CBM Blog: Triumphs and tribulations of Vassily Ivanchuk

10/8/2011 – He dominated the first half of the Grand Slam in São Paulo, got robbed at gun-point when he was leaving, started with a brilliant victory in the first round of the second leg, and yesterday lost a probably drawn rook ending in desperate time trouble against bottom seed Francisco Vallejo. We reported on round seven, and now bring you additional endgame analysis by GM Karsten Müller.

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Remember the sequence of events: Vassily Ivanchuk scored three wins, one loss and a draw in the first leg of the Grand Slam in São Paulo, leading the field by three "Bilbao" points. Then, on the way to the taxi that was to take him to the airport, he and his wife were robbed at gunpoint. Their suitcases were taken, and since one contained his wife's passport, she had to fly back to Ukraine and will miss the second half of the tournament.

How would the veteran GM react to all of this? Initially he threatened to abandon the tournament, then turned up to play in Bilbao. In the very first game – who would have thought it? – he completely outplayed his closest rival Hikaru Nakamura to take an even more commanding lead in the 2011 Grand Slam. In round two he faced Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, who was languishing at the bottom of the table, with a single win and draw against four losses. Ivanchuk got himself into desperate time trouble and actually lost this game.


Vassily Ivanchuk and Francisco Vallejo in the press conference after their game

Did Ivanchuk have a draw on the board? At move 34 Vallejo was a pawn up, but both our analysts think that Ivanchuk could have held the position. French GM Romain Edouard said it in our round seven report, and now our resident endgame expert Dr Karsten Müller comes to a similar conclusion. Here his analysis.


Dispair and dejection: Vassily Ivanchuk after round seven

Reactions to Ivanchuk's robbery

Mike Jaqua, Denver, CO
Please pass along my support, thoughts, prayers to Big Chucky and his wife. I am sure the whole chess-loving world is behind Vassily at this time. What a horrid, stupid thing to happen. With all his many fans, I send a big Internet hug to Mr Ivanchuk. Clear you mind and blow the competition away big guy!!

Jamie Morgan, Exeter, UK
Please can you pass on my sympathy and best wishes to Vassily and his wife after the shocking events. I hope they recover quickly from what must have been such a very frightening experience.

Tiago Sizenando, Brazil
I am from Brazil and even though I was not completely surprised by the news, it saddened me to read about Ivanchuk's robbery after his masterful performance in São Paulo's leg of the Grand Slam Masters. Let us not forget that in less than three years Brazil is going to host the Football World Cup and in less than five years it is going to host the biggest sporting event of the world: the Olympic Games. I wish this sad incident could be the beginning of a real change for us. I hope Ivanchuk can recover from this robbery and play strongly in Bilbao (I would bet in a 2.5/5 performance from him and an overall tie for first with Carlsen with 6/10).

Alexander Jablanczy, Sault Ste Marie Canada
The world sport community must boycott permanently Brazil and I am sorry to include that country among the travel destinations I shall never visit, just like Mexico or Columbia or Venezuela. Simply put, a mere sport event musn't be a life threatening adventure, so all countries without the rule of law and peace and security must be boycotted until they clean up their act. Which pretty much means all of Latin America, Africa, Asia, leaving only Australia, Canada and north western Europe as acceptable destinations and venues for travel tourism or sporting events. Even southern Italy and most of the US are no go areas. Even peaceful Canada is unsafe in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, where there are shootouts in public weekly. The US is of course totally impossible, as there are daily if not hourly shootouts in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and of course New York. – Well I hope nobody gets blown up in Bilbao.

Alex, Brazil
This robbery episode is disgusting. This news totally upset me. As a huge chess fan I was just commenting with some friends on how well the Grand Slam had succeeded, and all of a sudden this sad news. I hope Ivanchuck and his wife is well by now and that he can recover his nerves to continue to crush his opponents in the second half of the tournament.

Luis Baquero, Medellin, Colombia
Whose fault was it? Perhaps the organizers; they can´t assume that everyone knows how dangerous Sao Paulo is. Perhaps Ivanchuk's, if he knew it, but took a risk!

Jorge Shinozaki, Tokyo, Japan
It's great to hear that Ivanchuk is in Bilbao, and especially that he played his first game there superbly, because as a Brazilian, I would feel very uncomfortable if he had abandoned the tournament.

G. di Gesu, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Let's say it like it is. Sao Paulo is no kindergarten. No metropolis is. Nowhere in the planet. Nor is Paris, Rome, London, Beijing, New York, Miami, Liverpool, Marseille, Milan, Tokyo, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, Bilbao, Oslo (!), Barcelona, Saint Louis, New Delhi, Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, etc, etc, ad nauseum. It is the job of the organizers to provide security for the players. 24/7, everywhere, anywhere in the world, anytime. These gentlemen are geniuses, and they deserve better. Organizers, do your job. Organize. Stop discussing the gender of the angels. Stop making grandstanding statements on Twitter. Respect the players. Protect them.


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