Israeli chess master Boris Gelfand will face his greatest challenge Friday, a match for the title of world chess champion.
Gelfand will face reigning champ Viswanathan Anand of India at the World Chess Championships in Moscow, a three-week event, starting Friday morning.
At a pre-match press conference Gelfand acknowledged the two are on friendly terms, according to a Haaretz report.
This is the fifth time Anand will be forced to defend his title, though he no longer holds the top world ranking, falling to No. 4 recently. Gelfand is ranked 22.
Gelfand, 43, was born in Minsk and immigrated to Israel in 1998, quickly dominating the local chess scene and capturing a number of world chess tournaments, including the Chess World Cup in 2009.
Gelfand defeated the world’s top players in the 2011 Candidates Cup round to earn him a spot at the board opposite Anand.
Though Anand is heavily favored, he told Indian news site DNA that he expects a tough challenge. “He is a tough opponent for me and defeated me in the first four encounters,” he told the site in an email. “In 1996, I was able to defeat him in Wijk aan Zee and Biel. This match would be a very tough challenge chesswise as you are playing one of the best prepared players in the world. Boris would definitely be very motivated and keen to win.”
Anand’s sparring partner Surya Gangula also told reporters that Gelfand could not be underestimated. “He is a classical player with a deep knowledge of the game. His playing style is very traditional, very typical of the Soviet mindset. But the way he reads a game is simply outstanding,” he said, according to the Indian Business Times.
The title will be decided over 12 matches. The winner will take home a purse of $1.53 million while second place will win $1.02 million.