Boris Abramovich Gelfand (born 24 June 1968) is a chess grandmaster. Born in Minsk, Belarussian, he emigrated to Israel in 1998, and now lives in Rishon LeZhion, and is Israel's number one ranked chess player. He has had several strong World Chess Championship performances, without ever winning. He is the Chess World Cup Champion, having won the tournament in 2009.
Gelfand was Junior Champion of the Soviet Union at 17, and European Junior Champion two years later. In 1988 he tied for first in the World Junior Championship. The next year he earned the GM title. He has won about 30 tournaments in his professional life, including tournaments at Wijk Am Zee (in 1992 and 1994) and first places in Biel (1993), Dos Hermanas (1994), Belgrade (1995), Tilburg (1996), Malmo (1999) and Pamplona (2004).
World Championship Candidate
Several times Gelfand has qualified for Candidates Tournaments for the World Chess Championship. In the World Chess Championship 1993, he qualified for the Candidates via the Interzonal. He won his first Candidates match, but was knocked out in the second (quarter-final) round by Nigel Short.
In the FIDE World Chess Championship 1996 he won the Interzonal, then won his first two Candidates matches, before being eliminated in the semi-final by Anatoly Karpov.
He had numerous strong results in the knockout tournaments for the FIDE World Chess Championships 1996-2004, with his best result being a semi-finalist in 1997.
He played in the 8-player 2002 Dortmund Tournament, which was the Candidates for the Classical World Chess Championship 2004, but failed to reach the semi-finals.
He finished in the top 10 in the 2005 FIDE World Cup, which qualified him for the Candidates for the World Chess Championship 2007. He won his Candidates matches against Rustam Kazimdhzhanov (in rapid tie-breaks) and Gata Kamsky (+2-0=3), to qualify for the Championship Tournament in September 2007.
Gelfand was not one of the favourites for the World Chess Championship 2007, but he surprised most observers by finishing joint second with reigning world champion Vladimir Kramnik (third after tie breaks); the tournament and the world championship was won by Viswanathan Anand.
In the Chess World Cup 2009, Gelfand was the top seed, and defeated Judit Polgar, reigning World Junior Champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Dmitry Jakovenko, and Sergey Karjakin to reach the final. He then faced former FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov for the championship, and won the match 7-5 in a playoff. As winner of the Chess World Cup 2009, Gelfand will be automatically seeded into the World Chess Championship Candidates Tournament 2011.