Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gelfand’s experience prevails in 2009 World Chess Cup

ISRAEL's Boris Gelfand became the 2009 World Cup champion by beating Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine in the playoff games on Monday, 12 December.

That the fight for the title would be tightly contested was predicted by The Chess Connoisseur in its previous post. The first four games of the playoff were rapid games where Gelfand took the lead by winning the second game. But Ponomariov, with his back to the wall, won the last rapid game to tie the match again.

There followed another playoff, this time a series of twin-blitz chess (5 minutes per player per game) and Gelfand once again took the lead by beating Ponomariov in the first game when he managed to trap Ponomariov’s queen in 21 moves. Ponomariov rallied again, winning the second game.

The second pair of blitz games ensued where again Gelfand won the third blitz game. In the fourth blitz skirmish Ponomariov finally ran out of reserves, losing the game and the match, 7 points to 5.

Gelfand was the top seed in the 128-player event. At 41, he was also the oldest, but that did not deter him in the long tournament. Afterward, in an interview published on the tournament’s website, Gelfand pointed out that he had come to the World Cup after competing in the Tal Memorial and the World Blitz Championship that followed it. Altogether, he said he had played more than a month of top-level chess, but he added, “Now I will relax, make up for lost sleep, walk with my daughter. So I will be back to ‘normal’ life.”

This was the second time that Ponomariov, 26, was runner-up in the World Cup. He lost in the final in 2005 to Levon Aronian of Armenia. Still, he came in as the 7th seed, so he performed above his pre-tournament rank.

Our toast and congratulations to both gentlemen together with the wish for a good and much needed rest.


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