Ivanchuk’s Most Amazing Sacrifice in the Sicilian/Fischer-Sozin Attack

Definitely, Mikhail Golubev’s ‘Understanding the Sicilian’ (Gambit) is a must whether you want to improve your theory knowledge of this endless-road opening. I was totally immersed in it when I found this piece of art which I consider Vassily Ivanchuk’s most amazing sacrifice —at least in the Sicilian/Fischer-Sozin Attack. Chuky is one of the most popular chess players around the world and that title was awarded not just for his creativity inside the board; as you can read in this article.

position after 7…b5

Let’s put the pieces in context before we admire Ivanchuk’s idea. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 (the Fischer Attack) e6 7.Bb3 b5. Historically, this is Black’s most popular move, Boris Gelfand being the most notable adherent (Golubev). While castling short (8.0-0) is probably White’s first option, 8.Qf3!? is surely a nice way to stoke up the fire. But in recent decades 8.Bg5!? has been considered the main sideline.

position after 8.Bg5

In this position —according to my humble database— almost everytime Black continued with other than 8…Be7 it meant just doom for him. In our stem game White continued with 9.Qf3 Qc7 10.e5!? (Karsten Müller’s invention according to Golubev) 10…Bb7 11.exd6 Bxd6 12.Qe3!. This last move enriched White’s arsenal in the Fischer Attack. The pressure grows higher on e6 but there’s nothing totally clear yet. 12…Bc5 13.0-0-0 Nc6.

position after 13…Nc6

It is just here when Ivanchuk surprised the world in a 2008 Nice blindfold game against Kariakin, revealing the astonishing queen sacrifice 14.Qxe6!? (Golubev, 2017, p.196).

Boom! A club player like me can’t but appreciate in a simplistic way this incredible shocking move. There must be dozens of nuances in this position which directly led White to chaos. But I’m really quite far from explaining what’s going on over the board now. What I can tell you (after listening to the experts) is that Black is in trouble and should play carefully in order to equalize.

Kariakin went on to lose that 2008 blindfold game but nevertheless used this exact variation as white against the extinct Vugar Gashimov in 2010, in an Amber Blindfold tournament as well! That battle ended in a draw. To the end, I felt it good to share what I believe is Ivanchuk’s most amazing sacrifice.

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