Two Ukrainian grandmasters to face off at FIDE world chess championship finals in Moscow

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Jan. 16, 2002, noon |
MOSCOW, Jan. 15 - Two Ukrainian grandmasters were set to face off at the FIDE men's world chess championship finals beginning Wednesday in Moscow.

Vasyl Ivanchuk eliminated defending champion Viswanathan Anand of India and Ruslan Ponomariov defeated Peter Svidler of Russia in the semifinals in the Kremlin in December to advance to the final stage. Ponomariov, 18, became the youngest player ever to qualify for a world championship match, and he chose the white piece to start off Wednesday's match in Moscow's elegant Metropol Hotel.

Ponomariov, a second-year law student, has often been compared in style and appearance to the young former world champion Anatoly Karpov. Asked at a news conference Tuesday if he could recount the most memorable moment of the tournament so far, Ponomariov said earnestly: "The hardest was the very beginning."

The temperamental Ivanchuk replied sarcastically to the same question.

"I probably could (recall it) but I don't want to do it," he said.

While Ivanchuk, 32, has long been recognized as one of the most creative chess players, he has a reputation for stumbling in big games and has never done well up to now in world championship tournaments.

The two grandmasters will play four matches, have a day off, then play another four. If no winner emerges by then, an additional match will be added Jan. 25. In case of ties, they will have rapid and blitz playoffs.
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