Reports Jul 23, 2017 | 9:51 AMby Colin McGourty

Dortmund 6: The draw curse continues

Radek Wojtaszek squandered a win against Matthias Bluebaum and then lamented, “that’s somehow the story of the tournament - there are many winning chances, but everything ends in a draw”. The Polish no. 1 still goes into the last round half a point clear of the pack, though, since everyone else has the same issue. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave couldn’t convert an extra pawn against Vladimir Fedoseev, while sometimes extravagant winning attempts in Nisipeanu-Andreikin and Wang Yue-Kramnik all came to nothing.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave seemed to miss a great chance to beat Fedoseev and can see his Dortmund title slipping away | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

Once again we had a day of fighting chess in Dortmund, and once again four draws. You can play through all the games with computer analysis by clicking on a result below, or hover over a player's name to see all of his results:

Our commentary team of Jan Gustafsson and Lawrence Trent was again joined for part of the round by Peter Svidler. You can replay the five hours of commentary below:

Bluebaum ½-½ Wojtaszek: Almost game, set and match

Wojtaszek leads, Kramnik is last... | photo: Georgios Souleids, official website

Radek Wojtaszek had his hands on the Dortmund trophy on Saturday as he outprepared and then outplayed Matthias Bluebaum in a Catalan. If Matthias had expected his rare 11.Ne1 to catch Radek off guard he was sadly mistaken, since the Polish no. 1 replied almost instantly and continued to do so on move 14 when he played a novelty. Soon he was better both on the board as well as the clock, and after his king marched into enemy territory it looked as if it was only a matter of time before he picked up a full point:

Everything changed on move 33, though, when instead of finally taking the c4-pawn Wojaszek went for more with 33…Kb2, driving the white rook away from the a-file to d1. It wasn’t too late to turn back, but Radek followed through with his plan:

34...a5? At a glance it seems as though the black a-pawn will win the game, since capturing en passant simply loses a piece… but there’s nothing simple about it! After 35.bxa6! Rxc6 36.a7 Rc8 37.Rd6! Kc3 38.Rxb6 Ra8 (strictly an only move) 39.Rc6! it turns out the win has slipped away:

The white rook makes it to the 7th rank where it can feast on black pawns, providing full compensation for Black’s extra piece. Wojtaszek had to change gears fast and show some precision to avoid a worse outcome than a draw, but he used his reserves of time to refocus and safely conclude the game.

Relief for Bluebaum, who escaped from a downward spiral | photo: Georgios Souleids, official website

Afterwards he made the comment we quoted in the introduction:

That’s somehow the story of the tournament - there are many winning chances, but everything ends in a draw.

Bluebaum had avoided losing two in a row after the infamous extra-rook ending against Andreikin, and wasn’t hiding his relief:

I was so glad when my opponent pushed the a-pawn. That was my salvation!

That game was an opportunity for all of Wojtaszek’s rivals for tournament victory i.e. everyone else in the tournament, but none of them could seize the chance.

Nisipeanu ½-½ Andreikin: The streak continues

Nisipeanu drew all his games in last year's Dortmund and has drawn six this year - in the last round he has Wojtaszek with Black | photo: Georgios Souleids, official website

Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu has now notched up 13 draws in a row in Dortmund, though the games have seldom been dull. In Round 6 Dmitry Andreikin played a rare line of the Pirc/Modern Defence, with Peter Svidler commenting that if a game starts like that it’s clear that at least one of the players is out to score a win. Andreikin confirmed that afterwards:

Yesterday I let a big chance slip, so I tried everything I could today.

Nisipeanu initially chose the safest options with White, but then saw the pendulum swing in his favour on move 14:

14…exf6 from Andreikin would keep the position unbalanced and give Black some chances with his bishop and open files for his rooks. Instead after 14…Bxf6 15.Qxd5 Bxe5 17.dxe5 Qxe5 17.Qxe5 Nxe5 18.Nd5 it was hard to believe in any outcome other than a draw, though Nisipeanu said he was playing for a win in what he considered a somewhat better ending.

Dmitry Andreikin is another player frustrated by a string of draws | photo: Georgios Souleids, official website

Wang Yue ½-½ Kramnik: Out of the 2800 club

When Peter Svidler was commenting on the early stages of this game he noted that it was a return to the Vladimir Kramnik of old, playing a very solid line and equalising completely with Black after move 15. 

Kramnik once remarked that Wang Yue had a similar style to his own... though that was the old Kramnik | photo: Georgios Souleids, official website

He had to revise that opinion somewhat, though, when the latest edition of Kramnik took control. 16…a5!? was the first sign that Vlad was looking for more, with that pawn later sacrificed for the sake of an outlandish rook manoeuvre:

19…Rab8 was just the start of a journey to g1 and g2! It was one of those adventures we’ve become used to from Kramnik in recent years when it often looks more like an attempt to lose rather than win, but, as in his game against MVL, his calculation and resourcefulness in implementing the plan couldn’t be faulted. The players were repeating moves when a draw was agreed on move 40:

Wang Yue explained, “I wanted to fight, but my king was so badly positioned”, while Kramnik gave a fair summary of the game:

I tried everything to play for a win as Black. I’m not disappointed about the outcome, though, since I didn’t miss anything.

He will be disappointed with the outcome of the tournament, of course, since as well as being the only player going into the last round with no hope of winning he’s also lost ground on the live ratings. What began as a chance to catch Carlsen and become world no. 1 has become a question of whether Kramnik has lost too many rating points to recover in the race to claim a Candidates Tournament place by rating.

source: 2700chess

He’s already dropped out of the 2800 club and may have to wave goodbye to the Top 5. A draw in the final round would see Aronian overtake him, while a loss would see him drop below Mamedyarov as well.

MVL ½-½ Fedoseev: A pawn is not enough

Fedoseev has managed to continue his "maverick" play without doing any harm to his 2726 rating | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

This was another game where both players seemed to set out to provoke their opponent, with the critical moment of the Caro-Kann coming when Vladimir Fedoseev finally lashed out with 24…e5!? and saw it met by 25.h5!

There was little option but to play 25…Qg4 26.Qxg4 fxg4 27.Nxe5 Nxe5 when 28.Rae1! was a pawn-winning pin. Fedoseev wasn’t going to go down without a fight, though, and found resource after resource until the following position was reached:

39.Kg3! may have been the best option here, since 39.Bc5?! ran into the cute 39…Be5+! forcing 40.g3, when suddenly the white king is cut out of the action. In general it was surprisingly tricky, though, and it’s hard to pinpoint a moment at which the win – if it was there – slipped away. Chess is tough!

To remain Dortmund Champion needs both to beat Andreikin with Black and for Wojtaszek to lose to Nisipeanu with White | photo: Georgios Souleidis, official website

So that left the standings unchanged, with Wojtaszek still in sole first and Kramnik in sole last going into the final round:

The final round pairings are as follows:

As we mentioned, Vladimir Kramnik is out of the running, since one of the players in the Wojtaszek-Nisipeanu clash will end on at least 4 points. Otherwise it’s all to play for. There's no playoff if we have a tie while the first tiebreak is having played more games with Black, which is good news for Wojtaszek, Fedoseev, Andreikin and Bluebaum. If Wojtaszek draws then only those last three players can overtake him with a win, since the second tiebreak is most wins, and Radek currently only has one. Of course a win for Wojtaszek would give him the title outright!

Tune in for Round 7 from around 13:15 (two hours earlier!) on Sunday here on chess24! You can also follow the games in our free mobile apps:


See also:

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