfand: "I was by no means inferior in this match" | Interview, part 1 of

Exactly one week after the end of the World Championship match in Moscow, challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel speaks out. In the first part of this interview, the Israeli tells us about his preparation, his choice of openings, and his view on chess and its the different types of audiences.

Photos by Alexey Yushenkov & Anastasia Karlovich

The interview was conducted via Skype, on Tuesday morning, June 5th, 2012. Gelfand was at this home in Rishon-le-Zion, sitting behind his computer, and many mouse clicks could be heard during the talk. Afterwards he would explain that during the interview he was also looking at some of the tiebreak games, the openings, middlegames, endings, the missed chances... It must have been difficult to get these games off his mind.

Part 1 of 2

Vishy said he felt 'relieved'. What was your biggest emotion after the last game? Were you disappointed, perhaps even angry at yourself?

I was remembering of course Barcelona-Chelsea. You had the advantage, then you didn't take your chances and then the opponent takes his chances. I think for me it's very similar. It's sport. You should accept it, but of course you know you could do much better.

If we look back, can we say that you lost the match in the third rapid game?

I wouldn't say so because also in the fourth rapid game I had all the chances.

How big was your advantage, now that you look back at it?

I didn't analyze it yet, but the problem is I didn't realize I had to exchange one pair of rooks and develop an initiative on both flanks, but technically it's not so easy to execute because you have to be very careful and I wasn't. But basically I think there are good winning chances. White played the opening very passively and the only thing he can hope for is a fortress. However, generally speaking, if White stays passive, I think the chances he gets a fortress are not very big. But of course you have to play extremely precisely and in rapid chess it's not so simple.

How do you explain this rook ending in the third tiebreak game  was it the pressure?

I didn't feel like I was under pressure, it was a hallucination. You know, I started studying rook endings at the age of nine. I'm sure that when I was nine, I would win this ending! I played a game against Tony Miles, and he was not familiar with an ending which I knew at the age of nine.

Were you afraid he would reach the Vancura position?

No, it was obvious that the Vancura was not possible. It was just a hallucination, and I think I had about twenty seconds left there.

Vishy started playing much faster in the tiebreak, but you spent quite some time in a lot of positions. Was this a mistake?

You've been in Monaco, so you know that I'm always playing like this. In most of the games I'm behind on the clock. This happened in most of my rapid tournaments and tiebreaks, it's like a style of play.

You don't think you could play at a higher level with a different time management?

Probably, but if you look at my results in rapid chess I don't think it could be higher, in all modesty. My results in rapid chess are probably even better than in classical chess. I won two Monaco's in rapid, I've beaten Aronian and Leko in matches, or the tiebreaks... If it's my style, I think I should stick to it even at critical moments. You have to feel good with yourself, to play the way you feel it's correct to play.

Probably, but if you look at my results in rapid chess I don't think it could be higher, in all modesty. My results in rapid chess are probably even better than in classical chess.

What went through your mind when Vishy played 5.e5 in the last rapid game? This is quite a well-known line, and you thought for about six minutes.

There are two moves, 5...cxd4 and 5...Qa5. Probably I was hesitating too much. But you know, somewhere in 1981 or 1982 I remember we analyzed this, my trainer [Albert] Kapengut and me and since then I didn't update my knowledge. However, I don't think the theory changed much. But OK, since then thirty years have passed, and I was trying to remember what we considered correct. Well, I didn't try to remember, I tried to make a decision between the two moves, because obviously I was afraid to fall into some forced draw. I kept double checking, because if I'd do something wrong I wouldn't have a chance. I chose correctly and got a chance. But yes, if I had only spent two or three minutes, it would have made a difference.

Let's go back in time. How do you explain your success in Kazan and Khanty. How is it possible that you manage to peak at all these important events?

I don't know. Basically, I am capable of playing really well, but I need to concentrate. Besides, for events like the World Championship and Kazan, I was preparing for months. I am an "aged" player, so I need to focus on something. It doesn't mean that I'm playing weaker but I do believe that I have to be very focused, I cannot play well if I play two or three tournaments in a row, I cannot keep consistency. But if I can focus on something, I think I can do probably even better than in the years when I was younger, because of experience. Towards Kazan and towards the World Championship match I really spent like six months to be in physical shape, to be in mental shape, to be ready chess-wise. If I have the time to prepare, I think my results shouldn't surprise anybody.

If I have the time to prepare, I think my results shouldn't surprise anybody.

Was your result in Wijk aan Zee below par because you were less focused, and in the middle of  your preparation?

No, I don't think so. The difference is that my attitude is a bit different than with most of the players. If I'm in bad form I keep on playing as ambitiously as usual; I don't care if I lose some Elo points or win Elo points. For me it bears no value. So when the tournament didn't go well, I just thought that I should keep on trying my best, play as ambitious as possible, to try my best and to get a lesson.

You remember my game with Levon Aronian in the penultimate round? It was a sharp game. At first I was better, then it was complicated, then probably better again and then he was better but I could hold but in the sixth hour I made a mistake. Some other players would think: I'm in bad form, I'm playing the leader of the tournament, so I should play safe, make a draw and go home. But for me it's much more interesting and important to have a fight with a great player rather than calculate how many Elo points I would keep or lose. So I kept on playing too ambitiously and I didn't, how to say it, "minimize the damage". Besides, of course I couldn't devote half a year to preparing for Wijk aan Zee. I did my best; for me it is a very important event. But of course there's a difference if you can prepare for the event of your life or not.

To what extent were you "hiding your openings"? Maybe it was easier for you than for Anand, because you would not play the Grünfeld or the Sveshnikov, but instead you could play your regular openings!

Indeed, I wouldn't blame the openings, because I played the openings I was pretty familiar with, Najdorf, Petroff. And when there are three or four months before the event, normally you are not prepared yet. Most of the preparation happens in these final months, so you cannot say you have a "killing novelty" and you hide it.

You had about a year to prepare for the match. What did this year look like for you? How did you form your strategy and what kind of schedule did you follow?

I think it was a great year, I really enjoyed it. I started thinking about what I should do, and what strategy to adopt, already in the summer. I started thinking about different openings, with White and with Black...

And before the match you took your team to Austria.

Yes, we were in the Austrian Alps. We were getting energy there, it's a wonderful place, and we were working on chess intensively. We tried to combine both. We stayed there, then we went back to Israel, and then back to Austria again. Altogether we spent about one and a half month there.

Before that, in Israel my normal schedule would be to go for a training session for a couple of weeks, then go home to calm down, to rethink everything, to get new ideas and then go back for another training session and go deeper.

How and when did you decide on going for the Grünfeld and the Sveshnikov as your main weapons?

Last year already, I don't remember exactly but certainly before the Tal Memorial [which was in November 2011 - CV]. I looked at Vishy's games and I thought this was the opening that could cause him the most problems. The Grünfeld is... even if you play it with Black, it's not easy to play with White. Against each system Black has a big choice. If you play it with Black and you have a certain system against let's say the Bc4 variation, there are seven other systems which you can adopt. I thought if he would consider the main choice, it would be difficult for him during the match to learn the whole opening.

About the Sveshnikov, I played it like ten years ago and I thought that I had great results, and I abandoned it in 2003, 2004 for more for emotial reasons than for practical reasons. Maybe I lost a game, or something. You just play an opening, and then you go to another one, it happens. Viktor Kortchnoi was always saying: if you want to make progress, you have to learn new openings all the time. If such a person gives you such an advice, you should listen to it.

Viktor Kortchnoi was always saying: if you want to make progress, you have to learn new openings all the time. If such a person gives you such an advice, you should listen to it.

Of course there's nothing wrong with the Petroff or the Najdorf. Is the surprise effect more important than the opening itself?

Both are important. The difference is, some people think that any surprise is good but I think a good surprise is good! It's a different opinion and I'm not sure it's so obvious. Some people say: if you surprise your opponent, it's already good. But especially in such a match, when your opponent is preparing for so long, if you play a bad surprise, maybe it works for one game but in the next he would crush you.

How is it possible that in Kazan everyone played the QGD and that we didn't see it in this match?

Maybe Vishy was planning to play it but I played Nimzo-Indian. [By going for 3.Nc3 instead of 3.Nf3, White is allowing Black's main response 3...Bb4, the Nimzo - CV.] We don't know if he would play the Queen's Gambit, or Queen's Indian, or Benoni or Vienna after Nf3. Maybe in the next tournaments we'll see what Vishy had prepared if somebody would play Nf3 against him.

In Moscow I've seen Alexander Huzman, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Maxim Rodshtein and Pavel Eljanov. Who else did you work with? What is true about the rumour of you working with Levon Aronian?

Well, I wouldn't comment on rumours but Mikhail Roiz was helping us all the time.

You don't want to confirm or deny working with Levon?

Well, I wouldn't confirm. He's a good friend of mine and of course we often discuss different things, but to "work" is a different story.

But were you in contact with him during the match, for example?

I wouldn't comment on it. Let's say: I was not in more contact than usual, this I can say.

OK, on to the match. Although your colleagues were less sure, before the match the general public considered Vishy to be the big favorite. You always say you don't think about these things. Didn't you rate your chances at all?

Basically the opinion of my colleagues is always very different than the opinion of the public. They thought I could do it, and I knew I could do it... I knew it would be a tough match, and I was very focused on trying to be concentrated. I knew that if I'd manage to be concentrated and play my best chess, that my chances would not be inferior. And at the end anything could happen, so I was by no means inferior in this match.

I was by no means inferior in this match.

What exactly did you say about this, at the press conference after the tiebreak? Because I'm not sure the translation was accurate there.

In the rapid games I was dominating; I had the advantage in most of the games. Over the the whole match, well, my feeling I was at least slightly better. But of course the match was so even... He missed chances in game 3, I missed chances in game 9, et cetera. I think that... let's say, I had some pressure.

But indeed, the interpretor was not up to the task. Most of the times the translation had nothing to do with what I was saying and also the translation into Russian was also not what Vishy was saying exactly. I think it was the only drawback of the whole organization.

Did you and your team consider the first game a success?

Well, I got a certain advantage, and I was considering for long to play this ...Bd7 move, and I could force Vishy to play one or two more accurate moves. However, I miscalculated something. I really wanted to play on and when I didn't play ...Bd7 the position was really drawn. This was not bad, as I played this opening for the first time and he played a rare system which I was not very familiar with.

How much time does it take to pick up such an opening like the Grünfeld, and learn everything?

It takes quite a lot of time to get a feeling for the position, it's not only about learning the lines. You can learn the lines pretty quickly, but you need to get a feeling as well. Fortunately I had more than half a year to prepare so I spent this time on this. It's not like people think, that you press the button and that the computer tells you what are the best moves and you go and play them. On such a level it's different. You go much deeper than the theory says. You have to look for where your opponent may try to surprise you so you basically have to recheck all the theory of the opening, learn and then recheck everything.

Did you also play training games?

I played some but not as much as I wanted. In the end I didn't have enough time.

On to game 2; did you expect this Chebanenko/Semi-Slav from Vishy?

I thought it's possible but basically I didn't think it's so realistic because it's a normal opening but it's not so popular...

It wasn't considered to be a main line.

No, but of course you should consider everything; your opponent can play anything, you cannot get into his head. You don't use spies [laughs], you cannot know so you have to be ready for anything.

So most of the work you did on this Chebanenko stuff was done during the match?

Yes. Before, you just think: if he plays this, I'll play this in game 1, and you think of something for game 2 but of course you cannot prepare for four games against each opening.

In the third game you more or less escaped with a draw. Did this disturb your confidence?

No. Of course it's not nice that I didn't play this ...Nb6/...Rd5 which would equalize immediately, but before the match I knew that you cannot play the whole match without making a mistake. It's part of the game and you should be ready to through it. The fact that this mistake didn't cost me a point gave a better feeling. If you're not punished, and you escape, it's OK. Normally you're not going to make a lot of mistakes, so if one mistake goes unpunished, it's... how to say... you're "forgiven".

That "Caissa is on your side".

Yes, exactly.

It seems that in some of the games a draw was agreed while one of the players could have played on...

I wouldn't say so.

...well, for example Nakamura has said that he liked a number of positions in which a draw was agreed.

Let me think, let me go back, because I don't want to speak in general terms. In game 1, in the final position it makes no sense to play on. OK, if I find ...Bd7 it makes sense, but after I took this double rook ending is just a draw.

Yes, this is also what Nigel Short said.

In game 2 it's the same; he built a fortress and I cannot attack even one pawn. I can continue with some senseless moves, but there is nothing to play for. Game 3 was a perpetual...

What about the bishop versus knight ending in game 4, you could try this Rc6?

Yes, it's true, but he's simply waiting. Of course it was my idea to continue playing as long as I have chances, but here I didn't see any chance. He puts his knight on f5 and he protects everything, and he checks on d4. I didn't see how I could pose a single threat.

Game 5 was this Sveshnikov, which is obviously a dead draw in the final position. Then, game 6, this rook ending is also a dead draw. Game 9 is a fortress. OK, in game 10 I could play a move or two but if he simply waits, it's also a fortress.

Alexander Morozevich told me that Vishy's a2-a3 was not a very good move to offer a draw with.

Exacty, I thought the same but I realized this is also a total fortress. If White puts his rook on the a-file, his knight on b3, play g3, Kg2, Kf1, it's simply a fortress. Of course a3 is not the best move to offer a draw, there Black can at least pretend his better but there Kg2, Kf1 is a pretty solid solution.

In game 12, probably Vishy could play on, you should ask him. Of course it's a drawn position but taken into consideration that I was short on time, probably he could try a bit.

Vladimir Kramnik was much surprised that Vishy offered a draw there. Were you?

I was a bit surprised but basically I saw how I would make a draw. I had invested some time on the previous move and I planned the whole defensive concept so I was confident that I was not in trouble. But of course, you never know, if the opponent keeps on making moves, how you would answer. By it's quite simple. you just exchange the a-pawn, keep your rook active...

Related to this is what you said at some point: "We're not here to entertain the public. We don't have to play out the moves; commentators can explain that." During the match once more there was this big debate between two groups, one that is saying that chess is fine like this, and one that wants changes, e.g. the Sofia rule, the football score, et cetera. What is your opinion?

It's a very good question. I also think there are two groups of people, who see chess differently. I think chess is not for everybody. Chess is for people who want to make an intellectual effort, who have respect for the game, and we shouldn't make the game more simple so that more people would enjoy it. I think we have millions of people worldwide who enjoy chess games. Let's respect them and do the utmost for them. They follow, the respect the game, they respect the players.

I think chess is not for everybody. Chess is for people who want to make an intellectual effort, who have respect for the game, and we shouldn't make the game more simple so that more people would enjoy it.

But there are also a lot of people who think chess should be different. I read one comment, that chess was boring, that the Eurovision was much more interesting, that chess is dead. My message is: if you want to watch Eurovision, go watch Eurovision. If you want to see cheap shows on TV? Watch cheap shows on TV. But there are millions of people who enjoy the game of chess, so let them enjoy the game of chess.

It's like classical music and pop music. If you go to a concert of a great violin player or piano player, you don't tell him: "OK, but Lady Gaga is much more entertaining. We have millions watching Lady Gaga, and only thousands are watching you in this theater." I think these are different things.

Let's focus on the people who love chess. Let's go to the schools, and make sure the children will love chess. You have people who appreciate the game and people who love the game. If people are coming only to be entertained, I wouldn't mind if they would go and see Eurovision instead. These people don't respect the players, they undervalue the game, so I don't see why we should try to please them.

In Moscow the live commentary was excellent, so the best service was done to people who love chess. Journalists came from all over the world... If people can't make the intellectual effort, they will never appreciate chess. A game of chess by itself is a pretty complicated thing, and you cannot change it so that one can appreciate it without an intellectual effort. This is my point of view.

For [Silvio] Danailov chess in a museum is like a curse, while Toiletgate in a museum would be totally outrageous! For me, it's a blessing that chess is played in such a prestigous museum. Let's say, Lady Gaga would never be invited to play in the Tretyakov Gallery! We should have respect for our profession, and do everything for the people who love chess. I don't know how it was translated, but this was what I wanted to say with my comment.

Read the second part of this interview here

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Chris's picture

chess are "an art, a fight and a science"

NN's picture

I am inclined to agree with every opinion Gelfand expresses in this interview, including the one in this article's title. This should not surprise anyone and it is something Anand also agreed with.

Vhomas Topalov's picture

Very pleased to read Boris's opionions on chess and entertainment, clever man, great player, and with clever humor, no lady gagas in Tretyakov!

Profits's picture

Gelfand will be forgotten very quickly in chess. Only the real chess fans will remember this match. For the new breed of chess players will not care who Gelfand is and how he played. Anand has made history however will he hold up about his talents in chess compared to the other great World Champs. I would think Anand be best of friends with Kasparov and learn how he has manage to keep the fans of him and chess alive in a country that lost the love for chess because of the terror it has cause the leaders of Russia. The Future of chess is in entertainment Gelfand. Live with it. I don't respect the comments made about GAGA. She is full of colour not black and white.

Manu's picture

You are absolutely right about the future of chess , like his successful cousin poker shares the condition of being a game , therefore belonging in entertaining arenas.
I will also add that being a musician (or any kind of truly artistic discipline 4 that matters) will ALWAYS be far above in complexity and richness than playing any solved (or about to be solved) saloon game that could never even reach the category of sport.

KK's picture

So by your strange "logic", any third rate "musician" is better than the greatest chess genius? I hope you know that modern music like modern art is not about talent and virtuosity, the artist's opinion is "If they don't like it, I don't care, it is my inner calling" for any nonsense they compose. You might have sounded normal if you compared a "saloon game" with great composers of the past, but for that you have to go beyond Gaga.

Bardamu's picture

"I will also add that being a musician (or any kind of truly artistic discipline 4 that matters) will ALWAYS be far above in complexity and richness than playing any solved (or about to be solved) saloon game that could never even reach the category of sport."

yea right, like every musician is an artist. And chess an 'about to be solved saloon game'? Are you trolling? Chess is a sport, science and art in one.

Manu's picture

Chess is none of those things actually, at all.

Joe's picture

Most musicians I know (and I happen to know a lot being one myself) will consider this extremely romantic view of art to be at the very least extremely one-sided.

Your referring to complexity and richness seem drenched in some kind of emotional/spiritual discourse, as opposed to some 'merely mathematical' game, which is why it is more complex.
Anyone performing and studying music seriously considers this nonsense. Those 'mere mathematics' are the solid basis for any proper work of music. 'Boring' things like knowledge and technique are vital for a good performance, because they are the things that make up the 'higher' meaning of music, which you seem to revere so much.

And I think chess, like music, has this 'higher' meaning as well. The game is not purely mathematical simply because it is played by humans. Reading Shipov commentary makes that very clear. Each move is not just a move, but also a possible mental blow.
But even if chess were purely mathematical, there is no need to scorn it for that. Mathematics is also purely mathematical, but any professional mathematician would consider you mental if you'd say that it was 'dry' and there is no 'beauty' or 'complexity' in it.

Manu's picture

I would never say that because math is a science and chess just a game contained by (a minuscule part) of math.
You can climb stairs artistically , but climbing stairs is not a form of art ,please check basic fundaments of logic and dont let yourself be fooled by your love for the game.
BTW being a game (specially if it is the best of all games invented to this day) is by no means a detrimental comment , just an accurate description.

Thomas's picture

Gelfand should be remembered - if not for this WCh match than for his entire chess career which is rougly on par with other players that belonged to the world top for many years but never became world champion. Examples might be Short, Shirov, Ivanchuk, ... .

Anonymous's picture

Short and Shirov maybe, but hardly Ivanchuk. The latter has won Linares three times and missed out on a fourth title on tiebreak. In 1991 he won against Kasparov, Karpov and Anand when he won the tournament. While Gelfand's last tournament win was in 2005 (and that without opponents in the 2700s) Ivanchuk has won these top events just since 2008:

M-Tel Masters, Sofia 2008 8/10 2008, 1st

Tal Memorial, Moscow 2008, 6/9 1st

Linares 2009 8/14, Joint 1st (Alexander Grischuk declared winner because of higher number of wins)

Bazna 2009, 7/10 1st

Jermuk 2009, 8.5/13 1st

Amber Rapid 2010, 8/11 Joint 1st (with Magnus Carlsen)

Amber Overall 2010, Joint 1st (with Magnus Carlsen)

Capablanca Memorial Havana 2010, 7/10 1st

Cap d'Agde Rapid 2010, 1st

Gibraltar 2011, 9/10 1st

Capablanca Memorial Havana 2011, 6.5/10 1st

Grand Slam Bilbao – São Paulo 2011, Joint 1st (Magnus Carlsen wins the tie-break blitz games)

Capablanca Memorial Havana, Cuba 2012, 6.5/10, 1st.

Remco G's picture

That's obviously wrong -- to qualify for this WC match, Gelfand first had to win the World Cup, and then the Candidates.

slonik's picture

Those were minimatch knockouts and not tournaments

Chris's picture

I doubt.
That time Fide 'created' an qualification system where the factor of luck played great role.
The lucky man was Gelfand.

KingTal's picture

Wow, what a stupid comment. Russia did never loose the love for the game, it´s a national sport there. Kasparov was the guy who brought the chess world to a chaos after 1993.
Thanks must be given to Kramnik, who kept the game allive because he captured the title from Kasparov and reunified the chess world in 2006 again.
Also reducing the game of chess as to entertainment business means the death of the noble game, because entertainment(simplicity, fast action) and chess(intellectual, complex) doesn´t like each other.

kingFisher's picture

what a funny joke -kramnik united chess. After Kasparov split Fide he stopped being Champion, so there was nothing to pass to kramnik, this was private commercial braingames match.

KingTal's picture

But funny as it is some people like you are still considering the ones like kasimdzhanov and khalifman to be world champions, other (more) people considered Kasparov as the world champ, private commercial or not doesn´t matter here. Fact is Kramnik won Kasparovs title and then against Topalov to unite the chess crown.

kingFisher's picture

yes, beside me anand also considers kasimfzanov as world champ. Karpov was world champ from 93-99, and after that was khalifman who won in las vegas, by the way kramnik took part there and lost. So this is the history other are sprculations.

KingTal's picture

You are right that they won it in a fair manner, but in 50 years following things will be remembered:
1985 - 2000 WC Kasparov
2000 - 2007 WC Kramnik
Kasimdzhanovs and Khalifmans will be forgotten, even today most people don´t consider them WC or don´t even know who they are, reality proofs it´s more important what most people think, don´t forget that.

kingFisher's picture

yes they won their titles in fair maner. What will happen after 50 years no one knows. Do not forget that before 60 years many people thought that stalin is a hero. So this gmasters were fully deserved world champs, at least me and you know who are they.

randi's picture

I think this whole thing was unnecessary. We all know this match was bull-oney. A year ago I said that this would be boring and that Vishy would win. It wasn't a hard prediction. It's very simple: a 43 year-old Challenger who tries to beat a real beast. The beast has to be challenged by someone of his same size or someone who has some other traits which compensate for Anand's masterful comprehension of the game. Carlsen is, in my opnion, still inferior to Anand. Talent is not the only thing required to be World Champion, and Carlsen will have to prove he's got it all.

We, the fans, want a real beast as a challenger. Someone who meets the following criteria:

Member of the top-ten. Someone who has a REAL chance of strenghthening the game's legacy.

I mean Alexander Grischuk represented youth, a boom on investigatory mindset towards poker-chess correlation, time trouble, nail-biter sum up a lot of different traits that might tickle Anand a little bit more than Gelfy's cold approach with a draw-first mindset.

But don't worry, Carlsen is coming to take it, Aronian wants it, Kramink thrives to regain it and some youngsters see a real shot at it..the World Chess Crown.

It's about what Anand, Karpov and Kramnik have stated before, "Ultimatelly, it's a matter of nerves"...something Ivanchuk and Topalov could lost right there in the key moments.

Just my personal opinion

Manu's picture

"Ultimatelly, it's a matter of nerves"...something Ivanchuk and Topalov could lost right there in the key moments."
Well , Gelfand nerves werent made of steal either , he just blundered a queen after winning a hard fought game , if that wasnt a key moment i dont know what is it.

randi's picture

Well, a key moment was not in game 7 or 8, it's a concept. It happened in the tiebreak mostly. Anand won a drawn endgame, while Gelfand failed to consolidate his advantage in game 3 & 4. Key moments (turning points in the match).
My point is that FIDE should learn from the Kazan fiasco and organize a strong event, won by the best of the best...not by a 43 year old moose who clearly is not the best, he's not even in the top-ten. Admit it people, this match was a joke.

Mathew's picture

Gelfand is absolutely right chess is not for everyone let's stop this Bunnie(patzer) invasion and leave chess as it is.

Manu's picture

name and rating please

Chris's picture

Chess are for everyone. It is a game.

blueofnoon's picture

I really hate this kind of elitism.

Remember, Petrosian said the prize money of world championship at his time was barely enough to buy him a modest car.

Then Fischer came in, chess became much popular than it had been, and he succeeded in attract sponsors.

Like him or not, this is one of his major achievements, and all the chess players should thank him for this point.

Now, little old Gelfy proclaims chess is only for selected audience? Then go back to Petrosian's era and pay 1 million back to the sponsor.

They should organize next world championship with much cheaper prize fund and much less media attention. That's what old Gelfy wants, right?

Xeno's picture

People under the misguided apprehension that they are more entertained by Fischer and Kasparov than by Gelfand should go watch Wrestlemania and Lady Gaga while the real chess experts prefer GM draws on a much higher level and Bach

blueofnoon's picture

Yeah, Fischer and Kasparov were players I mostly adored when I started playing chess. Now I appreciate other players as well, but without them I never became a chess fan and chess player myself.

By the way, how strong you are as a player, who claims to be a "real chess expert"?


S3's picture

One of those other players is Carlsen-you know him personally right? No wonder that you applaud the mc-donaldisation of chess.

S3's picture

Of course chess is for a selected audience, the game requires people to think and learn relatively complex rules. That's why it is the royal game. Some people are too dumb or more likely too lazy to appreciate it as it is, but it doesn't mean there are not enough fans to guarantee prize money.
And wealthy sponsors like Piatigorsky, van Oosterom, Filatov clearly share(d) this view. Companies like Dannemann and Intel used chess to market their product as something for cultured/smart people.

Now Gelfand and Filatov are maybe even making a statement playing in the museum: The game is not for everyone; it's for "cultured people", intellectuals and so forth.

Maybe it is even a response to some players/managers who are just looking to popularize chess (or rather themselves) amongst the masses. In order to do so they are even willing to make concessions and change the game itself. That's throwing out the baby with the wash water, or betrayal of chess if you like. And those brain dead groupie fans whom they attract are no enrichment for chess either as far as I can see.

blueofnoon's picture

Well, Garry Kasparov, who probably understands chess more than any other chess player, called this match "boring".

If you pretend you know something about chess and have different opinion than Garry's, then I would very much like to know how strong you are as a chess player.

S3's picture

Well, that's really no argument. Incidentally, both you and Kasparov are befriended with and on the payroll of a would-be challenger who is afraid to fight. Fight in a fair way by chess that is.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Great, well said Gelfand. Those who really love chess, would take that extra effort to understand the games to its fullest extent even if it contains only 25 moves.

John C's picture

Let's see how much prize money stays in chess when only those "who really love chess" follow it.

Less audience, less demand, less support, less money. Simple.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Its also a simple fact that this wch match had the highest prize money of all matches. And it will be the case that the next wch match will be at least this much or higher, irrespective of who qualifies for it.

h8dgeh0g's picture

yes, inflation unadjusted.

Manu's picture

And when Kramnik itself says that he cant understand the reasons for a draw ? what we do then ?
Chess games should be played to the end ,always.

Chris's picture

Joke you :-).

25 moves it is probably only 5 moves out of home preparation.
The extra effort will be runing an chess engine over the games.

Xeno's picture

Nigel Short said the match was hugely disappointing and that the people that love chess were disappointed by it

Bartleby's picture

Good, insightful interview.
Chelsea won more than once against dominating teams, Anand won more than once by picking up gifts his opponents made him in highly critical phases. Does Gelfand talk about luck having to do with preparedness in the second part?
Sort of what Lady Gaga did when mainstream success hit her.

Anonymous's picture

Gelfand's comparing himself to Barcelona is a bit over the top, everyone considers Barcelona to be best in the world and they pressed and pressed against Chelsea hitting posts more than once and creating lots of open goalscoring opportunities against an underdog that was far from the best teams in their country and expected to lose badly.

Chris's picture

He missed that match with Chelsea - Bayern.

Barcelona that is Carlsen.

AljechinsCat's picture

Gelfand comes to detail when he discusses the "early draw debate". I felt the same, namely there was hardly a chance for Gelfand to play on a specific postion or to not accept the draw offer. The same goes NOT to Anand. In game 12 he lacked any fighting spirit, I will always be deeply disappointed.

An unbiased chess fan's picture

A very nice interview. As usual I hope sometimes the ridiculous comments would be deleted. I mean his whole connotation of lady gaga is something and else and someone starts a stupid thread on the subject. very nice interview with a nice player. it was just pure luck that he lost. Gelfand was the winner for me - by his chess, his stance, his behaviour as a champion - not sitting around and playing the sneaky duck. he was brave and went forth like a man. looking forward to the second part of the interview.

Vips's picture


Chris's picture

unbiased biased :).

Where have you seen Gelfands braveness in the match? He is loser.

An unbiased chess fan's picture

just to add - i think gelfand is still the rising star - best wishes to him always an inspiring person

An unbiased chess fan's picture

the result of the match does not matter unless for the prize money and putin's propaganda. the winner of world chess championship 2012 is undoubtedly Gelfand - compare class of game 7 to class of game 8. i seriously suspect that something happened between game 7 and the tiebreaks that disturbed gelfand's rhythm. something maybe very subtle like a food menu change or sleeping rhythm. the whole idea was that anand should win and putin's propaganda should get a due platform. it's one of those things in history that will never come out. it may have been sparked by kasparov's comments. this game was putin's game. congratulations to GM Gelfand for having fought like a samurai. blessings.


Latest articles