Dortmund: An exciting round leaves Duda in first place

by Antonio Pereira
7/18/2018 – All four games in Dortmund's third round could have easily finished with decisive results. Ian Nepomniacthchi and Vladislav Kovalev obtained their first victories, while Jan-Krzysztof Duda beat his compatriot Radek Wojtaszek to stay at the top of the standings. Vladimir Kramnik pushed for a win once again, but was stopped by Georg Meier's solid defence. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

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Twenty-twenty vision

After overtaking Wei Yi as the top junior in the world and winning the strong Polish Championship, Jan-Krzysztof Duda attracted the chess world's attention. Everybody wanted to see if he would be up to the task in Dortmund's traditional supertournament, and Duda proved that he is indeed in great shape by winning two out of his first three games. Right now, at 20, he is the 20th highest-rated player in the world.

Duda's rivals in Germany did not let him open a bigger gap in the standings, however, as both Ian Nepomniachtchi and Vladislav Kovalev won and now share the second place on 2/3. On the other hand, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu is having a bad time at the Orchesterzentrum — he lost again and is now in the cellar with only half a point.

Duda - Wojtaszek

In the all-Polish battle, Wojtaszek went for an early pawn sacrifice with Black, looking to get rid of his weaknesses and obtain active play on the queenside. It seemed like that was an adequate decision, until he played an inaccurate queen move:


Black has just put her queen on c5, allowing White to play the strong 23.Qa4, getting back a piece in great conditions. Wojtaszek, instead, should have gone for 22...Qb5, which would have left him a piece up against White's three extra pawns.

When the queens were traded, Black's triplets on the f-file proved to be impossible to defend in the ensuing endgame. Wojtaszek resigned in the following dreary position:


The two strongest Polish players are participating in Dortmund | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Nepomniachtchi - Nisipeanu

Ian Nepomniacthchi obtained a convincing positional victory against an out-of-form Nisipeanu. The Russian used a highly effective minority attack on the queenside in a Queen's Gambit Exchange Variation. In order to do so, Nepo showed a subtle novelty on move 14:


Ian played 14.Ka1, with the idea of keeping the king safe while advancing his queenside pawns. Nisipeanu also castled long and soon enough — by move 19 — Nepomniachtchi already had his pawns on a4 and b4.

By move 27, Nepo had already created a target on a7:


Then, he manoeuvred his knight and rooks like a true strategical expert, until forcing Black to give up in a claustrophobic position:


After 50...Rc7, White wins with 51.Nxc6 Rxc6 52.Rxe7+ Kxe7 53.Rxc6.

Impressively, Nepo played this model strategical game very quickly — he had more than two hours on his clock when Nisipeanu resigned.

Nepomniachtchi was quick and effective in round three | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Giri - Kovalev

This was the first highly surprising result in this year's edition, as Giri arrived as one of the favourites after his great performance in Wijk aan Zee. Vladislav Kovalev defeated the sixth highest-rated player in the world in his first supertournament appearance and is well within his grasp to fight for first place.

The Dutch grandmaster made a small inaccuracy in a seemingly harmless position:


Black's isolated d-pawn gives White a tiny edge, but that does not mean he can completely relax. Giri should have followed with 35.Qe3 or 35.f5, keeping a small advantage, but chose 35.Qd1 instead. He must have been very surprised by Kovalev's answer, 35...d4!, opening his light-squared bishop to create threats on the kingside.

Since White cannot take the pawn without getting a worse position, Giri played 36.Qd2, but after 36...dxc3 37.bxc3 Black has gotten rid of his isolated pawns and is ready to push for a win. Kovalev combined some pressure against the king with threats to gobble some pawns to force White's resignation after 73 moves:


Kovalev is having a great debut | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Kramnik - Meier

The former world champion played ambitiously for the third time in a row, but could not break Meier's patient and skilful defence. Coincidentally, these are the two players that drew all their games and the only ones that have kept a 50% score. Kramnik will probably try to spoil Duda's perfect tournament in the fourth round, when he will have White against the leader.

Big Vlad has been trying hard | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Standings after Round 3


Games of Round 3


Johannes Fischer contributed reporting to this story


Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.


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macauley macauley 7/18/2018 08:56
@puertolajas - The site is correct, however, they seem to have removed their English language page for some reason. Only German is available. Changed the link to the home page.
puertolajas puertolajas 7/18/2018 02:48
The link you provide to the Official site is not correct. It doesn't work.