Publisher:  Everyman Chess      Author: Junior Tay       512 pages          ★★

IvanchukmbmThe title should give you a good idea of what to expect from this book; the chess genius Vassily Ivanchuk is the subject of the instructional move by move format which explains games as they unfold.

Ivanchuk is an excellent player to study as his games encompass all areas of chess. He plays nearly every opening and many different variations of each; he is a superb strategist and endgame player and has the tactical ability you’d expect from a 2800 player. Not only is he blessed with a fantastic talent but he also has a real love for chess. Garry Kasparov referred to Ivanchuk as a genius and was, it is reported, more afraid of Vassily than any other player.

Ivanchuk was twice ranked 2nd in the world (in 1991 and 2007) and won the Linares tournament in ’91 finishing ahead of Kasparov and Karpov. This is a player of the highest quality, many consider that it is only his nervous disposition that prevented him from becoming World Champion.

This book is wonderful. It features 40 very well annotated games (only 1 of which is in common with Kalinichenko’s Ivanchuk book) with question and answer sections at instructive/critical moments. These are interspersed with diagrams, averaging over one a page. It is a large book, over 500 pages,with quality binding and glossy cover.

The author, Junior Tay, is also a chess coach as well as master-level player (Candidate Master and ICCF Senior International Master) and this shows in his clear explanations. Many of the games feature a deep understanding of the characteristics of the position, formulation of a plan and clever move orders to execute the plan as effectively as possible. The reader will learn to look at positions and think about the game in new ways as (s)he goes through this book.

Some examples:

In this position, the author asks us to choose between 16…Na4 and 16…Ba4. It had already been explained that part of Black’s plan consisted of an eventual advance of the Qside pawns.

 

NikolicIvanchukIt seems that the Bishop is better placed where it is and the 16…Na4 gains time by attacking the c3 pawn as well as allowing the b-pawn to advance.

However, Ivanchuk plays 16…Ba4! “Forcing White’s Queen off the b1-h7 diagonal after which Black can retreat the Bishop again.” 17. Qb2 Bc6 “This guards b7 and restrains e3-e4 – a multi-purpose move indeed. Now Na4 is threatened after all, forking Queen and c3-pawn” 18. Qc2 “White decides his Queen is best placed here, keeping control of e4. So Ivanchuk has gained a free move, enabling him to organise his forces faster and more effectively.” 18…Na4. 

AlekIvanIn this position, Ivanchuk wants to push his b-pawn in a minority attack. White has just played Bg2 making “another ‘pass’ reasoning that Ivanchuk cannot play …b5-b4 anyway since the a4 pawn is hanging and, if necessary, Bxd5 will remove the key piece aiding the minority attack.”

Q: How does Ivanchuk position himself for the b5-b4 break? What conditions are required?

 

A: Black wants a Rook on the c-file and the other on the d-file, because if he has to give up the a-pawn , he needs to hit the White b-,c- and d-pawns in return in order to play for the win.

29…Rd8! 30. Bf1 Once again making a ‘pass’. However, this allows Ivanchuk to realize his agenda. 30…b4! 31 Rxa4? bxc3 32 bxc3 Nxc3 33 Bxc3 Rxc3

 

AlekIvan2Black can now train his pieces on the weakened isolated d-pawn. The pawn is toast as Ivanchuk can hit it 3 times while Alekseev can only defend it twice.”

 

 

 

 

There are 7 chapters in the book, the first 6 feature games fitting a theme, namely:

1. Global Domination – grand strategy games where advantages are accumulated until Ivanchuk controls every area of the board or switches from one to another when his opponent is unable to defend adequately.

2. A Rook Awakening – this chapter features games with mysterious Rook moves such as doubling Rooks on a closed file because Ivanchuk knows they will be ideally placed many moves in the future.

3. Pragmatism and Precision in the Regicide Quest – Ivanchuk’s approach to the King Hunt. Rapid placement of attacking pieces, powerful threats and a willingness to convert a well-defended attack into another advantage.

4. Aggressive defence – counter-attacking games including wins against Carlsen and Kasparov.

5. Mutanis Mutandis – changing the character of games to his (Ivanchuk’s) advantage, often with exchange sacrifices.

6. Chucky the Closer – covering Ivanchuk’s fantastic endgame play with an aim for the ideal set-up for his pieces, patient manoeuvring and setting his opponents problems.

The final chapter is a set of 30 questions in which the reader is challenged to think like Ivanchuk to solve certain problems.

The book itself is well laid out, with large pages and diagrams and there are opening and player indexes at the back for quick reference.

There is a downloadable sample at the Everyman Chess website here.

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