Ivanchuk wins ACP Masters in Ashdod

by Yochanan Afek
12/12/2015 – Vassily Ivanchuk from Ukraine is the winner of the ACP Masters rapid super tournament that ended on Thursday in the Israeli city of Ashdod. The Ukraine No.1 beat Frenchman Etienne Bacrot in the final match with a flawless two wins and one draw to take home the title and the US$10 thousand first prize. Here is the final illustrated report.

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The semi-finals

In the semi-final matches of the ACP Masters the winner of the preliminary group B, Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk met the runner-up in the preliminary group A, Russian Ian Nepomnianchtchi. In the first game the Russian, as black, sacrificed a knight for attacking chances but eventually had to settle for a draw by perpetual check.

Ivanchuk and Nepomniachtchi were the two highest rated rapid players in the event, ranked
world no. 2 and world no. 6 respectively

In the second game Nepomniachtchi missed a nice forced win in the middle game and then was tempted again to sacrifice a knight for what looked like a strong attack. Nevertheless his attack soon petered out and he lost the game and match 0.5 - 1.5.

The other match, between the winner of the preliminary group A, Israeli Boris Gelfand and the runner-up in group B, Frenchman Etienne Bacrot was far  more dramatic. In the first game Gelfand overlooked simple tactics which cost him a whole rook and consequently the game. In the second game Gelfand won a pawn in the early middle game and patiently converted it to a winning ending and equalized to 1:1. The tie break consisted of two blitz games of three minutes with a two-second increment.

He had his chances, but Boris Gelfand failed to make the most of them, and it ended up
costing him the match against Etienne Bacrot

In the first game Bacrot won on time in an equal queen ending but was trapped in a mate net in the second one. The decisive game was a tragic Armageddon where Gelfand lost on time while up a rook and knight.

On the official rest day, five of the players conducted a simul againts over 100 young chess fans

On Wednesday various accompanying events took place in Ashdod. 118 youths challenged five of the grandmasters in a simultaneous display held in the town hall square. Grandmasters Dimitry Jakovenko, Gadir Guseinov, Pavel Eljanov, Emil Sutovsky and Richard Rapport were merciless and conceded just a single draw. The world’s current youngest grandmaster, American Sam Sevian, played a clock simul against six talented youngsters to win 5.0/6, drawing with Yair Parkhov and Lior Musyuk. Bulgarian GM Kiril Georgiev gave an instructive lecture in the local chess club.

The final

The final, initially set for four games, ended already after game three following a vigorous 2.0/2 start followed by a comfortable draw. The first game saw a quiet line in the Spanish where after multiple piece exchanges Bacrot, as black, found himself two pawns down in a hopeless rook ending.

Etienne Bacrot found himself outgunned against a thoroughly ruthless...

... Vassily Ivanchuk, whose class and consistency were untouchable.

The second game saw a sharp line in the Grűnfeld Defence with roughly equal chances when Bacrot, as white, sent his queen on a dubious pawn hunt on the queenside which allowed Ivanchuk the time for a strong counter attack in the centre. In an attempt to stop Black’s strong initiative white managed to exchange q however the resulting ending was still better for Ivanchuk owing to an unpleasant pin along the “d”file. The Ukrainian converted his edge to lead 2:0 and needed just a draw out of the remaining two games.

As a matter of fact he obtained a winning position also in the third game but settled for a draw to secure his convincing overall victory. The highest rated participant Ivanchuk was a natural favourite yet he achieved the goal without losing a single game.

Vassily Ivanchuk is given the winner's trophy by ACP president Emil Sutovsky

At the prize giving incoming chairman of the Israeli chess federation Danny Porath praised the participants for demonstrating great fighting spirit and sportsmanship and thanked the town hall of Ashdod for its continuous and massive support. Emil Sutovsky brought the greetings of the ACP and awarded the tournament winner with a big trophy. Vassily Ivanchuk, in a short victor’s speech praised the pleasant hospitality and the friendly atmosphere that with a little bit of luck were instrumental for his success.

Photos by Moshe Slav


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 there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Yochanan was born (1952) and grew up in Tel-Aviv, and now lives in Amsterdam. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of chess, both as a professional and a volunteer, for the last 50 years, and remains an active player, composer, writer, organizer, trainer and commentator. He is an International Master and International Arbiter for chess as well as International Grandmaster for chess composition, and the author of Extreme Chess Tactics (Gambit 2017) and Practical Chess Beauty (Quality Chess 2018).


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