Schachgenie Ivanchuk

18.05.2021 – Mit dem "Spezial" hat das ChessBase Magazin vor einem Jahr eine neue Rubrik eingeführt, die Spielraum für spannende Themen aus verschiedensten Bereichen bietet, von Dorian Rogozencos Videopräsentation wiederentdeckter Kasparov-Partien in CBM #195 über "Meine Lieblings-Fischer-Partie" (CBM #196), "Kasparov als Herausforderer" (CBM #198), einem Rückblick auf das Superturnier AVRO 1938 und "Meine Lieblingspartie von Paul Keres" (CBM 199) bis zum jungen Magnus Carlsen (CBM #200). In der aktuellen Ausgabe #201 steht ein Star im Fokus, der seit über drei Jahrzehnten zu den Besten der Welt gehört: Vassily Ivanchuk, über den nicht wenige in der Schachszene, sagen: „Für mich ist er einfach ein Genie!“ Die Sammlung in CBM #201 beinhaltet insgesamt 22 Partien aus dem Zeitraum von 1987 bis 2019. Die Analysen von Renato Quintilliano und David Navara präsentieren wir Ihnen hier – viel Spaß!

ChessBase Magazin 201 ChessBase Magazin 201

Expertenvideos: Jan Werle, Rustam Kasimdzhanov und Mihail Marin erklären neue Eröffnungsideen in 30 Minuten. Spezial: "Vassily Ivanchuk – einfach genial!“. Analysen von Anish Giri, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Wesley So u.a. 11 spannende Theorieartikel u.v.m.!


Meine Lieblingspartie von Vassily Ivanchuk

Zwei ausgewählte Analysen aus ChessBase Magazin #201

Renato Quintiliano kommentiert

Vassily Ivanchuk – Sergey Karjakin
Amber-rapid 17th Nice (4), 18.03.2008

It was a hard task to select my favourite game of Vassily Ivanchuk. Indeed, we are talking about a legend, who has produced hundreds of masterpieces in all aspects of chess. After a long and difficult reflexion, I've chosen this one.

1.e4 c5 2.Sf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Sxd4 Sf6 5.Sc3 a6 6.Lc4 The Sozin Attack usually leads to complex positions, as the bishop exerts pressure on the kingside, and White can continue with f2–f4–f5 or to consider thematic sacrifices on e6 sometimes.

6...e6 7.Lb3 b5 Karjakin chooses the main line.

7...Sbd7 is another option, trying to get rid of White's dangerous bishop as soon as possible, in order to avoid the aforementioned attacking ideas.


Ivanchuk prioritizes quick development and looks for an aggressive set-up. 8.0–0 is the main line.

8...Le7 9.Df3! Developing with tempo thanks to the "subtle" threat of e4–e5.

9...Dc7 9...Lb7? allows White to show one of the typical motifs in this line: 10.Lxe6! fxe6 11.Sxe6 Dd7 12.Sxg7+ Kf7 13.Sf5+– with three pawns and a winning attack for the sacrificed piece.; But 9...Db6 is also possible.

10.e5!? Again Ivanchuk deviates from the most played path, yet his decision is totally logical: White is ahead in development and tries to exploit that by energetic play.

10.0–0–0 is the most played.

10...Lb7 11.exd6 Lxd6 12.De3 The pressure on e6 looks already very serious and Black has to think about it.

12...Lc5! Black temporarily avoids the sacrifice.

12...Le5 is another option, but the bishop is not safe on e5: 13.0–0–0 Sbd7 White has 14.f4!? (My engine says that 14.Sxe6! fxe6 15.f4? is even stronger.) 14...Lxd4 15.Txd4 0–0 16.f5!? exf5 17.Thd1 Tae8 18.Dh3? and White has strong initiative.

13.0–0–0 Sc6 My favourite moment in this game has arrived. Try to guess Ivanchuk's next move.

14.Dxe6+!! Although sacrifices on e6 are very common in this line, I really doubt that anyone seeing this game for the first time would imagine that the piece chosen by White to destroy Black's defenses in the centre would be his queen! Still, geniuses like Ivanchuk are made by beautiful and shocking decisions like this. Also, this was a theoretical novelty at the time the game was played.

14...fxe6 15.Sxe6 Let's take a moment to understand the picture: White has sacrificed his queen for two(!!) pawns, but in return he has destroyed the protection of Black's king and has almost all his pieces ready to attack it in the centre. The word "almost" is of course because White is one move away of full activation with Rhe1, in which case we can fairly assume that not even the queen will be able to prevent Black from being mated. Still, nobody had thought this way before Ivanchuk! As a Najdorf player myself I had to carefully study this position, and trust me: Black should not underestimate White's attacking chances here.

15...De5 Of course, in a rapid game it is much easier to go wrong when facing unexpected problems.

15...De7 seems the best way to solve Black's problems: 16.Sd5!? Sd4! (16...Sxd5 is also possible, but the game remains complicated after 17.Lxe7 Scxe7 18.Sxc5 0–0–0 19.The1) 17.Sxe7 Sxe6 18.Lxf6 Lxe7 19.Lxe7 Kxe7 20.The1 Lc8 Black is about to consolidate his position by bringing the rooks into play, so White should try 21.Txe6+! Lxe6 22.Te1 but after 22...The8!? Black keeps the best chances in the endgame, despite the material balance. Still, besides the short time control to calculate and to avaliate such lines, I imagine it should be a very difficult situation from a psychologic aspect to give back the queen that your opponent has sacrificed a few moves ago for only two pawns.

16.Sxg7+! 16.The1 allows 16...Dxe6! transposing to 15...Qe7.

16...Kf8 16...Ke7? 17.The1 Dxe1 18.Txe1+ Kd7 19.Lxf6? is much better for White.

17.Se6+ Kf7! Even under unpleasant pressure, Karjakin finds the best way to fight.

After 17...Ke7 the king remains exposed in the centre, as we can see in the line 18.The1 Lxf2! 19.Txe5 Sxe5 20.Sg7! Seg4 21.Sf5+ Ke8 22.Sd6+ Kf8 23.Sxb7 and Black still faces problems, for example: 23...Le3+ 24.Lxe3 Sxe3 25.Te1 Sxg2 26.Tf1 Ke7 27.Tg1! Sf4 28.Tg7+ Ke8 29.Sd6+ Kd8 30.Sf7++–; 17...Ke8?! has similar problems: 18.The1 Dxg5+ 19.Sxg5+ Le7 20.Sf7; Returning the queen is a bad idea now: 17...Dxe6? 18.Lxe6 White keeps a dangerous attack.

18.The1 Dxe1? Perhaps time pressure was a problem at this point, but when White brings his last soldier to the battlefield, Karjakin cracks under the pressure.

18...Dxg5+!? was a better try, but White keeps the initiative after 19.Sxg5+ Kg6 20.Sce4 Le7 21.Se6!?; 18...Lxf2! was the right move: 19.Txe5 Sxe5 20.Sd8+! Kg6 21.Lxf6 Kxf6 22.Sxb7? White has two pawns for the exchange and is able to exploit the still exposed position of the king with his pieces. Nevertheless, with correct play Black should be able to avoid the dangers and to keep the fight.

19.Sxc5+ Now White keeps three pawns and very active play for the exchange, with obvious advantage.

19...Kg6 20.Txe1 Kxg5 21.Sxb7 Sd4 22.Sd6

After brilliant play in the opening, Ivanchuk displays excellent technique to convert his advantage in this endgame.

22...Thf8 23.f3 b4 24.Sce4+ Sxe4 25.Txe4 Sxb3+ 26.axb3 a5 27.Tg4+ Kf6 28.Se4+ Ke5 29.Th4 a4!?

30.bxa4! White only needs to be a bit careful.

After 30.Sf2? axb3 31.cxb3 Tfd8!? could give some chances of surviving for Black.

30...Txa4 31.Sc5 Ta1+ 32.Kd2 Tg8 33.g3 Tf1 34.Ke2 Tb1 35.Txb4+– Too many pawns, White is winning. The rest is simple.

35...Kd5 36.Se4 Kc6 37.h4 Th1 38.Tc4+ Kb6 39.b4 Td8 40.Tc5 Ta8 41.c3 Ta2+ 42.Ke3 Te1+ 43.Kf4 Tf1 44.Th5 Ta8 45.Th6+ Kb5 46.Sd6+ Ka4 47.Txh7 Kb3 48.Tc7 Td8 49.Sf5 Hopefully you have enjoyed this beautiful game as much as me. Ivanchuk's creativity still amazes me, even after seeing it many times :) 1–0

David Navara kommentiert

Vassily Ivanchuk  - Li Chao Bo
Gibraltar Masters 12th Caleta (6), 02.02.2014

Grandmaster Ivanchuk played great chess in the Gibraltar Open 2014, demonstrating a very high level. He duly shared first place with the best performance. Alas, the tie-break regulations in that year were far from perfect.There was a three-way tie for the 1st place and a drawing of lots determined that the two most successful players in the tournament (both in terms of play and performance) had to cross swords to challenge the third-ranked player who could relax or prepare in the meantime. (That said, I am not going to belittle the result of the eventual winner, a very strong grandmaster who he has understandably also played very well in the classical part and won the final tie-break with a very strong play.) In the following years, the organizers improved the tie-break regulations to avoid such cases.

1.e4 c5 2.Sf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Sxd4 Sf6 5.Sc3 Sc6 6.Lc4 Grandmaster Ivanchuk is an universal player who can play well almost any opening. Here he choses a classical line.

The alternative 6.Lg5 has been the most popular option, but the Chinese grandmaster had undoubtedly prepared for it.

6...Ld7 7.0–0 e6 Black could also play 7...g6 , as white's setup is not the most challenging one against the Dragon.

8.Lb3 Le7

9.f4 White players usually prepared this advance with 9.?e3 or 9.?h1, but the Ukrainian grandmaster chooses a more straightforward option.

9...Sxd4 After 9...0–0 white could try 10.f5!? (, while 10.Le3 Sxd4 11.Lxd4 Lc6= transposes to normal lines.)

10.Dxd4 0–0 Black could also swap the queens with 10...Db6!? . After 11.Dxb6 axb6 12.Le3 b5 13.a3 Lc6 White cannot attack the ?b5, as his bishop is operating on a different diagonal. Even 14.f5 e5= does not distort the balance, either. White is not in time to occupy the d5–square and he should seek for compensation after 15.Tad1 Sxe4 (15...Tc8!?) 16.Sxe4 Lxe4 17.Ld5= .


White immediately attacks the ?e6. The e6–e5 advance would seriously weaken the d5–square. The drawback of this advance consists in the weakening of the e5–square.

Black's position would be very solid after 11.e5 Se8 (and even a pawn sacrifice 11...Sg4!? deserves serious attention, as 12.exd6?! (12.h3! Sh6 13.g4 might be the critical continuation, restricting Black's knight while weakening White's king.) 12...Lf6 gives Black a lot of play along the diagonals a1–h8 and a7–g1.)

11...Sg4 This is a logical and ambitious reaction, the knight strives for the e5–square. Moreover, Black is threatening 12...?f6, as 13.?xd6? ?e5 is not an option for White.

Leela suggests 11...exf5!? 12.exf5 Lc6= , but weakening the squares d5 and f7 might look counterintuitive. That said, I encountered such an idea in a similar position in Navara,D. - Anagnostopoulos,D., Czech Open Pardubice 1998 and the exchange on f5 followed by ?d7–c6 had undoubtedly been played before as well.

12.fxe6 Perhaps White could try 12.h3 , when 12...Se5?! (After 12...Lf6! 13.Dxd6 Le5 14.Dd2! Black can no longer take a pawn on h2. Still, 14...Dh4!? 15.Dxd7 (Not the most practical continuation, but one which needs to be checked. (After 15.Dg5 Ld4+! 16.Kh1 Sf2+ 17.Kh2 Le5+ 18.Kg1 Dxg5 19.Lxg5 Lxc3! 20.Txf2 Ld4 21.Td1 Lxf2+ 22.Kxf2 Lc6 23.fxe6 fxe6+ 24.Ke3? the complications result in dynamic equilibrium.) 15...Dg3! 16.hxg4 Tad8 might result in a perpetual check unless White allows mate. Missing the check on d4 would lead to that.) 13.Lf4 Sc6 14.De3 exf5?! 15.Tad1 fxe4 16.Sxe4? would allow him to regain the pawn under favourable conditions.

12...fxe6 Black could play 12...Lxe6! 13.Lf4 Lf6!= , when 14.Dxd6? (14.Dd2!=) fails to 14...Lxb3 15.axb3 Ld4+ 16.Kh1 Sf2+ 17.Txf2 Lxf2? .

13.Lf4 Dc7 14.Tad1

Both Black's central pawns are vulnerable, but White's king is not completely safe, either.

14...Se5 It is very hard to find and choose 14...Kh8! 15.Lxd6 e5! 16.Lxc7 (16.Db4? would lead to heavy material losses after 16...a5!! 17.Lxc7 axb4 because of White's weak back rank.) 16...exd4 17.Sd5 Lc5? .

15.Lg3 White could not play 15.Lxe5?! dxe5 16.Txf8+ Txf8 17.Dxd7?? Dxd7 18.Txd7 Lc5+ 19.Kh1 Tf1#; , but 15.h3!?? , removing the back rank threats, was worth attention.

15...Kh8? This move is logical but wrong.

While White's position looks more pleasant after 15...Txf1+ 16.Txf1 , Black should equalize after 16...a6= (or even 16...Lf6!? 17.Kh1 Sf7= , when 18.e5! Lxe5! 19.Df2 Tf8 20.Lxe5 dxe5 21.Dxa7 Sd6 22.Txf8+ Kxf8 brings White nothing special, as his bishop is slightly out of play.)

16.Txf8+ Txf8 17.Dxa7? The Chinese grandmaster had undoubtedly foreseen this, but might have overestimated his counterplay.


Leela seeks counterplay after 17...h5! 18.h3 h4 19.Lh2 Lg5 , but the compensation looks very dubious after 20.Kh1!? . Moreover, Leela did not exist back in 2014.

18.Kh1! Otherwise Black's position would be alright.

18...Ld6 White's last move has prevented 18...Lc5? , as 19.Lxe5 would have won a piece. Black cannot trap white's queen, e.g. 19...Dc8 20.Da5 b6 21.Da7+– .

19.exd5 Simple and strong.

White could also play 19.h3!? , when 19...Sf3 20.Da3! (as pointed out by an engine) is truly brilliant, but few mortals would be able to find this move and evaluate it properly. 20...e5 (20...Lxa3 21.Lxc7 Lxb2 22.exd5 Lxc3 23.dxe6 Lxe6 24.Lxe6 with a technically winning position.) 21.Sxd5 Db8 22.Da5 Sg5 23.Lh4! (23.Sc3 Lxh3! is less clear, as Black's queen can enter c8 and the kingside.) 23...Sxe4 24.De1 Sc5 25.Sb6+– White maintains the extra pawn and restores the piece coordination.

19...Sg4 20.Dd4!

20...e5 Even the computer suggestion 20...h5! does not help. After 21.Se4! Lxg3 22.hxg3 exd5 23.Dxd5 Lf5 24.Te1!? Black cannot play 24...Lxe4? in view of 25.Dxh5+ .; 20...Lxg3? 21.Dxg4+–

21.Dd3! White keeps the e4–square vacant for the knight.

Less clear would be 21.De4 Db6? . Or perhaps just less precise?

21...e4! This is the best practical chance, but GM Ivanchuk found an elegant refutation of Black's concept.

21...Lf5 22.De2+–

22.Sxe4 Lxg3 23.Dxg3 Black would deliver checkmate on h2 after 23.hxg3?? De5 .

23...Df4! Black creates a mating threat 24...?f1+ and at the same time attacks White's knight, preparing a fork on f2. I like the games where both sides demonstrate good chess and interesting ideas, which is the reason why I decided to annotate exactly this game.

24.Dxf4 Txf4

25.h3! An important intermediate move.

A dynamically balanced endgame would arise from 25.Te1? Txe4 26.Txe4 Sf2+ .

25...Se3 26.Td4 White is allegedly winning even after 26.Te1?! Txe4 27.Kg1 Te8 28.Kf2 Sf5 29.Txe8+ Lxe8 30.c4 , but it looks far from clear to me.

26...Sf5 27.Tb4 Txe4 The alternative 27...b5 28.Kh2 Sd6 is no better, as white wins easily, playing 29.Sxd6 Txb4 30.Sf7+! Kg8 31.Se5+– . The d-pawn is hard to stop.

28.Txb7! Black eventually won the knight, but paid a price for it. The four connected passed pawns cannot be stopped.

28...h5! Li Chao is a very strong and resourceful player, but this time it did not suffice.

The passed pawns would march forward after 28...Le8 29.Tb8!+– (or even 29.c4+– . Therefore Black tries a cunning trap. The Ukrainian legend was short of time, but reacted well.)

29.g4! With this move White distorts a mating net.

Black would even win after 29.Txd7?? Te1+! 30.Kh2 h4 , as the threat of 31...?g3 could not be adequately parried, e.g. 31.g4 hxg3+ 32.Kg2 Te2+ 33.Kg1 Se3–+ with a mate on the back rank.

29...hxg4 30.hxg4 Lc8 31.Tc7 Te1+ 32.Kh2 Te2+ 33.Kg1 Sd6 34.Tc6! Lxg4 35.Txd6+– The game is over. Even in chess four is more than one. Black continued till move 40.

35...Kh7 36.Lc4 White activates the bishop.

36...Td2 37.Ld3+ Kg8 38.Tg6 Lh3 39.b4 Kf7 40.b5 Td1+ White would promote his b-pawn after 40...Txd3 41.cxd3 Kxg6 42.b6 Lc8 43.d6! Kf7 44.d7 Lxd7 45.b7 , but one check does not change anything.

41.Kf2 The time trouble is over, and so is the game. Grandmaster Ivanchuk played it superbly.


Diese beiden sowie 20 weitere Analysen grandioser Partien Vassily Ivanchuks finden Sie im neuen ChessBase Magazin #201 (Mai/Juni 2021).

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