Nico Zwirs in the finals

Semi-final Four

The crossfinals of the 'Final Four' in the Open have juist started in the room where the two matches finished yesterday. Today we have the semifinals: if any of the games is drawn, there will be a blitz play-off like in the matches yesterday.


Some risk

Bharath took a lot of time for his tenth move, 10...Nf6, and indeed it involves some risk. White can now take on b5 twice and switch to the kingside while Black is still recovering his pawn.

The other Final Four game sees a quite curious pawn structure in which Black's development looks just a little smoother than White's (Romanov's). But that is because of Black's outpost on e4 which can also easily become weak.

Romanov (left) vs Hovhannisyan


Evgeny Romanov and Robert Hovhannisyan have engaged in a Reversed Sicilian whereas Nico Zwirs and Bharath Subramaniyam are playing an 'unreversed' one. The Indian has opted for a Kan Variation with an early 5...b5. As a consequence, Zwirs has castled short.


Machteld on the attack

Some developments in the battle for the Women's prize:

Machteld van Foreest-Bhakti Kulkarni

The situation is sharpening. Probably Kulkarni should have kept the position closed here with 12...f4. After the game move 12...fxe4 13.Rxe4, 13...d5?! didn't work very well (perhaps 13...Bf5!?) after White's reply 14.Bg5!.

14...Nf6? This looks already losing. She could have tried the queen sacrifice 14...dxe4 15.Bxd8 exf3 16.Bxc7 fxg2 and after taking on d4 the white position does contain some targets for Black, but probably White is better. But now 15.Rxe5! Nxe5 16.dxe5 looked already quite decisive. Black didn't lose a piece after 16...Bxf2+ 17.Kh1 h6 but her kingside is smashed open. Just the way Machteld likes it!

Machteld van Foreest facing the camera


Nico Zwirs looks in great shape; Bharath's king is still uncastled and White has pressure. The game Romanov-Hovhannisyan is a heavy equalish strategic struggle, with some features of the Berlin Wall we have discussed a lot in the past week!

Nico Zwirs


Draw in the Final Four

Evgeny Romanov and Robert Hovhanissyan have stopped their strategic struggle and shared the point. This means they will play a blitz tiebreak for a place in the final, roughly ten minutes after the other Final Four game, between Zwirs and Bharath, has finished.

Romanov standing


Beerdsen wins

Jaap Vogel has resigned quite quickly, as soon as he lost a pawn for no compensation on move 21. Beerdsen was still wondering what he was going to do after 22.Bxa3 Qxa3 23.Rb7, but 23...Qa1+ and 24...Qxd4 looks convincing enough; Black's a-pawn will be running very fast. Former Dutch Championship player Vogel (74) is arguably the most experienced guy around here, so he knows better than to spend too much energy on such a position against an IM!


Machteld strikes

Machteld van Foreest wins the queen and forces Bhakti Kulkarni to resign. What a powerful game this was by the World's No. 3 U16!


Zwirs wins!

Nico Zwirs just qualified for the final after a magnificent game. At the end, Bharath Subramaniyam could hardly move a piece.

This means that Zwirs has reached the final. The other finalist will be determined in a blitz playoff between Evgeny Romanov and Robert Hovhannisyan that is starting soon!


Hovhannisyan blitzes through to final

Robert Hovhannisyan has just beaten Evgeny Romanov 2-0 in the blitz playoff for the final tomorrow. Both games were set up quite solidly and were, of course, nervy affairs. In Game 1, a London System, Hovhannisyan gradually built up the pressure and when Romanov sacrificed his knight to go for the a-pawn, it quickly ended with a mating net.

The two GMs with arbiters Frans Peeters and Angelique Osinga (left)

In the second game, a Reversed English like in today's regular game, Hovhannisyan sprang a surprise on his opponent with the original 9...Rg8!?. It may have wrongfooted Romanov just a bit, since he couldn't find a good plan. The Armenian GM was ganging up on the white e-pawn when Romanov made a sortie with his queen. Hovhannisyan kept his cool and caught White's strongest piece in a few moves, after which Romanov immediately resigned: 2-0!


Tomorrow the finals will look as follows:

Hovhannisyan-Zwirs for first place

Romanov-Bharath for third place.


Six players leading in 'Rest'

The games between Daniel Fernandez as well as Sipke Ernst and Nick Maatman have ended in draws after cautious and prolonged fights. The only player, besides Thomas Beerdsen, able to catch on was the low-rated Belgian Tamer Ismail, who is playing a great tournament so far. His opponent Henning Holinka was much better, but played a too optimistic piece sacrifice that cost him a full point.

Tamer Ismail

These players are all on six points, and in all probability one of them will take first place of the 'Rest' tomorrow.