Chuky's drama in Heraklio

No. I can't believe the player who played on top board for Ukraine in the 2007 European team championship, held in Heraklio (Crete - Greece) in October 28 to November 6, was the same Vassily Ivanchuk who convincingly won a huge number of games and strong tourneys in the first seven months of the present year. The same Ivanchuk who is (was?!) the second highest rated player of the world, with an impressive 2787 rating. He can't be our "Super-Chuky"! Why not? Well, just give a look to the games played by that (presumed) Ivanchuk in Greece: he was outplayed by Bacrot in only 24 moves with White pieces, he wasted a better position (being an exchange up!) against Mamedyarov, again on White side, he lost an equal endgame (until move 37, at least) with Michael Adams. So? Well, he finished with a poor 3/7 score and a 2623 performance, losing 16 points. In view of the 2007 Fide World Cup, this is not a good result for Chuky. Come on Vassily, you can do it!
About the European team championship, Russia won both the male and female sections, Armenia took silver and bronze respectively, Azerbaijan was third in the Men event and Poland second in the Women's. Italy was placed 28th, not a bad result if you consider that our guys were the 29th strongest team :-) Official site of the competition: http://www.greekchess.com/euro2007. My thanks to the www.chessdom.com staff (Goran Urosevic above all) for sending me a lot of photos from the event. You can find them on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it, in the "Ultime notizie" ("Last news") section.
A couple of (quite) strong tourneys has just finished in Italy. Russian GM Oleg Korneev scored 7.5/9 and won the 8th Hotel Petra Festival, held in Rome in October 29 to November 4. His compatriot and Elo-favourite GM Vladimir Burmakin and Serbian GM Miroljub Lazic took second and third place respectively on 6.5. 140 players, official site: www.arrocco.net.
Ukrainian GM Georgy Timoshenko took clear first in the 2007 "Autunno veneziano" festival, held in Venice in November 1-4. He scored 5 points out of 6 and edged out by half a point Croatian IMs Marin Bosiocic and Milan Mrdja, GM Sergey Kasparov (BLR), FM Davor Ramesa (CRO) and young Italian master Alessandro Bonafede from Treviso, who will compete in the next Italian championship, to be held in Martina Franca (Taranto) in November 23 to December 4. That will be an 8 category event, with a 2435 rating average. Official site of "Autunno veneziano" festival: www.veneziascacchi.com.
And now here is a dramatic game played (and lost) by Chuky in Crete...

Ivanchuk,V (2787) - Mamedyarov,S (2752) [D97], Crete 4.11.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Qb3 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bg7 6.e4 0–0 7.Be2 c6 8.Nf3 b5 9.Qb3 Qa5 10.Bd2 b4 11.Na4 Nxe4 12.Bxb4
A well known variation. Now both 12...Qc7 and 12...Qd8 are played.
12...Qc7 13.0–0 Be6 14.Qc2 Nd6 15.Rfd1 a5 16.Ba3 Bd5 17.Nc3 Na6 18.Rac1 Qb8?
Not a smart move indeed. 18...Be6 gives Black an (about) equal game.
19.Ne5 Nb4
If 19...Re8 then 20.Nxd5 cxd5 21.Nc6 and White is clearly better.
20.Bxb4 axb4 21.Nxd5 cxd5 22.Nd7 Qc8 23.Nxf8 Qxc2 24.Rxc2 Kxf8 25.b3 Ne4
The critical position: White is an exchange up and Black has a very little compensation. You shouldn't believe Chuky can lose this game, but he did!
26.Rd3 e6 27.Kf1 Bf6 28.g4 Ra3 29.f4 Nc3
Well, let's say White's task is not as easy as it looks after his last moves: Black's knight is really strong now.
30.Rdd2 Kg7 31.Kg2 Bh4
After 31...Nxe2 32.Rxe2 Bxd4 33.Rc7 White can be satisfied with his position.
32.Kf1 Bd8 33.Kg2 Bh4 34.Kf1
I guess Chuky was trying to reach the first time control, but he has wasted a lot of his positional advantage and now Black has good drawing (but not winning!) chances.
A serious inaccuracy. 34...Be7 is much better.
35.Rb2 Ra8 36.Rbc2 Ra3 37.Rb2 Kf8 38.Rbc2 Be7 39.Kg2 Kg7 40.Rb2?
40.g5 intending h4 gives White some more chances to get an advantage.
40...h6 41.Rbc2?!
The immediate 41.Kf3 looks more precise.
41...Bd6 42.Kf3??
Not now! 42.f5 is probably the only way to save the day, e.g.: 42...exf5 43.gxf5 Bf4 44.Rd3 Nxa2 45.fxg6 fxg6 46.Bf3 Nc3 and Black has full compensation for the exchange, but White would be able to draw the game without too many troubles.
42...g5 43.fxg5 hxg5 44.Bd3 f6 45.Rf2 e5
Unbelievable. Now it is Black who is trying to get more than a draw!
46.Bf5 e4+ 47.Kg2 Bf4 was unpleasant as well.
46...fxe5 47.Bf5 e4+ 48.Kg2 Bf4 49.h4 Kf6??
Both players are playing quite bad: 49...d4 looks much better, although after 50.Rxc3 bxc3 51.Bxe4 Be3 52.Re2 gxh4 53.Kh3 White can fight for a draw (but Black must be winning).
Now White is back in the game.
50...Kg7 51.Rxf4! gxf4 52.g5 was even worst for Black.
51.h6 d4 52.h7 Ra8 53.a3??
No, Chuky, no! What's wrong with you? 53.Rfe2!! was not easy to be found even for a strong GM, but you are the #2 player in the world! After 53.Rfe2 Black has not many alternatives: 53...e3! [a) 53...Be3 54.a3! Nxe2 55.Rxe2 bxa3 56.Ra2 Rh8 (56...Bc1?? 57.Rc2 Bb2?? 58.Bc8+-; 56...d3 57.Rxa3 Rh8 58.Ra5+ Kd4 59.Ra4+ Kc3 60.Rxe4 Bd4 61.Kf1±) 57.Rxa3 Bd2 58.Ra6 Kd5 59.Ra7 Bc3 60.Rd7+ Ke5 61.Re7+ Kf6 62.Rxe4±; b) 53...Nxe2 54.Bc8+-; c) 53...d3 54.Rxc3 bxc3 (54...dxe2 55.Bc8!+-) 55.Rxe4+ Kd5 56.Rc4 Rxa2+ 57.Kf3 Be5 58.Bxd3+-] 54.Re1 Kf6 55.Rh1 Kg7 56.Bd3 and White can hardly lose such an endgame. After the text move, on the contrary, Black wins on the spot. Poor Chuky!
53...d3 54.axb4 dxc2 55.Rxc2 Kd4 56.b5 e3 57.b6
57.Kf3 e2 58.Rxe2 Nxe2 59.Kxe2 Be5 was hopeless as well.
57...e2 58.b7 Rh8 0–1
And White resigns. You shouldn't say that two of the top super-GMs in the world has played this (end)game...


Anonymous said...

Were the other tournaments played under FIDE's ludicrous time limit? I don't think Ivanchuk likes it, and isn't very good in permanent time trouble.

TBH i don't think you can judge anyone's play in the later stages of a game harshly - permanent state of time trouble, and not even time to go to the toilet if you need to. (unless FIDE have introduced toilet breaks a la tennis - maybe they have coz i'm surprised it hasn't been more of an issue).

Mida said...

Hi A.!
You should be right, this could only be a matter of time. But this is not the first time that Chuky disappoints all his fans with a poor performance, after a period where he had played at his best. Anyway, I'm not judging anything but a chess game: you can say I analyze with a chess program (yes, that's true), while Chuky had only his own brain and nerves. Well, I should agree with you. But he is a professional player and he has proved many times he is an excellent rapid player, so I don't think that his blunders in Greece were just a matter of time (e.g.: in the game he lost to Bacrot he played 24.Qxb7??, a kind of move that a super GM would never play in a classical or rapid game or whatever). I repeat: I hope you are right, because I hope Chuky will win the Fide World Cup and play Topalov next year. Cross your fingers... I will cross mine!

Anonymous said...

No-one is always in top-form!