2001 FIDE World Championships
Round Six (Men's Semifinals)
GM Viswanathan Anand (IND) vs. GM Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) GM Peter Svidler (RUS) vs. GM Ruslan Ponomariov (UKR)

Game One

In Ivanchuk-Anand, Anand went back to the trusty French defense  and left the opening with equal chances. Both players attempted to create imbalances, but neither could really gain any tangible advantages. After a series of exchanges, the game was reduced to a R+P endings and a draw was agreed.

The Petroff Defense has gotten a lot of exposure in this tournament, as
Ponomariov has thrown his support behind this ancient defense. Svidler developed central mobility and perhaps black could've freed himself a bit with 22...cxd4 23.Bxd4 f6. He played 22...Bxe5 and white offered an exchange by planting a rook on the d6 square. Since the rook could not be taken, black sought play along the d-file. Svidler sacked another piece after 32.Bxh6, and again it could not be taken (32...gxh6 33.Qxh6+ Kg8 34.Re3 Bf5 35.Rg3+ Bg6 36.e6).  After an offer of a queen exchange, a draw was agreed.

Ivanchuk - Anand,  ½-½
Svidler-Ponomariov,  ½-½

Game Two

Each game played today was played "gladiator" style.  Anand-Ivanchuk settled into a Rossolimo  Sicilian and the game immediately became tactical after 9… Nxe4!? After Ivanchuk's queen went for a stroll in the middle of the board, Anand attempted to open up all fronts with 15.f4. However, black  retreated and after a queen trade, a draw was agreed. At the Internet Chess Club, observers were analyzing white's pressure on the f-file after fxe4, but nothing tangible could be made of it.

was definitely the most exciting game of the round, as Ponomariov played a common, but enterprising sacrifice (12.Ndxb5) netting three pawns for a piece. The game appeared to be headed for another odd ending with minor pieces, as ICC onlookers debated whether white's queenside pawns would roll up the board and overpower black's extra piece. After 27… Rg8 28.Bxh6 Nd4 29.h5 Rg2, the question of the h-pawn became the central focus. Black regrouped, built a fortress to stop all of white's pawns, but allowed white's king to march all the way to f8 hemming in the black king. Black's tied up pieces could no longer prevent white from administering  a perpetual check with the rook and a draw was agreed. Truly an exciting battle!

Anand - Ivanchuk, ½-½
Ponomariov-Svidler, ½-½

Game Three

Today's Ivanchuk-Anand game had the makings of a bloodbath as there was castling on opposite sides of the board.  Anand tested speculative waters with the thrust 11… e4!? It appeared that Ivanchuk enjoyed central mobility and a lead in development, but could not make anything of it. After a few more jabs, Anand equalized and 4th game is overdue for some surprises!

Ponomariov has been a party to some of the most exciting games in this tournament. This further asserts the contention that he will enter the elite group of 2700-rated GMs… and he is certainly playing the part! In yet another Petroff, this game had all the signs of being an all-out brawl. An early queen sally (12.Qh5) by Svidler indicated that there wouldn't be any quick draws today. However, the young Ukrainian titan had plans of his own offering an exchange with 16… Re4! Accepting  immediately would have given Ponomariov dangerous initiative, so Svidler forced an exchange of pieces, and THEN accepted the offer.

What would follow would be an impressive display by the Ukrainian star. After the shot 25… Bg4! Svidler was faced with violent attack and decided to sacrifice his queen and enter the ending  with two clumsy rooks and a weak pawn structure versus an active queen and a dangerous passed pawn. Ponomariov would exploit his advantage with ruthless efficiency as his queen penetrated deeply to support the advance of the passed pawn.  It was an "intruder alert" in Svidler's camp!! As white's rooks scrambled to a defensive posture, black won another pawn giving him two steamrolling passed pawns in the center. That was too much weight to bear for Svidler and he resigned.

Ivanchuk - Anand, ½-½
Svidler-Ponomariov, 0-1

Game Four

Wow! That's what the chess world is now saying after defending champion Viswanathan Anand was ousted from the FIDE Chess Championship by Vassily Ivanchuk! Earlier Ruslan Ponomariov advanced with an 18-move draw with Peter Svidler assuring an all-Ukrainian final. The chess world was predicting a tiebreak when news was sent from the Moscow playing hall… Anand had lost! Today's Anand-Ivanchuk game started in a type of Closed Sicilian and one could be almost certain that this would not be a quick draw due to the imbalances created.

A crucial juncture occurred after black's 23… Rf7. Anand decided to play on the queenside with 24.Qb3 and commentator
GM Alexey Dreev began to examine the queenside campaign of Qb5, Ra3-b3. Like a flash, the plan backfired when Ivanchuk shredded the kingside with 27… f3! After the rook lift 30… Rf5, it was obvious that Anand's king was in mortal danger and the 24.Qb3 was a horrible mistake. At the Internet Chess Club (ICC), GM Dreev commented that, "All these problems appears because Anand played Qb3 instead of  preventing the Black's counterplay." Anand switched his queen back into a defensive mode, but it was too late. Ivanchuk continued his  pounding with 35… e4! making way for a powerful knight plant on e5.  Anand's position crumbled as did his dream of successfully defending his crown.

Anand - Ivanchuk, 0-1
Ponomariov-Svidler,  ½-½

Results (all rounds)

PGN Games  Day 1   Day 2   Day 3  Day 4  Tiebreaks