Dardha and Van Foreest win the matches

A crucial day

Today is a crucial day in the tournament. The matches conclude with the sixth and final games both, and in both matches everything is still possible.

In the seventh round of the Open, the first four players qualify for the 'Final Four', after which they will play two knock-out matches for tournament victory, tomorrow and Saturday, in the room where the matches are still being played right now.

Theere are a couple of players who cancelled today due to illness. One positive consequence of IM Nico Zwirs having no opponent is that he has been found prepared to do this round's commentary!


More changes

Daniel Dardha is again trying something new today. After the Semi-Tarrasch of round 4, he went for an Orthodox Queen's Gambit to which Max Warmerdam replied with an exchange on d5 and a London System-like set-up with Bf4 and h2-h3.

The game between Lucas van Foreest and Luke McShane was again, like in round 4, a King's Indian. Only now, after Van Foreest's 5.h3, McShane didn't play 5...0-0 and 6...Na6 but the more regular 5...Nbd7. Van Foreest remained consistent by castling long.


Warmerdam and Dardha go for blitz

Max Warmerdam and Daniel Dardha made a short draw today, meaning the match is tied and they will have a blitz playoff (3 minutes + 2 second per move) of 2 games. If this ends 1-1, they play on and whoever wins next, wins the match.

This meant that instead of zero commentators, we suddenly had three today! Both players gave a quick explanation of their game. It turned out that Max had mixed up the moves in the opening. He had wanted to start with 6.Bf4 and after 6...c6 play 7.h3, but instead started with 6.h3 which allowed Dardha to play ...c7-c5 in one move. 'Now I was just a tempo short,' said Max, 'and I had to watch out not to get worse.'

Daniel could have tried ...Dd8-b6 on move 8 or one move later, to profit from White's tempo loss, but after dxc5 Qxb2 Rc1 (in both cases), Dardha said, 'I wasn't sure if Max had maybe prepared something here.' So the fear of Warmerdam's preparation is certainly there! Max was glad, after losing yesterday, that he could make a quick draw: 'When I had mixed up the move order I was wondering a bit what I was doing.'

Zwirs asked both players, who had played four games against each other before this, how they looked back on the match. For Dardha it was his first match ever, Warmerdam had played a few for the Dutch Championship last year, and a short one in September. 'Apart from game 1 I haven't been able to show much with White,' Max said. 'Yesterday may have taught me something about how to react to draw offers. If I'd accepted Daniel's one yesterday, the situation would have been quite different today.'

Daniel said: 'The day before I came to Hoogeveen, right after the European Club Cup, my second told me he was ill. I've checked a few things myself but more 1.e4 openings. during the match I came to realize that a loss can have so much impact on a match. I felt under pressure in the first three games, but I think I made a good comeback in the final three.'


A bit slow?

Daniel Dardha and Max Warmerdam continued their act with a joint analysis of the still running encounter between Lucas van Foreest and Luke McShane. The difference with the King's Indian of two days ago was not so much the position of Black's knight (which went to c5 anyway, only now via d7) but more that Black postponed short castling, which gave him more time to react to White's plans. For instance, 9.f3 would now have been les attractive due to 9...Nh5, and so Van Foreest put his knight on f3. Max thought at first that Van Foreest's plan with 13.a3 and 14.Ka2 was a bit slow; 'I play the King's Indian with Black, and generally you should play faster with White in this type of position.'

McShane's reaction 14...Ra6 here was to the point and quite instructive. Not only is it the only way to create play against White's king (...b7-b5 will be hard to realize) but the rook may also go to f6 one day or help in the defence.


Quick draw on board 1 Open

With a quick draw, Bharath Subramaniyam and Evgeny Romanov secured their qualification for the Final Four in the last two days of the tournament. 15-year-old Bharath is from Chennai, India's chess city No. 1, and is coached there by the successful trainer RB Ramesh. He has been a GM since January, and is quite happy the way things are going in this tournament so far.

Daniel Fernandez has just beaten German player Jakob Weihrauch quite quickly, and the English GM may also have a small chance of reaching the Final Four. But he has many rivals!

Bharath Subramaniyam -- a new Indian chess superstar...?


Beerdsen in trouble

Thomas Beerdsen seems about to be losing his high ranking. He had allowed his rook to be locked in on b6 with a clever manoeuvre by Robert Hovhannisyan (putting his bishop on b5) and his other pieces do no cooperate well either. Now, after 30...Nd2, 31.f4 looks winning for White.


McShane misses a funny chance

Lucas van Foreest has slowly built up a big advantage against Luke McShane. There was one hiccup right after Lucas allowed the advance of Black's e5-pawn.

Here McShane tried the violent 28...b5 after which things are fine again for the leading Dutchman, but he had a very nice trick in 28...Bd7!. Now he has a very slow way to conquer the misplaced bishop on a4: ...b7-b6 and ...c6-c5 - nothing White can do about it!


Ganging up for place 4 in the Open

It looks like quite a lot of players are going to end up on 5½ points -- two of the players with the highest average rating of the opponents 'cut-1' will qualify for the Final Four.

Besides Zwirs and Hovhannisyan, Sipke Ernst and Nick Maatman are now also on 5½. Ernst outplayed Eelke de Boer with Black in a Najdorf.

Sipke Ernst in yesterday's game


Nick Maatman won a pawn against John Cornelisse and won another one after a tactical skirmish.

Nick Maatman


Luca Moroni and R Ashwath are still fighting for a last chance. The Italian GM looks winning with his mighty central pawn mass while Black's passed queenside pawns are under control.


Van Foreest also wins last game

Lucas van Foreest also won the last game, in which Luke McShane had to force something, and it didn't work. His fleeting chance on move 28 didn't alter the fact that the game was going Van Foreest's way. 'I suppose I could have played ...f5-f4 somewhere to slow down White's attack,' said McShane, 'but that would also have increased the chances of a draw. After White took on d6 with the rook I thought I might have some practical chances...' but Van Foreest was firmly in control by now after his slight slip. 'The engine likes this opening line for White,' he simply said, and that ought to be enough. 'Lucas wasn't lucky or anything,' McShane said a few moments later to a chess fan, 'he just played very well.'

A 4-2 win in his debut match -- a fabulous performance for Lucas van Foreest!


Dardha wins match in tiebreak

Daniel Dardha showed today that he hadn't become World Blitz Champion U14 five years ago for nothing. In the blitz playoff with Max Warmerdam he looked tense, but alert, and he took his chances marvellously. With 2-0 he won the tiebreak, and the match.

In Game 1 of the tiebreak Dardha built up pressure on the queenside, while also controlling the d-file. This last factor eventually decided the game when he allowed Warmerdam to take his pawn on a3 but broke through to the black king on d7: 1-0.

Warmerdam had to strike back with White, and with the Vienna Game he came quite far. The Dutchman was gradually opening roads against the black king.

In this position, White could have kept a large advantage with 28.Qg3+ Kh8 29.Kf1! -- quite a hard move to find in blitz, of course. 29...Rg8 is defended and now White controls all the important squares. After 28.Kh1 Dardha immediately seized his chance with 28...Re6! and now Black was OK. In the following, Max gave the pawn on h6 but could have gotten good winning chances with Qa8 on several occasions. After he failed to do that, there were ways to give a perpetual but of course that was no use to him. That meant that Dardha, who was now playing very fast, could cruise to victory and 2-0 in the tiebreak.


Final Four

With Luca Moroni's win over R Ashwath, the following players have qualified for the Final Four:

  1. Bharath Subramaniyam
  2. Evgeny Romanov
  3. Robert Hovhannisyan
  4. Nico Zwirs

Despite winning on forfeit today, that game counted as a real game for the tiebreak, and so he had a better tiebreak than Moroni, Ernst, Fernandez and Maatman.

Nico Zwirs in action today



During a short prizegiving ceremony for the matches in the Marriage Room of the city hall, tournament director Loek van Wely asked Luke McShane, whom he called 'a gentleman and a fighter', what had gone wrong in his match. 'Well,' the Englishman said,' everything was very nice here, I have no excuses. Lucas simply played an excellent match. He was better in most of the games.'

The winner, Lukas van Foreest, thought that 'time use had a lot of influence on our match. In the first game I had two minutes against Luke's twenty, and it went wrong for me. In the games I won, he was in time-trouble, and made the wrong decisions in difficult situations. At 1-1 Luke played very ambitiously with the King's Indian, which he also played in the last game. If he had remained solid, things might have gone differently. On this level, the King's Indian is just not so good objectively.'

Lucas' near chess future looks as follows: he's going to play for the Netherlands in the FIDE World Team Championship in Jerusalem from 19 November, and hasn't decided yet if he will play in the Dutch national championship from 21 December.

Max Warmerdam was also asked where things had gone wrong for him in the match. His explanation: 'If I'd accepted that draw offer yesterday, then I would have gone into the final round with a one-point lead. But I was also playing for rating. After yesterday's game I felt quite exhausted. When I mixed up the move-orders in today's game, I was glad to draw.' Warmerdam will also be on the Dutch team in Jerusalem, and has already agreed, as a champion, to play the Dutch Championship.

The eventual winner, Daniel Dardha, said he was a bit 'out of morale' after his loss in Game 3. 'But I'm glad I managed to hang on mentally, and happy that yesterday I managed to win an ending that was objectively 0.00. From there on, everything went well.'