Monthly Archives: Jul 2018

Dortmund 2018 Starts

This year the traditional Dortmund tournament sees a few familiar faces and a couple of new ones.

The home player is of course Vladimir Kramnik. Having won the tournament 10 times, he’s a regular for “26th or 27th time” as even he himself couldn’t remember the exact number of times he’s played there. He is in search for an 11th win in Dortmund, but I doubt he’ll win it – Kramnik is an exciting player to watch, but he allows too many chances in his games and modern players have learned to take them.

Kramnik’s second in Berlin was Anish Giri. He will definitely want to win a supertournament for the first time since Reggio Emilia’s 2011. That’s definitely a long wait for somebody who is attempting to establish himself as a worthy World Championship candidate. He did show glimpses of his potential in Wijk this year as he only lost to Carlsen in the tie-break, but so far his Dortmund play leaves much to be desired. Here’s what he managed to lose to the Aeroflot qualifier and definitely the outsider here, Vladislav Kovalev.

The game shows that even world-class players are not immune to a loss against weaker opposition. The reason is that the “weaker opposition” isn’t weak at all and they are fully capable of taking advantage of the world-class player’s mistakes.

Nepomniachtchi came to Dortmund fresh from winning the strong Gideon Japhen Memorial in Jerusalem. In a double-round robin with a rapid time control that included Svidler, Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Meier and Anna Muzychuk he won with 6/10, a full point ahead of the rest. He won a smooth game against Nisipeanu in Round 3.

Leading the tournament is the best U20 player in the world, the Polish GM Duda. It’s interesting to see him win against Nisipeanu in one of the most drawing lines in the 3 Bb5+ line in the Sicilian.

Duda’s aggressive intentions were awarded in this game, but it is this spirit of trying to win a game with Black even against an openly draw-minded opponent that can bring the Polish player far. As for Nisipeanu, he’s clearly out of form in Dortmund and Kramnik can perhaps curse his bad luck that he had to play him in Round 1 while that still wasn’t visible.

The other two players, Meier and Wojtaszek (who again lost to Duda, after their duel in the Polish championship) still need to show something notable. At least Meier drew with Kramnik and Giri.

Dortmund is really a very relaxing tournament – only 7 rounds and 2 rest days. A chess-player’s paradise. Let’s see what the rest of the tournament has to offer.

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A Spoilt Masterpiece

The first time I met GM Neelotpal Das was in 2005 when he burst into my hotel room in Sort. Actually I had a brief conversation with him earlier that day, at the Barcelona bus station, when he asked me whether he was in the right bus going to Sort. I didn’t know who he was nor that he would become a very good friend barely a few hours later.

Sort was part of Catalunya’s chess circuit of open tournaments that was very popular back in the pre-crisis days when the prizes and conditions were good and the competition was less stiff. In fact, 2005 marked the first year of a huge Indian invasion of young, unknown and largely under-rated players coming to Spain. Apart from Paul (as he quickly told me to call him) there were Tania Sachdev, Abhijeet Gupta, Parimarjan Negi, Soumya Swaminathan, Shardul Gagare, to name only the most famous ones today. With each passing year the Indian contingent grew only bigger, making winning prizes at the Spanish opens increasingly tougher.

As it turned out I brought Paul some luck. In Sort he scored his first GM norm. Next year in San Sebastian, where we again shared a room, he scored his last GM norm and became a GM.

Paul is a very talented tactial player and when in good form he can beat anybody (just ask Nigel Short, who was obliterated and mated with White in 26 moves!). His openings were his weakest spot, but with experience he learned to take care of that aspect as well.

Paul sent me the following game with his comments some time ago. I also noticed it while browsing the database and was sorry to see him spoil such a wonderfully played game. It wasn’t just the nice attack he conducted, I quite liked the gradual build-up of the attack, so typical for White in this line of the Scheveningen. I present the game with my comments in [brackets] while I leave Paul’s as they are.

Such a pity! Games like this can be really hard on the soul… Yet, it is our duty to be able to pick ourselves up and continue, no matter of the setbacks. I am sure Paul already managed to do so!

From the chess news from around the world, GM Tiviakov became a champion of the Netherlands with an impressive 5.5/7, a full point and a half ahead of the field! In his usual unassuming, yet technically perfect style Tiviakov breezed through the field including Sokolov, L’Ami and van Wely. He scored 4/4 with White and made 3 draws with Black. Here’s his demolition of Ivan Sokolov.

Soon enough we will see the World Champion back in play in Biel. I am quite curious how my friend Nico Georgiadis will fare in the field that also includes Svidler, Mamedyarov, Vachier and Navara, as last year he had an amazing 5/9, sharing 4th with such legends as Leko, Ponomariov and Morozevich and behind winner Hou Yifan (to whom he lost in the last round!), Bacrot and Harikrishna. Keeping fingers crossed!

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