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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Teen Wins FIDE Chess Tourney

To become world chess champion, 18-year-old Ruslan Ponomarev only needed a draw against fellow Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk in the seventh game of their FIDE championship match Wednesday. So he was happy to accept his opponent's draw offer even though his position was clearly better.

The result gave Ponomarev a 4 1/2 to 2 1/2 victory in the match. He will receive $400,000, and the loser's share for Ivanchuk is $200,000.

Ponomarev drew Tuesday's sixth game of their match in Moscow on Tuesday.

Ponomarev is the youngest men's champion ever. Maia Chiburdanidze of Georgia won the women's world championship at age 17 in 1978.

Ponomarev made his first move, 1.e4 across from an empty chair. Ivanchuk did not walk onto the stage until four minutes later. He then stared at the position for another five minutes before making his first move, an Alekhine Defense. This opening is considered extremely risky for Black and is rarely seen at the highest levels. But since Ivanchuk had to win at all costs with Black, it was a sensible decision.

Ponomarev was well prepared and demonstrated why the Alekhine has such a poor reputation.

Ivanchuk's attempts to create an unbalanced position succeeded, but the imbalance was all in his opponent's favor.

On move 18, with a position that offered only the possibility of a loss if he played on, Ivanchuk conceded the inevitable and offered his opponent a draw. Ponomarev accepted.

Ponomarev is often compared to former world champion Anatoly Karpov, because of his appearance and his positional style.

Ivanchuk, who is known as one of the most imaginative players in the game today, has a history of blundering in pressure-filled matches. In three previous attempts at the title in FIDE's knockout system, he was eliminated early by much weaker players.

Ivanchuk lived up to his ambivalent reputation in this match. He lost horribly in the first game but otherwise played creative chess throughout. He had winning positions in games two and five, only to blunder them away.

After losing the championship, Ivanchuk said the result in the match "was already achieved in game five."

Ivanchuk characterized his play overall by saying, "I didn't make reasonable decisions."

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.

FIDE's format has often been criticized for producing a high number of upsets. But it is a favorite of FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who provides the financial backing.

Ilyumzhinov, who is also president of the impoverished Russian republic of Kalmykia, became president of a nearly bankrupt FIDE in 1995. The Russian media have accused Ilyumzhinov of flaunting his wealth and promoting himself while stifling dissent in Kalmykia.

Since 1993, chess has been in a state of civil war with two world champions and two camps. That year, then-world champion Garry Kasparov broke away from FIDE to form the Professional Chess Association and defended his title twice under its auspices before it was dissolved in 1998.

Ponomarev and Kasparov will face each other for the first time next month at the prestigious Linares tournament in Spain. Ivanchuk will also be there along with outgoing FIDE champion Viswanathan Anand of India.