GM Alexander Ivanov
GM Alexander Ivanov, with his wife WIM Esther Epstein
Alexander Ivanov, with his wife WIM Esther Epstein. Photo Jennifer Shahade
The Boston based Grandmaster, Alexander Ivanov is known for being a fantastic calculator and a loyal supporter of his favorite openings. He’s played the same sharp openings (1.e4 Main Lines in the Ruy and the Open Sicilian, Nimzo and Bogos against 1.d4 and the Zaitsev defense and an occasional Modern against 1.e4.) 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.

Despite opening knowledge which often stretches past move twenty, Alex often gets into terrible time pressure, against fellow GMs and amateurs. Alex is obsessed with making perfect moves, even when his search doesn’t give him the best practical chance of winning a game. Despite this sometimes fatal perfectionist streak, Alex is consistently among the top fifteen players in America. Whether he would be higher ranked without this weakness has been a subject of debate for the last 20 years.

When calculating many moves ahead, the actual board is distracting for some professionals, because analysis places the pieces in different spots than their current posts. Alex deals with this by staring up at the ceiling, as if in a trance. In between moves, he paces also staring at the ceiling. This peculiar habit is shared by a few of the top players in the world, most notably Alexei Shirov and Vassily Ivanchuk.

Alex has won his share of open and international events, highlights of which are his victory in the 1998 Pan Am Championship and joint first in the 1995 U.S. Championship. He moved to America in 1988 with his wife, WIM Esther Epstein. They live in Newton, Massachusetts.


How did Alexander Ivanov, playing white, relieve the pressure against his g4 pawn and his knight?

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