The secret filling station of Vassily Ivanchuk

7/1/2008 – In the restaurant in Linares, scene of the annual Super-GM tournament, Garry Kasparov always had a permanent table for his entourage, and a chair that was only his. One day Vassily Ivanchuk sat down on that chair, with a very specific goal in mind. In his Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos shows us the result: Ivanchuk blasted Topalov off the board in just 25 moves. Enjoy.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

The tournament was Linares 1999, one of the great successes of Garry Kasparov's greatest year. After 12 of 14 rounds, Kasparov led by 2.5 points, while Vassily Ivanchuk, the hero of this week's show, was languishing near the bottom with a minus score. It was too late for Ivanchuk to salvage a good result in the tournament, but it's never too late to play well. To make this happen, drastic measures were required. In "preparation" for his 13th round game, against Veselin Topalov, Ivanchuk almost took his life in his hands.

The players in Linares typically ate each day at the Restaurant Himilce, and Kasparov – as Kasparov – had an essentially permanent table for his entourage, and a chair that was only his. So what did Ivanchuk do? Shortly before the Kasparov crew came in, he went to Kasparov's table and sat in his chair! As he explained to the imploring restaurant staff and then to Kasparov's mother (who then gave him her blessing), he wanted to sit there for five minutes "to absorb Kasparov's spirit."


Absorbing Kasparov's spirit: Vassily Ivanchuk in Linares

It would be a great story no matter what happened, but what makes it perfect is that he went on to blast Topalov off the board with the black pieces in just 25 moves. It's a beautiful game, replete with sacrifices, and instructive too. (Ivanchuk himself said that "[s]tudents of the middle game should study it [the key piece sacrifice that kept White's king in the center] attentively." That's just what we'll do tomorrow, Wednesday night, at 9 p.m. ET on ChessBase's Playchess.com server. The show is free, the stories are entertaining, and the game is fantastic. Why would anyone miss it?? (If you need instructions for watching my ChessBase shows, whether live ones or those in the archives, this post will tell you what you need to know.)

Hope to see you there.

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).



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Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.



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