Whether or not Boris Gelfand manages to become the first Israeli to win the World Chess Championships in Moscow, the Israeli Chess Federation (ISF) is not missing out on any opportunity to promote the sport in the country.
They are hoping Gelfand’s success will do things for their country’s chess what Viswanathan Anand’s success did for Indian chess. In 1998 Gelfand, born in Minsk, Belarus, moved to Israel, where he is a national chess hero.
While the Israeli federation is trying to cash in on Gelfand’s success, the All India Chess Federation (AICF), which has had Anand as their standard- bearer for almost two decades, is not even present in Moscow.
It is also no secret that India’s current position and strength in the world chess is largely a byproduct of Anand’s success. His success may have fired the imagination of all Indian parents, who in turn supported their children to pursue the sport, but the AICF has time and again failed to cash in on the event.
Over the past one month, each time Gelfand walks from his hotel to the match venue – the Tretyakov Gallery – he is accompanied by Israel chess officials.
Anand, meanwhile, comes to the hall in a car. He is accompanied by members of his hand-picked team, which include his wife, Aruna. Prominent by their absence are AICF officials.
No, Anand does not miss them, simply because they have never been there! One wonders if the AICF has even been in touch with Anand. The news is that an AICF official was planning to come, but his visa was turned down.
An Indian playing for his fifth world championships title would be big for any federation and the AICF could have used it to promote chess. Is anyone out there listening?