9th Edmonton: Ivanchuk wins with 8.0/9

by Albert Silver
7/1/2014 – The Edmonton International tournament was the highlight of the Edmonton chess festival, and brought a myriad of international players to face off against Canada's best. The two stars were Ivanchuk and So, and they played a private race to see who outdid whom. By the midway point So had the edge, and it seemed as if the show was his, but Ivanchuk showed he was a force to reckon with.

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With only two draws conceded in the entire tournament, one to So and one to Irina Krush, his last-round win over Sam Shankland took him to 8.0/9 and a 2800+ performance that proved to be half a point too much for So.

Sam Shankland (left) was unable to break Ivanchuk's rhythm

Wesley So (2744) saw his attempt to keep pace with the Ukrainian frustrated by Vladimir Pechenkin (2311) in round seven, and try as he might to break him, Pechenkin held his ground for 109 moves before So threw in the towel. As a result, he finished second with only 7.5/9, though he still added three Elo to his rating.

FM Pechenkin (right) justified his reputation as being a hard nut to crack

The two 2600s also playing, Sam Shankland (2632) and Anton Kvalyov (2636), shared similar fates, as they both finished on plus two with 5.5/9, they both were third-fourth, and they both lost their respective games to the tournament leaders.

Irina Krush held the singular distinction of drawing both Ivanchuk and So, and neither game was a formality as they both tried to whitewash the rest of the field, with no exceptions made. Although no norms were made, it was undoubtedly an invaluable experience for the Canadian challengers, and one that will benefit them greatly in the future.

Irina Krush showed she could face the world's best

Wang discovered that Ivanchuk's reputation of being able to play anything.... was true

Ivanchuk plays the Benko Gambit:

[Event "9th Edmonton Int 2014"] [Site "Edmonton CAN"] [Date "2014.06.28"] [Round "8.1"] [White "Wang, Richard"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A43"] [WhiteElo "2365"] [BlackElo "2738"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2014.06.21"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. d5 g6 4. c4 b5 $1 {Although it is well-known that Ivanchuk can play anything, he doesn't actually. See if he plays a Benko against his fellow 2700 players for example. That is probably one of the things that attracts him to these less elitish events (that and he gets to play more), where he can freely scratch an opening he itches to play.} 5. cxb5 a6 6. bxa6 Bg7 7. Nc3 O-O 8. g3 d6 9. Bg2 Nbd7 10. Rb1 $2 {Diagram [#] It might seem a bit strong to put a question mark on this move, but all it does is cost White two tempi, and Black gave up a pawn precisely for that, so why give more?} (10. O-O Nb6 11. Re1 (11. Nd2 Bxa6 12. Qc2 Ra7 13. Rd1 Qa8 14. e4 Nbd7 15. Nf3 Rb8 16. Rb1 Ng4 17. h3 Nge5 18. Nxe5 Nxe5 19. f4 Nd7 20. b3 {1/ 2-1/2 (20) Karpov,A (2616)-Ivanchuk,V (2771) Cap d'Agde 2012}) 11... Bxa6 12. Rb1 (12. e4 Nfd7 13. Bf1 Nc4 14. Qc2 Qa5 15. Nd2 Nde5 16. Kg2 Nxd2 17. Bxd2 Bxf1+ 18. Rxf1 Nc4 19. Rfc1 Rfb8 20. b3 Nxd2 21. Qxd2 Rb4 22. Qe3 c4 23. Rab1 Qa3 24. Rc2 Rab8 25. Ne2 h5 26. Rxc4 Qxa2 27. Rxb4 Rxb4 28. Qd3 Be5 29. Nc1 Qa5 30. Ne2 Kg7 31. f4 Bf6 32. h4 Qa2 33. Kf3 Qa5 34. Rc1 Qb6 35. Rb1 Qb7 36. Kg2 Qa7 37. Kf3 Qa5 38. Kg2 Qc5 39. Kf3 Rb8 40. b4 Rxb4 41. Rxb4 Qxb4 42. Kg2 Qe1 43. Ng1 Qc1 44. Nf3 Qb2+ 45. Qd2 Qa1 46. Qe2 Bd4 47. Qd2 Bc3 48. Qe2 Qb1 49. Ng5 Bf6 50. Nf3 Bc3 {1/2-1/2 (50) Nguyen,N (2625)-Grischuk,A (2779) Khanty-Mansiysk 2013}) 12... Bc4 13. e4 Bxa2 14. Nxa2 Rxa2 15. b4 c4 16. Nd4 Ng4 17. Rf1 Na4 18. Nc6 Qd7 19. Bh3 h5 20. Qf3 Kh7 21. Bf4 Ra8 22. Rbc1 Nb2 23. Rc2 Nd3 24. Qe2 Nxf4 25. gxf4 Rxc2 26. Qxc2 Ra3 27. Bg2 Bh6 28. h3 Bxf4 29. hxg4 Qxg4 30. Nd4 Rh3 31. Ra1 Rh2 32. f3 Qg3 33. Kf1 Be3 {0-1 (33) Tomashevsky, E (2711)-Perunovic,M (2617) Yerevan 2014}) 10... Nb6 {Herein lies the problem. The rook is vulnerable to the Bf5 played by Black, but if he plays e4 then Bxa6 instead will make castling difficult.} 11. O-O Bf5 12. Ra1 Ne4 $1 {A typical method in this sort of situation. Instead of waiting for White to find way to play e4, Black simply sticks a piece on the square: Here I am, and here I remain.} 13. Nxe4 Bxe4 14. Nh4 Bxg2 15. Nxg2 Rxa6 16. Ne3 Qa8 17. a3 Rb8 18. Rb1 Na4 19. Qc2 Rab6 20. Nc4 ({Returning the material with} 20. b4 Rc8 21. Qd3 Nc3 22. Rb3 cxb4 23. Rxb4 {might have been the best way to restore the balance. }) 20... Rb3 21. e4 Qa6 22. Nd2 R3b7 23. Qc4 Qxc4 24. Nxc4 Nc3 $1 {White's biggest problem is that even after Black wins back a pawn, the pressure is nowhere near over.} 25. Ra1 Nxe4 26. Na5 {Diagram [#]} Bxb2 $1 {An important zwischenzug} 27. Bxb2 Rxb2 28. Nc6 Ra8 29. Rfe1 (29. Nxe7+ {Doesn't really accomplish anything since the knight will havce to return to c6 where it cannot join the fray.} Kf8 30. Nc6 Ra4 31. Kg2 Rd2 $19) 29... Ra4 30. f3 Ng5 31. Re3 Rc4 32. Nxe7+ Kg7 33. Kf1 Rcc2 0-1

Final standings

Pictures by Vlad Rekhson


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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