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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ponomarev Takes 2-Game Lead

First, Ukraine's Vassily Ivanchuk threw away a win against his countryman Ruslan Ponomarev in the fifth game of the FIDE World Chess Championship here Monday. Then, he threw away a draw and lost the game.

Ponomarev now has a seemingly insurmountable two-game lead with only three games to play.

Ivanchuk, with Black, defended against the Ruy Lopez. It is the third different defense he has chosen against Ponomarev's 1.e4 in his three games with Black.

The game then followed Alexei Shirov's game against Michael Adams from Wijk aan Zee in 1998, until Ponomarev varied on move 14.

White's 26th move, putting his queen on h2, was criticized by observers. Afterward, Ponomarev said he thought putting the queen on g3 might have been better.

Ivanchuk opened the c-file and had strong pressure on that file with his rook. Ponomarev soon found himself with isolated pawns on a3 and c3 and observers pronounced him "positionally lost."

On move 35, all of Ponomarev's pieces except his queen were on the back rank.

But by now, Ivanchuk was under severe time pressure, having less than three minutes by move 37, while Ponomarev had 12 minutes. Each player starts out with 90 minutes for the entire game, and gets an additional 30 seconds after each move.

On move 40, Ivanchuk passed up on winning a second pawn, which would have sealed Ponomarev's fate. And his 47th move was a serious blunder that threw away the win by allowing Ponomarev's queen and bishop to get active.

Suddenly, it was White whose pieces were active, and when the queens were exchanged on d5, White recaptured with his e-pawn. The position should have been a draw. But Ivanchuk's 57th move, putting his king on the back rank instead of moving it forward to blockade the pawns, was a serious blunder.

He then compounded it with further weak play on moves 60 and 61, although it was already too late to save the game.

Ponomarev's king was able to penetrate Black's position and support the passed pawns, which could no longer be stopped. Ivanchuk surrendered a bishop for one of them on move 63 and resigned the next move.

Ivanchuk was to have White in game six on Tuesday.

The players won the right to compete in the finals by emerging from a marathon series of two-game knockout matches involving 128 players last year in the Kremlin.