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Gelfand wins Chess World Cup

December 15, 2009 10:07 IST

Justifying his top billing Grandmaster Boris Gelfand of Israel won the Chess World Cup, defeating former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine in the tie-breaker of the final in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia.

After the first three games ended in a draw, the fourth game under normal time control was intense but also ended in a draw leading to the tie-breaker which was also not devoid of venom.

Gelfand enjoyed early lead in the rapid tie-break games and was almost closed to shut the doors on Pono when suddenly in the last (fourth) game of the rapid games the giant rose and squared the one point advantage that the Israeli had.

The stage was thus set for the tie-break blitz games that have been known to give the seeds a taste of their own medicine. Gelfand won the second set of Blitz tie-breaker 2-0 after drawing the first set 1-1.

Ruslan Ponomariov had conceded that he had booked his return ticket only after the final day of tie-breaker – unusual if other world cup aspirants had been taken in to account but the Ukrainian was prophetic in his words – showing clinical ease in making it to the finals.

"I managed to win in the tie-breaks, though it was very hard," a visibly happy Gelfand said.

"I think I could have showed good result already in the second rapid game. But the stress and tension did the work and I started blundering. Ruslan was also making mistakes. I had a bit advantage in the fourth game. The only thing I should have done is to make a goal in the empty gates.

"But I blundered again. Ruslan started a counter game and I gave in. Then we started playing blitz games. Here everything depended on the coolness and ability to keep the nerves together," Gelfand said after the match.

"I was not impressed by the fact that I was top seeded. There were about 20 chess players who had every reason to expect to win the Cup," added the Israeli when asked if expected to win the World Cup.

When asked what it takes to perform at his age, Gelfand was quite candid in his reply.

"Undoubtedly age influences performance. The older a grandmaster is, the more experienced his games are. Starting from 1997 I participated in almost every knockout tournament.

"I have gained a great deal of experience since then, especially in the tiebreak. There were so many strong and young chess players who fell apart after their first defeats.

"They lacked the moral strength, they could not forget about one failure to continue the fight in the further games. I think it comes with experience," he added.

Gelfand is now part of the next world championship cycle. The Israeli has been a candidate for the world championship before but this time it is his best claim to be there.

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