Dortmund R9: Ponomariov secures first place, Naiditsch beats Kramnik

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Naiditsch - Kramnik (c) Georgios SouleidisIn the pentultimate round of the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess-Meeting, Arkadij Naiditsch upset Vladimir Kramnik while Peter Leko came tantilizingly close to beating Le Quang. Ruslan Ponomariov took no risk and secured his first place in the standings.

With just one round to go, the standings were seriously mixed up today after Naiditsch beat Kramnik. In the previous round, Naiditsch didn't look half so good as Ruslan Ponomariov demolished him in an outstanding positional game.

Before moving on to today's games, let's see how Pono outplayed the German in round 8:

33.Be5! Rxf6 34.Rfc1! Bd7 35.Rab1! with a winning bind for White, which the Russian converted in 46 moves.

Yesterday's other games looked bleak compared to this. As feared, Leko-Kramnik was a bloodless draw and though Mamedyarov tried hard to beat Le Quang, the young Vietnamese defended accurately and professionally secured the draw.

Today, Shakriyar Mamedyarov surprised tournament leader Ponomariov as early as move 5:

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.g4!?

This has only been played 5 times according to the database, but never by a 2500+ player. Ponomariov bravely 'castled into it' with 5...0-0 but grabbed the g-pawn a couple of moves later anyway. White, of course, obtained decent compensation for it and actually seemed to be fine after the opening. However, just when thinks started to look exciting, Ponomariov traded queens after which the game suddenly became drawish.

In this position, Black has a number of interesting alternatives, such as 25...Qxf4, 25...Rae8 or 25...Bxf4, with a very exciting and complicated game. Instead, Black chose to play it safe in this stage of the tournament with 25...Qc5 26.Qxc5 bxc5 = . He is now one point ahead of his competitors, so naturally he had every reason to be satisfied!

Ponomariov, certain of (shared) first place already (photo by Georgios Souleidis)

Peter Leko finally looked ready to win his first game of the tournament with Black against Le Quang, but had to satisfy himself with a draw after 119 moves anyway. He got his chance after Le Quang played too optimistically in an otherwise normal position.

29.Rc7? bxa4 It's hard to see what White had in mind here. Perhaps he wanted to play 29.Rc6 but 'overstretched' by one square. Now, after 30.Bc4 Qb8 White remained a pawn down. To the delight of his fans, Leko seemed to be making steady progress in the endgame.

Le Quang - Leko (photo by Georgios Souleidis)

However, by now we should all know how tough it is to really beat Le Quang. He kept on making tough moves and though many moves were played, Leko couldn't find a clear win until, finally, White was on the verge of collapsing.

103.Rd7 The funny 103.Bd3 is the computer's suggestion. 103...Rh2+ 104.Kf1 Ke3 It suddenly looks very dangerous for White, but fortunately for him, the theoretical endgame after 105.Rxd5 Rf2+ 16.Kg1 Rxe2 107.Rxe5+ Kxf3 108.Rf5 is a book draw. No doubt heavily disappointed, Leko tried for 10 more moves before offering a draw.

Naiditsch - Kramnik (photo by Georgios Souleidis)

Arkadij Naiditsch is having a weird tournament, but after today, he will probably be happy after all. He recovered excellently from yesterday's loss by beating Vladimir Kramnik in 34 moves. It was a complex game (Kramnik played the Pirc Defence), with some very interesting tactics. Let's have a closer look.

14...Qh4+ 15.Kd1!? After 15.Bf2 Qg5! things are also highly unclear. 15...Bxd4 Also interesting is the natural-looking 15...Re8.

16.Bxa6! e5 17.Bxc8 Rfxc8 18.c3 It looks like White is on top after all, but Black has tremendous counterplay: 18...Rab8 19.Qc4

Here, it seems Kramnik faltered with 18...c5?! where the principled 18...Rxb2 would have led to a very difficult position, offering Black a very dangerous initiative after 19.cxd4 Rxg2. Instead, after the text, White played the very strong 19.Bc1! after which he appears to be better.

Still, things were far from clear until Black again moved his c-pawn:

25...c4? A bettter chance was 25...Reb8. 26.Qd1! After this strong defensive move, White can hold on to his extra piece. Black's attack quickly faded and Naiditsch collected the point.

Naiditsch(photo by Georgios Souleidis)

Standings after 9 rounds:

1. Ponomariov 6 2. Le Quang, Mamedyarov 5 4. Kramnik, Naiditsch 4 6. Leko 3

Games start daily at 15.00 CET and can be followed live here.

Dortmund Games round 8 & 9

Game viewer by ChessTempo


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