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    Entries in Dortmund 2013 (4)

    Wednesday
    Aug072013

    Dortmund 2013: Adams Wins, Kramnik Second

    Vladimir Kramnik always seems to play well in Dortmund, an annual super-tournament he has won ten times (four times sharing first) over a span from 1995 to 2011. Michael Adams did win it once, sharing first with Kramnik, but that was all the way back in 1998. When we left off last time, they were sharing first with 4/5 going into the rest day, with the rest of the field already well in the rear view mirror.

    They kept up their torrid pace in round 6, both men winning quickly. Kramnik won a remarkable attacking game against Daniel Fridman, while Arkadij Naiditsch's attempts to attack Adams quickly backfired. Round 7 was the deciding round. Adams won again, defeating Igor Khenkin with ease, while Kramnik lost to Dmtiry Andreikin for the second time in a month. Kramnik bounced back with an extremely hard-fought victory over Fabiano Caruana, who had a really awful tournament. Caruana defended like a lion and was on the verge of a draw, but made a simple error at what was probably the last moment requiring an even slightly subtle decision, and lost. (After 6+ hours and 75 moves of a very complicated game at the end of a tournament, even "simple" positions aren't always so easy to play.) Adams drew very comfortably against Georg Meier, and so with one round left he was half a point ahead of Kramnik.

    The good news is that they were paired in the last round; the bad news (for those looking for drama) was that Kramnik had the black pieces. Kramnik played the Sicilian in hopes of stirring things up, but Adams played a c3 Sicilian (on move 3, after 2.Nf3 g6), and found a neat line that quickly forced Kramnik to take a repetition.

    Adams thus took clear first with a great score of 7 out of 9, with Kramnik half a point behind. Adams' TPR was 2925, and moved his rating to a career high 2761 (rounding up), putting him at #11 in the world. (Not a career high.) Kramnik's successful tournament netted 10 rating points, undoing much of the damage suffered in the Tal Memorial and putting him back into third place on the live list with a 2794 rating.

    To varying degrees of depth, I've annotated both players' games from round 6-9 - have a look. Meanwhile, for completeness' sake and to acknowledge the existence of the rest of the field, here are the final standings:

    1. Adams 7 (of 9)
    2. Kramnik 6.5
    3-4. Leko, Naiditsch 4.5
    5-8. Andreikin, Meier, Caruana, Wang Hao 4
    9. Khenkin 3.5
    10. Fridman 3

    Thursday
    Aug012013

    Adams and Kramnik Lead Dortmund At The Rest Day

    Five rounds into the nine-round annual event that is the Dortmund super-tournament, and two players are sprinting away from the rest of the field. Michael Adams and Vladimir Kramnik both have undefeated 4/5 scores and lead the rest of the field by a point and a half or more.

    You might remember that Caruana achieved a 2800 rating with his first-round victory. Unfortunately for him, that was the end of the good news. He drew in round 2 and then lost in rounds 3 and 4 before drawing in round 5 - with difficulty with the White pieces. So much for 2800 - he's 2787, rounded up. Meanwhile, Kramnik is back to his "rightful" spot in the top three, where he has spent much, probably most of the last 17 years. For Adams too the event is a big ratings success, and at 2754 he's just a point short of his all-time (official) career high. Life may not begin at 40, but it doesn't end there, either. (Except for Gata Kamsky, with reference to his chess life. As far as I know, he still plans to quit the game next year.)

    For your entertainment, here, with some very brief notes, are six games from the last three rounds. Enjoy!

    Sunday
    Jul282013

    Mate in China, Paying an Interim Biel, and Who's Knocking at the Dortmund?

    Hideous puns, one and all, I know. Take a moment to groan, and then let's move on and see what's happening in the chess world.

    1. China vs. U.S. Team Match in Ningbo: This was a good old-fashioned whuppin', with our (the U.S.) team over grampa's knee and the Chinese team applying the "switch". It was 10 players to a team, five male and female, and one team's men played all and only the other team's men; likewise for the women. There were five classical rounds and ten rounds of rapid chess.

    Neither team had their absolute top players. The U.S. men came without Hikaru Nakamura, Gata Kamsky, Timur Gareev and Alexander Onischuk, for instance, while the Chinese did without Wang Hao and Ding Liren - but did have Wang Yue. Likewise, the U.S. women's team missed their (by far) top two players, Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih, but the Chinese women did without Hou Yifan, Zhao Xue and Ruan Lufei among their 2500+ players, though Ju Wenjun participated.

    By ratings, the men's teams were fairly even. The Chinese men had an average rating of 2601, higher than the U.S. men's team's average of 2579, but not dramatically so. The women's teams, however, were painfully lopsided in favor of the Chinese, 2457 to 2247. Given that, together with the power of the home "field" advantage (especially significant considering the many time zones' difference) the results were dramatic, as one would expect. In the classical games, China won with a 31-19 margin, and in the rapid games it was really painful: 70.5-29.5. Hopefully our teams learned something - something more useful than "don't play in matches against the Chinese".

    2. Biel. After six of ten rounds in this six player double-round robin, they're enjoying a rest day. Etienne Bacrot leads with ten points on the 3-1-0 scoring system they're using there; he has two wins and four draws. Ding Liren is in second with nine points (+2 -1 =3), Alexander Moiseenko and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave have both won and lost a single game and have seven points, while Ian Nepomniachtchi and Richard Rapport are both winless and trailing with five and four points, respectively.

    3. Dortmund. Vladimir Kramnik's favorite tournament isn't going badly for him, but he's not leading it either. That deserved honor goes to Michael Adams, who defeated Dmitry Andreikin in round 2 and then upset Fabiano Caruana with Black in round 3. (So much for 2800 - for now - but Caruana is still more than welcome to return to the U.S.!) Adams has been playing consistently well for some time now, and seems to have rebounded quite well from the slump he suffered after losing the 2004 k.o. final to Rustam Kasimdzhanov and the disastrous computer match against Hydra. He has been in contention in a few super-tournaments lately, has beaten Viswanathan Anand in their last two decisive games, and is doing very well here too. Since December his rating has gone up 39 points, and he's within six points of his all-time peak rating.

    Kramnik and Georg Meier are tied for second with two points apiece. Igor Khenkin (who held Kramnik with Black in round 3), Peter Leko, Caruana and Wang Hao are on 50%, while Daniel Fridman and Arkadij Naiditsch are at -1 scores. Finally, Andreikin, who performed so well at the Tal Memorial last month (an undefeated +1 against an even stronger field), is taking it on the chin this time with one draw and two losses. There are six rounds to go.

    Saturday
    Jul272013

    Dortmund 2013, Round 1: A Fresh Horror!

    The Dortmund super-tournament got underway on Friday, and Vladimir Kramnik, Fabiano Caruana and Georg Meier got off on the right foot by beating Wang Hao, Dmitry Andreikin and Arkadij Naiditsch, respectively. Two of the wins are particularly noteworthy: Caruana's and Kramnik's.

    Caruana's is newsworthy because it pushed him to 2800 (on the nose) for the first time in his career. It's not an official rating at this point, but if he can maintain or increase it he will be the 7th player in chess history to reach that peak, after Kasparov, Kramnik, Topalov, Anand, Carlsen and Aronian.

    Kramnik's is worth mentioning (and Ken Regan mentioned it to me before I had a chance to see the game for myself, so he gets a hat tip on this one) because the finale continued with the array of horrors we've seen lately.

    Kramnik-Wang Hao, position after 25.h3.


    White is a pawn ahead and has some winning chances, although whether that's the correct result here is something I'm not certain about. Whatever the ultimate truth of the matter happens to be, it isn't relevant to what happened. Wang Hao followed Dr. Tarrasch's famous advice that a rook belongs behind a passed pawn, whether one's own or one's opponent's. It's a nice rule of thumb, but tactics may occasionally interfere with even the profound and helpful bit of wisdom. Wang Hao played 25...Ra2??, and resigned after 26.Qb8+, the problem being 26...Kh7 27.Qb1+ followed by taking the rook. Oops!

    Round 2 Pairings

    • Leko - Caruana
    • Naiditsch - Kramnik
    • Wang Hao - Fridman
    • Adams - Andreikin
    • Khenkin - Meier