Reports | July 22, 2012 21:20

Caruana wins 40th Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana won the Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund on Sunday. The Italian grandmaster edged out Sergey Karjakin on tiebreak after both players finished on 6/9. The first tiebreak rule, number of black games, was the same for the players but Caruana scored three victories and Karjakin only two.

Fabiano Caruana with flowers and the trophy | All photos © Georgios Souleidis courtesy of the official website

Event Sparkassen Chess Meeting | PGN
Dates July 13-22, 2012
Location Dortmund, Germany
System 10-player round robin
Players Kramnik, Karjakin, Caruana, Ponomariov, Leko, Bartel, Gustafsson, Naiditsch, Meier, Fridman
Rate of play 40 moves in 100 minutes, then 20 moves in 50 minutes, then 15 minutes to finish the game with 30 second increment from move 1.

An exciting final weekend in Dortmund saw five leaders before the final round, and two players finishing on top: Fabiano Caruana and Sergey Karjakin. The former was declared winner on tiebreak. Vladimir Kramnik, who won his tenth title in Dortmund last year, had to be satisfied with a shared third place, together with Ruslan Ponomariov, Arkadij Naiditsch and Peter Leko.

Round 8

Kramnik saw his chances for an eleventh win evaporate in the penultimate round. Despite bringing an interesting novelty on move 8 in a Berlin Ruy Lopez, the Russian lost his game against Fabiano Caruana, who said:

Before the round I felt this plan [Kramnik's early Nc6-e7 - CV] doesn't work, because White controls the centre. But afterwards I only played logical moves. After he let my pieces enter his position, I was winning.

PGN string

Peter Leko defeated Mateusz Bartel, who repeated a line in the French which Caruana also played against Leko, in round 4. The Hungarian said:

I had to avoid my opponent's preparation, so I chose a different plan. Then he committed too many inaccuracies.

PGN string

Ruslan Ponomariov had excellent chances to repeat his 2010 success after beating Jan Gustafsson in round 8. The 27-year-old Ukrainian won a fine strategical endgame.

PGN string

This game reminded us a bit of the following classic.

PGN string

Round 9

Caruana was the first winner on Sunday. In a little analysed Grünfeld ending his opponent Bartel made an early mistake.

PGN string

Karjakin got a strong attack in a Caro-Kann against Gustafsson and finished the game with an easy tactic based on a double attack.

PGN string

Kramnik also finished his game against Meier with a nice combination:

PGN string

Ponomariov was in the best position before the last round, because of his tiebreak: he had played five games with Black. However, the Ukrainian couldn't break the defence of Daniel Fridman.

PGN string

Naiditsch and Leko played the game of the day. With a win the German player could have overtaken Caruana based on his five Black games.

PGN string

The traditional group photo at the closing ceremony

Afterwards tournament winner Caruana said:

My play was very shaky at the beginning. Especially the first two games I played very badly. Then it went rather normal, apart from the game against Leko which I could have lost. In the second half of the tournament I played much better and especially the game against Kramnik was a highlight for me. It was an interesting game and I played really well. Ultimately, I am very happy with the tournament victory since it came somewhat unexpectedly in the last round. Basically everything went to my advantage.

Vladimir Kramnik:

The Sparkassen Chess Meeting was very interesting this year. I played pretty well, but if you want to win a tournament, then you have to make use of your opportunities. That I did not beat Peter Leko is just crazy, there were so many winning ways. This shows that I was tired at the end of the tournament. In this game I missed my chance to win the tournament, or at least share the top spot.

The rest of the tournament was normal in my opinion. The defeat against Caruana can happen. Perhaps it was not my day, but he played really well. I was also tired from the day before. Probably the game against Leko was the longest I've ever played. When it was finished, I looked at the clock and it was almost 23.00! I was really tired the next day. However, and I am repeating myself, Caruana played really well. In the end it was my fault.

Thanks to Georgios Souleidis, who wrote daily round reports in German at the official website.

Schedule and results

Round 1 15:00 CET 13.07.12   Round 2 15:00 CET 14.07.12
Fridman ½-½ Gustafsson   Gustafsson 0-1 Kramnik
Leko ½-½ Ponomariov   Bartel 0-1 Karjakin
Caruana ½-½ Naiditsch   Naiditsch ½-½ Meier
Meier 1-0 Bartel   Ponomariov 1-0 Caruana
Karjakin ½-½ Kramnik   Fridman ½-½ Leko
Round 3 15:00 CET 15.07.12   Round 4 15:00 CET 16.07.12
Leko 1-0 Gustafsson   Gustafsson ½-½ Bartel
Caruana 1-0 Fridman   Naiditsch ½-½ Kramnik
Meier 0-1 Ponomariov   Ponomariov ½-½ Karjakin
Karjakin ½-½ Naiditsch   Fridman ½-½ Meier
Kramnik 1-0 Bartel   Leko ½-½ Caruana
Round 5 15:00 CET 17.07.12   Round 6 15:00 CET 19.07.12
Caruana 1-0 Gustafsson   Gustafsson 0-1 Naiditsch
Meier ½-½ Leko   Ponomariov 0-1 Bartel
Karjakin 1-0 Fridman   Fridman ½-½ Kramnik
Kramnik ½-½ Ponomariov   Leko ½-½ Karjakin
Bartel 0-1 Naiditsch   Caruana ½-½ Meier
Round 7 15:00 CET 20.07.12   Round 8 15:00 CET 21.07.12
Meier ½-½ Gustafsson   Gustafsson 0-1 Ponomariov
Karjakin ½-½ Caruana   Fridman ½-½ Naiditsch
Kramnik ½-½ Leko   Leko 1-0 Bartel
Bartel ½-½ Fridman   Caruana 1-0 Kramnik
Naiditsch ½-½ Ponomariov   Meier ½-½ Karjakin
Round 9 13:00 CET 22.07.12        
Karjakin 1-0 Gustafsson        
Kramnik 1-0 Meier        
Bartel 0-1 Caruana        
Naiditsch ½-½ Leko        
Ponomariov ½-½ Fridman        

Dortmund 2012 | Crosstable


Dortmund 2012 | Final standings

Rank Name Rating Fed Points # Blacks # Wins SB
1. Caruana,Fabiano 2775 ITA 6.0 4 4 23.00
2. Karjakin,Sergey 2779 RUS 6.0 4 3 23.00
3. Ponomariov,Ruslan 2726 UKR 5.5 5 3 24.50
4. Kramnik,Vladimir 2799 RUS 5.5 5 3 20.50
5. Naiditsch,Arkadij 2700 GER 5.5 5 2 21.50
6. Leko,Peter 2730 HUN 5.5 4 2 21.50
7. Meier,Georg 2644 GER 4.0 4 1 16.00
8. Fridman,Daniel 2655 GER 3.5 4 0 14.75
9. Bartel,Mateusz 2674 POL 2.0 5 1 8.00
10. Gustafsson,Jan 2629 GER 1.5 5 0 4.75


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.


Abbas's picture

Thumbs up for the new generation

Excalibur's picture

Well done Fabiano!

noyb's picture

Congrats to Fabio, but condolences to Sergei, who didn't lose a single game. Never seems quite right when someone wins on tiebreaks when they've lost a game.

redivivo's picture

At the same time Karjakin only won against the bottom three, while Caruana won against Kramnik, and that was in itself a more impressive win than Karjakin's three taken together. Of course he also lost to Pono after missing that Qb7 move, but if they must have a tiebreak the highest number of wins isn't a bad one as I see it.

Thomas's picture

"if they must have a tiebreak ..."
Why do they need a tiebreak? For the title of the Chessvibes report to mention the sponsor without being too long? This title says "Caruana wins 40th Sparkassen Chess Meeting", previous reports were entitled "[three players mentioned by name] lead in Dortmund" ... .

Anyway, I find these tiebreak discussions silly (regardless of who is involved). For Karjakin it's the third time in a row that he finishes shared first and second on tiebreak by a very small margin: Bazna, Poikovsky, now Dortmund.

Anonymous's picture

Silly to say that Caruana's win against Kramnik was more impressive than Karjakin's three wins taken together. Then again, we've come to expect this from redivio.
Anyway, it was a nice tournament.

redivivo's picture

Beating a 2800-ish Kramnik is naturally much more impressive than beating bottom three 2600s Bartel, Fridman and Gustafsson.

Anonymous's picture

Ah, you haven't looked at the games but only at numbers. Why didn't you just say so.

Hugh Jass's picture

Tootsie sneaks 1st place, still overated though.

redivivo's picture

2nd in Tal Memorial, 2nd in Wijk, 2nd in Reggio Emilia, 1st in Sigeman, 1st in Reykjavik, 1st in Dortmund, not a bad year.

randi's picture

i'm laughing my ass off man!!

VisserP's picture

Tootsie :=)

valg321's picture

bravo Fabiano

Sakis's picture

Good year for Caruana except of his participation in Greek Legaue.Ii costed him a lot of Elo points.

Casaubon's picture

Mere "number of games with black" should never be a tiebreak in any case. One could lose all his games with black and still win a tournament due to that tiebreak.

redivivo's picture

But having an extra white is a big advantage, it's no surprise that the top two had five whites.

Remco G's picture

No, one couldn't. You'd only have more games with black if more than half of your games were with black, and if you lose more than half of your games you can't end up in the top half of the table, let alone get shared 1st place.

Bartleby's picture

Special Dortmund tiebreak, only available once or twice per decade: Most wins against Kramnik. Caruana showed in Moscow that he can compete with the best, and takes the next step with winning a big one. Congratulations.

Theo's picture

Bravo Fabiano! Well done

Christian Sánchez's picture

Nevertheless, Kramnik finished with a masterpiece!

noahses's picture

and also very sporting behaviour by Meier to allow the mate to appear on the board. The ultimate compliment to an oponnent.

Anonymous's picture

Ponomariov was a bit unlucky to play Bartel and Fridman on their good days. It's an example of the dangers of a candidates tournament, as opposed to matches. The weakies will "decide" on the winner and players no longer have total control over their own performance.

RG's picture

You make a point but I would rather take the risk with a candidates tournament because it is bound to be more exciting than the real possibility of short draws until the tiebreaks and the match maybe even decided by an Armageddon blitz game.

Anonymous's picture

Congratulations to the American Fabiano Caruana!

Anonymous's picture

Fabiano had more wins and more blacks, that is why he won the tie-breaker. Very talented, I expect him to be a future WC.

redivivo's picture

What they said afterwards:

Caruana said that he played badly in the beginning but improved in the second half. He was very happy with his game against Kramnik in which he thought he had played really well, and it was the highlight of the tournament as far as he was concerned. In the last round he was lucky that things were going his way.

Kramnik said that he played quite well but didn't take his chances, it was simply crazy that he didn't win the game against Leko considering all the ways to win it. It showed that he got tired towards the end of the tournament. The game against Leko was the longest he ever played [almost, the one against McShane in London 2010 was longer]. It finished eleven in the evening and the next day he was very tired and made mistakes against a Caruana that was playing quite well. He returns to the game against Leko another time and says that every amateur saw that simple win with Rbxb6 and he had lots of time available at the time and just can't explain why he didn't see it.

Karjakin and Pono were in general happy and thought they had done well, Naiditsch was extremely content with his play and result. Leko thought it was an interesting tournament and that he had played well, and had enormous luck against Kramnik.

Gustafsson said that he noticed already in the game against Kramnik that his head wasn't working. He had though for almost an hour at some point and still played bad moves.

valg321's picture

the yanks never seem to have forgiven Caruana for choosing to align with the Italian chess federation...every success of Caruana's seems to be met with a systematic wave of deprecating comments on most chess sites, let alone when he fails

Ed Dean's picture

FWIW, this yank couldn't care less what flag Caruana plays under, but is very impressed with his success of late.

Septimus's picture

"The he committed too many inaccuracies."

Should be "Then".

What a fantastic achievement by Fabiano. He is having a super year thus far.

RealityCheck's picture

Ciao Fabiano!

RealityCheck's picture

Ciao Fabiano!

Eiae's picture

Boring tournament. All players should be of equal strength or you get this kind of crap.

Latest articles