Ivanchuk: Sorry, I am not quitting chess

by ChessBase
11/30/2009 – In a recent FIDE interview in Khanty-Mansiysk Vassily Ivanchuk, devastated by a loss to 16-year-old Filipino GM Wesley So, announced that he was giving up professional chess. We received a lot of feedback on this decision, some urging the great chess player to reconsider, other calling him a sore loser. Now Ivanchuk has acted, and it will please the first set. Feedback and retraction.

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Reader feedback

In his original interview Vassily Ivanchuk announced that he had "gone crazy" in his first game against Wesley So, and an inadequate estimation of the situation had led to a tragedy. In the second game, Ivanchuk said, "I was trying to keep a balance, but I missed something. My opponent, by the way, played very badly." As a consequence of this result and the knockout from the World Cup he took the following decision: "I should leave professional chess. Chess will become hobby for me from now on. I will become just a chess fan and follow chess, follow the games of my ex-colleagues. Chess is killing me. Chess is playing against me! Chess is destroying me!I"

The interview and announcement spawned a large number of feedback letters from our readers. Here is a selection, in roughly chronological order, with the rudest naturally left out.

Marcel Baartz, Spain
Please tell Ivanchuck that without him chess will loss a great idea constructor. I cannot imagine the evolution of chess for the past fifteen years without him. He should take a rest before taking such a incisive decision that would be bad both for chess and for himself.

Alf Olsen, Oslo, Norway
I'm sure you people have some way of contacting Ivanchuk. Next time you talk to him, please tell him he is at least for me one of my very top favorite people in the chess world, as much for his colorful character as his chess play. We (me and others like me – there must be many!) gives full support to him!!

Ted Teodoro, River Edge, New Jersey
I cringed reading Ivanchuk's excuses for his loss to Wesley So. All this dust that he has kicked up points to only one thing – he's a sore loser. Be a man, and admit that you played badly and give credit to those who made better moves.

Johnathan Rothwell, Southport, England
I am saddened to read your recent article on Ivanchuk's decision to retire, it is a shame for all chess fans and perhaps the game itself. I hope his fellow colleagues urge him to reconsider. Top level chess will lose some of its colourful lustre without him. I wish him well-being and happiness in the rest of his life.

Bruce Mubayiwa, Johannesburg, South Africa
It is with sadness that I read about Vassily planning to quit chess. Vassily is indeed a genius. He lost to an unknown player in the World Cup. So what! This is nothing new in the world of chess. Even Vassily was once an unknown player and had to start somewhere.

Amongst the top players Vassily has the widest repertoire on both sides, given his encyclopaedic knowledge of the openings and his games are most interesting. He is a living legend in the game. I think one of the big challenges for Ivanchuk is that he simply plays in too many tournaments during the year even though he does not see this as an issue. While other players focus on the big or Super GM tournaments Vassily plays in just about everything. Sooner or later something's going to give. Playing in more tournaments than anyone else means he is probably not at his best during the big tournaments. It also means there are more games from him in the databases which other players can study at leisure. More games played against weaker opposition means he is more prone than most to defeat, losing valuable rating points. Weaker players are known for unorthodox play and can actually be more difficult to beat than higher ranked players who play familiar lines.

Vassily does not get enough time to recover from tournaments. Magnus Carlsen had to cancel his participation at the recent European Championships because he felt it might affect his results at the Moscow Super GM tournament that came soon after. I would compare Ivanchuk to the Russian tennis player Nikolay Davydenko. Davydenko is one of the most consistent tennis players and one of the very best. However, he plays more tournaments than any other top player. The result is that in the really big tournaments, the Grand Slams, he has not been able to fulfill his true potential. I have no doubt that if Davydenko trimmed his calender and focused solely on the big tournaments he would win a Grand Slam.

I look forward to more games from Vassily and hope he will reconsider his decision to quit professional chess.

Roberto Lampertico, Lugano, Switzerland
Please tell Ivanchuk that there are millions of fans who support him, even when he loses. He is the best player around. Other players have better results because their approach to chess is cynical: they play rarely and only in the most important tournaments, to preserve a high Elo rating. Ivanchuk plays a lot and plays competitive chess.

Al Jablan, SSM
Good for Wesley So. As far as I am concerned Ivanchuk had a hissy fit when he was beaten by an obvious up-and-coming youngster, and instead of generously offering him congratulation, offers to quit chess and insults his opponent. A great man rejoices in the future greatness of his successors, but a small man, a insignificant contemptible niemann, goes berserk. At least Gata didn't go nuts he accepted his loss like a man.

Rene Almario, Filipino residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
All of a sudden my respect and admiration for Vasily Ivanchuk as a professional chess player has banished into thin air. He lost to a hardworking teenager chess player Wesley So, 16 years old, and Chucky just could not take it. His comments that Wesley played badly is uncalled for, This would mean that if Wesley played well, it could have been 2-0 which would be more embarassing. I wonder what Chucky's comment were after Wesley downed the great Kamsky?

Mr. Ivanchuk, you are very well respected in the chess circle but with your tirade against our very own Wesley So, I am sure you lost all the respect of all Filipino and perhaps majority of all Asian chess players in general. Your defeat is because of your poor preparation and your arrogant under-estimation of an Asian GM. Wesley played very well and totally prepared for that encounter.

Randy Bennett, Canada
I am SO glad that So took Ivanchuk down!

Ivanchuk reconsiders

Today we found the following letter on the chess news page ChessPro:

Translation: "I ask the forgiveness of my supporters, friends, colleagues in arms, and numerous chess lovers, for the emotional interview. I was very upset after losing, but am not in any circumstances planning to give up chess! And I wish to contradict the reports on SMI regarding my departure from the game....
Yours with respect, Vassily Ivanchuk"

Whew! So we are not going to lose another great player before he has finished doing what he does best: play imaginative, creative chess, crush everyone like bugs, climb to place three or drop to place 30 in the FIDE world rankings. We will also be entertained by his unusual ideas and quirks, which we would not miss for anything int he world.

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