The final match of the 2009 World Cup will begin tomorrow. The tournament has had its plots and subplots, but it all boils down to who has the will in a short four-game match where there is a low thresh hold for mistakes.
Boris Gelfand is a phenomenon. Not in the same vein as talking about Magnus Carlsen or another rising player, but as one who is still proving that veterans still have the benefit of experience on their side. That isn’t to say that players of his ilk (Gelfand, Viswanathan Anand, and Vassily Ivanchuk) will rule forever, but the new generation still has a few things to learn.
Ruslan Ponomariov won the 2002 FIDE World Cup when it was held as a World Championship and beat Vassily Ivanchuk in the final. He was 18 at the time and was clearly one of the hottest young stars in chess.
He stagnated a bit after many failures to stage a championship match after Yasser Seirwan’s “Fresh Start” agreement was signed. However, Ponomariov has been rejuventated and is playing strong again. He seems more mature and self-assured and will have every reason to believe that he can topple the gentle giant.
The first game will take place on a stage that accommodated 128 players two weeks ago. Only Gelfand and Ponomariov are left. Who will take the crown?