IMs Elisabeth Paehtz and Irina Krush. Can you tell who won from the photo?
While en route from Dortmund, Germany to Montreal,Canada IM Irina Krush found time to send CLO photos and thoughts from her match against Elisabeth Paehtz and the concurrent super-GM round robin.
The first half of the Dortmund supertournament (July 28-August 6) was undeniably a boring affair. Following two losses by the youngsters in round 1 (Naiditsch against Leko,
Jobava against Svidler) the grandmasters seemed to have settled into a peaceful mood, and the next two rounds produced no decisive results. Moreover, the
games weren't even very interesting. Only Adams contributed another full point to the first half of the event, when he ground down Gelfand in 117 moves.
Fortunately, things heated up considerably after the second rest day, which followed round 4. It appeared that the previous rounds had only been a warm up
for the players, and now the real action was going to start. Gelfand once again played a super-long game, converting an extra pawn in a queen endgame against
Jobava. Aronian was tortured by Leko in an Exchange Ruy Lopez, where Leko finally made a central pawn break that gave him a superior rook endgame. Admittedly,
the decisive games of round 5 were not exactly spectacular, but at least it was a sign that the players were willing to fight it out.
Vladimir Kramnik and Michael Adams.
Round 6, on the other
hand, brought us a rarity for such events, a 15-move miniature in Jobava-Kramnik. This was the first time I heard applause from the spectators in the theater,
and it was also Kramnik's first win in Dortmund (the lion had awoken I guess). Jobava had overlooked a simple combination, and on move 15 he looked at the board
for a long time before resigning. At some point, while he was thinking, I walked back on stage and he looked at me, spread his hands and shrugged, as if to
say 'there is nothing to do.'
Meanwhile, his friend Aronian accompanied him on his losing streak, going down to Svidler with White. So, on the eve of the
final round we had Leko and Svidler on plus 2, Kramnik and Adams on plus 1, and Gelfand on fifty percent. The pairings were Kramnik-Leko and Svidler-Adams.
Svidler's game was a short affair, and looking at it from an outsider's perspective, it seemed that he didn't really try hard to win and was content to finish
the tournament at plus 2, since it was very likely that this would be the winning score (to be overtaken, Leko would have to beat Kramnik with Black).
However, I chanced to overhear his comments about this game, and he said that it wasn't that he didn't want to win, but he had overlooked some resource for
Adams in their game, and after that there was nothing for White to play for.
Armenian GM Levon Aronian
Observing the initial developments in Kramnik-Leko, which was this line of the
Nimzo that for example had been tested in the Kasparov-Kramnik 2000 match, I was expecting a draw. Basically, in this line, the game immediately goes
from the opening to the endgame, where White has the bishop pair but Black is solid. Kramnik pleasantly surprised me by quickly establishing an edge,
and went on to demonstrate why the bishop pair is so great.
With this fine game, he switched places with Leko, and even emerged as the winner on tie-break.
Dortmund suits Kramnik well: this is the sixth time he's won clear first or tied for first here.
In other news, both Aronian and Jobava completed the long castle, losing to Gelfand and Naiditsch, respectively. This wasn't the best tournament for the
younger generation, although Naiditsch did finish on a respectable fifty percent and played some enterprising chess along the way.
4.5/7- Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Svidler
4/7-Michael Adams, Peter Leko and Boris Gelfand
3.5/7- Arkadij Naiditsch
2/7- Levon Aronian
1.5/7- Baadur Jobava
Elisabeth Paehtz:2.5- Irina Krush- 3.5
With no computer, Irina was forced to relax and have fun between her games.
Ok, No Computer
As for my match, I'll start from the beginning. At the Women's World Championship this past March, Elisabeth approached me and asked if I was
interested in playing a match with her in Dortmund. I was definitely not against such an idea, so that's how the match was set up-- my opponent chose me.
We had never played before. I knew Elisabeth had an aggressive style, so I was pretty sure the match would be exciting.
But for me, the 'excitement' started before any moves were actually played. As soon as I arrived in my hotel room, of course the first thing I did was turn
on my computer and try to get on the internet, but then I realized that I had taken the wrong charger for my computer! After watching a movie on the plane,
I was nearly out of batteries. Basically, this was bad news. Apart from forgetting the actual body of the computer, the charger is the second thing you least
want to leave at home. So there I was, contemplating the possibility that I'd be unable to prepare, to review already-done preparation, for the
duration of this important match. Can I also mention that when I walked into the hotel room, it was absolutely sweltering in there, with no air conditioner
in sight; that my cell phone was not working despite the fact that I just called T-Mobile a few days before to activate my roaming; that I couldn't figure
out how to call home with the room phone. There was nothing to do except to dissolve into hysterical tears.
Finally, when I'd had enough of that, I went
to take a nap.
Suffice it to say that despite considerable efforts, I was unable to find a charger for my computer but that once I realized I wouldn't get it, I stopped
thinking about it.
Anyway, my experience has shown me that whenever things like this go all wrong, usually something else, like the tournament itself, goes
all right. So the disastrous beginning was actually a pretty good omen.
The match followed a rather strange course: the first four games were drawn. This was pretty atypical because as we all know, 'women's chess' is supposed
to be more 'combative', but here we were, following the solid example of the super-GM's playing by our side. We would get sharp, interesting positions
but, especially where I was White, they'd fizzle out early.
In my opinion, we showed neither our best nor our worst chess in Dortmund, and maybe this
average level of play is what kept most of the games balanced. This balance was upset only in the 5th game, when Elisabeth, as White, played a bit too loosely
and wound up in a position where it was very difficult to conceive of a plan. Black had all the play, and it was just a matter of bringing the point home.
13. c4?! was too weakening, the start of all Elisabeth's problems. Normal is 13.Bc4. Nb6! was a strong response. The game really went downhill for Elisabeth after 22...Qe7. When I played 24...Bd7, my idea was to meet 25. Qe4 with Bf5 but Bf5 would have been a mistake because of 26. Qe3, hitting h6 pawn. At first, I had analysed only 26. Qe2. Then I realized all this, and found 25...Ra-c8! which is very strong so it all looks brilliant.
In the final game, we reached an equal knight endgame that I managed to misplay and was on the verge of losing (I'm pretty sure I really was lost) but
with some inaccuracies from Elisabeth I held the draw and won the match with the minimal score 3.5-2.5.
Symbolically, though, our game was the last to finish,
going on for some 6.5 hours. So by the end of the tournament we showed that women do in fact fight harder than men :) We played for so long that the
closing ceremony was about to start when we got there after the game...
Some last words on the (lack of) preparation: it was really a blessing not to be able to use a computer. Instead of spending hours memorizing variations,
I'd spend them reading a book, and I'd go to the game feeling fresh and relaxed. And I cannot complain about how my openings worked out in this match- I
always managed to get a playable position, and what else do you need?
All in all, it was a nicely organized and pleasant event to play in, and I am leaving Dortmund with good memories.
These soccer balls (on which you can sit, they're sort of like
benches) are all over Dortmund. Actually, the last game which Germany
played in the World Cup took place in Dortmund! This was me on the
evening after the last round, after I'd had a good Italian dinner.
On one of my free days, I went to Westfalen park, one of the nicest places to visit in Dortmund, from what I've heard. There were ducks and other kinds of birds. This swing looked like a lot of fun, and after watching for a while, I finally mustered up the courage to ask the kids to let me try it. You have to jump on it when it's pulled up high (if you don't jump properly, it'll drag you down anyway and it can be painful- I saw that happen to a couple of kids). But it worked fine for me, and it really was a lot of fun! I've never seen a swing like this in the US.
Also on the free day, I went to the Dortmund zoo, where I saw this truly majestic animal.