Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Metrowest Chess Club Champions: Part I

GM Alexander Ivanov
2004 Club Champion

Born May 1st, 1956 in the city of Omsk in the former USSR, Alexander came to the United States in 1988 and, soon thereafter, set his roots in Newton Massachusetts with his wife WIM Esther Epstein.

Three years after his arrival to the US chess scene Alexander officially achieved his GM title as a representative of the United States and in 1995 he would obtain his first US Chess Championship title, although this title was jointly shared with GM Nick de Firmian and IM Patrick Wolff.

Alexander Ivanov is known for being a fantastic calculator and a loyal supporter of his favorite openings. He’s played the same sharp openings for his entire career, making him somewhat predictable but very dangerous. He knows his stuff so well that an opening error in his territory will be swiftly punished. 1

However, despite his opening knowledge, it is widely well known that he often gets into terrible time pressure. A fact I’ve recently witnessed in the third round of the 78th Massachusetts Open against FM Bill Kelleher. A leading cause to his time troubles lie within the personal eccentricities of this GM; Alex is obsessed with making the perfect move, even when his search doesn’t give him the best practical chance of winning. 1

When calculating many moves ahead, the actual board can be distracting to the Grand Master. Alex deals with this by staring up at the ceiling, as if in a trance. In between moves, he will get up from the board and pace about with hands folded, all while staring at the ceiling.

Alexander’s most recent accomplishment was awarded to him at the 78th Massachusetts Open, where he achieved his 9th Massachusetts Championship title.

During the mid-late 1990's and into the turn of the century, Alexander was a commonly-seen face at the Metrowest Chess Club during Tuesday night Swiss events. When the club entered into its new Club Championship format in 2004, Alexander was on the forefront of participating players to fight for the first Club Championship title.

Against fellow club players, like IM Igor Foygel and FM Charles Riordan, Alexander would go on to win the club’s first Championship event with a five game sweep. It is a feat that would not happen again until 2009.

Since winning the 2004 Club Championship title, Alexander would not be seen again at the club to defend his title. It is an oddity commensurate to the personality of Alexander Ivanov one would assume.

1. Source: http://main.uschess.org/content/view/64/203