Boris Gelfand

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Boris Gelfand
Boris Gelfand.jpg
Gelfand at a 2006 tournament
Full name Boris Abramovich Gelfand
Country Soviet Union
Born (1968-06-24) 24 June 1968 (age 46)
Minsk, Belarussian SSR, Soviet Union
Title Grandmaster (1989)
FIDE rating 2748 (September 2014)
(No. 8 in the January 2014 FIDE World Rankings)
Peak rating 2777 (November 2013)

Boris Abramovich Gelfand (Belarusian: Барыс Абрамавіч Гельфанд; Hebrew: בוריס אברמוביץ' גלפנד‎; born 24 June 1968) is an Israeli chess Grandmaster. He won the 2011 Candidates Tournament and faced World Champion Viswanathan Anand for the World Chess Championship 2012. Although the match was level at 6–6, Gelfand lost in the rapid tie break games.[1]


Boris Gelfand was born in Minsk, Belarussian SSR, on 24 June 1968. His parents, Abram and Nella, were engineers. His father bought him a book about chess, Journey to the Chess Kingdom, by Averbakh and Beilin, when he was four years old.[2] In 1980–83, he attended the Tigran Petrosian School, where he met the former world champion in person and received advice that impacted on his life as a chess player: "I remember Petrosian saying to me that I shouldn’t make a single move without having an idea: 'Even when you’re playing blitz, always think!'"[2]

In 1998, Gelfand immigrated to Israel and settled in Rishon LeZion, where he became Israel's top ranking chess player. He is married to Maya.[3]

He is a football fan, and is a member of FC Barcelona (the club doesn't allow to buy shares of the club, but rather membership).[4]

Chess career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Gelfand was Junior Champion of the Soviet Union at 17,[5] and European Junior Champion two years later. In 1988 he tied for first in the World Junior Championship, the title, however, going to Joël Lautier.[why?] The next year he earned the GM title. He has won about 30 tournaments in his professional career, including tournaments at Wijk aan Zee (1992) and first places in Biel (1993), Dos Hermanas (1994), Belgrade (1995), Tilburg (1996), Malmö (1999), and Pamplona (2004).

Early World Championship results[edit]

Gelfand has qualified several times for Candidates Tournaments for the World Chess Championship. In the World Chess Championship 1993, he qualified for the Candidates via the Interzonal. He won his first Candidates match, but was knocked out in the second (quarter-final) round by Nigel Short. In the FIDE World Chess Championship 1996 he won the Interzonal, then won his first two Candidates matches, before being eliminated in the semi-final by Anatoly Karpov. He had numerous strong results in the knockout tournaments for the FIDE World Chess Championships 1998–2004, with his best result being a semi-finalist in 1997. He played in the 8-player 2002 Dortmund Tournament, which was the Candidates for the Classical World Chess Championship 2004, but failed to reach the semi-finals.

2007 World Championship[edit]

Gelfand finished in the top 10 in the 2005 FIDE World Cup, which qualified him for the Candidates for the World Chess Championship 2007. He won his Candidates matches against Rustam Kasimdzhanov (in rapid tie-breaks) and Gata Kamsky (+2−0=3), to qualify for the championship tournament in September 2007. Gelfand was not one of the favourites for the World Chess Championship 2007, but he surprised most observers by finishing joint second with reigning World Champion Vladimir Kramnik (third after tie breaks); the World Championship was won by Viswanathan Anand.

2012 World Championship[edit]

Gelfand and Viswanathan Anand

In the Chess World Cup 2009, Boris was the top seed, and defeated Judit Polgár, reigning World Junior Champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Dmitry Jakovenko, and Sergey Karjakin to reach the final. He then faced former FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov for the championship, and won the match 7–5 in a playoff.[6] By winning the Chess World Cup 2009, Gelfand qualified for the World Chess Championship 2012 Candidates Tournament.

In May 2011, Gelfand participated in the World Chess Championship 2012 Candidates tournament in Kazan, Russia where he was seeded fourth. In the quarterfinals, he won a complex struggle on the black side of the Najdorf Defense in game three to defeat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2½–1½ and advance to the semifinals, where he faced American Gata Kamsky. After splitting the first four games 2–2, Kamsky won game three in the rapid playoff to go ahead 2–1, forcing Gelfand to win with black in the final rapid game in order to avoid elimination. Gelfand was up to the task, and then won the blitz playoff 2–0 to advance to the final. In the final, he faced Alexander Grischuk. After drawing the first five games, Gelfand won the sixth and final game on the white side of a Grünfeld Defence to win the match and the tournament 3½–2½.

As winner of the Candidates Tournament, Gelfand faced Anand for the 2012 World Championship.[7] His victory in game seven gave him the lead in the match, only to lose the lead in game 8 in a 17-move miniature. The match after its conclusion was level at 6 points each, but Anand won the rapid playoff 2½–1½ to maintain the title.


Gelfand played in the 2013 Candidates Tournament, which took place in London, from 15 March to 1 April. He finished fifth, with +2−3=9.[8]

In the 2013 Alekhine Memorial tournament, held from 20 April to 1 May, Gelfand shared first place with Aronian, who edged him out on the second tiebreak (number of wins). He scored +2−0=7.[9]

From June 13 to June 23 Gelfand participated in the Tal Memorial. He finished with +3−0=6, beating Alexander Morozevich, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, winning the tournament with 6/9, half a point ahead of Magnus Carlsen.[10] He gained 18 rating points and achieved his all-time highest Elo rating of 2773.[11][12] He continued his good form, sharing first in the final FIDE Grand Prix in Paris alongside Fabiano Caruana. He gained 11.9 rating points and again achieved a record personal rating of 2777. In the Grand Prix cycle he finished fourth with 325 points, behind Caruana in third, Mamedyarov second and Topalov being the winner of the cycle with 410 points.

Notable tournament victories[edit]

Individual results[edit]

2013 France Paris Grand Prix 20 I-II
2013 Russia Moscow Tal Memorial 22 I
2013 Russia France Paris, St. Petersburg Alekhine Memorial 20 I-II
2012 United Kingdom London Grand Prix 20 I-III
2009 Russia Khanty-Mansiysk Chess World Cup 20 I
2007 Russia Moscow II Tal Memorial 20 III–VI
2007 Spain Calatrava II Chess Festival (rapid) open I–IV
2007 Ukraine Odessa 1st ACP Cup (rapid) k.o. ½ F
2007 Czech Republic Prague Match vs David Navara 2719 2–2
2006 Germany Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting 19 III–V
2005 Switzerland Biel XXXVIII Biel Int. Chess Festival 16 I–II
2005 Bermuda Hamilton Bermuda Int. Invitational Tnt 17 I–II
2004 Spain Pamplona XIV Torneo Int. de Ajedrez 16 I
2004 Israel Ashdod The Int. Invitational Tnt 16 I–IV
2004 Bermuda Hamilton Fourways International 16 II
2003 Mexico Mérida XVI Carlos Torre Memorial k.o. ½ F
2003 France Bastia VII Corsica Masters (rapid) k.o. ¼ F
2003 Hungary Paks Match vs Judith Polgar (rapid) 2718 6–2
2003 France Enghien V Masters 17 III–IV
2002 France Cap d'Agde V Grand Prix (rapid) k.o. I
2002 Russia Moscow Russia vs Rest of the World 19 PR 2788
2002 Monaco Monte Carlo XI Melody Amber (rapid) 18 I
2002 France Cannes First NAO Chess Masters 18 I–II
2001 Switzerland Biel XXXIV Biel Int. Chess Festival 16 III
2001 Slovenia Portorož XIV Vidmar Memorial 14 II
2001 Kazakhstan Astana Independence Tournament 20 III
2001 Monaco Monte Carlo X Melody Amber (rapid) 18 I–II
2000 Poland Polanica Zdroj XXXVII Rubinstein Memorial 17 I
2000 China Shenyang World Cup (rapid) k.o. ½ F
2000 Israel Haifa Wydra Memorial (rapid) 16 II–III
1999 Spain Pamplona IX Torneo Int. de Ajedrez 15 II–III
1999 Sweden Malmö Sigeman & Co 14 I
1999 Israel Tel Aviv National Superchampionship 14 I–III
1998 France Cap d'Agde World Cup (rapid) k.o. Runner Up
1998 Poland Polanica Zdroj XXXV Rubinstein Memorial 17 I
1997 Poland Polanica Zdroj XXXIV Rubinstein Memorial 16 II
1997 Switzerland Biel XXX Biel Int. Chess Festival 17 III
1996 Netherlands Groningen XXXV Int. Chess Tournament 16 II–III
1996 France Cap d'Agde European Champ (rapid) k.o. ¼ F
1996 Netherlands Tilburg Fontys 16 I–II
1996 Austria Vienna Millenium Festival 18 I–III
1996 Germany Dortmund XXIV Dortmunder Schachtage 18 III
1995 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Belgrade Investabanka 17 I–II
1995 Switzerland Biel XXVIII Biel Int. Chess Festival 15 III–IV
1994 France Cap d'Agde Rencontres Internationales open I
1994 France Cap d'Agde Macth vs A. Karpov (rapid) 2765 4–2
1994 Spain Dos Hermanas VI Torneo Int. Dos Hermanas 16 I
1993 Greece Chalkidiki Afytos, Nikiti 16 I
1993 Germany Munich SKA – Mephisto Turnier 16 II
1992 Russia Moscow Alekhine Memorial 18 I–II
1992 Netherlands Tilburg XVI Interpolis k.o. Runner Up
1992 Germany Munich SKA – Mephisto Turnier 15 II–III
1992 Netherlands Wijk aan Zee LIV Hoogovens Schaaktoernoi 14 I–II
1991 Italy Reggio–Emilia XXXIV Torneo di Cappodanno 18 II–III
1991 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Belgrade Investabanka 15 I
1991 Germany Munich SKA – Mephisto Turnier 14 II–V
1990 Netherlands Tilburg XIV Interpolis 16 III
1990 Germany Dortmund XVIII Dortmunder Scachtage 13 II
1990 Spain Linares XIII Torneo Internacional 16 II
1989 Spain Palma GMA Open open I
1989 Soviet Union Odessa LVI USSR Champ 13 II–V
1989 Netherlands OHRA B LVI USSR Champ open I–III
1989 Hungary Debrecen Barcza Memorial 12 I
1988 Netherlands Arnhem European Championship U20 open I–II
1988 Australia Adelaide World Championship U20 open I–IV
1988 Soviet Union Vilnius USSR Championship U26 9 I–II
1987 Netherlands Arnhem European Championship U20 open I
1986 Soviet Union Minsk Minsk International 9 II–III
1985 Soviet Union Jūrmala USSR Championship U18 open I
1985 Soviet Union Minsk National Championship tt I
1984 Soviet Union Minsk National Championship tt I

Team results[edit]

Gelfand appeared in a total of nine Chess Olympiads, representing the Soviet Union once, Belarus twice, and Israel six times.[15]

  • In 1990, he won the team gold medal playing board two for the Soviet Union.
  • In 2008, he won the team silver medal, and also an individual silver medal, playing board one for Israel.
  • In 2010, he won the team bronze medal playing board one for Israel.
2007 Russia Sochi Russian League Elara III
2005 Italy St.Vincent XXI Euro Club Cup Polonia GSM Plus II
2005 Spain Mérida Spanish League Gros Xake Taldea III
2005 Sweden Gothenburg XV Euro National Team Championship Israel II
2005 Russia Dagomys Russian League (blitz) Termosteps Samara III
2004 Russia Sochi Russian League (rapid) Termosteps Samara I
2003 Bulgaria Plovdiv XIV Euro National Team Championship Israel II
2003 Greece Rethymnon XIX Euro Club Cup Polonia Warsaw (POL) II
2002 Israel Tel Aviv Israeli League (rapid) Rishon-le-Zion I
2001 Israel Tel Aviv Israeli League (rapid) Rishon-le-Zion I
2000 France France French League Montpellier II
1999 Bosnia and Herzegovina Bugojno XV Euro Club Cup Agrouuniversal Zemun (SM) II
1999 Israel Tel Aviv Israeli League Rishon-le-Zion II
1990 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Novi Sad XXIX Olympiad USSR I
1989 Israel Haifa IX Euro National Team Championship USSR I

Playing style[edit]

Gelfand is notable as a 1.d4 opener as White, and as a specialist in the Najdorf Sicilian,[16] Petroff Defence, Slav Defense, and King's Indian Defence as Black. He is noted for his strong positional awareness and low proneness to mistakes.

Published works[edit]


  1. ^ Shvidler, Eli. (2 April 2008) Israeli grandmaster Gelfand loses World Chess Championship. Retrieved on 2012-05-31.
  2. ^ a b World Chess Championship Match. Retrieved on 2012-05-31.
  3. ^ Wife backs Boris Gelfand to win against Anand. (22 May 2012). Retrieved on 2012-05-31.
  4. ^ "ynet בוריס גלפנד: "מקווה לשחק עד גיל 75" - ספורט". Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  5. ^ "34th USSR Junior Chess Championship, Yurmala January 1985". RusBase. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  6. ^ World Chess Cup Final: Boris Gelfand is King. (15 December 2009). Retrieved on 2012-05-31.
  7. ^ Official FIDE World Championship 2012 Site
  8. ^ "Tournament standings". FIDE. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Aronian and Gelfand win Alekhine Memorial 2013". ChessBase News. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Tal Final: Gelfand wins, Carlsen clear second". Chessbase News. 23 June 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "July 2013 FIDE Rating List: Caruana and Gelfand with Personal Records; Kramnik Out of Top Three". 2013-06-30. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  12. ^ "Gelfand, Boris ISR FIDE Top Chess Player". Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  13. ^ Loeb McClain, Dylan (27 May 2000). "Displaying Steadier Nerves, Gelfand Captures World Rapid Cup". New York Times. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  14. ^ Israel's Gelfand wins Chess World Cup, 31 December 2009, in Israel 21c A Focus Beyond Retrieved 2010-01-01
  15. ^ Bartelski, Wojciech. "Men's Chess Olympiads:Boris Gelfand". OlimpBase. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  16. ^ "Boris Gelfand - My Most Memorable Games - Products". New In Chess. 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 

External links[edit]