chessbase india logo

Vassily Ivanchuk through the eyes of a photographer

by Amruta Mokal - 30/12/2016

When Vassily Ivanchuk won the World Rapid Championships 2016, photographer Amruta Mokal felt really happy. Although she wanted Vishy to win, it's not often that you see a 47-year-old beating young guys and finishing ahead of them in rapid chess. Amruta sent us some of the pictures that she had taken of the Ukrainian grandmaster at the Qatar Masters 2015. According to her,"These images will help you understand better the eccentric genius called Vassily Ivanchuk.

I saw Vassily Ivanchuk for the first time at the Qatar Masters Open 2015. The opening ceremony had not yet begun and the players were entering and greeting each other. People naturally made their own groups and struck up conversations. Anish and Sopiko were speaking with the Indian talents Adhiban and Vidit. Two World Champions Carlsen and Kramnik were taking pictures with the organizers. The Chinese team had huddled up together in a corner, so had the Indians. There was one man, however, walking all alone. He looked lost. He smiled with courtesy to whoever came to meet him, but didn't entertain them with too many words. Maybe, he liked being alone. Maybe, he was thinking about some line in the Richter Rauzer! As you all could have guessed by now, the man was none other than Vassily Ivanchuk.


Just by spending a few minutes near him I could understand that Vassily did not believe in following the social convention. He was different and he was happy with that fact. He didn't try to fit in, or strike up nothing conversations with his colleagues or fans. He was like no other! When Ivanchuk won the World Rapid Championship at the age of 47 years, I felt a happiness within me. I don't know why? Maybe, because I too am like him in some ways - unusual and different or maybe it's just because he loves chess and that's the binding force. Whatever it is, I felt like sharing the few pictures that I took of the eccentric genius during those ten days of the Qatar Masters 2015. A picture speaks thousand words and maybe with these images you might be able to understand him better!

A smartly dressed Vassily Ivanchuk at the opening dinner

The loquacious Sagar mananged to make Vassily say a few words, but nothing special!
Maybe it's just Vassily's habit that whatever he does, he does it with undivided focus

Filling out the details of his scoresheet before the game began. This is one of his rare pictures where he looks relatively relaxed.

The game face is on!
Ivanchuk hated any sort of distraction. The hands on his head were to block out any surrounding disturbance.

In case of emergency he also had the "DGK" cap, which he would put on from time to time. In case you like it, or you are a big Chuky fan, you can get the cap from here at $24.99 

Just look how hard he is trying to block out any noise 

When calculating deep lines, Chucky often liked to think blindfolded. It helped him to focus on small nuances better.

Another typical habit of Ivanchuk: while thinking he would settle into a weird pose and then keep thinking. He didn't care how silly or funny he looked!

Thoroughly and utterly disinterested in the prize-giving ceremony

Here are a few lines written by Sagar about Ivanchuk, which I liked very much:

World Rapid Champion at the age of 47. Now that's something special

Here are two of my favourite Ivanchuk videos:

Kramnik vs Ivanchuk, Olympiad 2012

Anand vs Ivanchuk, Chuky misses mate in one. Watching the entire video is a pure joy. But in case, you do not have the patience fast forward to 7 minutes 30 seconds to see something truly unbelievable.

When you see these videos or you have followed Ivanchuk's games in the Candidates 2013, he will come across as a player who cannot make quick decisions. Yet, in Doha 2016 he plays some of the best chess of his life and wins the World Rapid title. Maybe, that's what is so attractive about Ivanchuk - his unpredictability. Yes, that's one of the main reasons why the world of chess loves him so much!


About the photographer

Amruta Mokal is a WIM-Elect and a chess photographer. She has covered some of the best events in the world with her lens for ChessBase. They include Candidates 2016, London Chess Classic 2015, Qatar Masters 2015, Abu Dhabi Open, World Juniors and many others. She loves to capture the intense expressions and moments during a game of chess. She is also the co-founder of ChessBase India.


Article compiled and edited by Sagar Shah

Contact Us