Cheer up, Vassily, you won!

5/9/2003 – The 11th Sigeman & Co Tournament was the strongest of the series. Ukraine's Vassily Ivanchuk more than lived up to his top-seed status in the Scandinavian round-robin. His 7/9 score gave him clear first by a full point ahead of Nielsen. In a twist of international cooperation the event was split between Malmo, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark. Report and games.

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Up, Chuk!

Over the past decade Vassily Ivanchuk has spent very little time out of the top ten. He once made it to number two in the world and has more Linares titles than Anand and Kramnik combined. There is no doubting his class, so what is he doing at the number twelve spot on the rating list?

Consistency has never been Ivanchuk's strong suit and usually a few brilliant results compensated for his flameouts. Now the great results have been harder to come by and new talents like Leko and Ponomariov are taking up space in the top ten.

The rise of his young countryman Ponomariov, who defeated Ivanchuk in the FIDE world championship final last year, has been particularly tough for Ivanchuk to deal with.

Ivanchuk doesn't often play in events like the Sigeman & Co tournament and you couldn't be sure how his infamous nerves would do when he was the clear favorite in a very combative field. He passed the test with flying colors, leading most of the way and taking clear first by a full point with a +5 score.


Official site / Game selection replay and download

Peter Heine Nielsen was the only player to put any pressure on Ivanchuk. The Dane has taken over the national number one spot from Curt Hansen and here he had a very solid +3 undefeated score for clear second. Nielsen didn't play the tactical fireworks his fellow northerners are famous for and didn't avoid short draws. He finished second last year behind Nigel Short. Maybe first next year?

England's Luke McShane had a fine tournament with many interesting games but it would have been much better if he hadn't lost a spectacular game to Curt Hansen in the final round. McShane has been playing an incredible number of games lately to take advantage of his break from school. His results here and in Iceland will be enough to push him over the 2600 mark.

The other notable results were failures. Second seed Emil Sutovsky of Israel lost two of his last three games to drop to a disappointing even score. He was a last-minute replacement for Zhong Zhang when the Chinese was forced to stay at home due to the SARS outbreak. Sutovsky was bamboozled by Ivanchuk in a knight ending in round seven and then he lost horribly to Timman with white.

That was one of the few bright spots for Timman. The Dutchman has taken a few months off after his career-worst result in Wijk aan Zee in January. Whatever is wrong, time away from the board didn't solve it. Lindberg was completely outclassed and nothing worked for him. He didn't get his half point until the 7th round.

Hillarp Persson, Hector, and the Hansens were as entertaining as ever at the board and you will have a lot of fun with the games on the replay/download page. A few samples:

The Games

Jonny Hector is well known for his wild openings and attacking play. This led him into trouble against Sutovsky in the first round. As usual the Swede refused to play any defense even when he was busted out of the opening.

Sutovsky homes in on the c7 weakness with 8.Nb5 and Black is already in deep trouble. After 8...Nd8 (allowing the queen to defend the bishop) 9.Nd2 Ne6 10.Bxb6 axb6 11.Bc4 the threat of 12.Bxe6 and 13.Nxc7+ forced Hector to bail out with his king. He went for 11...Ke7 instead of the sane 11...Kd8, but failed to complicate things enough to survive past move 27.

This one isn't exactly the stuff of Mikhail Tal, but the compactness of the knight operation is attractive. Hector has central control and now makes Timman's c-pawn disappear into thin air.

28.Nxc5! Bxd6 29.Nxb7 Be7 30.Nd6+ Bxd6 31.Rxd6 Qb7 32.Qa5 Qa7+ 33.Qb6 1-0

Nielsen came prepared as always. This position from the popular ..a6 Slav arose in Radjabov-Morozevich from the Russia vs the World match last year. 11.Nxd7 was played there.

Nielsen sprung 11.Bb5!? on S. Hansen. Black is quickly wiped out of he takes the bishop. One fun line: 11...axb5 12.Nxb5 Ra8 13.Nc7+ Ke7 14.Qb4+ Nc5 15.Qxc5+ Qd6 16.Qxd6+ Kxd6 17.Bb4 mate.

Hansen played 11...Bd6 and held on for a draw.

Ivanchuk showed the more technical side of his creativity in most of his games. His wins were of the grind and conquer variety, outclassing the competition.

Here he finishes off S. Hansen with the cute 46...Na2! 0-1 Nothing works for White. 47.Be2 Nxc3 48.bxc3 Rxc2 49.Bxa6 Rc1+ 50.Bf1 a4 51.Ra5 Be4 52.Rxa4 Bd3.

Or 47.hxg6 Nxc3 48.gxf7+ Kg7 49.Rg5+ Kxf7 50.Bh5+ Ke7 51.Rc5 Rxc2 52.Rxc3 Rxc3 53.bxc3 a4 54.Bg6 a3 55.Bb1 Bd5

Photos by John Henderson, all rights reserved

 

 


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