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The eccentric Ukrainian is one of the world’s best loved and strongest grandmasters. He broke into the world Top 10 as a 19-year-old, winning the Linares Supertournament in 1989 and following that achievement with an even more impressive victory in the same tournament two years later, where he inflicted the only defeat on second-placed Garry Kasparov. At the time it seemed Ivanchuk was Kasparov’s natural heir, but despite numerous tournament successes he’s always fallen short in World Championship events. The nearest miss so far was his loss in the 2002 FIDE World Championship final match to compatriot Ruslan Ponomariov.
Ivanchuk has a universal style of play characterised by great depth and a readiness to play a huge range of openings – something that required fanatical devotion to chess before computers recently transformed the speed at which new information could be assimilated. Ivanchuk’s Achilles’ heel is his temperament, with nerves often getting the better of him at crucial moments. The level of his play can also vary erratically, making the graph of his rating performance look something like a rollercoaster.
Ivanchuk’s love of chess hasn’t dimmed since he turned 40 and he continues to be one of the most active elite grandmasters. Although an extraordinary five losses on time ended any hopes of success at the London 2013 Candidates Tournament he still made an impression, winning his mini-matches against both Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik.