Nepomniachtchi Crushes Meier To Win 1st Dortmund Title
Nepomniachtchi won Dortmund 2018. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Nepomniachtchi Crushes Meier To Win 1st Dortmund Title

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

It was three times a charm for Ian Nepomniachtchi, who won his first Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund at the third attempt. He secured victory quickly today with a crushing, 27-move win vs Georg Meier.

Vladimir Kramnik was again suffering, but after almost seven hours of play he managed to avoid a third loss as Vladislav Kovalev failed to convert a tablebase win in an endgame.

July has been treating Nepomniachtchi well. Two weeks after winning the Japhet Memorial, a rapid tournament in Jerusalem, he also took the top spot at the 46th Sparkassen Chess Meeting.

Nepomniachtchi, who turned 28 in between these two tournaments, finished on 5/7, a full point more than Kovalev, Duda and Giri. His score was good for a 2873 performance rating and an Elo gain of 10.9 points. The Russian GM is now the world number 12 in the live ratings, only 0.1 point behind Vishy Anand.

Today, Georg Meier got crushed in a French Rubinstein, but it was not because of the opening. The German GM must have looked at it recently, because Nepomniachtchi's early knight sortie 7.Ne5 (recommended by his second GM Vladimir Potkin) was also played more than once by Leinier Dominguez in his Speed Chess match with Meier last month.

After losing to Dominguez, Meier said: "Of course it's very dangerous when you're not prepared for this at all." In today's game, he seemed to be doing OK but suddenly White's attack was decisive. The computer says it's equal after 19...Kh7 instead of 19...Kg7 but our annotator is not so sure.


Meier Nepomniachtchi Dortmund 2018

Meier's French Rubinstein needs more double checking. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Before the round, both Anish Giri and Jan-Krzysztof Duda could still hope to win the tournament as well. At only half a point behind the leader, a win for either player would be highly promising. In the end it didn't matter, but it was Giri who got very close to a win indeed.

Duda played the Pirc and rather provocatively, but somehow Giri, while castling queenside, refused to use Harry the h-pawn. Moving it on move 21 would have been just winning—although it's easy to say with the help of engines.

Right after the trade of queens White might still be better, but it was still extremely complicated. After a tactical phase, a roughly equal endgame remained.

Duda Giri Dortmund 2018

Giri couldn't punish Duda's provocative Pirc. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Vladislav Kovalev vs Vladimir Kramnik was the longest, and one of the most fascinating games of the whole tournament. Take, for example, the opening: a very old line in the Giuoco Piano in which the players deviated from 'theory' on move 12, where theory was a game from 1873!

Black won a pawn, but his king was weaker and White was going to win it back. The game might have ended in a draw much sooner, if Kramnik hadn't blundered (or underestimated?) a tactic on move 30.

The rook + pawn vs knight + pawn endgame was a tablebase win, but only for one move. After that, Kramnik defended like... a tablebase. It was easy to see for the players where the 50-move rule would come into play: move 100, because the last capture (or pawn move) was on move 50.

Instead, Kovalev traded the pawns on move 96 and the players were left with bare kings on move 102. What a way to end the tournament! (And probably postpone the prize giving somewhat...)

Kramnik Kovalev Dortmund 2018

The start of the longest game of the tournament. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Tail-ender Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu was probably just happy to finish his tournament. He drew in two hours with Radek Wojtaszek where the first 25 moves had been played before. It's not clear if both players were aware of that, but in any case, five moves later the players started repeating.

Wojtaszek Nisipeanu Dortmund 2018

Nisipeanu vs Wojtaszek. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Dortmund 2018 | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Nepomniachtchi,Ian 2757 2873 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 5.0/7
2 Kovalev,Vladislav 2655 2778 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.0/7 14
3 Duda,Jan-Krzysztof 2737 2766 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 4.0/7 12.75
4 Giri,Anish 2782 2761 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 4.0/7 12.25
5 Meier,Georg 2628 2732 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/7
6 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2733 2668 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/7 10.5
7 Kramnik,Vladimir 2792 2660 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 3.0/7 10
8 Nisipeanu,Liviu-Dieter 2672 2501 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 1.5/7

Games via TWIC.

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