‘It’s important to raise the status of chess in Israel,’ Gelfand says
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‘It’s important to raise the status of chess in Israel,’ Gelfand says

Netanyahu, Peres congratulate challenger for his ‘tremendous achievement’ in narrow defeat to world champion

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu plays chess with Boris Gelfand in 2010. (photo credit: Alex Kolomoisky/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhu plays chess with Boris Gelfand in 2010. (photo credit: Alex Kolomoisky/Flash90)

Boris Gelfand humbly accepted the praise of his countrymen on Wednesday — after his chase for the chess world title came up one point short — telling reporters in Moscow that he had been encouraged by the support and encouragement he had received from Israel.

“It’s always nice when people in your home country support you, and I heard that I got a lot of support,” Gelfand said.

Israeli media followed the 12-match final, and Wednesday’s four-match tiebreaker, with great interest. Israel’s leaders followed the events, as well — and they let Gelfand know it on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Gelfand on his “tremendous achievement,” telling the grandmaster that he had followed Gelfand’s moves.

“I was very impressed,” Netanyahu said. “You created a lot of interest in chess among a lot of people through your example.”

President Shimon Peres also congratulated Gelfand, saying that he displayed “an impressive intellectual effort” in challenging reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand of India and adding that he had done so “with humility, with consistency and with balance.”

Gelfand said the accolades were nice, but that “what is important is that this momentum be preserved, and that the status of chess in Israeli society be raised.”

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