Ruslan Ponomariov was born October 11, 1983, in Gorlovka, Ukraine and learned chess at the age of 7.
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 qualifies for the 2013 World Cup.
Ponomariov's 2014 World Championship campaign via the Grand Prix 2012-13 series started relatively inauspiciously with 5.5/11 and =7th at the FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent (2012), providing him with an initial GP points tally of 50 points. However his =3rd (with 6/11!) at FIDE Grand Prix Zug (2013) notched up another 100 GP points to leave him in contention for the top 2 positions that will qualify for the Candidates Tournament in 2014.
Ponomariov won the Ukrainian Championship (2011) with 8.5/11 (TPR 2852), a half point ahead of outright 2nd place getter, Pavel Eljanov.
Among Ponomariov’s 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 Governor’s 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.
Ponomariov played for Ukraine in the 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2010 and 2012 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)
Ratings and rankings
He has been ranked as high as world number 6 on a few occasions in 2002 and 2006. On 1 July 2011, his rating rose to 2764, his highest rating so far. As of 1 May 2013, he held a rating of 2742, making him the second ranked player in Ukraine and number 17 in the world. As yet he is not rated in rapid or blitz.
Sources and references
Live rating: http://www.2700chess.com/; Wikipedia article: Ruslan Ponomariov