IM (1987); GM (1989); Soviet Junior Champion (1985); European Junior Champion (1989); Olympiad Gold Medalist (1990); World Cup winner (2009); Candidate (1991, 1994, 2002 (Dortmund - PCA), 2007, 2011 and 2013); World Championship Challenger (2012).
Boris Gelfand's longevity as a player, and his ability to maintain his playing strength, are legendary. Born in Minsk in Belarus (then part of the USSR), he emigrated to Israel in 1998 where he currently resides. One of the most experienced of the elite players in the world, he has been a contender for the World Championship for most of his life, starting in 1991 when he first contested the Candidates, and culminating with his closely fought, if unsuccessful, challenge for the world crown in 2012 when he was 44 years old.
<Age> Gelfand won the Junior Championship of the Soviet Union with 9/11 in January 1985, at the age of 16, a half point ahead of Vassily Ivanchuk. He came =1st (2nd on count back to Joel Lautier) in the World Junior Championship in 1988 and became European Junior Champion in 1989.
<World> In 1990, Gelfand won the Manila Interzonal to qualify as a Candidate for the 1993 World Championship. At the 1991 Candidates, he prevailed over Predrag Nikolic, but was then defeated in the quarter final by eventual Candidates winner and championship challenger Nigel Short. He qualified for the FIDE 1994 Candidates event by winning the last Interzonal in Biel, beating Michael Adams and Vladimir Kramnik only to lose to Anatoly Karpov in the finals.
Gelfand competed in all the knockout tournaments that either determined the World Championship, or was part of the World Championship cycle apart from the 2004 tournament in Tripoli. In the knockout tournament that was held in Groningen in 1997, he defeated Lautier in round three, where he was seeded directly because of his results in the last FIDE cycle, and then beat Vladislav Ivanovich Tkachiev and Alexey Dreev before bowing out to the winner of the tournament, Viswanathan Anand. In the world championship knockout tournament of 1999 held in Las Vegas, Gelfand was seeded into the second round where he defeated Jonathan Speelman, and then beat Lautier in round three before losing to the eventual winner, Alexander Khalifman. In 1999 in New Delhi, he was again seeded into round 2 where he defeated Emir Dizdarevic, and then Jeroen Piket in round three before he was defeated by Alexey Shirov in round four. In the 2001-02 knockout tournament held in Moscow, Gelfand lost to Peter Svidler in round 5 after defeating Alexis Cabrera, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Aleksander Petkov Delchev and Zurab Alekseyevich Azmaiparashvili. He played in the 8-player 2002 Dortmund Tournament, which was the Candidates for the Classical World Chess Championship match in 2004, but failed to reach the semi-finals after coming third in the quadrangular round robin preliminary round.
Gelfand finished 6th at the FIDE World Cup (2005), which produced 10 Candidates for the 2007 Candidates tournament, defeating Watu Kobese, Ruben Felgaer, Levan Pantsulaia, and Dreev in the preliminary rounds. In the two rounds of matches at the 2007 Candidates, Gelfand won both the Candidates Match: Gelfand - Kasimdzhanov (2007) and the Candidates Match: Gelfand - Kamsky (2007) to qualify for the FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007) in Mexico City, where he tied for second with Kramnik, a point behind the winner, Anand. Subsequently, he won the World Cup (2009) by defeating Judit Polgar, the then reigning World Junior Champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Dmitry Jakovenko, and Sergey Karjakin to reach the final, where he then faced former FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov, winning the match 7-5 in a playoff. In doing so he qualified for the World Championship Candidates (2011) for another shot at the World Championship in 2012. He played and defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov by 2.5-1.5 (+1 =3 -0) in the first round of the World Championship Candidates (2011), moving into the semi final where defeated Gata Kamsky in the tiebreaker; the result was 2-2 (+0 -0 =4) in the classical games, 2-2 (+1 -1 =2) in the rapid tiebreaker, and 1.5-0.5 in his favour in the blitz tiebreaker. He faced
Alexander Grischuk in the final match, and after five draws, Gelfand won the sixth and final game thus gaining the right to challenge Viswanathan Anand for the world crown. The Anand - Gelfand World Chess Championship (2012) was played in Moscow in May 2012, and Gelfand lost in the rapid game tiebreaker 1.5-2.5 (-1 =3) after drawing the 12 games played under classical time controls 6-6 (+1 -1 =10). As the loser in the World Championship match, he qualified to play in the World Championship Candidates (2013) in London, where he placed a rating-enhancing 5th with 6.5/14 (+2 -3 =9).
Gelfand’s results in the FIDE Grand Prix 2008-2010 were modest, coming 11th. His 2014 World Championship campaign started well when he placed =1st alongside Veselin Topalov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov at the FIDE Grand Prix London (2012), scoring 7/11 (+4 -1 =6; TPR 2836) and netting GP 140 points from the event. However, his 10th place out of 12 placement at the FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent (2012) and his =9th at the FIDE Grand Prix Beijing (2013) eliminated him for the contest for the top two in the Grand Prix series, and attendant qualification into the 2014 Candidates Tournament. However, a strongly motivated player, Gelfand placed =1st (2nd on tiebreak) at the FIDE Grand Prix Paris (2013) alongside Fabiano Caruana to place 4th in the Grand Prix series with 325 points.
He had another chance to qualify for the Candidates via the World Cup (2013) to which he qualified by rating; he defeated Bangladeshi GM Ziaur Rahman in the first round, Uzbek GM Anton Filippov in the 2nd round and Ukrainian GM Alexander Moiseenko in the third round. However, he was eliminated by eventual semi-finalist French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the Round of 16 (round 4), reversing the same result against the same player in the same round of the World Cup of 2009.
Qualifying by rating for the 2014-15 Grand Prix Series portion of the 2016 World Championship cycle, Gelfand was =1st alongside Fabiano Caruana with 6.5/11 in the first leg of the Series, namely the FIDE Grand Prix Baku (2014). This earned Gelfand 155 GP points. In the second leg, the FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent (2014), Gelfand suffered a lapse of form, placing =11th and earning only an extra 15 GP points. Although he performed strongly at the final leg of the series at FIDE Grand Prix Khanty-Mansiysk (2015), it was insufficient to qualify for the Candidates Tournament of 2016.
His remaining chance to qualify for the Candidates in 2016 by his own effort was dashed at the World Cup (2015), for which he qualified via his rating, when in the shock of the first round he was defeated by the young Chilean IM Cristobal Henriquez Villagra and eliminated from the Cup. His final and somewhat slim chance is to be nominated as the Organizer's wild card entry for the Candidates Tournament.
Gelfand has an imposing tournament record dating back to the late 80s. He won or came =1st at Klajpeda 1988, Majorca (GMA) 1989, Moscow 1992, Wijk aan Zee 1992, Manila 1993, Chalkidiki 1993, Biel 1993, Dos Hermanas 1994, Debrecen and Belgrade in 1995, Vienna and Tilburg in 1996, Polanica Zdroj in 1998 and 2000, and Malmö in 1999. He also won at Pamplona Tournament (2004). In 2005, he was =1st with Pentala Harikrishna at the Bermuda International (2005) and 1st at 38th Biel Chess Festival (2005). In 2010 he was in the Experience Team that narrowly lost against the Rising Stars at the Rising Stars - Experience (2010), although he top scored in the tournament with 7/10. He also won outright first with 7/10 at the 2010 NH Tournament in the Netherlands.
Other strong results include 2nd at Linares 1990, 3rd at Tilburg 1990, 3rd at the Reggio Emilia of 1991/92, 2nd in the category 16 tournament in Munich 1993, 3rd at Dortmund in 1996, 2nd in the 14th Dr Milan Vidmar Memorial tournament in Slovenia, 3rd at Biel 2001, 2nd at the category 18 tournament in Cannes in 2002 behind Topalov, =3rd at Dortmund Sparkassen (2006), and 4th at the Tal Memorial (2006) a half point behind joint leaders, Ponomariov, Peter Leko and Levon Aronian. In 2009, he came 2nd behind Ivanchuk at Bazna Tournament (2009). Also in 2010, he came 2nd in the King's Tournament (2010) behind Magnus Carlsen. In the lead up to his World Championship contest with Anand, Gelfand competed at the category 21 Tata Steel (2012) tournament at Wijk aan Zee, finishing 9th out of 13, scoring 5/13 (+2 -5 =6; TPR 2675). In April/May 2013, he came =1st with 5.5/9 at the category 20 Alekhine Memorial (2013), coming 2nd on tiebreak behind Aronian and then went one better in June with an extraordinary outright win at the category 22 Tal Memorial (2013) - ahead of outright 2nd placed Magnus Carlsen - on the day before his 45th birthday. This result also raised his rating to a career high of 2773 in the July lists and returned him to the top 10.
Gelfand played in ten Chess Olympiads, representing the Soviet Union once (1990), Belarus twice (1994 and 1996), and Israel eight times (2000-2014). In 1990, he won the team gold medal playing board 2 for Soviet Union, in the Olympiad (2008) held in Dresden, he won the team silver medal and also individual silver medal playing board 1 for Israel and in the Chess Olympiad (2010) held in Khantiy Mansiysk, he won team bronze playing board 1 for Israel.
Gelfand is a team player and has participated in the German Bundesliga, and team championships in Israel, Spain, Poland, and Russia. He has also been part of the European Team Championships, the European Club Cup, the Russian Club Cup and the World Team Championships, the last in 2005, 2009 and 2015. One of his best results was assisting his Moscow team ShSM-64 to win the Russian Team Championship (2010) with 16 out of a possible 18 match points. Playing for SHSM-64, he won team bronze at the 28th European Club Cup (2012) concluded in October 2012.
Outside of the world championship cycle, Gelfand has played matches in France against Etienne Bacrot in 2002 which he lost 2.5-3.5, and a drawn match (2-2) against David Navara in the Czech Republic in 2006. In 2015 he lost the Ding Liren - Gelfand (2015) match by 1-3 (=2 -2).
Like most top players, Gelfand is a skilled rapid player. He was =1st with Kramnik in the rapid play section of the 2001 Amber event, and outright 1st in the 2002 edition of Amber's rapid play section. He came first in the 2002 Cap d'Agde, defeating Karpov in the final. In 2003, he defeated Polgar in the George Marx Rapid Match (2003) and in 2007, he came =1st at the Villa de Canada de Calatrava (2007), following up with =1st at the Pivdenny Bank Chess Cup (2008) in Odessa. He also won the 2009 ACP World Rapid Cup (2009) with a 3-1 win over Svidler in the finals and won the Leko - Gelfand Match (2010) rapid match in Hungary by 4.5-3.5. Most recently, he defeated Aronian in the Leon Rapid (2010) and made the final of the London Chess Classic (Knockout) (2013). However in July, he lost a rapid match to Svidler by 3-5.
Gelfand has been one of the top 20 players in the world, rated 2700+, for most of his life.
He first entered the top 100 in July 1988 with a bullet, when he leapt to #33 in the world while still an IM, one who had just turned 20, and has remained in the top 100 since that time.
His highest ranking to date was in January 1991, when he was #3 in the world behind Kasparov and Karpov, with a rating of 2700. With the exception of March 2012 (when he was ranked #22 in the world), Gelfand has remained in the top 20 since January 1990. He has also been rated 2700+ since then.
Gelfand's highest rating to date was 2777 in November 2013 when he was ranked #7 in the world.
In 2005, Gelfand published a book titled My Most Memorable Games.
Interview: Part 1 - http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail... Part 2 - http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail... and Part 3 - http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail... Live rating list: http://www.2700chess.com/ Extended biography of Gelfand at the official FIDE 2012 World Championship website: http://moscow2012.fide.com/en/prese... Article by the Indian Express dated 6 May 2012: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/m...
Last updated 13 September 2015