Vasily Ivanchuk of the Soviet Union won the Linares International Chess Tournament in Spain after defeating favorites world champion Gary Kasparov and challenger Anatoly Karpov in earlier rounds.

Ivanchuk, 21, was the only player undefeated in the tournament, the strongest ever for its size."I am very happy; this is my biggest success," he told reporters as reported by Reuters.

Gata Kamsky of the United States, at 16 the world's youngest grandmaster, defeated Jan Ehlvest of the Soviet Union after 46 moves but ended last in the final standings.

The final standings were:

1. Ivanchuk, 9 1/2 points

2. Kasparov, 9

3. Beljavsky, 8

4-5. Speelman, Yusupov, 7 1/2

6. Salov, 7

7-8. Timman, Karpov, 6 1/2

9-10-11. Anand, Ljubojevic, Gurevich, 6

12. Gelfand, 5 1/2

13. Ehlvest, 3 1/2

14. Kamsky, 2 1/2

Victory in the Linares Tournament has firmly established the rising Ivanchuk as a leading challenger for Kasparov's world championship title.

Experts said Ivanchuk's success in the tournament - which included seven of the current 10 top international players - gave him a real chance of breaking the stranglehold of Kasparov and archrival Karpov on world chess supremacy.

The 21-year-old Ivanchuk is now the leading contender to take over from Kasparov, 27, who retained the world title in a rugged 24-game series against Karpov last year.

Ivanchuk also won the Linares Tournament two years ago when Kasparov did not take part, although Karpov, 39, did.

This year Ivanchuk defeated both Kasparov and Karpov, as well as the world's third-ranked Boris Gelfand, another Soviet grandmaster, and was the only player undefeated in the tournament.

"I cannot remember anyone's defeating Kasparov that way in the past five years," Karpov said after Ivanchuk crushed the world champion in 38 moves in the tournament's first round.

Ivanchuk, from Lvov in the Ukraine, told Reuters that his early interest in chess was awakened by his father, a doctor and chess enthusiast.

"My father showed me the moves when I was 6, and chess became foremost in my life," he said.

To some of his closer associates, Ivanchuk's genius became apparent early on. For his 12th birthday, a friend gave him a book analyzing the games of the legendary Soviet grandmaster, Vasily Smyslov. The book was inscribed: "To Vasily, future world champion."

Ivanchuk, dubbed the new Bobby Fischer, professes great admiration for the former American world champion. "I've always admired Bobby Fischer. I've never met him, but I learned chess studying his games. He was a genius and I'd like to play as well as he did."

Ivanchuk dedicated his victory to his wife, Alisa Gallamova, an 18-year-old grandmaster who is placed sixth in the women's world rankings. The couple married on New Year's Eve.

Members of his entourage said Ivanchuk's dedication to chess is total.

"He prepares for games like an athlete," said one. "He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, and before an important game he always makes sure he gets a good rest."

Before the current Linares Tournament, Ivanchuk stood fourth in world rankings.

Ivanchuk put in impressive performances against most of the candidates who are competing to confront Kasparov in the final round of the world championship in 1993.

Six of the last eight contenders, including Ivanchuk, played in the tournament.

Ivanchuk defeated three of them and drew against Artur Yusupov, and 21-year-old Anand of India, another rising star. Ivanchuk is due to face Yusupov in a candidate's match in Brussels next August.

However, most experts agree that Karpov, Kasparov's predecessor as world champion, cannot be written off yet. At his best Karpov could again be the champion's toughest opponent and could still regain the world title he lost in 1985. If so, Ivanchuk might have to wait until 1996 to fight a world championship final.

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