Jerusalem: Chess may not be among the most popular sports in Israel, but a lot of Israelis are flocking to Moscow to cheer countryman Boris Gelfand who is in pursuit to dislodge Indian Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand as the world`s leading chess player at the FIDE world championship.
"Israelis are indeed showing their pride and support for Gelfand. Many hardcore chess fans have come to Moscow to see the match in person, as opposed to following it online like tens of thousands of others are doing," reported daily Ha`aretz, as the championship is generating more and more interest in the Israeli public.
Several Israelis arrived in the Russian capital a few days before the match started. Even though lodging in one of the world`s most expensive cities requires both daring and deep pockets, many continue to follow as the match enters the final stages.
"And those aren`t even the bulk of Gelfand`s supporters, who are expected to arrive next week. That group includes several high-ranking chess players and a fair number of amateurs, who decided to combine a tour of Moscow`s countless historical sites with the final stage of the match," the report added.
A lot of these amateur and professional chess players have gathered in the centre of Israel to watch the match.
"Of course, the chess players are excited about this," Yoav Nissenbaum, a member of the Israel Chess Federation said, adding, "This is the first time that an Israeli has made it to the world championship." Ido Ben Artzi, a 17-year-old grandmaster, says that he hardly misses a single move in the match.
"I try to get home in time. I go over the game and see what I think of every single move, without relying on the commentary for help. That`s how I put myself in the players` places," he said.