Announcement | April 08, 2011 0:55

Dortmund participants and pairings announced

Dortmund 2009Hot news from Germany: the participants and full pairings of Dortmund 2011. We just received a press release which announced the 39th Sparkassen Chess Meeting. From 21 to 31 July Vladimir Kramnik, Ruslan Ponomariov, Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Le Quang Liem and Georg Meier will play in Dortmund.

The 39th edition of the Dortmund chess festival takes place July 21-31 in the city theater of Dortmund, Germany. With Kramnik (2785, Russia), Ponomariov (2743, Ukraine), Nakamura (2774, USA), Giri (2690, Netherlands), Le Quang Liem (2689, Vietnam) and Meier (2669, Germany), at the moment the tournament boasts of an average rating of 2725. The tournament keeps the format of recent years: a 6-player, double round-robin.

For the second time Dortmund uses the Sofia rule. This is stated in the press release (without calling it the Sofia rule):

Draw ban: In this year 's edition the grandmasters are not allowed to offer a draw during the game. The game will be declared a draw when a win for either side is not possible anymore, or in case of a three-fold repetition.

Traditionally the drawing of lots for the Dortmund tournament always takes place months in advance. It was done this afternoon, and so the players can already start preparing concretely:

Dortmund 2011 | Schedule & pairings

Round 1 21.07.11 15:00 CET Round 6 27.07.11 15:00 CET
Meier - Le Quang Liem Le Quang Liem - Meier
Kramnik - Ponomariov Ponomariov - Kramnik
Giri - Nakamura Nakamura - Giri
Round 2 22.07.11 15:00 CET Round 7 28.07.11 15:00 CET
Le Quang Liem - Nakamura Nakamura - Le Quang Liem
Ponomariov - Giri Giri - Ponomariov
Meier - Kramnik Kramnik - Meier
Round 3 23.07.11 15:00 CET Round 8 29.07.11 15:00 CET
Kramnik - Le Quang Liem Le Quang Liem - Kramnik
Giri - Meier Meier - Giri
Nakamura - Ponomariov Ponomariov - Nakamura
Round 4 24.07.11 15:00 CET Round 9 30.07.11 15:00 CET
Giri - Le Quang Liem Ponomariov - Le Quang Liem
Nakamura - Kramnik Nakamura - Meier
Ponomariov - Meier Giri - Kramnik
Round 5 25.07.11 15:00 CET Round 10 31.07.11 13:00 CET
Le Quang Liem - Ponomariov Le Quang Liem - Giri
Meier - Nakamura Kramnik - Nakamura
Kramnik - Giri Meier - Ponomariov


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


vigipirate's picture

Do you really think so? Last year, the games were really good and aggressive. For instance, the beautiful victory of Ponomariov against Kramnik with white. Or the victory of Le Quang Liem against Ponomariov.

Zeblakob's picture

Where is Leko ??? the so many times winner of this tourneo ??

ps.Someone told me that is completely devoted in writing a chess BOOK.

paul's picture

He lacks invitations because his black reportoire is good enough to draw almost any game en with white he has no fist. Ofcourse he is a great player but somewhat boring in openings he chooses, Intresting but always boring would late great GM Jan Hein Donner have said (as a quote Larry Evans once told him)
But i think the time for Leko to give his game a push is now! Otherwise he will be in the same leaque as Drwanik once was.....and Gheorgiu ,Trifinovic end Sosonko.To win toutnaments you need an axe not a cellphone . Invite Leko in a tournament with the footballscore and he will do better!

help's picture

I really wonder if we will ever see Leko back in the top 10. It seems to me that he has lost his motivation or something. He had his chance for the world championship against Kramnik but didn't make it and it slowly went downhill from then. I read in an interview a couple of years ago or so that he still had ambitions for the title, but nothing seems to have come of that.

Yves's picture

wasn't it "interesting, but wrong"?

gg's picture

Well, he has won in three times but so would many top players if they were invited every year together with Naiditsch and the Aeroflot winner. When Kramnik has a bad year it's Leko that wins it.

Thomas's picture

"When Kramnik has a bad year it’s Leko that wins it."
Or Ponomariov, or Anand, or Naiditsch, or (Aeroflot qualifier) Bologan. While I see your point (more invitations means more chances to win), it's still an achievement to finish ahead of several world top players.

gg's picture

Leko has played Dortmund 16 times, I just can't feel upset when he for once is absent and some other player gets a chance. Dortmund is predictable enough so great to have Nakamura in his first start instead of Leko in his 17th.

ozan's picture

Maybe he is working on his book titled "My Fifty Best Draws"!

Arjo's picture

IF Leko is writing a book i will probably buy it. People always complained about the draws (he didnt have the highest drawing% of the topplayers though, can you guess who had in that time? ;-)) but i really liked/like his principaled play...

Thomas's picture

Again, I see your point that someone else should get a chance, but ....
- even then there is no need to minimize Leko's results, though for some reason it's fashionable.
- Dortmund was often critized for having three regulars - Kramnik, Leko and Naiditsch - which is half of the field. I don't see anyone complaining that London had a nearly identical field twice in a row, which presumably won't change either for the third edition. OK, it remains to be seen if they invite the same player 16 times ... maybe Carlsen and/or Nakamura, Kramnik and Anand are likely to lose strength or retire before.

What I write now will probably get me a few thumbs down because it's an apparent minority opinion: I do not really like that Nakamura now seems to get more invitations than the three other "new top10 players" Karjakin, Mamedyarov and Gashimov together. I understand that he is "an American crowd-pleaser" while the others are "just Soviets", yet I do consider it somewhat unfair.

gg's picture

I don't know about minimizing, I just thought saying that Leko had won Dortmund "so many times" was an exaggeration. He won it three times of 16, not bad, but he has been invited every year together with Naiditsch and the Aeroflot winner, so when Kramnik has a bad year it has given him good chances to fight for first. The fact that Naiditsch and the Aeroflot winner also have won doesn't make them Kasparovs. My guess is that if Nakamura plays Dortmund 16 times against the same level of opposition while some stronger players are absent every year he too would be able to win it three times, but you never know.

Leko's wins after the 1990s came in 2002, without Kasparov (as usual), Anand, Kramnik or Ivanchuk, and in 2008, when Gustafsson, van Wely, Naiditsch and Nepomniachtchi were in the field and Kramnik had a terrible year. Leko has never risked his spot the times he has finished last (like last year and on a couple of other occasions), but has had OK results over the years.

Thomas's picture

First of all, I am not unhappy or deceived either that Leko won't play this year. I am not sure if Zeblakob (who started the whole discussion) is deceived or just surprised - I would have been a bit surprised if I didn't know the reason (same Hungarian source mentioned by WGIFM below?).

I am actually more surprised that Naiditsch wasn't invited - after all he isn't just the nominally strongest German player but also a local guy from Dortmund. If the organizers want to give a chance to another German player, they could have gone "London style" - make it an 8-player single round robin with local heroes Naiditsch, Meier and Gustafsson (or maybe Fridman who also lives in the Ruhr area). Obviously it's their choice ... .

But I still think your facts about Leko in Dortmund are misleading or even plain wrong, what's your source? Mine is (in German).
In 2008, Leko also finished ahead of Ivanchuk and Mamedyarov, not exactly underdogs or easy prey.
2002 was a candidates event where Leko finished ahead of everyone willing to participate, we cannot ask more .... players NOT qualifying for the WCh match against Kramnik included Adams, Shirov and Topalov, Leko won his (mini-)matches against the latter two.

"Leko has never risked his spot the times he has finished last (like last year and on a couple of other occasions)" - now that's "huuuhhh"!
- Leko finished last in 2010 and doesn't play in 2011 (apparently his own choice rather than being punished by the organizers).
- Leko finished last in 1994 when he was the lowest-rated player. That's comparable to Carlsen's first Corus A result and doesn't mean anything for their subsequent careers.
- Leko finished last in 1996 when he was still #8 out of 10 by rating, and didn't play in 1997 (the only event he missed). In between, he had a respectable third place in 1995 (behind Kramnik and Karpov, tied with Ivanchuk).
That's it.

Generally, I just ask for some fairness towards Leko even from people who don't like him - actually at some occasions I ended up defending Topalov while my track record indicates that he isn't my favorite player or personality.

Thomas's picture

One source (someone on Dailydirt quoting a Hungarian source) mentioned that Leko - like van Wely - is taking a sabbatical this year. But another source ( ) suggests or speculates that he will play at the World Team Championship for Hungary. According to the FIDE calendar, that's in Ningbo, China 15-26 July - hmmm, colliding with Dortmund so Russia, Ukraine and USA will have to do without (one of their) strongest players. Who said that there aren't enough top chess events?

WGIFM's picture

In an interview in Hungarian after the WCH Lékó expressed his wish to quit chess-tournaments for a while, because he participated at too many of them, and now he lacks motivation and stamina. According to this interview we will meet him again at the World Cup.

oony's picture

Kramnik has White versus Nakamura in Round 10. How is the World Team Championship differ from the Olympiad? No Miskolc rapid match for Lékó this year I suppose.

Thomas's picture

The Olympiad is a Swiss event "for everyone", the World Team Championship is a round robin for something like ten teams: top finishers from the previous Olympiad, continental representatives and some organizer wildcards. It used to be played once every four years (last time in January 2010), but it is on the calendar of FIDE events for 2011.

FP's picture

Peter Leko: "My 60 Memorable Draws"

Vlado's picture

Hahahaha :-)

DMiA's picture

Dortmund has always seemed to me the most boring and less exciting of all the supertournaments in terms of fighting spirit of the participants. Very technical but not exciting.

Hopefully this year Nakamura, Le Quang Liem and the lack of Leko are going to change my mind about it. I'm afraid Kramnik and Ponomariov will not.

S2's picture

Ah yes, it must be that famous lack of fighting spirit that made Kramnik and Ponomariov winners of Dortmund and world champions as well.

DMiA's picture

Yes, you're right ...
The expression "fighting spirit" was not well chosen. It was not what I really meant. They have an incredible determination, but I don't enjoy watching their games.

I mean, when you put together too many technical players (Leko is the obvious example) in a tournament, the final picture can become a bit boring.
Some risks are to be taken if you want some emotion instead of only correctness. and I have the feeling that in Dortmund they prefer correctness rather than emotion.

Not a bad point of view when a bank is the sponsor of the tournament, but not the best approach for a, certainly not 2400 ELO, simple chess fan.

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