IM (1997); GM (1997); European U18 Champion (1996); World U18 Champion (1997); FIDE World Champion (2002-2004); Candidate (2007); Ukrainian Champion (2011).
World Championship cycles
At the age of 12 won the European Under-18 Championship. At age 13, he won the World Under-18 Championship, and the following year he was awarded his grandmaster title at the age of 14 years and 17 days, after gaining his third GM norm by winning the Kiev NIKA-VV International tournament, thereby setting a new record for youngest grandmaster until 1999 when Bu Xiangzhi scored the GM title before his 14th birthday. Two years later, he participated in a World Championship cycle for the first time, qualifying for the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (1999). There he beat Qatari GM Mohamad Al-Modiahki in the first round before losing to Veselin Topalov in the second round blitz tiebreaker. The following year he was eliminated from the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2001) in the first round by Vietnamese GM Dao Thien Hai.
In 2002 Ponomariov defeated Vassily Ivanchuk in the FIDE knock-out World Championship to become the youngest FIDE champion ever at the age of eighteen. In 2003, the match with Garry Kasparov at the Kasparov - Ponomariov World Championship Match (2003) that would have led to a reunification match with the winner of the Kramnik - Leko World Championship Match (2004) under the terms of the Prague Agreement fell through. He remained FIDE champion until the next FIDE championship cycle, the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004) won by Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Ponomariov was runner up at the FIDE World Cup (2005) to Levon Aronian, which qualified him for the Candidates cycle. In the Candidates Match: Ponomariov - Rublevsky (2007), he was edged out 3.5-2.5 (1 loss 5 draws). In the 2007 World Cup, he reached the quarter finals (Round 5) before bowing out to the eventual winner, Gata Kamsky. He also reached the final of the World Cup (2009), only to lose on tiebreak to Boris Gelfand. However, this result qualified him for participation in the World Cup (2011), where he defeated Zimbabwian IM Robert Gwaze in the first round, Ni Hua in the second, Zahar Efimenko in the third, Lazaro Bruzon in the fourth, Vugar Gashimov in the quarter-final, but lost to the eventual winner Peter Svidler in the semi final. He then faced Vassily Ivanchuk in a playoff for third to determine the third qualification from the Cup for the 2012 Candidates event, but unfortunately for him, lost the match by 1.5-2.5. However, as a semi-finalist in the event, he automatically qualified for the World Cup (2013), where he defeated Torbjorn Ringdal Hansen in the first round but was unexpectedly eliminated from the event when he lost to Russian teenager GM Daniil Dubov in the Armageddon blitz tiebreaker.
Ponomariov's 2014 World Championship campaign via the Grand Prix 2012-13 series started with 5.5/11 and =7th at the FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent (2012), providing him with an initial GP points tally of 50 points. His =3rd (with 6/11!) at FIDE Grand Prix Zug (2013) notched up another 100 GP points, but his =4th at the FIDE Grand Prix Thessaloniki (2013) added only 85 points to his GP total, eventually eliminating him from contention for the top two places that qualify for the 2014 Candidates. (1)
Ponomariov won the Ukrainian Championship (2011) with 8.5/11 (TPR 2852), a half point ahead of outright 2nd place getter, Pavel Eljanov. He was runner-up on tiebreak behind Yuriy Kryvoruchko with 7.5/11 at the Ukrainian Championship (2013) and =3rd at the Ukrainian Championship (2014).
Among Ponomariovís notable results after gaining his GM title are first at the Donetsk Zonal in 1998, 5/7 in the European Club Cup 2000 (including a victory over then-FIDE World Champion Alexander Khalifman), joint first with 7.5/9 at Torshavn 2000, 8.5/11 for Ukraine in the 2001 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, winning gold medal on board 2, first place with 7/10 in the 2001 Governorís Cup in Kramatorsk, and equal first at the European Individual Championship 2001.
In 2002, Ponomariov came sole second behind Kasparov at Linares. In 2006, he was =1st at the Tal Memorial (2006) and equal 1st (winning on tiebreak) at the Cuernavaca Young Masters (2006). In 2007, he came second to Veselin Topalov in the Liga de Campeones (2007), and =1st (2nd on tiebreak) with Sergei Movsesian at the Czech Coal Carlsbad Tournament (2007) . In 2008, he came =2nd at the Tal Memorial (2008). In 2009, he came =1st with Hikaru Nakamura (2nd on tiebreak) in the Donostia Chess Festival (2009) at San Sebastian. In May 2010, Ponomariov came in equal second behind countryman Pavel Eljanov at the FIDE Grand Prix (2010), and broke through at Dortmund (2010) with a 2837 performance to take outright first with 6.5/10. In 2011, he scored 6.5/13 in the Tata Steel (2011) and came =3rd with 5/10 at Dortmund (2011). In 2012, he came 3rd at the category 19 Dortmund (2012) behind Fabiano Caruana and Sergey Karjakin respectively and then placed clear 2nd in the category 18 13th Karpov International (2012) with 5.5/9, half a point behind the winner Dmitry Jakovenko.
In June 2014, he competed in the strong 5th Danzhou Tournament (2014), and placed =3rd with 5.5/9. His next major sojourn at Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting (2014) produced relatively meagre pickings, scoring 3/7, although the strength of the tournament meant he lost only a handful of ratings points. Similarly, he was 4th and last at Bilbao Masters (2014), but the relatively even if strong field cushioned his loss of rating points.
Ponomariov played for Ukraine in the 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2010, 2012 and 2014 Olympiads winning 2 team golds (2004 & 2010), three team bronzes (1998, 2000 and 2012), an individual gold (board 2 in 2000) and an individual silver (2nd reserve 1998).
He has proved to be an excellent rapids player. In 2002, he came =1st (second on tiebreak to Judit Polgar) at the Superstars Hotel Bali (2002). He won the 16th Ciudad de Leon (2003), the Pamplona International (2005) and the Efim Geller Memorial (2005) in Odessa. He was =1st (2nd on tiebreak behind Pavel Tregubov) at Pivdenny Bank Chess Cup (2008) and equal third in the Zurich Champions Rapid (2009). In 2013, he won the bronze at the FIDE World Blitz Championship (2013) with 20/30, half a point behind the new World Blitz Champion Le Quang Liem and on tiebreak behind silver medal winner Alexander Grischuk.
Ratings and rankings
Ponomariov has been ranked as high as world #6 on a few occasions in 2002 and 2006. On 1 July 2011, his rating rose to 2764 (when he was ranked #10), his highest rating so far. As of 1 February 2015, he held the following ratings:
<Standard> 2713 (Ukrainian #3; world #34);
<Rapid> 2720 (world #31); and
<Blitz> 2754 (world #20).
Sources and references
(1) Wikipedia article: FIDE Grand Prix 2012%E2%80%932013
Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/; Wikipedia article: Ruslan Ponomariov
Latest update 5 Feb 2015