Kramnik, So Go Down In First Round Dortmund

Kramnik, So Go Down In First Round Dortmund

| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

Both GMs Vladimir Kramnik and Wesley So suffered a loss in the first round of the Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund, Germany. Kramnik went down against GM Arkadij Naiditsch whereas So lost to GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu.

Photo courtesy of Sparkassen Chess

The 43rd edition of the annual chess tournament, now sponsored for the 20th time by Sparkassen, took off on Saturday. The tournament takes place 27 June - 5 July in the NRW Orchestra Center in central Dortmund.

It is a single round robin with eight players, five being rated above 2700 (and one above 2800):

2015 Sparkassen Chess Meeting | Participants

# Name Fed Rating Born
1 Fabiano Caruana USA 2805 1992
2 Vladimir Kramnik RUS 2783 1975
3 Wesley So USA 2778 1993
4 Arkadij Naiditsch GER 2722 1985
5 Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS 2720 1990
6 Hou Yifan CHN 2676 1994
7 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu GER 2654 1976
8 Georg Meier GER 2654 1987


Sometimes called “Mr Dortmund,” Vladimir Kramnik  has won the tournament already ten times — last, in 2011. His first-round loss won't make it easy to add an 11th title.

Michael Adams won in 2013. Fabiano Caruana, who travelled straight from Stavanger to Dortmund (and had to skip the closing dinner and prize giving on Friday evening), is defending his title in Dortmund. He tied for first with Sergey Karjakin in 2012.

Wesley So missed out on the Grand Chess Tour because his match with David Navara had been planned before. Although not officially confirmed yet, it seems certain that he'll play in the Sinquefield Cup, but before that we see him in Dortmund this week.

Ian Nepomniachtchi, who qualified by winning the Aeroflot Open, might have to fight against a jetlag as he came straight from the Capablanca Memorial in Havana, Cuba. Hou Yifan is the first female player in the Dortmund field since 1997, when Judit Polgar played.

Traditionally there are some local heros, and this counts especially for Arkadij Naiditsch, who is from Dortmund. 

The 43rd edition is starting! | Photo courtesy of Sparkassen Chess

After the first round it seems more likely that Naiditsch will repeat his success from 2005, when he sensationally won the tournament at 19, than that Kramnik will score his 11th title. Naiditsch beat Kramnik with the black pieces.

The German GM tackled Kramnik in his own territory: the Semi-Tarrasch. In fact the two followed the game Ding Liren-Kramnik, Paris 2013 for 14 moves when Naiditsch played the novelty 14...a5. Combined with 15...e5, he created a nice square for his knight on c5.

Soon the position became very concrete, and on move 24 Kramnik either miscalculated or sacrificed a piece for which he didn't get enough compensation.

The first move made by Dortmund mayor Birgit Jörder. | Photo courtesy of Sparkassen Chess

Another German GM, originally from Romania, did even better. Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu crushed Wesley So from a Grand Prix Attack, where White's novelty on move 12 refuted Black's setup completely.

It can be described as a long-term piece sacrifice, since that knight on g7 was never going to make it back home. But Nisipeanu had evaluated correctly that White's initiative would be too strong. 

Nepomniachtchi vs Caruana was a game between two players who had just finished another strong tournament, so they may not have been too fit. It was a Fianchetto Grünfeld where White's play was not aggressive enough; Black was better out of the opening. Caruana won a pawn, but it was a tripled one.

Nepomniachtchi vs Caruana. | Photo courtesy of Sparkassen Chess.

Georg Meier vs Hou Yifan was a very quiet Catalan where White's small edge consisted of controlling the open c-file and more space on the queenside. When a center pawn was traded for a queenside pawn White's advantage seemed to grow, but Hou kept on defending accurately.

Hou Yifan making her debut in Dortmund. | Photo courtesy of Sparkassen Chess.

Dortmund 2015 | Schedule & Results

Round 1  15:00 CET 27.06.15   Round 2  15:00 CET 28.06.15
Nepomniachtchi ½-½ Caruana   Caruana - So
Meier ½-½ Hou   Naiditsch - Nisipeanu
Kramnik 0-1 Naiditsch   Hou - Kramnik
Nisipeanu 1-0 So   Nepomniachtchi - Meier
Round 3  15:00 CET 30.06.15   Round 4  15:00 CET 01.07.15
Meier - Caruana   Caruana - Naiditsch
Kramnik - Nepomniachtchi   Hou - So
Nisipeanu - Hou   Nepomniachtchi - Nisipeanu
So - Naiditsch   Meier - Kramnik
Round 5  15:00 CET 03.07.15   Round 6  15:00 CET 04.07.15
Kramnik - Caruana   Caruana - Hou
Nisipeanu - Meier   Nepomniachtchi - Naiditsch
So - Nepomniachtchi   Meier - So
Naiditsch - Hou   Kramnik - Nisipeanu
Round 7  13:00 CET 05.07.15      
Nisipeanu - Caruana  
So - Kramnik  
Naiditsch - Meier  
Hou - Nepomniachtchi  
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

More from PeterDoggers
14-Year-Old Lu Miaoyi Wins Chinese Women's Championship; Wang Yue Takes Open

14-Year-Old Lu Miaoyi Wins Chinese Women's Championship; Wang Yue Takes Open

$4 Million Buy-In Tournament Planned For November With Abdusattorov, Caruana, Nepomniachtchi, Niemann

$4 Million Buy-In Tournament Planned For November With Abdusattorov, Caruana, Nepomniachtchi, Niemann