Reports Jul 17, 2017 | 9:09 AMby Colin McGourty

Dortmund 2: From hero to zero

Vladimir Fedoseev didn’t get long to savour beating former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik as in Round 2 of the Sparkassen Dortmund Chess Meeting he went wrong in the opening and got blown away by local star Matthias Bluebaum. Matthias now leads alongside Radek Wojtaszek, who piled the pressure on Wang Yue until the Chinese player finally cracked. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was content to take a quick draw against Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, while Kramnik failed to punish a dubious-looking novelty on move 5 from Dmitry Andreikin.

Chess is tough! One day you're beating a former World Champion, the next you're losing to an up-and-coming 20-year-old | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

We got three tough battles and one game to forget in Round 3 of this year’s Dortmund supertournament (click on a result to replay the game with computer analysis):

If you missed the live show with Grandmaster Jan Gustafsson you can rewatch it below – given the early rest day after Round 2 in Dortmund there’s plenty of time!

On this occasion let’s begin our roundup of the day’s action with the draws:

The favourites draw

Only a very brave man would have put money on Matthias Bluebaum and Radek Wojtaszek leading in Dortmund after two rounds given the field also included Top 10 stars Vladimir Kramnik and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Neither of them has started in top form, though, with Kramnik of course going down in flames in Round 1 while MVL held on by the skin of his teeth against Wojtaszek.

Not a game for the ages | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

In Round 2 Maxime was content to take the easiest of draws with the black pieces after surprising Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu in the opening – 1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 (not his usual 2..Nc6) 3.Nc3 d5 (again, 3…Nc6 was the expected move while Maxime had never played this before). Nisipeanu admitted he hadn’t looked at it before the game and went on to play for a draw, which was achieved without any adventures by move 27. He said afterwards, “naturally, it’s embarrassing to play like that with White”. MVL, meanwhile, had an extra reason to be happy with the quick draw – it meant the tennis and in particular Federer fan could watch the legend claim his 8th Wimbledon title!

The other draw was a very different story, with Dmitry Andreikin pulling off the not inconsiderable task of playing a novelty on move 5, against Vladimir Kramnik! It’s not clear if 5.f4!? will get many followers:

Andreikin said afterwards:

This is modern chess. You have to take risks if you want to play for a win.

Kramnik was unable to improve on his 1:3 classical score against Andreikin | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

Kramnik immediately began to think, but not too much, and with straightforward moves it soon seemed as if he was one mistake from his opponent away from a winning position:

Andreikin is nothing if not resilient, though, and held things together until it seems Kramnik made the mistake of releasing the tension too soon:

Here Black could have could have upped the pressure with a move like 13…Ba6, but after thinking for 18 minutes Vladimir instead decided to simplify with 13…dxe4!? 14.Nxe4 Nxe4 15.Bxe4 Nf6. That neutralised White’s potential kingside attack with g4-g5 but also left Black with little to work with, and eventually it was White if anyone who was better in a rook + knight vs. rook + bishop ending. Kramnik had carefully assessed that the knight could do no damage, though, and immediately stopped the bleeding after his calamitous first round.

Wojtaszek 1-0 Wang Yue: A hole in the Great Wall of China

Once upon a time Wang Yue acquired the nickname "sleepy panda" - will he wake up now he's fallen behind in the tournament? | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

Radek Wojtaszek had a similar comment to Andreikin after this game:

I had to risk something today if I want to achieve something in this tournament.

When Wang Yue played a novelty on move 9 in a position previously reached by some big players (Carlsen-Nakamura, Kasparov-Karpov) Wojtaszek accepted the challenge of pushing his queenside pawns, until the first critical moment arose after 11…a5:

Here it turns out the counter-intuitive 12.Bxf6! is strong, since after 12…Bxf6 the pressure on c5 has gone and White can play 13.b5, while 12…gxf6 13.Qd2! threatens to win on the spot e.g. 13…axb4 14.Qxh6 bxc3? and both 15.Bd3! and 15.Rxc3! lead to crushing wins for White.

Instead after 10 minutes Wojtaszek went for 12.Na4 axb4 13.Nxb6 and might have been in some danger against more accurate play from his opponent. Instead White simply got a comfortable position and when queens were exchanged it looked as though the game would trundle towards an uneventful draw.

Dortmund has always been played on a big stage with a big live audience | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

Appearances were deceptive, though, and the white rooks and bishop went on to weave a mating net that left Black on the verge of disaster, so that the losing move, 31…Bg4?, is hard to classify as a blunder – Wojtaszek thought he was simply winning by this stage:

Radek finished things off with 32.Ra8! (threatening mate-in-1) 32…Bc8 33.Rc6! Kd8 34.Rxc7 Kxc7 35.Ra7+! Kb8 36.Rxf7 and here Wang Yue resigned. Although he’d avoided an immediate knockout the white passed pawns would prove impossible to stop.

Instead it turns out active defence could still have saved Wang Yue: 31…Rxh2! 32.Rb8 f6! and while after 31…Bg4? moves like 33.Rg8 and 33.e6 would have been crushing for White, in this case they can easily be parried. As Radek explained, though, it was “really tough to see”. 

Wojtaszek has started with two excellent games | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

For Wojtaszek the win in such a short event means he can begin to dream of winning his first supertournament. The closest he’s come so far was Biel in 2015, when he beat MVL in Round 7 to lead with three rounds to go, but finished half a point behind Maxime after drawing his remaining games.

The day’s other win, meanwhile, was astonishingly easy:

Bluebaum 1-0 Fedoseev: Back down to earth

Just when it seemed Vladimir Fedoseev could do no wrong… this! The moment at which things began to slip seems to have been after 11.Bb3:

Here Adhiban had recently played 11…Bc7 against Duda in the World Team Championship, and although that didn’t exactly work out it looks a better bet than 11…Nb6!?, removing a piece covering e5 and giving White almost everything he could dream of after 12.dxe5 Bxe5 13.Nxe5 Qxe5 14.e4. White had a potential pawn steamroller on the kingside backed up by the bishop pair, and it was just a question of whether Fedoseev could find any way to survive the trouble ahead.

Matthias Bluebaum impressed at times in the GRENKE Chess Classic but he didn't win a game - he's already improved on that in Dortmund | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

The answer soon became a clear “no”, with 19…Qg5 inviting the pawn wave:

20.f4! exploited the simple fact that 20…Qxf4 is met by 21.Rf3! and the capture on f7 will end the game. Events developed fast with 20…Qe7 21.Qf2 Nb6 22.f5 a5 23.e5 a4 24.f6! Qb4:

Fedoseev is a very inventive tactical player, but some positions can’t be saved, and Bluebaum’s main issue here was simply choosing between all the appealing options. He has a beautiful win with 25.Bxf7+! Kxf7 26.fxg7+ Kg8 27.Rf1! (threatening mate on f7) 27…Be6 and the simple 28.Rg3!, when there’s no decent defence against the threat of Qf8+ and gxf8 mate next move.

You could easily overlook a saving blow in such variations, though, and Bluebaum found an equally elegant solution: 25.a3!, when after 25…Qxb3 26.Qg3 there’s no defence against the threat of gradually manoeuvring the queen to give mate on g7. Fedoseev acknowledged that with 25…Qf8 but after 26.fxg7 Qe7 27.Ne4 he found himself in the same position as Kramnik the day before – reluctant to resign, but knowing the game was well and truly up. He struggled on to move 31.

That left Fedoseev back on 50%, with Bluebaum and Wojtaszek taking the early lead. Kramnik keeps Wang Yue company at the bottom of the table:

The players now get an early rest day – in fact they get another one after another two rounds before a gruelling final three games next weekend! – but Round 3 promises to be fun. Kramnik and MVL both have the white pieces against the leaders and will no doubt be out to restore some order to the tournament:

Joining Jan Gustafsson in the commentary booth in Hamburg on Tuesday will be Lawrence Trent, while Peter Svidler will be their “phone-a-friend” of choice for some expert analysis. The video will be exclusively for chess24 Premium Members, so if you’re not already Premium now’s a great chance to try it out. If you take a 1-year or longer membership you’ll not only pay a lower amount per month but will also get a coveted chess24 mug sent to your home address. Hurry, though, as that’s strictly while stocks last!

Who could resist?

Tune in for Round 3 from around 15:15 on Tuesday here on chess24! You can also follow the games in our free mobile apps:


See also:

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