Throwback Thursday: Ivanchuk wins the 2016 World Rapid Championship

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/14/2021 – Garry Kasparov has described him as a world-champion level grandmaster, an assessment that is shared by much of the chess world. A true genius, Vasyl Ivanchuk has won a number of super-tournaments and has been ranked number 2 in the FIDE rankings three times. The Ukrainian also won the World Rapid Championship in 2016, and celebrated in style.

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Ivanchuk edges Carlsen and Grischuk

Vasyl IvanchukFew players are as universally appreciated as Vasyl Mykhaylovych Ivanchuk. At 52, the man from Kopychyntsi still belongs to the top 100 in the world ranking, while few doubt that, on a good day, he could still beat any player from the elite. The Ukrainian genius has won super-tournaments in  Linares and Wijk aan Zee, the Tal Memorial, the Gibraltar Masters and the M-Tel Masters, just to name a few of his numerous achievements.

Already in July 1991, at 22, ‘Chuky’ reached the second spot in the ranking, while he repeated the same feat no fewer than 16 years later, in October 2007. During the 1990s, Garry Kasparov mentioned that Ivanchuk was one of the players he feared the most. After all, in a memorable edition of the Linares tournament, a 21-year-old Ivanchuk had defeated the then world champion on his way to tournament victory. Kasparov told Business Insider in 2017, explaining what separates a good chess player from a great one:

And then you go to the very top, and the difference is so minimal, but it does exist. So even a few players who never became world champion, like Vassily Ivanchuk, for instance, I think they belong to the same category.

Not only is Ivanchuk respected by his colleagues for his remarkable results but also for his commitment to creativity and innovation on the chessboard. Anand said of him:

His playing style is unpredictable and highly original, making him more dangerous, but sometimes leading to quick losses as well.

In 2016, the Ukrainian won the World Rapid Championship in Doha, the capital of Qatar. With a score of 11/15, Ivanchuk edged Alexander Grischuk and Magnus Carlsen on tiebreak criteria. The event lasted three days with each game being played with a time control of 15 minutes plus 10-second increments.

A fan of poetry, it is apparent that Ivanchuk is not one to restrict himself from exploring areas of life — other than chess — that spark his curiosity. Not surprisingly, he has been attracted by the game of draughts: with a 1983 rating, he is currently the 52nd highest-rated Ukrainian player in the world.

At the closing ceremony of the World Championship in Doha, in typical ‘Chuky’ style, the recently crowned rapid champion interrupted a game of draughts — against another creative star, Baadur Jobava — to receive his prize. And he did not stop calculating variations while on the podium — which served him well, as he went on to win the game:

A hard-fought victory

With 8/10 Ivanchuk started day 3 as sole leader, but at first had trouble to find his form. He started with a loss against Ian Nepomniachtchi and then played two draws in rounds 12 and 13.

After winning a topsy-turvy game in round 14 against Vishy Anand, he was sharing the lead with Alexander Grischuk, Shakriyar Mamedyarov, Nepomniachtchi and Magnus Carlsen. But Ivanchuk had the best tiebreak score and therefore ‘only’ needed a win in the last round to become the new world rapid champion.

In round 15 Ivanchuk played Hrant Melkumyan and, though the game had been balanced for a long time, Melkumyan finally went astray in an opposite-coloured bishop ending and Ivanchuk pounced to win the game and the title.


Second place went to Alexander Grischuk, world blitz champion in 2006, 2012 and 2015, who had a strong finish. He started day 3 with two draws, but then won his last three games against Farrukh Amonatov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Nepomniachtchi.

Alexander Grischuk

Magnus Carlsen finished third. He started day 3 by losing a short and violent game with white against Anton Korobov — shortly after the opening Carlsen miscalculated in a sharp position,  and that was all Korobov needed to win in a devastating attack.


Carlsen resigns

Carlsen recovered and won his last four games. Particularly crucial was his game against Ian Nepomniachtchi in round 14. With 10/13 Nepomniachtchi led the field after 13 rounds, but Carlsen slowly outplayed him with the black pieces.


Final standings (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Ivanchuk Vassily 11,0 2747
2 Grischuk Alexander 11,0 2740
3 Carlsen Magnus 11,0 2701
4 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 10,0 2738
5 Yu Yangyi 10,0 2724
6 Nepomniachtchi Ian 10,0 2713
7 Anton Guijarro David 10,0 2669
8 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 9,5 2758
9 Aronian Levon 9,5 2749
10 Dominguez Perez Leinier 9,5 2711
11 Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son 9,5 2689
12 Amonatov Farrukh 9,5 2665
13 Cheparinov Ivan 9,5 2645
14 Korobov Anton 9,0 2743
15 Li Chao B 9,0 2733
16 Anand Viswanathan 9,0 2707
17 Jakovenko Dmitry 9,0 2674
18 Melkumyan Hrant 9,0 2664
19 Karjakin Sergey 9,0 2651
20 Volokitin Andrei 9,0 2627

...106 players

All games


How I became World Champion Vol.1 1973-1985

Garry Kasparov's rise to the top was meteoric and at his very first attempt he managed to become World Champion, the youngest of all time. In over six hours of video, he gives a first hand account of crucial events from recent chess history, you can improve your chess understanding and enjoy explanations and comments from a unique and outstanding personality on and off the chess board.


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.


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