Reports | January 23, 2012 12:59

Go SuperMariov

Go SuperMariov

Today it's the 10th anniversary of Ruslan Ponomariov's victory at the 2001-2002 FIDE World Championship in Moscow, Russia. On January 23rd, 2002 the then 18-year-old Ukrainian defeated his compatriot Vassily Ivanchuk 4.5-2.5 in the final. Ponomariov was the first teenager and youngest person to ever become (FIDE) World Champion.

To celebrate this anniversary, about a year ago Ruslan's girlfriend Inés Goñi Alonso took the initiative to have a video made for him. It was produced by Macauley Peterson, who received (photo) material from Mikhail Golubev, David Llada, Hartmut Metz, New in Chess, José Diaz and yours truly. José Diaz created a special cartoon which also features in the video.

Ponomariov's games at the FIDE World Championship 2001-2002



Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


christos's picture

It was quite a strong field of opponents that Ponomariov had to defeat before winning that knock out tournament.

Addi's picture

I was a high school student back then in 2002 and I followed the games Ponomariov vs Ivanchuck in the finals. Ponomariov is one of the best and a heart of a champion. I just wanna say congratulations to Ponomariov and more of your best games may come! God Bless and more power!!

noyb's picture

I'd be the first person to say that Ruslan Ponomariov is a great guy and a good chess player, but this seems bizarre to me. Ruslan can't hold a candle to the legitimate World Champions of the time (Kasparov/Kramnik). FIDE's propped-up "champs" of the 90s and 00s just don't wash (Khalifman, Anand (then), Kasimdzhanov, Ponomariov, Topalov).

hcl's picture

Cartoon does not look like Pono in the slightest.

Moreover, everyone is glad the era of pseudo-FIDE champions and farce match has passed.

ChessGirl's picture

Yes, hcl, we are all aware that the likes of you would be much better cartoonists than Jose Diaz and much better players than Ruslan Ponomariov. But, since you chose not to share your talent and virtuosism with the rest of the world, we will have to do with bad caricatures like Diaz's and pseudo-World Champions like Ponomariov.

It has been long since I decided to ignore these claims of who is a real world champion and who is not, but on this special date I am just going to point something out:

Supposedly, the person who beats the world champion becomes the new world champion. If, by the old system, Aronian challenged Anand, statistics favor Aronian enormously, so there you would have a new WCh in the old-fashioned manner. HOWEVER. Would that mean that he is the best player in the world? Hmmm... by ELO and tournament wins probably Carlsen is better.

Oh well, for different reasons, none of them has reached the current WCh final. Gelfand has. If Gelfand beats Anand, he will be the next WCh. HOWEVER. Carlsen didn't participate in the cycle! Gelfand is not even in the top 10 of the rating list! Would that make him a REAL world champion? Hmmm...

I don't know, hcl, but there are lots of HOWEVERs, and lots of questions and obstacles, and somehow all these brainy people of the chess world still cannot agree on a perfect WCh cycle. So I don't know what really makes a world champion.

But there is something I DO know: Ten years ago today an eighteen-year-old Ponomariov finished first in a World Championship in which all the best players in the world, except Kramnik and Kasparov, participated. They were offered to participate, but rejected, it was their own choice. Ruslan was the 19th player by rating, and reached the final after beating many other great players. Then he and Ivanchuk were given a month to prepare for an eight-round match. He only needed seven rounds to beat him. Well, FIDE called him a World Champion for this. You can call it a pseudo-world champion, you can call it a farce, you can call it a bacon cheeseburger if you want. The fact is that ten years ago a kid named Ruslan kicked the hell out of some big chess asses and we have decided to celebrate it with him.

Please get back to us with your artwork for the 25th jubilee because I'm pretty sure we will celebrate that as well.

mishanp's picture

Where's the "like" button when you need it? :)

Bob's picture


hcl's picture

Pono was a big fail in hindsight.

Worse of all he wimped out in the Kasparov match and then had the termerity to withdrew from chess, Fischer-style.

He was always a non-contender, not in the league of Kasp, Anand, Kramnik - sorry.

S3's picture

As a world champion he immediately finished above Anand at the wimbledon of chess..

Around that time he clearly was one of the most succesfull players.

Marcel's picture

I'm also getting tired of all these people who search for a reason te declare their favorite as "the real world champion". As I said earlier : The Wimbledon Champion is the guy who wins Wimbledon, not the one who is no 1 on the rating list. The world champion football is the country who wins the world cup, not the the country who is no 1 on the FIFA list. The Olympic gold medalist is the one who wins the final race, not the one who is world record holder. etc etc.

What's the next argument? The player who gets an evaluation from a chess program of more then 1 wins the game?

redivivo's picture

I think what matters most is seeing great chess played. I don't think you will find many that say that Carlsen is the World Champion while Anand isn't, but you will certainly find some that come on here after every Carlsen win to declare how little they mean.

Mauricio Valdes's picture

Ivanchuck as Luigi and Kasparov as Bowser would have been nice!

Janis Nisii's picture

Woah, great video and amazing gift by Inés! I bet Ruslan cried when he saw it, well I would have! Congratulations to Ruslan and to all the people who organized this nice celebrations!
(Inés, don't waste your time with haters, they're not worth your intelligence!)

test's picture

Great video for a great guy and a great chess player. Best of luck in chess, life, love and everything. :)

Niima's picture

Congratulations Ruslan!

Great video. Wonderful to see comments by friends and well wishers such as Aronian.

Pablo's picture

Yes! Another great cartoon from the master Diaz. Great to see you good hand again. Amazing job... as always!

bertjeeneka's picture

why is game 21 lost for chucky? anyone?

Anonymous's picture

Most of black pieces are blocked (it's almost Zugzwang :) ) and there is nothing he can do against either 24.Nxe6 or 24.Ngxf7...just try to play it out. Now how Chucky got himself (with the help of great play by Ponomariov of course) into this position in only 20 moves is another question...

Xeno's picture

I'm still exhausted after the ten-year-celebrarions of Super Khalif so I will pass on this party and return when it's time to celebrate Super Kasim's ten years since the became World Champion.

Brecht's picture

When is Peter Leko's celebration?

Aditya's picture

Ponomariov is an amazing player and one cannot take away anything from his win. He won convincingly against the likes of Ivanchuk when he was so young and that is so awesome! Having said that, I think a public tribute video is untimely for Ponomariov. Tribute videos are best when (a) The player has retired and looks back on glorious days (b) The player is currently the best in the world at his/her game. Yeah, who cares what fans say and think, but I think Ponomariov himself would want to play more chess and constantly try to better what he did so he can have his tribute videos later. It's like celebrating Ivanovic's French open victory at a time when she is trying hard to get to the top levels of current tennis. It might be great for her fans, but for her, it's like people have admitted she is past her prime.

Latest articles