Reports | September 30, 2011 23:54

Masters Final R4: Ivanchuk beats Aronian, extends lead in Sao Paulo

Masters Final R4: Ivanchuk beats Aronian, extends lead in Sao Paulo

Vassily Ivanchuk won his third consecutive game at the Grand Slam Masters Final on Friday. In Sao Paulo, Brazil the Ukrainian defeated Levon Aronian with the black pieces to reach a score of 10/4. Vishy Anand joined Aronian in second place, with 5/10, after beating Francisco Vallejo with Black. The third game, between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, ended in a draw after 43 moves.

Event 4th Grand Slam Masters Final  | PGN via TWIC
Dates September 25th - October 11th, 2011
Location Sao Paulo, Brazil & Bilbao, Spain
System 6-player double round robin
Players Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Ivanchuk, Nakamura, Vallejo
Time control 90 minutes for the first 40 moves plus 60 minutes to finish the game, with 10 seconds increment per move from move number 41
Prizes Undisclosed
Notes Players are not allowed to agree to a draw without the arbiter’s permission. In case both players request it to him, the arbiter will make his decision after consulting with the technical assistant. The football scoring system is used: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 for a loss.

Round 4

When Vassily Ivanchuk is in top shape he can be the world's best player - at least for a while. He already proved this back in 1989 when he won the Linares tournament ahead of Karpov, aged 19, and two years later he repeated this when Kasparov also participated - who famously lost to Ivanchuk in the first round, in a 3.Bb5+ Sicilian. Another good example is the MTel 2008 tournament which Ivanchuk won with the superscore of 8/10.

After becoming 3rd at the World Cup, everything is going Ivanchuk's way so far in Sao Paolo - this time even luck is on his side! On Friday, in terrible timetrouble he missed a winning continuation against Levon Aornian, who then, with enough time on the clock, blundered to lose anyway. After drawing with Nakamura in the first round this was the third consecutive win for Ivanchuk. Especially with the football score in use, victories taste very sweet in this tournament. The Ukrainian extended his lead to five points and although anything can happen with six rounds to go (one in Sao Paulo and five in Bilbao) it's clear that Ivanchuk is now the biggest favourite to win this tournament.

PGN string

Levon Aronian: "I think it was an interesting game until I started blundering."

Vishy Anand bounced back from his 3rd round loss by beating Vallejo with the black pieces. The Spaniard went for an ending he had drawn himself easily, in a recent game, but Anand proved that with accurate play Black might hope for an edge. When he mistakenly traded rooks at move 40, the resulting ending was just lost for Vallejo, who was struggling with an old issue again: getting into timetrouble even in positions that are not highly complicated. Afterwards the Spaniard said:

If in this tournament I play at my worst level, it's hard to do anything. I'm sorry.

PGN string

The start of Vallejo-Anand with the first move executed by the Sao Paulo investor André Gordon

Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura drew a 6.Bxf6 QGD in which White was only marginally better, with a more active bishop, but Black was always very solid.

PGN string

Hikaru Nakamura is having a solid tournament so far with four draws...

...while Carlsen is on minus one

On Saturday Ivanchuk plays Carlsen and Mexican GM Manuel Leon Hoyos sent the tweet:

Chuky has Magnus next. Has anybody ever beaten three 2800 players in a row?

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Schedule & results

Round 1 26.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 6 06.10.11 16:00 CET
Nakamura ½-½ Ivanchuk   Ivanchuk - Nakamura
Anand ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen - Anand
Aronian 1-0 Vallejo   Vallejo - Aronian
Round 2 27.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 7 07.10.11 16:00 CET
Ivanchuk 1-0 Vallejo   Vallejo - Ivanchuk
Carlsen ½-½ Aronian   Aronian - Carlsen
Nakamura ½-½ Anand   Anand - Nakamura
Round 3 28.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 8 08.10.11 16:00 CET
Anand 0-1 Ivanchuk   Ivanchuk - Anand
Aronian ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura - Aronian
Vallejo 1-0 Carlsen   Carlsen - Vallejo
Round 4 30.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 9 10.10.11 16:00 CET
Aronian 0-1 Ivanchuk   Carlsen - Ivanchuk
Vallejo 0-1 Anand   Vallejo - Nakamura
Carlsen ½-½ Nakamura   Aronian - Anand
Round 5 01.10.11 20:00 CET   Round 10 11.10.11 16:00 CET
Ivanchuk - Carlsen   Ivanchuk - Aronian
Nakamura - Vallejo   Anand - Vallejo
Anand - Aronian   Nakamura - Carlsen

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 4 Standings (football)

1  Vassily Ivanchuk 10
2-3 Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand 5
4 Hikaru Nakamura 4
5-6  Magnus Carlsen, Francisco Vallejo 3

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 4 Standings (classical)

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.


arkan's picture

I hope Ivanchuk will break 2800 this tournament! what a player

shanmuham's picture

Ivanchuk atlast lost a game to Carlsen. still leads.. . .

Peter Batman's picture

Yes i agree Ivanchuck is brilliant when hes on top.He can be superior like Karpov and Kasparov was in there time in history of chess.I hope he can be a challenger to WC

harami's picture

Looks like there are 2 Anands and 2 Vallejos as per the cross table :)

adam's picture

the crosstable is cute :) anyways, ivanchuk is on fire

Peter Doggers's picture

Crosstable corrected now.

PircAlert's picture

What an impressive game by World Champion today! It will even make the live rating freeze. From a queenless and from a more or less equal position, Anand pulls out a win when there was no obvious mistakes from Vallejo. It will be hard to pin point where Vallejo went wrong. And it was like Rybka aquarium was doing a 3rd grade math on counting down by 0.1 when it was evaluating the position. Do you see now why I say Anand is the greatest ever?!!!

Sihoko's picture

Quite a claim the greatest ever..... Certainly of of the best and maybe if we multiply chess strength and character the greatest.

Bartleby's picture

There was an obvious pair of bishops since move 13. That's why Anand came out better and better the longer the game lasted. The impressive thing was that Vallejo had good, active positions for his bishop+knight at first, and somehow Anand managed to hold everything together and keep the bishops. The bishops usually play offense better than defense, and I expected Vallejo could win some pawn or split the bishops. But that's a tricky task, and with every exchange, every inch of control he gave up, the position slipped towards the bishops.

PircAlert's picture

Exactly. It was kind of a position where any move would look harmless yet the subtlties between the moves will make a difference and will slowly add up. I would assume even Anand would love to play the queenless game from the white side putting pressure on the backward c6 pawn. I enjoyed watching the whole game!

theeagle1's picture

presumably you are forgetting kasparov's overwhelming plus score against anand
when you make this assertion

Brandon's picture

As much as I like Kaspy, why bring him up? It seems more relevant to point out that tied for second in a 6 person tournament hardly shouts "Best Ever", but maybe I'm being nit-picky there.

theeagle1's picture

because, he had an overwhelming score against anand, had the highest rating of all time, and dominated chess for 15 years when anand never dominated for an extended period. that's why I brought him up.

RealityCheck's picture

And the eagle flys on friday. How can someone dominate chess for fifteen years and not play for five years during the same period?

theeagle1's picture

I said he dominated chess for 15 years, I didn't say he dominated chess
for the last 15 years.

RealityCheck's picture


I understood you. The point you missed is that Kasparov was absent for 5 years during his 15 year reign. One can't play for 10 years turn around and claim a 15 year reign. Unless you're Bobby Fischer of course. His illusion lasted a lifetime. He took the crown to the grave with him.

redivivo's picture

"Kasparov was absent for 5 years during his 15 year reign. One can't play for 10 years turn around and claim a 15 year reign"

So Capablanca wasn't World Champion because he was "absent" from 1921-27? I suppose Alekhine wasn't World Champion 1929-34 either? Not to mention Lasker 1896-1907? Kasparov played eight title matches in sixteen years.

PircAlert's picture

redivivo, I don't know the history. Let the champions claim their championship for whatever amount of time they held it for. But for the greatest of all time considerations, you can't give a shelf life of more than 2 years for one title win, which I think is reasonable, unless it wasn't entirely in the hands of the title holder, Capablanca in that case.

PircAlert's picture

The individual result scores wouldn't prove much except that it would tell you are a serious contender for a match against the player with whom you have such a result to compare yourself. Because those are NOT played out in ideal or close to conditions. One example, why do you think so much efforts are taken to protect the jury in high profile cases? Or would you accept a court verdict if such measures were not taken? So in the absense of neutral officially supervised matches between two, there are better indicators than just head-to-head results. Also, there are many other drawbacks in using individual encounters to judging between two players.

Anyway, I brought up this very high quality positional game where Anand creates win from nowhere when there is no apparent help from his opponent. And I pointed out how he built such advantage gradually understanding the nuances of the position. Can you bring one such game played by your favorite great player(s) for the people court to see? Thank you.

theeagle1's picture

I don't really understand then under which criteria you judge "the greatest player of all time" given that kasparov has the highest rating of all time, dominated the world chess scene for 15 years, and had an overwhelming individual score against anand (which must count for something, however you like to dress it up) he clearly has much stronger credentials to be called "the greatest player of all time"

PircAlert's picture

When you have the highest rating of all time, you are expected to beat your closest rivals, otherwise rating system becomes suspect or the way in which you achieved it becomes questionable. Around that time, Kramnik thoroughly dominated Kasparov. Out of 16 chances, Kasparov couldn't win a single game. How do you explain that? And you say Kasparov is the greatest of all time?? Or you don't say that?

Why do you think the World Chess Organization is working to find sponsors and conduct a qualifier instead of going simply by rating? Rated 9th on the list may not manipulate to become rated 8th but if it is announced that top 8 qualifies for world championship then manipulation possibility is enhanced. Likewise a rated 2 could manipulate to become rated 1 because of attactiveness of being world #1 player! So rating can be used to judge players only to some extent. You need something more than that to decide who is better between two. In other words, if you show tendency to manipulate your rating by playing weak tournaments, or only your promoter tournaments, you will get less weightage for such achievements or you will get negative points in greatest of all time calculations.

There are many other criteria you can list like comparison of best tactical game, best positional game, your accuracy, speed of play and many more. Maybe I will list later on.

theeagle1's picture

pirc alert, i'm a grandmaster with an elo rating of 2520. I like to think I know better than you, although I could of course be wrong.

PircAlert's picture

Cooool!!! Nice getting to know a GM! If I tell my rating, you will just discount me, so I will keep that secret for now. ;) Maybe we should get together in a server and play sometime so you can get an idea about my strength!

adam's picture
some additional info: a) kasparov is not, never was, nor will be my favorite player (same is true for anand); b) the game quoted above is nowhere near k's best games; c) chessgames gives k/a +28 -8 =43, which can be called quite significant, whereas the age difference of 6 years is not enormous; d) there actually was an "officially supervised" match between these two, in 1995, anand collapsed and lost 7.5:10.5
i do agree that this one in question was an excellent game from anand, who proved several times by now that his place is among the very best, but i suggest you read a little chess history instead of blindly throwing big words at others
of course, in your court you must be the judge too :)

PircAlert's picture

Is that all you can come up with? Who is Arnason btw? A 2200 player?? I'm sure you could expect better play from today's FMs. In that game after move 28, White has queenside majority, so if at all there is a win, white has the win, but it is compensated by black double bishop advantage.

Now take 29.c3? for example. It is an obvious weak move that helps Kasparov's case. It should have been 24.c4! Pawn trade cannot be avoided, and when queenside pawns are liquated, no win for black. But if black persists with 24...b4, then Nd5! attacking b4, so 25...a5 26.f3 and white would have a protected passed pawn at c4 as opposed to how it turned out in the game.

33.g3 again sounds like a patzer move to me. h3 is at least better or you develop your king via f1.

After 33...Kf6, you play f4! (and not h4 immediately as played) and prevent entry for black king. It goes against convention in that it allows protected passed pawn but there will be no breakthrough for black as such. e3 Knight has to be captured by dark bishop and pawns fixed on light squares for black would leave the black light bishop bad.

I can go on like that.

Please bring Kasparov games from some well known opponents so at least we don't have to doubt the quality of opponent moves to estimate Kasparov's play!

If you don't trust my analysis, please remove the names from the game, give it to a GM, and ask him to evaluate the game and judge the strength of play or the players.

BTW, 1995 match was a private match!

adam's picture

arnason is an icelandic gm, three-time national champion, with a peak rating 2555. i'm sure you're much better than that...
i gave you a suggestion, now here's another one: keep whistling that pons-anand was the game of the century, labeling kasparov (botvinnik, capablanca, lasker, fischer, etc.) fools as opposed to your beloved hero and explaining a 28/8 statistics whichever way you fancy :D

adam's picture

almost forgot to mention, he won u16 wc ahead of kasparov (3rd) and defeated, amond others, shirov, adams, short, korchnoi and larsen. or if you'd be more familiar with the names karpov, tal, petrosian and smyslov--he drew all of them. but anyways, i guess you made up your mind already, right? ;)

PircAlert's picture

:) If that game is a sample of predecessor play, trust me, calculations have grown up leaps and bounds. No wonder your greats dominated! Did you see this other game against Kasparov how GM Arnason drops pawns and 2 pawns down and plays on?? I would probably beat that GM, you would need to bring a better game. ;)

adam's picture

mate, you're truly amusing. i'm sure you'd grind down any world champions if you were not busy trolling here :D
i quite like this one, in morphy's style:

PircAlert's picture

Not world champions but national champions, yes! ;) It is not a positional game anyway. It was a blunder from Anand or maybe Anand wasn't quite prepared for that line. I'm not talking about games where you cash in on opponent's blunders or where you show off your opening preparation. I'm talking about games where both players are well prepared on the opening that equality is reached, and you grind your way down because of your superior OTB skills. See, we're talking different languages, thats the problem, to get the point across!

adam's picture

i agree 100 % with your last sentence :D
on the one hand, for you rating is nonsense, hc statistics are nonsense, decades of achievements are nonsense, the only thing matters is that your personal hero (btw, sharing now places 4/5 in a 6-player round-robin) won a bb vs. bn ending against someone, who got his only points over 5 rounds from a one-move blunder (full piece drop!) in a nearly lost ending
on the other hand, for me you are nonsense :D
so let's just stop that, i'm really not wanting to sell you anything, alright? but definitely, i do not want to buy your loosely coherent ideas either ;)

PircAlert's picture

I never said or meant to say rating is non-sense, statistics are non-sense or achievements are non-sense. They all matter. But you can't manipulate those things and then show pride in those things. Had you defended your title every two years properly, then that is an achievement. That is just one example of how things are manipulated. There are many, many more. Foul play possibilities are there on top that. Do you know countries have admitted to tapping phones illegally to gain business advantage over other countries or businesses? Let us not even go there. So if you say you have all time high rating and you can't win a game against just one of your closest rivals, I wouldn't give too much importance to that rating.

ebutaljib's picture

In what way was 1995 Kasparov vs. Anand a private match? Anand first qualified through PCA Interzonal, then had to win the PCA Candidates matches before he got to play Kasparov. You must have mixed it up with Kasparov-Kramnik. That really was a private match.

PircAlert's picture

ebutaljib, I'll get back, or if this thread gets buried under, we will continue in another thread.

WladK's picture

Vallejo made wrong when he went for an inferior ending right from the opening.
This is not a way to make a draw with white against a stronger opponent

columbo's picture

agree with that ...

Sihoko's picture

Great performance Ivanchuk ... But what is happening with Carlsen?

S3's picture

Carlson?? You didn't really expect him to sweep the field, did you? He is doing well holding the draw against Aronian and Anand. Nakamura is a little bit weaker but solid enough. The only unexpected thing is the loss against Vallejo, but sh*t happens. The football score makes it looks worse, but he will surely win a5 least a game or 2 and end at the middle, where he belongs.

Abhi's picture

2 Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand 5
3-4 Hikaru Nakamura 4

should be

2-3 Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand 5
4 Hikaru Nakamura 4

Peter Doggers's picture

Indeed, thx!

columbo's picture

Also, Ivanchuk will not break the 2800 in this tournament ... 17 points !!! It would be the performance of the century ... But i hope he shows us all what he can do and become champion of the world one of these days ... In his case, the later is almost the better :)

Nima's picture

Hear hear!

columbo's picture

P.S did you watched the Radjabov - Pono match of today ?!?!?!? HUGE MOMENT OF ROCK N ROLL

noyb's picture

Looked a lot less like "R&R" and more like a boring grind to me...

Erik's picture

It was round 4, not 3 as mentioned in the header.

Septimus's picture

Did Pons play a losing move somewhere? I could not for the life of me figure out how Anand pulled this win out of thin air?

Aronian's game was easier to follow given that he blundered in the end. I thought that game was headed for a fighting draw. Carlsen's game was just plain boring.

PircAlert's picture

That is the beauty, you win from where there is no "win".

Knallo's picture

Nakamura said that Ivanchuk at his best is 3000. We are seeing that now, and I am really enjoying it.

Excalibur's picture

Yes, Radja is on fire. The way he outplayed Pono in the Spanish was thoroughly impressive.

S3's picture

Radja was already on fire since the wcc but nobody seemed to notice.


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