This article was originally going to be entitled “Nakamura’s nightmare continues in Dortmund”, but after 150 moves of a King’s Indian Defence gone wrong, the American grandmaster managed to survive. The missed wins will instead give nightmares to his opponent, Georg Meier, while Nakamura has avoided going into tomorrow’s rest day with three losses in a row.
The hero of the round, as of almost all the others at Dortmund this year, was Vladimir Kramnik, who used a novelty (13. h4) to cut through Anish Giri’s Grunfeld like a hot knife through butter. It wasn’t entirely clear where his young opponent went wrong, though ignoring the popular rule of thumb - “capture towards the centre” - by playing 17…fxg6 in the following position was a decision he lived to regret:
Of course, Kramnik’s preparation must have included an idea or two to counter 17…hxg6 as well… In any case, he’s now on 4.5/5 and has moved to within a win of 2800 on the live rating lists.
Kramnik’s already good chances of winning the tournament were improved further when Le Quang Liem repeated last year’s trick and defeated Ruslan Ponomariov with the white pieces. That long and hard-fought battle means the undefeated Le replaces Ponomariov in second place, with 3/5.
The tournament resumes at 15:00 CET on Wednesday, when the pairings are:
Le – Meier
Can Nakamura make a comeback? You have to hope so, because reading his Twitter account had become like watching a man unravel before your eyes:
21 July: Absolutely praying that I can find a way to sleep tonight. Playing a chess game on 1 hour sleep is pure torture like today.
22 July: Really wishing I could find some place here in Dortmund to do yoga and relieve the endless stress and pressure from chess.
23 July: Really not playing good chess right now. Going to have to change something as it has now been 6 months since I was last on form.
24 July: Apparently I have resolved that if I cannot win a game of chess, I must do everything within my power to lose instead. Good game plan!
24 July: It is one thing to be outplayed, but when your opponent himself [Kramnik] states quite clearly that it took a lot to lose the position...
Two minutes ago, he posted this:
25 July: So I draw the games I should lose and I lose the ones I should draw...lol. Time to sleep; 8 hour chess games are very tiring.
Light at the end of the tunnel for Nakamura?