Ivanchuk about... Ivanchuk

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage
Ivanchuk lectureOne of the side events at last month's Leon rapid tournament was an interesting "lecture" by Vassily Ivanchuk. It was more like a pleasant converstation between the Ukrainian and Miguel Illescas & Leontxo Garcia, about Ivanchuk's life and career. A few quotes and anecdotes.

On Saturday, June 6th 2009 at noon, in the Le??n Institute of Culture, just one street away from the Conde Luna hotel where all Le??n tournament participants, organizers and journos were staying, GMs Miguel Illescas, GM Vassily Ivanchuk and Leontxo Garcia took place behind a desk, in front of an audience of about thirty people. He talked about his life and career in the only possible manner for him: frankly, naturally and joyfully.

Leontxo Garcia opened the meeting by stating that the word "genius" is used far too often, as few people really deserve to be described like this, but that Vassily Ivanchuk is one of them. The Ukrainian was too modest to react, and started by telling that he learnt to play chess at the age of six. "My father is no chess player, he only knows the rules, so I had to find other ways to learn more about it. My mother, who was a school teacher, had access to the school library and this way I got my first chess book, by Averbakh."

In 1989, when Ivanchuk won Linares for the first time (he would repeat the achievement in 1991 and 1995). Garcia asked him what he felt, when he arrived for the first time in the small Spanish town.

Ivanchuk: "I remember it well. In the first round I had to play Kortchnoi. However, Viktor withdrew from the tournament before playing a game, because when he entered the hotel Anibal, he saw to his horror Victor Baturinsky in the lobby. [Baturinsky was chief of Karpov's delegation in the seventies, but also a prosecutor in Stalin's secret police force - PD.] And so I started my tournament with an extra free day, which I considered to be a gift, as I had more time to adjust myself. That night, Karpov said to me: 'So, Vassily, not bad, you're leading the tournament after one round already!' And then I won the tournament."

Illescas: "You love chess, as we all know. Does a day go by without any chess? How long can you not think about chess? One hour?"

Ivanchuk, smiling: "Difficult to say. But there are days on which there is no chess. I would say three days without chess is possible, that's the maximum."

4x Ivanchuk

Illescas: "We have played many times and I know that one characteristic of yours is that you often look at the ceiling, or to the walls, when it is your move. Apparently you're sometimes distracted by the board itself, and prefer to calculate like in a blindfold game. How come?

Ivanchuk: "Yes, it's true, sometimes it's better to not use the board, especially in long variations, when you want to calculate a position where the pieces are very differently placed. This has its origin in a game I played when I was young, it was in a match between Ukraine and Azerbaijan. I was in a difficult position, but my opponent repeated moves. I wondered whether he wanted a draw, and I repeated moves as well. Then he repeated once more, and offered a draw. But I looked around and objectively speaking, the positions on our boards, they were eight, should have a progonosis of losing by 6-2, so I realized that a draw was not very helpful. I was not in timetrouble so I started thinking, and my thoughts drifted away to other things, not chess related. After about twenty minutes my opponent offered me a draw, which suddenly oke me up from my dreams. I looked at the position, which felt completely new to me, and immediately I saw a beautiful combination. The white queen was on f3, a white pawn on d5 and a black bishop on b7, and it involved the move d5-d6. The only problem was that I had to repeat the moves one more time, and my opponent as well, before the combination was possible. So I repeated, and my opponent, who objectively had the advantage in the position, repeated without thinking, and then I could play my combination."
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