Dortmund R5: Slugfest! Kramnik scores first win

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Kramnik (c) Georgios SouleidisIn the most exciting round of the Sparkassen Chess-Meeting in Dortmund so far, Vladimir Kramnik beat Arkadij Naiditsch while the other games also ended decisively.

Report by Daan Zult

If people wondered whether Ruslan Ponomariov could recover from his loss against Quang Le in round 4, in round 5 this was answered with a convincing yes. In a highly positional game he slowly outplayed Mamedyarov, in which every time it seemed his opponent had solved his positional problem, Ponomariov presented Shakh with a new one.

In the opening, Mamedyarov accepted a double f-pawn. When he solved this problem, he was confronted with pressure on his c-pawn and an isolated h-pawn. When he solved these problems, he suddenly had to deal with an isolated d-pawn and f-pawn and weakened white squares. These last two problems finally became too much to handle and forced Mamedyarov to capitulate in a position where amateurs might have continued for a couple more moves:

Final position after 51.Kc4. Black resigned.

On top level, Pono's advantage was evidently decisive. His victory can't really be characterized by some single move brilliancy, but more by superior positional play all over the game. It must have been a huge disappointment to Mamedyarov, who appeared to be on a roll in the previous rounds.

Shakriyar Mamedyarov (photo by Georgios Souleidis)

The big surprise of the round was Quang Le’s victory over Peter Leko, with the black pieces no less. Against Quang Le’s Caro Cann, Leko attempted to get an advantage by temporally sacrificing a pawn, hoping to end up with the bishop pair against two nights. However, the time that was required to recover the pawn was not wasted on Quang Le, who managed to exchange one knight for a bishop and disturb Leko’s pawn formation.

Leko -Quang Le (photo by Georgios Souleidis)

On top of that, Quang Le managed to get a ‘superpferd’ on d5, from where the knight dominated all play.

In return, Leko was left with a seemingly active bishop on d6, but in reality it was more like a ‘bear without teeth’ (as we say in Holland). Slowly but surely, Quang Le managed to convert his good knight vs bad bishop endgame into the a full point. The question remains whether it’s Quang Le’s second victory in a row because his opponent considered him an easy prey, or whether he can compete with the very best. Time will tell.

In his fifth round game, Kramnik finally showed his true power. When Naiditsch tried to tackle Kramnik’s Catalan the Leko-way by sacrificing a pawn for active play. Kramnik was ready to give back some material for active play of his own.

Kramnik gave a rook for a knight and two pawns with 25.Nxd4! Bxb1 26.Nc6! and managed to permanently lock out Naiditsch rook by means of Nc6xa5. The rook trap became a real problem for Black when Kramnik was able to attack the rook with... his king!

Position after 48.Kb5. Naiditsch resigned after two more superfluous moves.

With Kramnik back on 50% and only one point behind leader Ponomariov, he might still be able to defend his title in the second half of the tournament, but with three more black games to go it will certainly be a hard nut to crack. The tail enders Leko and Naiditsch, who missed their chances in their games against Kramnik and Ponomariov, will have to forget about tournament victory and do some serious damage control.

Sebastian Siebrecht makes the first move in Kramnik - Naiditsch (photo by Georgios Souleidis)

Standings after 5 rounds:

1. Ponomariov 3,5 2. Mamedyarov, Le Quang 3 4. Kramnik 2,5 5. Naiditsch, Leko 1,5

Games start daily at 15.00 CET (tuesday is a rest day) and can be followed live here.

Dortmund Games round 5

Game viewer by ChessTempo


More from CM ArnieChipmunk
Why chess will never be popular

Why chess will never be popular

In praise of draws

In praise of draws