A blog post featuring links to translations of Vassily Ivanchuk’s contemporary annotations to some of his early games, as they appeared in the Soviet publications ‘Shakhmaty v SSSR’, ‘Shakhmaty (Riga)’ and ’64’.
Vassily Ivanchuk, one of the greatest chess talents to emerge during the final years of the Soviet Union, was born in the Ternopol region of the Ukrainian republic on 18th March 1969. His first trainer was Oleg Kalinin, with whom he began to work in 1979 in the chess club of the Sporting Society Avangard in Ternopol. From 1980, he began to work with the Lvov master Mikhail Nekrasov. From 1982, he was also assisted by Viktor Zheliandinov and Vladimir Buturin. (Later, he also would also work with Feliks Levin and Leonid Kaplun.)
By 1984 his talent had been recognised at the All-Union level, and he was selected to represent the USSR in the World Under-16 championship. In early 1985 – the year in which he gained the Master of Sport title – he convincingly won a strong 13-round all-play event at Klaipėda (ahead of Bareev, Oll and the likes of Gelfand, V. Akopian, Smirin and Dautov) to become the Soviet representative in the World Junior (Under-20) championship. Soon afterwards he finished 3rd in the adult championship of the Ukrainian republic. In early 1986, still aged only 16, he stunned the Soviet chess establishment by taking first place in the annual USSR Young Masters’ Championship, for players under the age of 26.
Ivanchuk, pictured, I believe, in the televised Moscow tournament of 1987, in which he played on Board 8 for the ‘Younger Generation’ team. (Image credit: V. Levitin, Novosti Press.)
In 1987, Ivanchuk again took a significant leap forward, winning the First League (effectively a semi-final) of the 55th USSR Championship in Lvov, ahead of many experienced grandmasters. In 1988 he made his breakthrough at the international level, taking clear 1st place in the New York Open, and a few months later, he finished 5th-6th with Eingorn in the final of the 55th USSR Championship in Moscow, behind Kasparov & Karpov (=1st-2nd), Jussupow & Salov (=3rd-4th) but ahead of the likes of Beliavsky, Ehlvest, Smyslov and A. Sokolov. He had joined the world elite. Nonetheless, his victory in the super-tournament at Linares in early 1989 (ahead of Karpov, Ljubojević, Short, Timman etc.) was still something of a sensation. Just out of his teens, he was #4 in the FIDE rating list of July 1989, with only Kasparov, Karpov and Short ahead of him.
His greatest success as a representative of the Soviet Union undoubtedly came in early 1991, when he won again at Linares in a star-studded field, ahead of World Champion Kasparov.
The 21-year-old Vassily Ivanchuk, pictured after winning the 1991 edition of the Ciudad de Linares tournament. (Credit: unknown.)
Ivanchuk clearly had the potential to become a challenger for the World Championship, and indeed in 1990 he had qualified fairly easily for the Candidates’ matches by sharing 1st-2nd place with Gelfand in the Interzonal tournament in Manila. However, to the surprise of many, he was eliminated from the Candidates at the quarter-final stage, losing a tightly-contested match to Artur Jussupow in Brussels in the autumn of 1991. At a critical moments of the struggle, it seems, his nerves let him down.
As the Soviet Union came to an end in December 1991, Ivanchuk had overtaken Short to reach #3 in the FIDE rating list, behind only Kasparov & Karpov. He would remain among the very best players in the World for a further quarter of a century.
Translations of the contemporary annotations by Ivanchuk (and others) to his games from the Soviet press can be downloaded at the following links:
(Note: Ivanchuk’s famous win v. Kasparov from Linares 1991 is featured in a separate blog post, but it is included here for ease of access.)
In 1992, a small Russian-language booklet was produced by the publishing house ‘Medekol’ in Kiev. Entitled Superturnir v Linares, it contained all of the games from the Linares 1991 event, many with annotations by Vassily Ivanchuk. Translations of his annotations to his games against Speelman, Salov, Ehlvest, M. Gurevich, Gelfand and Timman can be downloaded at the links below: