“I guess it is safe to say he is the most creative player of the modern age.” – Levon Aronian
He has never been the world chess champion or the #1 ranked player (though he has come close on both counts), but Vassily Ivanchuk is one of the world’s greatest and most original players for the past 20 years. Fantastically creative and able to play any and every opening with either color, the great Ukrainian has been a fan favorite for many years now, and his occasional blunders and lapses under pressure have only made him a more sympathetic figure.
It won’t be his errors that we examine today, however, but his play when everything clicks into place. That was the case earlier this year, during the 5th FIDE Grand Prix which took place in Jermuk, Armenia. After some poor results earlier in the year had momentarily pushed him below 2700 for the first time in many years, he came back with a vengeance, winning Jermuk with a +4 score against an impressive field.
For our show this week, we’ll look at Ivanchuk’s round 4 victory over Evgeny Alekseev. The opening was an English/Reversed Modern Benoni, and while reversed openings often fail to give White more than a stable equality, Ivanchuk was able to create some real chances for an edge. At least as importantly, the game was very dynamic, and in a position where nothing too dramatic seemed to be going on, Ivanchuk found a shot that led to a winning attack seemingly out of thin air.
It’s a remarkable game, but we won’t just watch to admire. There’s much to learn about the Modern Benoni – both in its normal and reversed forms – and our knowledge of tactical patterns is bound to increase as well. It’s a game I’m sure you’ll enjoy, and to join in the fun you need only log on to the Playchess server at 9 p.m. ET/3 a.m. CET, go to the Broadcast room and double-click on Ivanchuk-Alekseev under the Games tab. Hope to see you there!