54th Reggio Emilia: Ivanchuk has a meltdown

by ChessBase
1/4/2012 – Normally, the news would be that Morozevich beat Nakamura (which he did) and is now right behind (which he is), followed by Giri in third, but Ivanchuk stole their thunder. In round seven, visibly haunted by his loss to Giri, he dropped a piece against Vitiugov in such a way that spectators were left gaping. In round eight, against Caruana, he just flipped and literally tried to give away all his pieces!

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The 54th Reggio Emilia is underway at Reggio Emilia, Italy, and runs from December 27, 2011 to January 6, 2012. The tournament is a six-player, double round-robin with ten rounds played at 50 moves for 100 minutes plus a 30-second increment per move. January 1st is a rest day. Games start at 3 PM Paris time (9 AM NY time).

54th Reggio Emilia

Round seven

By Martha Fierro, Augusto Caruso (accademia internazionale di scacchi) et al. (bert)

The seventh round was the beginning of high drama, but not the typical one readers are used to. The top players Nakamura and Morozevich drew their games against their junior opponents with barely a struggle, but Ivanchuk's famed fragile nerves finally betrayed him as his poor loss against Giri in round six still haunted him.

Ivanchuk already looked very unhappy, and he hadn't even started his game

Ivanchuk was doing fine against Vitiugov inasmuch as the game was quite equal and nothing much was going on, then on move 30...

Players following the game online could barely believe their eyes. What was the explanation for such an absurd aberration? A prominent player following the action, summed up the reason behind the blunder in one word, "Ivanchuk!"

In fact, if the name of this great player is included in future chess glossaries for this reason, at least he can rest assured he is not alone. In Brazil, there is a football term, a 'domingada', ('a Domingos play'), that can only be understood by an outsider via an explanation.

In the 1940s, one of the greatest defenders on the planet was the legendary Domingos da Guia (pronounced Domeengoes da Guee-ah), whose play was to become textbook material for generations to come. Unfortunately, on more than one occasion, he also committed such absurd mistakes, with no rational explanation possible, that could lead to the team's loss, and did so more than once. This stark contrast led to the term, a 'domingada', to mean an uncharacteristically disastrous play from an otherwise world-class performer.

Move thirty was clearly a 'chucky'.

Round eight

By Martha Fierro, Augusto Caruso (accademia internazionale di scacchi) et al. (bert)

The audience watches a player self-combust

The blunder in round seven led to the high drama of round eight. Ivanchuk is not only recognizable, he is blatantly suicidal (chesswise). After losses to Nakamura, Giri, and then the horror story against Vitiugov, his will to win is ashes. The last moves of his game against Caruana, in which he tried to give away all his pieces in a fit, say it all.

Vassily Ivanchuk is in nuclear meltdown mode, however Krogius warns, in his famous
on chess psychology, of players who seemed depressed, beaten, who suddenly
came back swinging, mustering strength from unsuspected sources. So Nakamura beware.

Here is commentary by IM Andrew Martin.

The match between the leaders only served to foment the excitement to the end

The faceoff between Nakamura and Morozevich was as tense as hoped for, and the fans are ensured a race to the end between the two players. Against Morozevich's Classical French, Nakamura played the same pawn sac that Kamsky used against Akobian in last year's US championship, but the result was not as fortunate, and shortly after he lost a central pawn and then the game.

Sometimes being a top player can be painful

In his Twitter, Nakamura later wrote, "Just one of those days where everything went wrong and my opponent played well. Fortunately, I still have the lead and can sleep it off."

After a slow start, Anish Giri has now moved up to sole third

Anish Giri also followed strong and beat Vitiugov in a strong Sicilian Kan in which he sacirficed pawns and the exchange to strand the Russian's king in the center. The pressure never let up, even though Vitiugov avoided being mated, and the Dutchman converted the endgame. With this win, he moves into clear third, right behind Morozevich, who is second, and Nakamura who is still clear first.

Sopiko Guramishvili was lucky to survive her game against Marianna Chierici

In the women's tournament Maria De Rosa blundered against Videnova and had to give up immediately, while Marianna Chierici once again showed her strength and built a significant edge against the leader, Sopiko Guramishvili, after very creative middle-game play. Unfortunately, time trouble caused her to lose the chance, and she had to content herself with half a point.

Marina Brunello was in a critical position, which at one point was in danger of losing in a single move, but clawed her way back to a draw, and can still fight for a top place in the tournament.

Pictures by Martha Fierro

Men's standings after eight rounds

Men's standings after eight rounds (traditional scoring)

Women's standings after eight rounds

Women's standings after eight rounds (traditional scoring)


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. Or you can get our latest Fritz 13 program, which includes six months free premium membership to Playchess.

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