Ponomariov was the only winner in Round 2 and now is a co-leader
Round 2 of the Sparkassen Chess Meeeting in Dortmund was not quite as exciting as Round 1 as it only produced one decisive result — a victory by Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine over Evgeny Najer of Russia. With the win, Ponomariov moved into a tie for first place with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, who drew with Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. Each player has 1.5 points.
Najer, who won in Round 1, is now at an even score with 1 point, along with Kramnik, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu of Germany, and Leinier Dominguez Perez of Cuba. Fabiano Caruana of the United States and Rainer Buhmann are in last, each with 0.5 point.
The most interesting games of the round were Ponomariov vs. Najer and Buhmann vs. Dominguez. Ponomariov gained an early edge after Najer made an ill-advised pawn advance that he had not sufficiently prepared:
15. Rac1c5?!This is quite a poor move - the advance d5 is now easy to do and strong, and Black is left with numerous weaknesses.
( 15... e5!This central advance is preferable after which Black looks fine to me. )
16. d5!Bxc317. Bxc3Qxb318. Bxb3Nxd519. Bxd5exd520. Rxd5after all of these forced exchanges, Black is in some trouble. White is threatening Rcd1, which forces Black to move the knight and allow
Rxc5. 20... Nb621. Rxc5Nxa422. Rc7Nxc323. R1xc3
( 23. bxc3Would be my choice. )
23... Rd1+24. Kh2Rd225. Rxb7Rxf226. Kg3Rf627. Rxa7And White is a pawn up in the rook ending.
While Black’s position was now difficult, it was still defensible. Najer buckled down and fought back, playing very accurately. But just as it looked as if he might be a able to hold a draw, he drifted again and found himself in a textbook lost rook ending.
In the game between Buhmann and Dominguez, Dominguez surprised me by playing the King’s Indian Defense. He is a lifelong Grunfeld advocate and I can’t recall a single game of his as Black in the other main g6 line against 1. d4. It seemed like a poor choice and that he was not well prepared for the sidelines, as Buhmann chose the toothless Exchange Variation, often played with the intention of making an early draw. But Dominguez didn’t have it properly prepared and burned a lot of time playing less than ideal moves.
As good as White’s position was, it still required accurate play to win and Buhmann was not up to the task. In some ways, I thought that was Karmic justice as I think anyone who plays exchange variations in chess is not taking enough risks and does not deserve a full point.
The other games were not as interesting. Kramnik, who had Black, easily drew with Vachier-Lagrave using the Berlin Defense. It was Kramnik’s second consecutive game as Black. In the other game, Nisipeanu also rather easily drew with Caruana, who has now had two Whites to start the tournament.
Monday is a rest day and then the tournament resumes on Tuesday.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 7 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players