Israeli chess star Boris Gelfand recorded one of the highest achievements in the history of Israeli chess on Monday, by winning first place in the Chess World Cup.
Gelfand beat 28-year-old Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine, a former chess world champion, in the final match on Monday.
At the end of a 12-match duel, Gelfand had beat his rival in four matches, Ponomariov had won two matches, and four matches ended in a draw, making the end score 7:5 for Gelfand.
The competition was held in the oil-rich Russian city of Khanty Mansiysk. At the end of the match, Gelfand received the trophy with the Israeli national anthem, Hatikva, playing in the background.
Gelfand's new title as Chess World Cup holder is the third most prestigious in the world of chess. The most esteemed title is World Chess Champion, and is following by deputy World Chess Champion.
Monday's victory secured Gelfand's place in next year's World Chess Championship. The championship will open with the world's top eight chess player, except for the current world chess champion.
The winner of the eight will face off with the champion and attempt to strip him of his title.
Gelfand's two assistants, chess players Alexander Khozman and Maxim Rodshtein, accompanied the grandmaster in Russia on Monday. Khozman said temperatures in the Siberian city reached 30 degrees Celsius below zero.
The great victory kept the team warm, but according to Khozman, Gelfand did not show any signs of excitement after he defeated Ponomariov, "since he was confident in his victory all throughout the duel."
Enthusiastic soccer fanThe 41-year-old Gelfand was born in Minsk, Belarus. He started playing chess at the age of five and won the USSR's youth chess championship at the age of 17, and the European youth chess championship two years later.
At his peak in 1992, he was ranked the world's third best chess player, after chess legends Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. Gelfand is currently ranked sixth in the world, and has won over 30 major championships.
He holds the title "International Grandmaster", and has represented three different countries in the Chess Olympiad: The USSR, Belarus and Israel.
Gelfand only participated in the Israeli chess championship once, and won.
The new champion is an enthusiastic soccer fan who supports FC Barcelona. He resides in Rishon Lezion with his wife Maya who is a journalist, and the couple has a daughter.
He will be returning to his family on Tuesday after an exhausting month of competitions abroad, and will surely receive the royal treatment upon his return home.