14:16 We've started!
Hoogeveen Chess 2017 has begun! Both the two matches and the Open got the signal from chief arbiter Frans Peeters at 14.03h. 37 brand new DGT smartboards are running to give you all the live games from the Open, and of course the clashes between Vasily Ivanchuk and Wei Yi, and between Adhiban and Jorden van Foreest (both of which started with 1.d4).
Tournament director Loek van Wely announced that there will be semi-finals and a final in the Open between the four highest-ranked players after 7 rounds. And there will be daily prizes: for the most interesting game "which doesn't have to be good". There will also be prizes for the player whose moves are identical with the first choice of the computer, but also a prize for the lowest percentage. "We are always watchful for cheaters, so if you see anything suspicious, come to us and we'll take care of it in a very discrete way."
By the way, all four match players have agreed that all six games will be rated, unlike the final game Hou Yifan-Short last year!
14:51 Two queens left in the matches
In a QG Accepted Adhiban and Van Foreest have already traded queens. This doesn't mean a short and boring draw in general, there's still lots of play in this position. We'll have to have a little patience.
The character of the Nimzo-Indian on the board of Ivanchuk and Wei Yi looks to be pretty strategic. A wise decision by Ivanchuk? We'll see - Wei Yi is not only a deadly tactician but also a quite strong technician.
14:58 Early accidents in the Open
Christiaan Molenaar is already in trouble against Ukraine GM Orest Gritsak. With the bishop on g5 in the Dutch, 3...h6? invited a trade which has left the black kingside position full of holes, and the possibility of 5.Nh4 is a telltale sign.
On the next board, the position of Alef Boer against Dinara Saduakassova also looks precarious. The move 7...e5 from the girl talent from Kazachstan was clever: fixing the e4-pawn and tying down White's pieces. Next, after 8...Bc5, White's king was already in trouble. White should probably have played 9.d4, but that looks shaky too.
15:16 Piece sac Adhiban!
Wow! Just when I told you we'd have to be a little patient, Adhiban has sacked a knight on b5! The idea is known in such positions, but here it appears to be new.
11.Nxb5!? axb5 12.Bxb5 and if now 12...Bd7 then 13.Rxd7! Kxd7 14.Ne5+, which is still highly unclear after 14...Kc7 15.Nxc6 Nd5. After a long thought Jorden put his bishop on b7, but now after 13.Bb2 the c-file is, let's say, a little vulnerable.
Updated: 16:37 Quick win for Saduakassova
We could already see it coming - in no time Alef Boer's king was being chased all over the board by Dinara Saduakassova and the Dutchman had to resign on move 18. The 20-year-old player from Kazachstan, who was World Girls' Champion under 20, under 18 and under 14, said that her opponent had played some strange moves in the opening. "Later, instead of 10.h3 maybe 10.Na4 was possible, with interesting play. Now, after 10...Nh5 I already had a big advantage." Saduakassova said she was glad to be here in Hoogeveen, and would like to play one day in the 'Marriage Room' where the matches are held! Well, she's still on schedule.
16:09 A fabulous move
In the commentary room Joris Brenninkmeijer was looking at this position:
Here the position after 14...Ne4 was analysed for a while, until a spectator (using an engine...) came up with the fabulous move 15.Ng5!, which wins in all lines.
Jorden van Foreest must have seen this too, since he opted for 14...Nd7, which loses a pawn for Black.
16:21 No queens left in the matches
The queens have also been exchanged in Ivanchuk-Wei Yi. The position looks very drawish now, with both sides having a strong minor piece and some weaknesses. Who knows the ending might still become interesting and we may even see queens reappear. We just have to be a little patient... oh no, forget I said that!
16:51 Strange moves
Lucas van Foreest has a lively game (as usual) against Bas de Boer. On move 11 something curious happened.
Instead of the desperado 11...Nxd5?! Black could have played 11...Qxe2 12.Re1 Ne4 13.Rxe2 Nxc3 14.bxc3 Ba6 with a difficult game for White, as Joris Brenninkmeijer analysed.
On move 21 Black could have played 21...Ng6 first instead of 21...Qh3, keeping some advantage. Maybe because of this, something went technically wrong with this live board on move 23... some strange rook moves appeared. It's been repaired by our digital wizard Lennart Ootes.
We just witnessed it from close by... after Axel Fehr's move 25.Qd1 against Stefan Kuipers all White's pieces were on the back rank.
Just around that time Kuipers' colleague IMs Schoppen and Carlstedt won their games, as did GM Gritsak. Christiaan Molenaar had sacrificed his pawn to fill the holes on his kingside, which looked like a wise decision. Unfortunately he never saw the pawn back.
No spectacular happenings on the first four boards. Wim Heemskerk, Dick de Graaf, Erik Sparenberg and Andries Mellema are putting up some stiff resistance, but it looks like they are slowly being ground down by their superiors in Elo, resp. Davorin Kuljasevic, Xu Xiangyu, Sipke Ernst, and Roeland Pruijssers.
17:24 Van Foreest is looking for a fortress
Jorden van Foreest sacrifices the exchange in order to try and set up a fortress with the bishop on e6 - also White's e5-pawn is weak. Is this Black's best practical chance?
Ivanchuk and Wei Yi are battling it out in a rook ending where the equilibrium still does not seem to be broken.
17:37 Ivanchuk-Wei Yi draw
The rook ending in Ivanchuk-Wei Yi remained undecided: on move 43 the peace treaty was signed. The Chinese had had no problems in the Classical Nimzo with the straightforward 6...d5 (instead of the more common 6...b6). "I think 10...Nc6 was an interesting move", he said, "aiming for ...e6-e5. After that Black was OK." We hope to get some comments from Ivanchuk later on, but at this point he is still immersed in several games from the Open..
18:05 Narrow escape for Jorden
After Jorden's exchange sac the game quickly petered out to a draw. "I should not have allowed it", Adhiban said. "I had seen it, but not in combination with Black's 27...e5, which makes it better. So probably I should have played 27.Rb4 instead of 27.Rc7." Van Foreest wiped his forehead: "This was a narrow escape." And a quite elegant one at that. "It feels like a victory."
Adhiban's 11.Nxb5 sacrifice turned out to be improvisation over the board, he had thought about it for 30 minutes. "I wanted to play 11.Be2 first", he said. Was it correct? Both players couldn't tell, but in any case it's food for theoreticians - we've seen that the line leads to many beautiful motifs.
After Brenninkmeijer's suggestion 13...Ke7 instead of 13...0-0...
Adhiban had planned to play 14.Rac1, when 14...Ne4 can follow. Now 15.Ng5 is not fatal for Black since after 15...Nxg5 16.Rxc5 he has 16...Rhd8!, using back-rank motifs to save himself. Then 17.Tdc1? is no good on account of 17...Ne4 18.Rxc6 Bxc6 19.Rxc6 Rxa2.
A highly interesting start of this match!
18:14 Ivanchuk: 'An interesting game'
Although not much seemed to happen in the Ivanchuk-Wei Yi game today, a lot of things went on under the surface. "It was an interesting game", commented Ivanchuk. "I was surprised by 10...Nc6 and spent a lot of time on my reply. I'm not sure if I had anything anywhere. I didn't see any real chances in the rook ending either." It was Wei Yi's elegant 29...f5 that kept the balance.
18:40 Pruijssers wins
Andries Mellema has allowed himself to be mated in a lost ending. This game was more or less equal for a long time. The resistance of Erik Sparenberg also seems to be broken now. But Dick de Graaf is playing very tenaciously against Xu Xiangyu. Is he in for a repetition of last year, when he played very well, beating GM Harmen Jonkman to get on 3 out of 4 before going down in the next round to GM Chanda Sandipan...? Or will Xu bring home this tense endgame after all?
19:20 Xu and Ernst haul in the points
Boards 2 and 3 finally ended in wins for the favourites. Erik Sparenberg could have saved himself the via dolorosa he travelled against Sipke Ernst, and Dick de Graaf had to resign against Xu Xiangyu in the end. The black knight on e5 turned out to be too strong. The last game to end was Van der Veen-Tania Sachdev, where the Indian IM's 3 pawns were stronger in the endgame than White's knight.
See you (or rather you see us) tomorrow!