Reports | October 18, 2011 22:49

Full point lead for Kramnik in Hoogeveen

Full point lead for Kramnik in Hoogeveen

Vladimir Kramnik is leading the Crown Group of the Univé Tournament in Hoogeveen after three of a total of six rounds. The Russian grandmaster scored 2.5/3 and is already a full point ahead of number two, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Event 15th Univé Chess Tournament | Crown Croup | PGN via TWIC
Dates October 16th-22nd, 2011
Location Hoogeveen, The Netherlands
System 4-player double round robin
Players Vladimir Kramnik, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri, Judit Polgar
Rate of play

90 minutes for the first 40 moves and then 30 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 1

The annual chess festival in Hoogeveen, The Netherlands is currently on its way. ChessVibes will be visiting the event during the last three days, right after the train trip which concluded on Tuesday (this report is written from a Prague hotel!). At this point, the Crown Group is already at half-time while the Open has reached its fifth round (Aleksandr Lenderman and Ilya Nyzhnyk are shared first with 4.5 points - later we'll report on this more extensively).

For the first time in its 15 years of history, the playing field of the Crown Group in Hoogeveen includes former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. The other participants are Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (as the winner of last year), Anish Giri (as the strongest Dutch player) and Judit Polgar (as the strongest female player).

In the first round, on Sunday, Kramnik defeated Giri in good style, but not in a 100% perfect game. His young, Dutch opponent showed he had guts by choosing the King's Indian (and not the Grünfeld, like in Dortmund earlier this year). If he wasn't already one of the greatest experts against the KID from the White side, Kramnik certainly is 'after Kazan'. The Russian must have spent many hours preparing for Teimour Radjabov's favourite opening, but during the Candidates the number one from Azerbaijan surprisingly went for the Queen's Gambit Declined.

Instead of the usual 10.Re1, in the Bayonet Attack Kramnik chose an old favourite of Loek van Wely: 10.g3. Two moves later he deviated again from the main paths with 12.Bf3, and Giri quickly went astray. Kramnik reached a completely winning position, but then went wrong with 27.Bb2? where the simple 27.Rxb7 is more or less curtains. However, the Russian's position was so good that he kept a big advantage and won anyway.

Vachier-Lagrave had an advantage throughout the game with White against Polgar, but the Hungarian lady defended like a lion and eventually held a rook ending to a draw.

The next day Kramnik won again. This time his opponent helped him even more: at some point Polgar felt she was in trouble and sacrificed a pawn on move 21. However, the trouble wasn't really there, and the sacrifice wasn't really correct. Giri and Vachier-Lagrave drew relatively quickly from a middlegame position that seemed promising, with opposite castling.

On the third day both games ended in a draw. Vachier-Lagrave had prepared an interesting set-up against Kramnik's super-solid QGD, which involved castling queenside. The Frenchman tried to start an attack, but his opponent found a quick way to create counterplay. When all the light pieces went off the board, the position was just equal. Polgar and Giri had drawn even quicky in a Scotch Four Knights.

A joint post-mortem that shows the good atmosphere between the players | Photos
courtesy of the official website

Later more about this tournament with on-the-spot reports from Hoogeveen!

Games rounds 1-3



Univé Chess Tournament | Crown Group (Hoogeveen) 2011 | Round 3 Standings


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.


stevefraser's picture

Tired of "...drew relatively quickly from a middlegame position that seemed promising..."? Require sixty moves unless one player is mated or resigned....the player who brings about a repetition loses.

Anonymous's picture

I don't agree with that idea. The players are clever enough to show us 60 boring moves. As to 3-fold repetition of position, it should remain a draw; there is no reason to change the rules and therefore the continuity of the historical context - in other words, it is nice to compare the games played today with those of yesteryear. Fans don't generally put the money in the pockets of the top players, it is the sponsors of events like Bilbao where the draw 'problem' has been solved simply by making a win worth more than two draws and making all draw offers go through an arbiter.

pat j's picture

try to refrain from making stupid suggestions.

stevefraser's picture

I'll do my best, but my wife tells me it's in my nature...That being said I'll stop putting forward my plan to significantly reduce SHORT ("grandmaster") draws. If other people don't think "grandmaster draws" are a problem at the highest level of chess (usually by not playing out a complex position because of a mutual fear of losing) then so be it.

Anonymous's picture

It's your solution that people disagree with and your tireless repetition of it. Organizers are already addressing the problem as stated before. Also, as someone already pointed out, many exciting sacrifices are speculative (not calculated all the way to a winning position) and are played with the conviction that by exposing the king, they can at least get a perpetual check if the attack fails.

Anonymous's picture

Kramnik just might get back into the 2800's in the live ratings!

Thomas's picture

I am tired of reading stevefraser's comment for maybe the 60th time here and elsewhere on the Web.

stevefraser's picture

Thomas, I very much appreciate the feedback....I'll cease and desist until 2013, unless of course FIDE makes an uncharacteristic lurch in the direction of common sense and adopts any of the many plans to significantly reduce draws in top level chess. Then I'll get on another bandwagon.

Anthony 's picture

Nice to see Kramnik nudge closer to 2800. It would confirm that the chessworld is ruled by a quadopoly.
All the more so since Kramnik is in great form, showing great fighting spirit and lust for complication.

It's great to see the players behaving so amicably.

However, I learned to love chess during the Cold War, so I can't wait to see Topa lick his wounds and come back.

Zeblakob's picture

Polgar at her best is stronger than Kramnik at his usual strength.

Marchand's picture

Certainly J. Polgar´s score against Kramnik (lost 10 and 10 draws 0 wins in clasical chess) would suggest tha´t.

Louis van Meegeren's picture

in what discipline?

stevefraser's picture

Don't you need to cite the games in which Polgar and Vlad played the same opponent and compare move sequences to prove your point?

choufleur's picture

"Polgar at her best is stronger than Kramnik at his usual strength."
This is probably one of the silliest thing I have read here.

MH's picture

I think what he means to say is that she plays (sometimes) with more creativity, and has excellent combinational vision (better dan Kramnik). But when there would be a match Kramnik vs Polgar, Kramnik would win it for sure. His preparation and strategic skills are very good, I am reading the book "from London to Elista" impressive.

Puzzled's picture

"I think what he means to say is that she plays (sometimes) with more creativity, and has excellent combinational vision (better dan Kramnik)."
Hehe, very funny. Ok, might be a troll. But anyway, sometimes I am really puzzled how many still are underestimating Kramnik. He's playing absolute top level chess for almost 20 years now. I'm not sure there is anyone around with better combinational vision and calculation abilities (inactive former world chess champions included). For a nice combination of creativity and combinational vision ...

redivivo's picture

"I'm not sure there is anyone around with better combinational vision and calculation abilities (inactive former world chess champions included)"

If so one might wonder why his results haven't been better than they have the last years. He was after all beaten rather clearly by Anand and hasn't won many top tournaments lately either. If his combinational vision and calculation abilities outshines even Kasparov's he should at least be stable in the top three or be able to win a game against Grischuk and Radjabov in Kazan. Kramnik is obviously one of the greatest players of the last decade, but in top tournaments like Wijk aan Zee and the Russian Superfinal he has found it considerably harder than in Dortmund and Univé.

S3's picture

Speaking of top tournaments, why are you pathetically leaving out Bilbao 2010? Numerically it was the strongest tournament ever (and you seem to put much faith in numbers) and he won it confidently in front of the higher rated Anand and Carlsen.

redivivo's picture

If we are talking about last year, in his other events Kramnik played Wijk, Shanghai, Dortmund, Tal Memorial and London without winning any of them. Then he did well to win Bilbao, but if Kramnik indeed was Kasparov's equal or better in combinations and calculations I think he would win more events, especially since it often is his strategical vision that is praised as even better than Kasparov's.

Thomas's picture

The year before (2009), Kramnik won Dortmund convincingly and Tal Memorial - one of the strongest events ever with more than 4 players. Generally, I don´t think Dortmund is weaker than Corus/Tata or the Russian Superfinal.

It may be futile to compare Kramnik with Kasparov - while he kept an even head-to-head score he may have lacked Garry's killer instinct. Since Kasparov's retirement, the competition at the top has become closer - which might be part of the reason why GK retired, it's better to quit at or near your top than to slowly fade away like Karpov did?

You hand-picked top5 - Kramnik is a rather stable top4 or top5 player ... . In terms of longevity at the very top, he's currently second only to Anand.

redivivo's picture

I just think it's exaggerated to start with the Kasparov comparisons because of a couple of wins with white against Giri and Polgar, but if Kramnik can keep playing well in events like Tal Memorial he will be top three in no time, I wouldn't be too quick to make favourable comparisons with Kasparov even if that happens though.

even more puzzled's picture

redivio, you seem to get a little bit confused. No one compared Kramnik's successes with Kasparov's - the latter may not only be the most successful chessplayer ever but arguably one of the most successful sportsmen ever. I did compare Kramnik's combinational vision and calculating abilities with those of Kasparov and other top players, and probably in these departments Kramnik is not worse than the likes of Kasparov, Anand etc. All that is based on Kramnik's record of 20 years at the very top of the game. Judit is great without any doubt and wonderful to have her back in world class chess. But probably she's weaker than Kramnik in every aspect of the game - maybe their head-to-head indicates that.

redivivo's picture

"I did compare Kramnik's combinational vision and calculating abilities with those of Kasparov and other top players, and probably in these departments Kramnik is not worse than the likes of Kasparov"

I think Kramnik is a bit behind Kasparov in these respects. Just looking at his last dozen games he miscalculated attacks quite badly against both Nakamura and Svidler when losing against them, missed a drawing combination twice against Karjakin, and in his own words blundered horribly against Giri. As I see it combinations and concrete calculations is where Kasparov shines more than anyone.

mr cat's picture

I think this tournament will be a cruise for Kramnik. The only thing I can imagine going wrong is someone punching his Berlin!

TheSeaLettuce's picture

I agree about Kramnik. To have played at the level he has for 20 years is quite something. In chess terms, he is a living legend.

Anonymous's picture

Capablanca once held the record for the most tournament games without a loss and because of that his peers nicknamed him "the chess machine". Some time back, Kramnik actually beat that record - and against stronger competition than the great Cuban. However, Kramnik, humble and classy said that it was going "too far" to compare him with Capablanca.

RealityCheck's picture

The new experimental long-game time control 90/40, 30 plus 30 s, recently employed at several top events, takes more out of the game than it puts into the game. It leaves the impression watching american football played on artificial turf instead of natural grass. Not the real thing.

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