Dortmund: Giri and Meier join the chasing pack

by Antonio Pereira
7/22/2018 – With one round to go, no less than four players are half a point behind sole leader Ian Nepomniachtchi at the Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund. Giri and Meier beat Kramnik and Nisipeanu, respectively, to join Kovalev and Duda on 3½/6. LAWRENCE TRENT analysed both decisive games and the final stage of Duda-Nepomniachtchi, where the young Polish star missed his chance to defeat the leader. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

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Kramnik does it again

If we were to summarize what has happened so far in the world of chess in 2018, surely one of the key elements in the narrative would be Kramnik's stunning determination to push for wins at all costs. His high self-confidence — clearly portrayed during post-game press conferences — has taken him to over-press more than once, with mixed results.

In Dortmund's sixth round, he had the white pieces against one of his seconds during the Candidates, Anish Giri. Prior to this year's edition of the Tata Steel Masters, the Dutch grandmaster had never defeated Big Vlad in a classical game. Thus, his victory on Saturday was the second consecutive one against someone who probably was one of his idols during his childhood — when Giri was born, in 1994, Kramnik was already the fifth highest-rated player in the world. 

Giri defeated Kramnik twice this year | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

In the game, Kramnik used one of his main weapons in the last few years: to play quiet lines with White in order to get playable positions, which allow him to try to outclass his opponents. He accepted a hanging-pawns formation, but seemed to have enough compensation even after losing one of the pawns. However, things started to go seriously wrong when he kept his ambitious intentions instead of going for a draw.

Lawrence Trent sent an in-depth analysis of the game:


The other decisive game of the day saw Georg Meier get his first win of the event against his compatriot Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. This was Nisipeanu's fourth loss in the tournament, something nobody had expected given his extra-solid performances in his previous appearances in Dortmund. He will finish the event with White against Radek Wojtaszek, and most likely will try to finish the game as quickly as possible in order to recover mentally before his next tournament.

Georg Meier drew all his previous games and is now in contention for first place | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

On the other hand, Meier is showing that his positional brand of chess can be used effectively at this level. Earlier this year, at the GRENKE Classic, he almost defeated Magnus Carlsen, and now he is only half a point behind the leader — moreover, he will play Nepomniachtchi in Sunday's final round.

In the game, he sacrificed a pawn to keep the initiative in a Closed Catalan and showed great technique to convert his endgame advantage. Once again, the game was fully analysed by Lawrence Trent:


The other key game of the round finished in a draw, but could have gone a very different way. Jan-Krzysztof Duda outplayed Ian Nepomniachtchi in the middlegame of a Sicilian, but could not convert in the end. It should be said that Nepo showed great defensive skills, as he had done in round two against Kovalev. Duda started to stumble around move 42:


Duda could not convert his advantage against Nepomniachtchi | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

Finally, the quietest encounter of the day was the draw between Wojtaszek and Kovalev, but it was by no means a quick "grandmaster draw". The Polish player tried to take advantage of Black's inferior pawn structure, but it was never enough to tip the balance in his favour. The opponents shook hands after 47 moves.

Kovalev has not lost yet in his first supertournament appearance | Photo: Georgios Souleidis

So this year's edition of the Dortmund supertournament will be decided tomorrow. Nepomniachtchi will have the white pieces against Meier, Giri will be White against Duda and Kovalev will face a fearless Kramnik, who will probably try to win despite being Black. Wojtaszek and Nisipeanu will try to finish the tournament on a high, but their game is the only one that faces two players that are already out of contention for first place. 

Standings after Round 6


Games of Round 6



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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