Kramnik Wins, Shares 2nd With Dominguez, Caruana Behind Vachier-Lagrave

Kramnik Wins, Shares 2nd With Dominguez, Caruana Behind Vachier-Lagrave

SamCopeland
NM SamCopeland
Jul 17, 2016, 12:03 PM |
20 | Chess Event Coverage

Yesterday, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave secured first place in Dortmund's Sparkassen Chess Meeting. With a draw in the final round today, he solidified a 12.8 rating point gain, locked in a post-tournament rating of 2810.8, and secured his status as world number two.

Although there was no question as to the winner of first place, who would end up in second remained entirely unclear.

After the dust settled, Vladimir Kramnik emerged as the day's only winner. His win allowed him to catch Leinier Dominguez and Fabiano Caruana and thus share second place with them. Although "Mr. Dortmund" is unlikely to be thrilled by anything short of first place, his final round victory should leave him with a satisfying parting memory.

Kramnik seemingly displays his traditional stoicism. | All photos courtesy the organizers' official page and Twitter account.

The most critical game of the day was Dominguez's game against Vachier-Lagrave. Dominguez had White and could guarantee shared second place with a win.

Dominguez seemed to gain an advantage in the opening when Vachier-Lagrave offered an exchange sacrifice that baffled your humble reporter. Perhaps the sacrifice wasn't so ideal for Vachier-Lagrave. In particular, 18.Ne5! looked like it might allow Dominguez to apply real pressure.

As the game went however, Dominguez did not ever really press his advantage, and eventually he was forced to return the exchange and bail out to a draw.

Dominguez had an excellent tournament and gained seven rating points.

In the only decisive game of the round, Kramnik delivered a thoroughly dominating victory against Evgeniy Najer.

Kramnik's play was smooth and strong. He dictated play throughout the game. I would draw the reader's attention to the position after 15.d4! in which Kramnik had an amusing five pawns abreast on the fourth rank. 26.a4! and 30.Ra6! were also great moves by Kramnik, both of which helped turn the game strongly towards victory.

Kramnik lost 3.7 rating points in total, but he remains above 2800 (2808.3). He is third in the world and delivered generally strong and exciting play throughout the tournament.

Caruana and Ruslan Ponomariov easily had the least exciting game of the round. They agreed to a draw with a known repetition on move 18.

Of course, both players were likely satisfied with such a last-round result. Caruana secured a share of what was eventually second place (in light of a Dominguez draw), and Ponomariov solidified an even score of 3.5/7 despite the penultimate round's bruising against Vachier-Lagrave.

Caruana's results are extremely similar to Kramnik's. He dropped 3.5 rating points, though he stays above 2800 (2806.5) and sits in fourth place in the world rankings.

A light day at the office.

Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu also could have entered the tie for second with a victory, but despite his attempts to play for a win, Rainer Buhmann objectively held the better chances.

It is possible that Nisipeanu may have over-pressed in his try to win, as his position seemed quite close to losing. However, after a few inaccuracies by Buhmann, the advantage largely evaporated. Perhaps Buhmann could still have played for a win in the final position, but after a rough super-tournament debut, it is understandable that he would want to close the book on Dortmund.

Dortmund 2016 | Final Standings

# Fed Player Rtg Perf Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2798 2952 5.5 = = 1 = 1 1 1
2 Dominguez, Leinier 2713 2784 4 = = = = 1 = =
3 Kramnik, Vladimir 2812 2770 4 = = = = = 1 =
4 Caruana, Fabiano 2810 2770 4 0 = = = = 1 1
5 Nisipeanu, Liviu Dieter 2674 2739 3.5 = = = = = = =
6 Ponomariov, Ruslan 2706 2735 3.5 0 0 = = = 1 1
7 Najer, Evgeniy 2687 2580 2 0 = 0 0 = 0 1
8 Buhmann, Rainer 2653 2512 1.5 0 = = 0 = 0 0

Vachier-Lagrave took to Twitter to celebrate, and congratulations soon poured in for the popular Frenchman. He has gained nearly 90 rating points since June of 2015 -- an incredible (and unprecedented?) achievement at the elite level!


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