Maxime Vachier-Lagrave wins Dortmund 2016

by Johannes Fischer
7/17/2016 – With a fine game against Ruslan Ponomariov Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won the Sparkassen Chess-Meeting in Dortmund with one round to go. He leads with 5.0/6 and is 1.5 points ahead of his closest rivals Leinier Dominguez Perez and Fabiano Caruana. The other decisive game of round six was Caruana's smooth victory against Rainer Buhmann. Evgeniy Najer and Dominguez Perez drew after 54 moves, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and Vladimir Kramnik after 146 moves.

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The International Arbiter Andrzej Filipovicz from Poland

The symbolic first move

After playing Vladimir Kramnik and Fabiano Caruana with Black,
Rainer Buhmann also had Black against...

...Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana avoided a theoretical duel but reached
a double-edged position with good chances to play for a win.


The top game of round six was the encounter between...

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and...

... Ruslan Ponomariov. With a win Ponomariov would have caught the French grandmaster.

But right from the start Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had the game under control showed a fine display of strategy and tactics that culminated in a mating attack in the endgame.


Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, who has not lost one of his last 58 games, played against Vladimir Kramnik...

... who tried hard to win this game.

The game lasted for 146 moves and Kramnik tried everything to win but in the end he could not avoid to play his sixth draw in his sixth game in Dortmund. In the seventh and final round Kramnik plays against Evgeniy Najer. Nisipeanu, who also has six draws out of six games in Dortmund, plays against Buhmann in the final round.

Evgeniy Najer...

... and Leinier Dominguez Perez (left) drew an unspectactular game.

Result of round six:

Fabiano Caruana - Rainer Buhmann 1-0

Evgeniy Najer - Leinier Dominguez Perez 1/2-1/2

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Ruslan Ponomariov 1-0

Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu - Vladimir Kramnik 1/2-1/2

Games from rounds 1- to 6


Standings after six rounds

Photos: Tournament page, Georgios Souleidis

Tournament page...

Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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scoobeedo scoobeedo 7/19/2016 04:23
MVL have a new weapon which works well. It is the coolnees amd relaxation weapon.

Before, he was to hot, and that made him vulnerable. The way as he play now is fantastic ...

- - -

I am not surprized that he is now the number 2.

I remember his game in Tokyo against the Shogi Superstar Habu, which plays sometimes also western chess and is a solid 2400 player.

MVL played a lousy opening and the 2400 Japanese had a advantage. But then MVL started to work on his position. The way how he digged him out of this hole was impressive.

And his comments was very good.

I knew at this time already that here is a very special player on the way to the top.
Alf23 Alf23 7/17/2016 06:46
MVL has been improving a lot to reach the top.
ricardoalves ricardoalves 7/17/2016 05:54
Why can't I share this news trough facebook? Only twitter and google+.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 7/17/2016 04:22
@ ngn : It depends on what you call wide ! For me, it is relatively wide (compared to certain tournaments : for exemple in the 2016 Candidates, the "gap" between the strongest and the weakest was only 37 points). But, on the one hand, I don't think at all that in can have negative consequences on the results, and, on the other hand, it always tend to diminish the draw percentage (with even some surprises from time to time, because a 2800+ player wanting very badly to win against a 2600+ player can very well find himself losing his game, in the end, if he is not sufficiently cautious !), so I rather think that it is a good idea to chose some 2600+ grandmasters for the lineups of important tournaments as this one...

So, for me, yes, the Elo range is a little wide in this tournament, but it is a good thing, and not a bad one !
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 7/17/2016 04:07
@ MaxMinus : I agree that single round-robin tournaments are not wholly satisfying. But I think that this is nonetheless not a very important problem : in, for exemple, a tournament with 8 participants as this one, the difference is only that some will play three times with White and four with Black when some others will play four times with White and three times with Black, and also that two potential winners can play the same opponent with different colors (as an exemple, here, Vachier-Lagrave played Kramnik with White, while Caruana played Kramnik with Black), which can have some consequences on the opening preparation.

But globally, as, on the one hand, having White or Black doesn't have a very great statistical influence on the results ( even happens sometime that in an important event, Black wins globally more games than White, as in the 2011 Kazan Candidates, for exemple...), and, on the other hand, the differences between players in terms of White and Black are only marginally significant, here, I don't think that it can have a big influence on the results of the tournaments.

As for the wide range of elo ratings that we find in this tournament, I don't see at all how it can have a negative influence on the results : for me, the only difference is that, when a 2800 player plays, for exemple, a 2600 player, a draw will be a negative result for him, and he must necessarily play for a win (a situation which tends, in my opinion, to create interesting games...). But, as a draw is always quite possible (a 2600+ grandmaster is not someone against anyone can win easily, even for a 2800+ player), I don't see at all how the consequence can be that the tournaments results are less significant.
ngn ngn 7/17/2016 03:24
The gap between the strongest and weakest player is 159 points. That's not "wide" by any means but completely normal.
MaxMinus MaxMinus 7/17/2016 11:58
I'm sorry, but a tournament with so few contestants, and with such a wide range of elo rating, a single round system is just ridiculous. I find single rounders annoying anyway, considering the mathematical aspect, but this is taking it beyond.