Vachier-Lagrave Isn't Afraid Of Bogeyman In Dortmund

Vachier-Lagrave Isn't Afraid Of Bogeyman In Dortmund

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

In a first place versus last place matchup in Dortmund's round four, newly-minted 2800 GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave didn't need a security blanket against last-place GM Rainer Buhmann. The German number three's last name means "Bogeyman," a mythical creature conjured to scare kids. The problem is that Vachier-Lagrave is already 25 and didn't tremble during the complications.

The Frenchman's win was the only one of the round as the players head into the second and final rest day. GM Leinier Dominguez had a share of the lead in the morning, but his draw as Black against GM Fabiano Caruana leaves the Cuban a half-point off the pace.

GM Rainer Buhmann is playing in one of the biggest events of his career but is finding it tough sledding so far. | All photos courtesy Georgios Souleidis.

Also drawing was the new German number-one GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu who played against GM Evgeny Najer. The former transferred to the German Federation shortly before GM Arkadij Naiditsch left. That makes Nisipeanu the new top dog in one of Germany's biggest annual events.

Lastly, the former world champions, GM Ruslan Ponomariov and GM Vladimir Kramnik, also drew.

Initially, things were going placidly for Buhmann on the black side of the Breyer System. Then, Vachier-Lagrave refused to allow his knight to be traded off on the d5-outpost. Instead, he played a temporary pawn sacrifice, 30. c5!, to secure a more aggressive square. 

Buhmann could have given away an exchange, but instead he tried to batten down the hatches. White's position quickly proved too strong as f7 was mortally weak.

Games via TWIC.

After all the excitement of yesterday's sacrificial onslaught, Kramnik, the oldest player in the field, didn't have it in him to play Crossfit™ with his pieces two days in a row. Ponomariov can't be blameless in this; he didn't press much at all despite the whole-game space advantage.

Barely any pieces crossed to the opponent's side of the board, and the two repeated moves before the first time control.

Caruana and Dominguez progressed the new-found United States-Cuba detente on the chess board. Their Petrov Defense possessed the sort of exacting symmetry deemed desirable in fashion models and boring in chess games.

GM Leinier Dominguez lost a share of the lead, but played a solid game as Black against the world number three.

Even the g-pawns were doubled for both sides, and despite Caruana gaining some space on the queenside, he could find no useful targets. After 37 moves, the two adversaries agreed to peace.

In chess, "N.N." is sometimes called "no name" but it really means "nomen nescio." Today it meant Nisipeanu vs. Najer. White was surely better after winning the c6-pawn and exerting more influence over the center.

The small slip 20. e4 allowed Black to break up the hanging-pawn duo with the interference move 20...Bc5! Since d4 had no support, White was now obliged to capture. Black resorted to the textbook idea of exchanging pawns when you're worse and didn't have too much trouble holding the half-point.

Dortmund 2016 | Round 4 Standings

Place Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2798 2927 ½ ½ 1 1 3.0/4 5.00
2 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2713 2836 ½ ½ 1 ½ 2.5/4 4.50
3 Kramnik, Vladimir 2812 2718 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/4 4.25
4 Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2674 2750 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/4 4.25
5 Caruana, Fabiano 2810 2718 0 ½ ½ 1 2.0/4 3.75
6 Ponomariov, Ruslan 2706 2722 0 ½ ½ 1 2.0/4 3.50
7 Najer, Evegeniy 2687 2621 ½ 0 0 1 1.5/4 2.00
8 Buhmann, Rainer 2653 2562 0 ½ ½ 0 1.0/4 2.25

The players have their second free day Thursday. Then they resume for rounds five through seven on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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