Ivanchuk gets off to winning start

Ivanchuk, who is known for his moody play, played a masterpiece with white pieces to go one up in the two-game mini-match and is now just a draw away from attaining a berth in the semifinals of the Cup, which is also a part of the World Championship cycle. The tension and many-games of the tiebreaker apparently took its toll on a few players.

As a result, Russian Champion Peter Svidler played out a quick draw with top woman Judit Polgar in quick time. It was a similar story in the encounter between former World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine and Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan, who both were seen fighting long tiebreak games before finding themselves in the quarters.

For the record, Peter Svidler drew with Polgar in just 17 moves while Ponomariov signed peace with Gashimov in mere 14 moves. The other game of the quarters lasted a little longer but Alexander Grischuk of Russia could not break the ice against David Navara of Czech Republic and had to settle for a draw as well. The star of the day was Ivanchuk who came up with a sparkling performance with white pieces.

It is a common knowledge that Ivanchuk at his best is one of the most dangerous players in the world and on Friday turned out to be one of those days. Radjabov was on the receiving end in a Sicilian Dragon which came as a surprise to the chess pundits. 

Even more surprising was Ivanchuk’s cold-water treatment to an explosive opening as the Ukrainian gave his light squared Bishop early to stay away from main theoretical lines.

Tightening the noose in the middle game, Ivanchuk won black’s queen for two pieces and thereon it was just a matter of routine technique. Radjabov fought on till move 41 before calling it a day.

Grischuk tested Navara in a Queen’s Indian defense game with white pieces and this one remained level for most of the time. Regulation exchanges led to a perfect balance and peace was signed in 28 moves.

Results (Quarterfinals, Game 1): Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr) bt Teinour Radjabov (Aze); Peter Svidler (Rus) drew Judit Polgar (Hun); Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr) drew Vugar Gashimov (Aze); Alexander Grischuk (Rus) drew David Navara (Cze). 

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