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What do we actually know about the mysterious chess player from Lvov? The whole world calls him in a very simple and artistic way — a genius.

The reasons for that are very obvious: the entire world admires his pieces of art that he creates at the chess board. Plus the image of a man-mystery who lives in his own chess world.

Can we define his chess career as a mega-successful one? Both — yes and no. On one hand, Grandmaster famous all over the world, the European Champion 2004, the winner of elite tournaments (he won thrice in Linares), the 4-folded Olympic Champion (twice in the USSR team and twice in the national team of Ukraine), the World Champion in Blitz and the leader of the Ukrainian team since many years. Isn’t that enough? Yes, it is, if we speak about the personality of such a great chess talent.

Photo by Chess Base

The thing is that the main title of the strongest chess player of the planet remained and remains a «bluebird» slipping away from him.  Ivanchuk was considered to be one of the main favorites of the Candidates Cycle in 1991—1992. However, having won Leonid Yudasin in the 1/8 of the finals, after the persistent fight in the additional games of quarterfinals Ivanchuk gave in to Arthur Yusupov.

He managed to fight for the world crown in the final match only once — it was at the World Championship Match of 2001—2002 in Moscow. At that time he was stopped on the way by the young Ruslan Ponomariov, who is by the twist of fate his opponent in the present match for the 3rd place in the World Chess Cup 2011.

There is a theory that is very popular among journalists: the defeat of Ponomariov in semifinals influenced in a very negative way on the play of Ivanchuk in the parallel match against Alexander Grischuk. Subconsciously the wish to once again meet his former affronter in the match revenge has given its results. Certainly, the theory is rather unbelievable and Ivanchuk himself is insisting to have forgotten about those events. Of course, the lie detector was not on at the moment when he was making this declaration.

Ivanchuk will always remain in the memory of chess amateurs of Khanty-Mansiysk and of the whole world due to his emotional declaration dated November 2009 after his defeat to the little-known 16-year-old chess player from Philippines Wesley So in the second round of the World Cup. At the time he declared about the termination of his chess career: «I believe, — said Vassily, — that after this match I have nothing to do in serious chess. From now on chess is only a hobby for me ».

Certainly, all elite grandmasters have some kind of special connection with chess that has been formed for years and all of them take defeats as a small death. However, such a declaration in public is an extraordinary case. It must be said that no one took his declaration to leave chess seriously. As for the Grandmaster himself, he confirmed it later in his open letter where he stated that by no means he was going to leave chess.

Some time passed, negative emotions have faded away and Ivanchuk came back «to work» and started showing great results again. In the year 2010 he became the winner in the «round» tournament in Cuba again. Afterwards he brilliantly won at the first board at the 39th World Olympiad having scored 8 out of 10.

At the Chess Olympiad — 2010. Photo by V. Barsky

They say that the one who travels faster — travels alone. Fortunately, it does not concern Ivanchuk. In 1991 Ivanchuk married one of the strongest chess players of the world Alisa Galliamova and they had a son Misha. Several years later the legendary chess couple (probably the strongest in the history) broke up. In 2007 Ivanchuk married for the second time.

Vassily and his wife. Photo by Chess Base

Now Ivanchuk is 42 years old (he was born on 18 March 1969 in the town Kopychintsy of Ternopolskaya Oblast of Ukraine). It has been more than 30 years since 6-year-old Vasya got acquainted with chess thanks to his father. However, Ivanchuk is still sincerely in love with this game and, according to his words, he is trying to play every game against any opponent in an equally serious manner. It does not matter who is sitting in front of you! This is probably the reason that Ivanchuk is always welcome at any chess tournament and the number of his fans is immense all over the world.

Maria Fominykh

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