Learning from the best: Ivanchuk ups streaming game

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/1/2023 – One of the most brilliant chess minds in history has reactivated his Twitch channel. Vasyl Ivanchuk launched his streaming career last year, and has recently increased the number of videos uploaded. The Ukrainian genius will be playing the European Championship starting Friday, but before that, he has shared a bit of his encyclopaedic knowledge with us. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

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IvanchukChess reactivated

At the start of 2022, we reported on the launch of Vasyl Ivanchuk’s YouTube channel. The Ukrainian legend, like all Ukrainians, is suffering the psychological toll of the Russian invasion. However, he has not stopped playing, both online and over-the-board. He has not stopped streaming either, albeit spottily. In the last two weeks, though, no fewer than 30 videos have been uploaded to IvanchukChess on YouTube. For a live feed of his video production, Twitch.tv is the place to go.

In his streams, Ivanchuk looks both at his own games and remarkable games by other players. Current and historic events are covered, with the Ukrainian genius alternating between analysing battles from the 2023 Tata Steel Masters and games played between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Hermann Zukertort near the end of the 19th century. As demonstrated by Ivanchuk, there is plenty to learn, no matter when the games were played.

On Friday, Ivanchuk will play in the first round of the European Championship in Serbia, where he will be fighting to get a spot in the next edition of the FIDE World Cup. If he finishes among the top 23, we will get to see him joining yet another World Championship cycle!

Vasyl Ivanchuk

A highly idiosyncratic personality

Vasyl Ivanchuk is one of the few players in the world who can, on a good day, really beat anyone. When Garry Kasparov (once again) lost to Ivanchuk, the former world champion complained:

Ivanchuk plays sometimes better, sometimes worse, but against Kasparov, Ivanchuk always plays like Ivanchuk.

In the late 1980s, Ivanchuk burst onto the tournament scene, and quickly established himself as one of the best players in the USSR, behind Kasparov and Karpov.

Throughout his career, Ivanchuk has celebrated countless tournament successes, and is particularly strong in rapid and blitz chess tournaments, even if at the World Championships in these disciplines he often lacked that little hint of luck to win the tournament often after he had defeated the favourites. At least once — in 2007 — Ivanchuk did get to win the title of Blitz World Champion, though.

Ivanchuk is said to have a photographic memory. So he should be able to look at a page of a magazine briefly and memorize the text. Afterwards, he can recite the page by heart — even if the text is written in a language unknown to him. Ivanchuk’s chess is characterized by great creativity. And just as in chess, the grandmaster often finds unusual solutions to the problems in life and off the board.

Boris Gelfand, Vasyl Ivanchuk

Boris Gelfand and Vasyl Ivanchuk relaxing after playing at the 2018 Gideon Japhet Cup | Photo: Ritvo Photography

Ivanchuk’s pivotal role at the 2013 Candidates Tournament

Ivanchuk was one of the participants in the Candidates Tournament 2013 in London, where he played a pivotal role in the proceedings. Magnus Carlsen, as world number one, was the big favourite, but the young Norwegian was nervous. In the 12th round, Carlsen lost to Ivanchuk, which put Vladimir Kramnik ahead.

But Kramnik had not yet played against Ivanchuk himself, and in the final round, the Ukrainian grandmaster defeated Kramnik as well, which dramatically allowed Carlsen to win the tournament despite losing his own last round game to Peter Svidler!

Replay Ivanchuk’s win over Kramnik below, with annotations by GM Daniel Gormally.

Additional reporting by André Schulz



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.