Since moving to Israel from Belarus in the mid-1990s, Boris Gelfand has
become the forgotten man of world chess.
Having devoted his life to preparing for a possible world title challenge,
Gelfand was unlucky to discover that, with knock-out tournaments replacing
Gelfand's specialty, match-play, his greatest asset was no longer of any
importance in becoming FIDE World Champion.
Gelfand's golden rule had been never to play in an event which would not
improve his skills, but he has been forced to adapt to the modern chess
world by agreeing to compete in rapid and blindfold events. These
exhibition events are a key source of income for the world's top players
but Gelfand has never been motivated by money and it is clear that his
heart remains with serious tournament chess.
Despite consistently being ranked among the world's top dozen, Gelfand, 32,
is a rare guest at elite tournaments but showed last week in Poland that,
when invited, he can outperform the best.
At the Rubinstein Memorial tournament in Polanica Zdroj, Gelfand
outdistanced a classy field including top 10 players Alexey Shirov and
The key game of the tournament was the following.
Polanica Zdroj 2000
Opening: Sicilian Defence
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.d4 cxd4
8.Nxd4 g6 9.f3 Bg7 10.Be3 0-0 11.0-0 Qd8!
A manouevre discovered by Gelfand seven years ago - Black's queen is poorly
placed on d7.
12.Nde2 Qa5 13.Rc1 a6 14.Nf4 Nd7 15.a3 e6! 16.Qxd6?
Typical risk-taking Shirov but now White's queen is in a mess.
16...Nde5! 17.Qc5 Rfc8! 18.Nce2?
18.Qxa5 Nxa5 looks good for Black but White can fight.
18...Qxc5 19.Bxc5 g5 20.Nh5 Nd3 was not bad either.
19.Bf2 Bf8 20.Qe3 Nxc4 21.Qc3 N6a5! 22.Nd4
White is losing the b pawn anyway, so Shirov goes for broke.
22...e5 23.Nd5 exd4 24.Bxd4 Ne5 25.Qe3 Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Bg7 27.b4 Nac6 28.Bxe5
1.Gelfand(Isr) 6.5/9; 2eq.Shirov(Spa), Van Wely(Ned) 6; 4eq.Ivanchuk(Ukr),
Krasenkow(Pol) 5; 6eq.Movsesian(Cze), Markowski(Pol), Almasi(Hun) 4;
9.Svidler(Rus) 3.5; 10.Fedorov(Rus) 1.