Who says chess isn’t cool?
Days after falling in his quest for the world chess title, Israel grandmaster Boris Gelfand was given a rock star’s welcome back home Friday to raucous cheers and large crowds at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv.
Well-wishers held signs reading, “Good job, Gelfand,” and “Gelfand, you’re the bomb,” and chanted his name in unison as the chess master walked into the arrivals area at Ben-Gurion Airport. One child dressed up as a chess piece for the occasion.
Gelfand pushed reigning chess champion Viswanathan Anand of India into a speed overitme round after 12 matches in the World Chess Championship, managing to draw most games. The tense series won Gelfand, originally from Belarus, a gaggle of new fans in Russia and Israel, though he lost in the overtime round.
On Saturday, Anand told Indian news site NDTV that Gelfand neutralized every move he made and pushed him out of his comfort zone. Anand said critics who believed he should have handily defeated Gelfand were mistaken in thinking the Indian was the heavy favorite.
“He never let me get the kind of play that I like and that is very frustrating as you like to play in a certain way but Gelfand neutralized almost everything I did and so I had to cope with that,” he said.
Gelfand, who was in Moscow for nearly a month for the matches, was reunited with his two young children upon his return. Camera’s flashed to record his every move and he was handed several bouquets of flowers and papers to autograph.
“I hope in Israel there will be an advancement [in the sport] after this whole deal,” he told reporters, adding that his loss was a matter of luck and he hoped to compete in the championship next year.
At one point, Gelfand discovered his luggage cart was missing, leading to several tense moments until his bags were found near the bomb disposal area.
“I couldn’t care less about this entire luggage” he said, according to Chessbase.com. “As long as my laptop and disk on key, including lifetime analysis and the world championship preparation, wouldn’t have been blown to pieces by security.”