Reports | October 23, 2011 17:53

Kramnik wins Univé Tournament, back in the 2800 club

Kramnik wins Univé Tournament, back in the 2800 club

PHOTO AND VIDEO REPORT - Vladimir Kramnik won the Crown Group of the Univé Tournament in Hoogeveen convincingly. Already one round before the end the Russian was sure of a clear first place. Drawing his last-round game against Judit Polgar, Kramnik seems to be arriving at 2800 exactly in the November rating list.

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

A glass chess set placed between the two boards in the playing hall in Hoogeveen. In earlier years the players actually played with pieces of glass.

Leading the tournament by a full point after three rounds, it didn't come as a surprise that Vladimir Kramnik won this year's Univé Tournament. The former World Champion was the big favourite from the start, and he secured clear first place already with a round to spare. Right after the last round, on Saturday afternoon, outside the playing hall we had a little chat with the Russian super GM. He revealed that the format of just six rounds suits him well. "At my age it's really nice to have such a small tournament."

Vladimir Kramnik, winner of Hoogeveen 2011

Besides, he's happy to be back into the 2800 club (according to the live ratings he's now 2799.6) even though it might be for just two months. In the video Kramnik also looks forward to the upcoming and terribly strong Tal Memorial. Thanks to his rating win in Hoogeveen, the tournament will actually be Category 22!

We arrived in Hoogeveen on Thursday afternoon, and witnessed the last moments of two excellent games in round 4. Dutch GM Anish Giri in fact had a clear plus in an ending against Kramnik, but it was never clear whether it was winning somewhere.

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Giri and Kramnik analyzing afterwards

Judit Polgar (Hungary) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) played a 'crazy game', in the words of the Frenchman. It was a highly complicated fight where Polgar missed wins three times, so understandably she didn't feel like analyzing afterwards. Vachier-Lagrave joined the journos in the press room to share his thoughts.

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Against Vachier-Lagrave, Polgar missed a win in three different positions

On Friday it was Vachier-Lagrave's 21st birthday. Kramnik, however, wasn't in for a birthday present over the board. Instead he beat the Frenchman in 87 moves from a queen ending with an extra pawn.

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Vachier-Lagrave is not going to hold the queen ending against Kramnik

Giri got back to fifty percent thanks to a win against Polgar. Her piece sacrifice wasn't incorrect, but the follow-up was.

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Giri checking what the computer thinks of his game against Polgar, with chess journalist IM Gert Ligterink and (standing) IM Li Riemersma

The last day was a quiet one. Polgar didn't want to take risks, and played the very safe 5.Re1 line against Kramnik's Berlin.

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A relatively quick draw between Polgar and Kramnik

Vachier-Lagrave and Giri could have ended in a quick draw as well, if the Frenchman had accepted the draw offer from his opponent at move 28. A move later he regretted his decision to play on! Eventually a queen ending with four against three on one wing ended in a draw at move 96.

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Vachier-Lagrave and Giri took much longer to split the point

Tournament study

At the request of the organization our co-editor IM Yochanan Afek composed an endgame study to commemorate the 15th Univé Tournament:

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White to play and win

Univé Chess Tournament | Crown Group (Hoogeveen) 2011 | Round 6 (FInal) Standings



An unfortunate second half put Judit Polgar in last place, with minus two

Last year's winner Vachier-Lagrave ended third this time, on minues one

Second, with fifty percent: Anish Giri

The winner, with plus three: Vladimir Kramnik

Please note that we'll return to Hoogeveen once more in the coming week for a report on the strong open tournament.

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.


Alfonso's picture

Tal Memorial of Category 27??

Maybe 22...

S3's picture

Just goes to show how Kramnik doesn't really care about ratings. Great guy!

Peter Doggers's picture

Indeed 22, thx, corrected.

JP's picture
Janis Nisii's picture

I so want the two huge glass pawns!

tom a's picture

doesn't anybody get it? Tal memorial is the most important tourney since the '48 tourney. and the ace in the whole is nepo!!! He's shown that he caon kick carlson's and karjakin's ass!!!

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