Dortmund Round 1: Four fighting draws

by Klaus Besenthal
7/15/2018 – At the Sparkassen Chess-Meeting in Dortmund the four games of the first round ended drawn. However, if you think about symmetrical structures and a lot of early exchanges, you are completely wrong, because all boards were struggling hard for the full point. The only player with significant chances to win probably was the birthday boy Ian Nepomniachtchi (against Giri), but the position was pretty tricky. There was also a draw between Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Vladislav Kovalev that went almost the full seven hours possible. The ceremonial first move was made by the mayor of Dortmund, Birgit Jörder. | Photo:

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46th Sparkassen Chess Meeting 2018

The grandmaster tournament in Dortmund is once again being played in the "Orchesterzentrum NRW", a joint institution of the four state music colleges of North Rhine-Westphalia. The pace is leisurely: players have to make 40 moves in 100 minutes, 20 moves in 50 minutes, the rest 15 minutes + 30 seconds for each move.

In the first round, one game went the distance, nearly the full seven hours before ending in a draw. But the first to finish Saturday took just two hours.

Wojtaszek - Meier

The 2017 Dortmund winner, Radek Wojtaszek got caught in home preparation by Georg Meier, although it was Meier who was surprised on move one by 1.c4 and spent a full five minutes to reply 1...b6.

After the game he explained, "I actually wanted to get this line but of course when he starts c4 there are lots of options so I was trying to figure out if I was going to get this one or not. After d4 I would have played e6 and then after c4 b6."

The game transposed as intended and Meier whipped out a rare move 6...e5.


This position was last seen just two months ago, but first seen 40 years ago in a game from Hastings between a couple of 22-year-old up-and-coming IMs Larry Christiansen and Jon Speelman.

Wojtaszek was critical of his reply 7.Ne2 calling it "too simple for black" and noting the knight is well placed on e7. He suggested 7.a3 was more testing.

He called 17.O-O-O the crucial point, prefering 17.Ne3 after the game.


After 17...Bxd5 18.Qxd5 Qf7 the players soon exchanged into an equal ending for which neither side has significant chances to play for more than a draw.

Kramnik - Nisipeanu

Kramnik had an extra pawn, but that was part of a structure that left the ex-World Champion with no opportunity to make any progress. Nisipeanu knew exactly what to do to keep his balance:


the stage

A long and narrow stage

Nepomniachtchi - Giri

In a long game, Nepomniachtchi had probably reached a promising position twice at different times. Once there was a difficult piece sacrifice in position, then a very tough queen endgame: 


Nepo's birthday

Ian Nepomniachtchi got serenaded for his birthday

Games of Round 1


Standings after Round 1


Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson


Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.


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