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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I can still become world chess champion, says Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk

Chess blog for latest news and trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hi everyone,

Vassily Ivanchuk - the rock solid chess grandmaster - has said he is confident he can still become world chess champion. Trust us, we couldn't agree more. What with his super win at the just-concluded Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2011 with a 2968 performance that has taken the Ukrainian grandmaster to 5th place in live chess ratings.

We found a nice compilation of articles and links at which talks of an interview by Danilo Mokrik for with the Grandmaster. Ivanchuk. Ivanchuk also confessed that he is addicted to online checkers.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

You talked about your unsatisfied ambitions. The main one is probably becoming World Champion in classical chess?
Not exactly becoming World Champion in classical chess… That’s only one tournament. Of course, I’d like to succeed in it, but somehow I feel that over the course of my chess career that desire itself has put some pressure on me, preventing me from concentrating on other tournaments, and causing anxiety.
I still think I can become World Champion, but only on the condition that I look at that championship and the qualifying for it as normal tournaments – nothing special. Then I’ll be able to prepare.
I know myself – if a tournament is very important, then that’s it, I can’t prepare for it – neither at the computer nor at the chessboard. When the tension drops a little then the desire to play chess returns and new ideas appear. Why is it like that? I don’t know.

In the last qualifying cycle for the World Championship you played in the 2009 World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk and lost in the last-32 to the young and not-so-well-known Philippine player Wesley So. Was that also the result of emotional pressure?

Well, I was already really tired there. Before that I’d played in the Tal Memorial in Moscow and also in the blitz, so you could say I wasn’t as fresh as I could be. I really did feel under emotional pressure. But specifically during that match with So there were some non-chess goings on. As far as I recall, after 12-13 moves in the first game I liked the position and thought I had a certain advantage – but at that moment I suddenly became unwell. I had heartburn and went to the medical point, asking them to give me some sort of activated carbon to bring me back to my senses. It took about 15 minutes, and I returned and went for play where I wasn’t taking any risks – I had a draw and, it seems, there should also have been a win. But my opponent made some only moves to hold on, and found moves that you wouldn’t expect to be there, but they were.
I then had a choice – to go for a draw or to play more sharply. And I decided to take a risk, which I’d say was actually justified from a chess point of view, because objectively my chances of winning were in no way worse than my opponent’s. But I was already quite significantly behind on time at that point and, perhaps, given that the match consisted of only two games, I should have had the common sense to take a draw – especially with the less than ideal way I was feeling that day. I probably paid too little attention to my condition.
As for the second game, it wasn’t entirely clear who was outplaying who. At first I was a little worse, but I converted that worse position into a big advantage and then – almost into a win. And I can’t understand why I didn’t win – there was time… By all logic I should have won, but I didn’t. The game ended in a draw, and that was the end of the match for me.

After that match you made an emotional declaration, that you later withdrew, that you were quitting chess…
You know how it is with journalists… I didn’t say that. Of course, they didn’t understand me correctly. I said something like I was tired and I wanted to rest. That was then highly embellished, and all of these “sensational news reports” appeared. Something like that had never even entered my head. I was just a little shocked.

But in general, over the course of your whole career, have you ever had a strong desire to quit chess and do something else?
There were times when I was very upset, I felt overwhelmed, or an enormous fatigue. But quitting completely… Even if I did do that, why would I want to shout about it to the whole world?

Well, Kasparov did…
That’s a matter for him. I think that if at some moment I seriously decided not to play, then I simply wouldn’t arrange to take part in any tournaments for a certain period of time – for example, half a year. After that time I’d consider what I wanted to do next. Why should I declare something that I’m going to do in 6 months, or a year, whether I’ll play or not?
You can read further here.

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