Vasyl Ivanchuk

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Vasyl Ivanchuk
Ivanchuk in 2014
Full nameVasyl Mykhaylovych Ivanchuk
Born (1969-03-18) March 18, 1969 (age 54)
Kopychyntsi, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
TitleGrandmaster (1988)
FIDE rating2625 (December 2023)
Peak rating2787 (October 2007)
Peak rankingNo. 2 (July 1991)

Vasyl Mykhaylovych Ivanchuk (Ukrainian: Василь Михайлович Іванчук; born March 18, 1969), also transliterated as Vassily Ivanchuk, is a Ukrainian chess player. He was awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE in 1988. A leading player since 1988,[1] Ivanchuk has been ranked at No. 2 on the FIDE world rankings three times (July 1991, July 1992, October 2007).[2]

Ivanchuk has won Linares, Wijk aan Zee, Tal Memorial, Gibraltar Masters and M-Tel Masters titles. He has also won the World Blitz Championship in 2007 and the World Rapid Championship in 2016.

In 2011, by the decree of the President of Ukraine, Ivanchuk was awarded the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise.[3]


Early years[edit]

Ivanchuk was born in Kopychyntsi, Ukraine. He won the 1987 European Junior Chess Championship in Groningen and first achieved international notice by winning the 1988 New York Open scoring 7½/9 points, ahead of a field of grandmasters. He tied for first place in the 1988 World Junior Chess Championship at Adelaide, but lost the title on tiebreak to Joël Lautier.[4] He was awarded the Grandmaster title in 1988, and entered the world top 10 the same year.[2]

Reaches world elite[edit]

Ivanchuk attained chess world fame in 1991 at the age of 21 when he won the Linares tournament. Fourteen players participated, eight of them, including World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, rated in the top ten in the world, and another two among the world's top 50 players. Ivanchuk edged Kasparov by a half point,[5] defeating Kasparov in their head-to-head game.[6]

It was widely believed that Ivanchuk might become world champion. He came close in 2002, when he reached the final of the FIDE World Chess Championship 2002. Ivanchuk consistently ranked among the top 10 from July 1988 to October 2002 and among the top 20 up to June 2009, but Mark Crowther's The Week in Chess said his erratic play was due to "poor temperament."[7] His results saw him drop as low as 30th in July 2009,[8] but he returned to the top ten in the next list.[9] His inability to become world champion despite his immense talent and longevity has been attributed to his admittedly poor nerves, demonstrated by blunders such as at the 1994 London Grand Prix blitz, when he failed to complete a strong attack on Viswanathan Anand with a mate in one despite having 0:54 left on the clock. Ivanchuk's nerves were notably exposed during the high-tension atmosphere of World Championship match-format tournaments, such as in 2002 where he was heavily favored in the FIDE championship final after having defeated defending champion Anand in the semifinals, only to lose to countryman Ruslan Ponomariov in a major upset, denying him the championship. Subsequent match-play tournaments in World Championship cycles saw Ivanchuk consistently underperform; in the FIDE World Chess Championship 2004, Chess World Cup 2005, Chess World Cup 2007, and Chess World Cup 2009, he failed to advance past the third round despite being seeded No. 5, No. 1, No. 1 and No. 6 respectively in those events.

Ivanchuk's world championship aspirations were also dampened by the title split from 1993 to 2006. Due to obligations with FIDE, Ivanchuk and Anand did not participate in the 2002 Dortmund Candidates tournament for the Classical World Chess Championship 2004.[10] He was then narrowly excluded, on the basis of rating, from the rival FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. While he won one of the events of the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2010, his overall performance was not enough to qualify him for the World Chess Championship 2012 candidates tournament.

Since 2013[edit]

Ivanchuk played in the 2013 Candidates Tournament, which took place in London, from 15 March to 1 April. He finished seventh, with a score of +3−5=6.[11] The tournament was notable for his unusually poor time management (he lost two games on time), as well as his major impact on the leaderboard despite being a tail ender: he managed to defeat both leaders Magnus Carlsen (round 12) and Vladimir Kramnik (round 14), resulting in Carlsen qualifying for the World Chess Championship by tiebreak.

In 2016, Ivanchuk won the World Rapid Chess Championship in Doha, Qatar, with a score of 11/15. He defeated Carlsen, among many others.[12]

In recent years, Ivanchuk has started playing checkers and has achieved a certain level of success. In the World Draughts Federation's July 2019 ranking list he was ranked number 1111 in the world, with a rating of 1997.[13]

Playing style[edit]

Ivanchuk is regarded by his peers and many observers as a chess genius. Kasparov explained in an interview that Ivanchuk had a level equivalent to that of a world champion although he had never been one.[14]

Ivanchuk has a phenomenal photographic memory which allowed him to have an extremely developed opening repertoire even before the advent of computers. He is able to play a very large number of openings at a very high level which makes it difficult to prepare against him. This was explained to him by his coach when he was young and led to a funny anecdote against Suetin.

Moreover, Ivanchuk has a very imaginative game with many new ideas that mixes imagination, technique, ingenuity, maturity of style and fighting spirit.

Assessment and personality[edit]


In 2013, Gawain Jones called Ivanchuk "possibly the most talented [player] ever".[15] When asked in 2012 to name chess players she considered geniuses, Judit Polgár named only Ivanchuk, Carlsen and Anand.[16]

Anand has called Ivanchuk the most eccentric player in the chess world, and has said:[17]

He's someone who is very intelligent ... but you never know which mood he is going to be in. Some days he will treat you like his long-lost brother. The next day he ignores you completely.

The players have a word for him. They say he lives on "Planet Ivanchuk". [Laughs] ... I have seen him totally drunk and singing Ukrainian poetry and then the next day I have seen him give an impressive talk.

His playing style is unpredictable and highly original, making him more dangerous but sometimes leading to quick losses as well.

From the Mammoth Book of The World Greatest Chess Games:

If he were able to make the most of his talent, he would surely be a real contender for the World No. 1 spot, but he is a highly emotional player, who takes losses badly, tends to rush critical decisions when under pressure and sometimes lacks motivation.[18]

After a string of unsuccessful performances culminated in his elimination at the early stages of the 2009 World Cup, Ivanchuk announced, in a highly emotional interview, his retirement from professional chess,[19][20] but he soon reversed that decision.[21]

Notable tournament victories[edit]

  • Lviv 1987, 11½/17 1st
  • New York Open 1988, 1st
  • Debrecen 1988, 10 8/11 1st
  • Linares 1989, 7/10 1st
  • Yerevan 1989, 8½/11 1st
  • Biel 1989, 9/14 1–2
  • Tilburg 1990, 8½/14 1–2
  • Linares 1991, 9½/13 1st
  • Reykjavik 10½/15, 1–2
  • Munich 1994, 7½/11 1st
  • Linares 1995, 10/13 1st
  • Horgen GER 1995, 7/10 1–2
  • Wijk aan Zee 1996, 9/13 1st
  • Belgrade 1997 6/9, 1–2
  • Tallinn 2000 6/7, 1st
  • Montecatini Terme 2000, 5/7 1st
  • Malmö 2003, 13 7/9 1st
  • European Individual Chess Championship 2004
  • European Rapid Chess Championship 2004[22]
  • La Habana 2005, 9½/12 1st
  • Barcelona 2005, 4/5 1–2
  • Canadian Open Chess Championship 2005, Joint 1st
  • Tallinn 2006, 7/9 1–3
  • Odesa 2006, 7/9 1st
  • Mérida 2006, 1st
  • Odesa 2007, 7/9 1st
  • La Habana 2007, 7½/9 1st
  • Foros 2007, 7½/11 1st
  • FIDE World Blitz Chess Champion 2007[23]
  • Montreal International 2007
  • M-Tel Masters, Sofia 2008 8/10 2008, 1st
  • Tal Memorial, Moscow 2008, 6/9 1st
  • Tal Memorial (Blitz), Moscow 2008, 1st
  • Linares 2009 8/14, Joint 1st (Alexander Grischuk declared winner because of higher number of wins)
  • Bazna 2009, 7/10 1st
  • Jermuk 2009, 8½/13 1st
  • Amber Rapid 2010, 8/11 Joint 1st (with Magnus Carlsen)
  • Amber Overall 2010, Joint 1st (with Magnus Carlsen)
  • Capablanca Memorial Havana 2010, 7/10 1st
  • Cap d'Agde Rapid 2010, 1st
  • Gibraltar 2011, 9/10 1st
  • Capablanca Memorial Havana 2011, 6½/10 1st
  • Grand Slam Bilbao – São Paulo 2011, Joint 1st (Magnus Carlsen wins the tie-break blitz games)
  • Capablanca Memorial Havana, Cuba 2012, 6½/10, 1st.[24]
  • World Rapid Championship 2016, 1st

Team chess performances[edit]

Vasyl Ivanchuk
Medal record
Chess Olympiad
Representing  Soviet Union
Gold medal – first place Thessaloniki 1988 Open
Gold medal – first place Novi Sad 1990 Open
Representing  Ukraine
Gold medal – first place Calvià 2004 Open
Gold medal – first place Khanty-Mansiysk 2010 Open
Silver medal – second place Yerevan 1996 Open
Bronze medal – third place Elista 1998 Open
Bronze medal – third place Istanbul 2000 Open
Bronze medal – third place Istanbul 2012 Open

Ivanchuk has often been at his best in international team competitions. He has played in 14 Chess Olympiads, twice for the Soviet Union (1988 and 1990), and twelve times for Ukraine, after the Soviet Union split up in 1991. He has won a total of thirteen medals, and has been on four gold-medal winning teams (USSR in 1988 and 1990, Ukraine in 2004 and 2010). In 162 games, Ivanchuk has scored (+63 =87 -12), for 65.7 per cent. His detailed Olympiad records are as follows:[25]

Notable games[edit]

  • Ivanchuk vs Kasparov, Linares 1991

At round one of Linares in 1991, the 21-year-old Ivanchuk gave up both his bishops for knights and then boxed Kasparov, then world champion, into complete passivity.[26][27]

Personal life[edit]

Ivanchuk was first married to Alisa Galliamova, also a chess player. On November 18, 2006, he married for the second time.[28]

In 2011, Ivanchuk and his second wife were mugged the day they were set to leave from São Paulo, Brazil, on a plane bound for Spain to finish the second half of the Bilbao Grand Slam Masters. Ivanchuk threatened to withdraw from the tournament altogether, but his wife convinced him to continue. He had been leading in the tournament before this event, but did not play as well in the second half of the tournament.[29]

2008 Chess Olympiad incident[edit]

Ivanchuk played board 1 for Ukraine in the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany. Going into the last round, Ukraine was second with decent chances of placing first, and only a strong loss against a 10th-seeded U.S. would leave them without a medal. Ivanchuk was chosen to be tested for illegal substances in his system immediately after the last round.

In a major upset, the U.S. defeated Ukraine 3½ to ½ with Ivanchuk losing his game against Gata Kamsky, causing Ukraine to fall to fourth and miss out on a medal. Ivanchuk was so distraught after the game that he was seen "kicking a large concrete pillar". He refused to take a doping test and stormed out, risking punishment under FIDE rules and forfeiting his games in the event as had happened in the 2004 Chess Olympiad in Majorca.[30] Ivanchuk was cleared when it emerged that he had not been warned of the test, and that in his distraught frame of mind, he had not fully understood the arbiter's request.[31]



  1. ^ "Fide Rating Lists - Archive: July 1988 - FIDE Rating List". Archived from the original on September 14, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "All Time Rating List". Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  3. ^ "Vassily Ivanchuk awarded the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise". Chessdom. August 28, 2011. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  4. ^ "Event Details: Adelaide (U20 World Championship), 1988". Chessmetrics. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  5. ^ John Henderson (March 2, 2002). "Linares 2002: Just How Much Wood Can a Woodchuck Chuck, Chucky?". Chessbase. Archived from the original on April 9, 2002.
  6. ^ "Vassily Ivanchuk vs Garry Kasparov (1991) "Chess Boxing"". March 23, 2010. Archived from the original on October 1, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  7. ^ "Corus, Wijk aan Zee 2006". The Week in Chess. Archived from the original on August 26, 2006.
  8. ^ "FIDE Top 100, July 2009". FIDE. Archived from the original on February 22, 2018. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  9. ^ "FIDE Top 100, September 2009". Archived from the original on October 6, 2017. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  10. ^ Yasser Seirawan (2002). "From a Fresh Start to a New Dawn – Part 2". The Week in Chess. Archived from the original on June 9, 2002.
  11. ^ "Tournament standings". FIDE. Archived from the original on December 17, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  12. ^ Fischer, Johannes (December 28, 2016). "Vassily Ivanchuk is new World Champion in Rapid Chess". ChessBase. Archived from the original on December 29, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  13. ^ "FMJD – World Draughts Federation". Archived from the original on February 3, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  14. ^ Holodny, Elena. "Former world champion Garry Kasparov explains what separates a good chess player from a great one". Business Insider. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  15. ^ Peter Doggers (March 13, 2013). "FIDE Candidates: Predictions". ChessVibes. Archived from the original on March 16, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
  16. ^ "KC-Conference with Judit Polgar". Crestbook. January 12, 2012. Archived from the original on July 27, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  17. ^ Shekhar Gupta (January 1, 2004). "Talking with: Viswanathan Anand". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on June 3, 2004.
  18. ^ BURGESS, GRAHAM; Nunn, John; Emms, John (1998). The World's Greatest Chess Games. London: Gambit Publications. ISBN 0-7867-0587-6.
  19. ^ "Ivanchuk threatens to quit professional chess". November 26, 2009. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  20. ^ "Vassily IVANCHUK: 'I was thrown out of the saddle'". Chess in Khanty-Mansiysk. Archived from the original on November 29, 2009.
  21. ^ "Ivanchuk: Sorry, I am not quitting chess". November 30, 2009. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2009.
  22. ^ "Ivanchuk Vassily (UKR) is the European Rapid Chess Champion 2004". FIDE. December 1, 2004. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  23. ^ "Ivanchuk wins World Blitz Championship, Anand second". ChessBase. November 22, 2007. Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  24. ^ 47th Capablanca Memorial won by Ivanchuk Archived December 25, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Chessbase Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  25. ^ "Ivanchuk, Vasyl". Archived from the original on February 29, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  26. ^ "Vassily Ivanchuk vs Garry Kasparov (1991) "Chess Boxing"". Archived from the original on October 1, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  27. ^ "Vassily Ivanchuk's Amazing Immortal Sicilian Defence Crush vs Kasparov in Linares 1991". YouTube. December 7, 2007. Archived from the original on November 6, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  28. ^ Evgeny Surov (February 21, 2011). "В своей модели жизни удалось объединить игру и цирк" ["In my life model I managed to unify the game and the circus"]. (in Russian). Archived from the original on July 22, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  29. ^ "São Paulo Masters – Highway robbery in São Paulo!". October 4, 2011. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  30. ^ "Olympiad Dresden: The Ivanchuk Files". ChessBase. December 2, 2008. Archived from the original on August 23, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  31. ^ "Decision of the FIDE doping hearing panel". FIDE. January 22, 2009. Archived from the original on January 23, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2011.

External links[edit]

Preceded by World Blitz Chess Champion
Succeeded by
Preceded by World Rapid Chess Champion
Succeeded by